The Best Guide to Driving in Iceland
Driving in a new country is always somewhat of a challenge and driving in Iceland is no different. The biggest challenges you will face on the roads in Iceland are signs in Icelandic, other tourist stopping at random places and sometimes in the middle of the road, random livestock passing over the road and then the main thing; the weather.
In this blog post, I will teach you everything you need to know before hitting the road in Iceland and make sure you will be prepared for whatever obstacle might come your way.
Here are a few Golden Rules for Driving in Iceland
- Always have enough fuel, the next gas station might be quite far away.
Iceland is a huge country and the population well, not so much. You do the math, towns are widespread and sometimes you will drive for an hour without seeing a car, a person or even a house. So if you are well below half and you see a gas station fuel up!
- Always get insurance, even just to be sure.
Most car rentals offer additional gravel and windshield insurance. This is usually not a large fee to pay a day when you think about the big bill that might hit you if anything happens. This is especially wise if planning to go on any gravel roads.
- Animals don’t understand traffic, always slow down.
Sheep are the worst. If the mother is on the right and the whole flock is on the left the lambs will run over the road to be with their mother, no matter what. So you never know, just slow down and drive through with care. IF you hit a sheep you need to contact the farmer and pay a fine and really, we just don’t want to be killing any sheep.
- The general speed limit for Road 1 is 90 km per hour.
This you can pretty much count on, so keep that monitor around there.
- Seeing something pretty doesn’t mean you can stop in the middle of the road.
Iceland is gorgeous, trust me I know! BUT this doesn’t make is smart or safe to stop as soon as you see something pretty. You need to find a good spot to park the car; off the road, out of harm’s way and please, please, please don’t leave the door open when out of the car. This has caused quite a lot of accidents.
- Know the basic laws before hand, don’t learn it the hard way.
Icelanders drive on the right-hand side, all passengers are required to wear a seatbelt, you aren’t allowed to talk on the phone while driving unless using a headset, texting is strictly forbidden, headlights should be on at all times, no driving under the influence (big fines, could even lose license) and no driving off road (also big fines).
- All along the south coast, we have one lane bridges, slow down!
These bridges were built one lane to save money when the traffic on the roads was a lot less now they are causing problems. The basic rules for them are to slow down, drive very carefully, usually huge cars go first and when someone has waited to let you pass, wave to thank them.
- If you are feeling nervous about driving, don’t. Join a tour instead.
Joining a guided, driving tour means that you will not need to worry about none of this. First you can stare out the window the whole time, you don’t need to worry about weather or slippery roads or signs. The driver does all of this for you. Iceland is the kind of country where you want to be looking out the window the whole ride, don’t miss out.
- Check the weather forecast.
Even though it isn’t always accurate it’s better to have an idea what to expect than to be surprised by a storm.
Questions you might have about driving in Iceland
How much does gas cost in Iceland?
The price for a liter has been around 180-200 ISK krónur in recent years.
Smaller cars, full tank about:
8.000 ISK to 10.000 ISK
75 $ to 95 $
60 € to 80 €
Bigger cars, full tank about:
12.000 ISK to 15.000 ISK
115 $ to 140 $
95 € to 120 €
What are the requirements for renting a car in Iceland?
- The minimum age to rent a car is 20 years.
- The minimum age to rent a 4WD is 23.
- You need to have at least one year of experience driving (valid driving license).
- You need to have a credit card.
- You need to have a driving license in English or with an official translation.
Do you use manual or automatic cars in Iceland?
Almost all rental cars in Iceland are manual, so if you want to have an automatic car be sure to ask for it in advance.
Where can I get info on road and weather condition in Iceland?
We have 24/7 updated websites for both.
For road condition, closed roads etc: visit www.road.is or call 1777 (if you experience problems using the number try +354 522 1100). Open 8 am to 4 pm in summer and 6:30 am to 10 pm in winter.
For weather reports: www.en.vedur.is or www.yr.no
Is driving the Ring Road in winter safe?
If your answer to “Have you ever driven in snow and fog at the same time?” is “no” then no, it is not safe. Iceland is winter is not Disneyland. It can be challenging, ruthless, change quickly and quite frankly scary at times. Inside Reykjavík and maybe a little out you are fine but once you hit that road uno you are going to face obstacles and if you aren’t comfortable driving in snow, on slippery roads and in vertical rainfall then I suggest joining a tour for longer journeys out of the capital. When joining a tour you get to go with a guide that has experience and knows what he is doing so you can just sit back and enjoy the views.
The Golden Rule is: If you are not comfortable driving in snowy conditions, don’t do it!
BUT if you have experience in driving in snow and full North winter mode then go for it. Just prepare well, check the forecast, know the road system and be sure to follow any sign that might come your way. Roads are often closed down in winter and you need to know about it in advance to make other road arrangements so be sure to have www.road.is always open.
The weather in Iceland is one of Icelander's favorite topics and the reason is very valid. It just keeps changing. Ever heard the phrase if you don't like the Icelandic weather just wait 5 minutes? Well, there is a good reason for it. Here we go over the weather for each month in Iceland, what to expect and what to wear?
Our three-day itinerary is perfect for those who are visiting Iceland in the summer, and who would like a good balance between hiking and sightseeing. It is great for those who want to go to both Landmannalaugar and visit the South Coast.