GENERAL INFORMATION ON DRIVING
Those who experience Iceland by car can comfortably explore the country and travel in a relaxed manner. Nevertheless, winds and weather changes are commonplace and can affect driving in and around Iceland. Driving through the highlands of Iceland, where roads are marked with three-digit numbers, must be prepared quite differently, as the highlands are uninhabited and any kind of service is not readily available. These highland routes can only be traveled with four-wheel drive (4x4) vehicles.
Iceland has a well-developed road network, and right-hand traffic and seat belts are compulsory. The ring road and many secondary roads are also passable in winter. An EU driving license is sufficient.
We recommend you obtain information on driving in Iceland from www.drive.is before traveling. During the trip, you should pay attention to current weather information (en.vedur.is), current road conditions (www.road.is, map at umferdin.is or tel. +354 1777), travel warnings (www.safetravel.is and https://safetravel.is/driving).
The roads with single-digit numbers (so far only the ring road No. 1), are passable with normal passenger cars; there are stretches of solid gravel roads with ruts and potholes, otherwise asphalted. Roads with two-digit numbers are passable by normal passenger cars and partly still unpaved; they represent Iceland's second most important traffic connection. Roads with three-digit numbers are passable by normal passenger cars, but the decision to drive on them is up to the driver, as they are less well maintained than the one- or two-digit roads. Highland routes (F-roads and routes 35 and 550) are not paved. The roads are passable only in summer and only with highland rental cars with four-wheel drive (4×4). More information about the opening hours of the highland routes can be found below.
NO OFFROAD DRIVING, NO STOPPING AT THE ROADSIDE
Driving off official roads is strictly prohibited and subject to very high fines. This refers to unmarked, unofficial roads. Off-road driving can cause considerable damage to Iceland's nature, especially to the moss.
Even if the perfect photo motif is waiting outside, never just pull your vehicle over directly on the side of the road. Hard shoulders are very rare. Rather, use lay-bys and parking lots and, if necessary, walk a little further to get back to the photo spot.
MAXIMUM SPEEDS ON ISLANDS ROADS
- inside built-up areas: maximum 50 km / h
- outside built-up areas: 90 km / h
- on gravel roads: 80 km / h
DRIVING WITH LIGHTS ON ALL DAY
In Iceland, regardless of the time of day and weather conditions, it is obligatory to switch on the dipped headlights when driving. The parking light is not sufficient. Due to rapidly changing weather conditions and therefore, visibility restrictions, this is a simple safety aspect that can prevent accidents.
ROUNDABOUTS IN ICELAND
When driving in Iceland, traffic circles can be found in almost every town. Vehicles in a traffic circle have the right of way and you only use the turn signal when leaving the traffic circle, not when entering it.
There is a special feature with two-lane traffic circles, which one encounters from time to time in Reykjavik. Here the inner lane always has the right of way, i.e. you have to stop on the outer lane to allow the vehicle to leave the traffic circle. The vehicle in the inner lane should indicate this by a set blinker, but unfortunately, this is often not done. Those who want to exit directly at the next exit use the outer ring. Furthermore, it is not allowed to change lanes within the traffic circle. Here you have to drive off, turn around and get back into the right lane. So - caution is advised and a defensive driving style is advised.
Since the highlands are uninhabited and no services are available, trips must be specially prepared. For example, the highland routes (indicated by the suffix "F") as well as the Kaldidalur (road 550) and Kjölur (road 35) routes can only be driven in four-wheel drive vehicles expressly approved for these routes by the rental car company.
What you should keep in mind when planning:
The highland roads are open from about mid-June to early September, depending on weather conditions and the condition of the bridgeless rivers. Information on road conditions is available from the Icelandic Road Administration (www.road.is) and major gas stations. (Note: In contrast to the highlands, the ring road can be used all year round. However, sections may be closed for short periods. Smaller feeder roads, such as to Dettifoss, are usually closed in winter).
Gas stations are often far apart, so especially in remote areas you should fill up in time. Please note that some gas stations require a credit card with a 4-digit PIN! Clarify before departure whether your credit card has a secret code. In winter, also make sure you have at least a half-full tank of gas as well as snacks for your day trips.
Overnight stays in the highlands have to be planned, as there are only a few huts with sleeping bag quarters. These should definitely be reserved in advance.
Bridgeless rivers and streams require the utmost attention. Glacier rivers in particular can be dangerous, as fords change in a very short time
Average opening of the Highland Roads:
|F 26 Sprengisandur||01.07.|
|F 35 Kjölur||15.06.|
|F 88/ F894 zur Askja||21.06.|
|F 52 Uxahryggur||06.06.|
|F 206 Laki-Spalte||20.06.|
|F 208 Sigalda-Landmannalaugar||17.06.|
|F 208 Landmannalaugar-Eldgja||28.06.|
|F 752 Skagafjardaleid||06.07.|
|F 208 Skaftartunga-Eldgja||08.06.|
|F 821 Eyjafjardaleid||09.07.|
|F 210 Keldur-Hvanngil-Skaftartunga||05.07.|
|F 225 Landmannaleid (Domadalur)||19.06.|
|F 862 Hljodaklettar||13.06.|
|F 261 Emstruleid||30.06.|
|F 902 Kverkfjöll||20.06.|
|F 550 Kaldidalur||16.06.|
Self Drive Tours in winter
Due to road conditions and less daylight, we plan shorter daily stages in winter. To drive safely on snow-covered or icy roads, we offer vehicles with good tires (from Nov. with spikes) and if possible with all-wheel drive. on. In contrast to the highlands, which are no longer passable from the beginning of September, the ring road can be used all year round. However, sections may be closed for short periods. Smaller feeder roads, such as Dettifoss, are usually closed in winter. Plan your daily stages prudently, be flexible, and inquire about the weather and road conditions on the Internet, in your accommodations, at gas stations, etc. Ask the Icelanders for their assessment. Ask Icelanders for their assessment of the weather - they are used to harsh winters and are usually good at assessing whether a trip can be made without hesitation. Also, make sure you have at least a half-full tank of gas, as well as snacks for your day trip. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, treat yourself to a relaxing day at your lodging. You'll be rewarded for slower travel in winter with frozen waterfalls, dancing auroras, and far fewer crowds than in the high season.