Driving in Iceland

Our guide to driving properly on Iceland´s road.
January 22, 2018
Carlos Prieto Casquero

A very popular way of travelling in iceland is by rent a car.  For this you have many car rentals to choose from. It can be cheaper than joining tours when travelling in a small group or family. It also allows you to be in charge of your timings regarding departures and stops along the way.

There are however a few advises you should follow to make your trip safe for yourself. If you follow these you will sure have a great time in Iceland and make the best of your trip.

  • Road conditions: Check the road conditions before starting in the morning. You can do so on safetravel.is or road.is . You can of course also check with your reception, they can for example also advise if local tour operators have cancelled their tours. This is usually a good in to better stay at home.
  • The way ahead: Know where you are going before taking off. Even if you have a GPS make sure to bring a map. In case of a technical problem it can help you find your way. Most free maps are enough if you visit the major sites such as the golden circle and south coast.
  • The road below: Most roads are paved but some roads are only gravel. They can be more dangerous and you should be careful when using them. Please note that most smaller rental cars are not allowed and especially in winter they can simply be impassable. Also even if you have a 4 wheel drive please not that driving off road is illegal. By doing so you may harm nature which can take decades or even a century to grow back. With such a vehicle you are allowed on mountain roads, but please check with the car rental company in case they have special rules about this.
  • Note that in Iceland you drive on the right side of the road.  And wearing a seat belt is required by law.
  • Your stops: Iceland can be incredibly beautiful. Sometimes too beautiful. Please only stop at parking lots or where there is enough space beside the road in Iceland. Stopping in the middle of Reykjavik to take a picture of the coastline can be frustrating for other drivers but stopping in the middle of the road outside of Reykjavik can be very dangerous. This applies especially to hunting the northern lights in darkness. Make sure to be visible to other drivers to avoid danger.
  • Your goals: Do not only know where you are going but also check the internet for things you may want to see along the way. After all you are driving yourself and are not bound to the big stops which all day tours take. Use the internet and explore Iceland before exploring in real life.
  • Credit card: It will help you for all you do along the way. Refuelling, buying snacks and all the other things money can buy.
  • Take your time: If you are used to European roads you may calculate with 100 kilometres per hour for your travels. In Iceland the maximum speed limit is 90 km/h and in winter you should calculate with less. And in urban areas it is usually 50 km/h. We recommend to respect the speed limit during your road trip along the ring road, for your safety and also due to the speed cameras you regularly find in Iceland.  

Got a question? Send us a message:

At Travel Reykjavik, we realise that booking a trip can be a confusing process. You might have specific questions or requests. Feel free to drop us a line and we´ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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