Hey there, road trippers! Ready to talk about driving in Iceland? We at Firefly are here to guide you through every twist and turn on your Icelandic adventure. We are your Icelandic buddy who knows all the shortcuts and the best places to grab a snack, but instead of snacks, we’re serving up all the need-to-knows about cruising in this wonderland on a budget.
We’ll cover everything from the must-know driving regulations and safety tips to keep you secure on the road, to the different types of terrain you’ll be mastering, like a pro. We won’t forget to chat about the delicate dance with Mother Nature and all the practical info you’ll need for a journey as epic as the Icelandic sagas. Let’s get those engines ready for an unforgettable ride!
Road Types and Conditions in Iceland
Iceland is a land with a diverse network of roads, each with its own character and charm. You’ll find three main types: the smooth, paved roads that hug the coastlines and valleys; the gravel roads that offer a more rugged, authentic Icelandic driving experience; and the F-roads, the mountain tracks that are the gateways to the wild, untouched highlands that only open to the public during summer months.
- Read more about: F Roads Iceland: What Are They? Are They Worth It?
Picture this: you’re on the Ring Road, or Route 1 as the locals call it, with 1,322 kilometers of paved glory stretching ahead. It’s the superstar highway that’s open all year round, showing off Iceland’s epic scenery. But hey, even stars have their off days, and in winter, the Ring Road can get a bit moody with weather tantrums causing closures here and there.
Now, let’s get down and gritty with gravel roads. These rugged paths are sprinkled throughout and don’t need a four-wheel chariot, but they do demand a bit of a slow dance. It’s all about easing off the gas to keep things smooth – because nobody wants the jitters on their joyride.
And for the bold and the brave, the F-roads are where the wild things roam. These mountain roads are the gateways to Iceland’s heartland, only waking up for visitors during the summer. If you’re itching to venture into the highlands, make sure you’ve got a four-wheel-drive (4WD) cheap rental cars with the guts to tackle tough terrain and wade through rivers. We can help you pick the perfect ride – just ask us, and we’ll sort you out with a car that’s ready to rumble
Must-know Iceland Driving Regulations and Safety rules
Whether you’re coasting on tarmac or crunching over gravel, remember that Iceland likes to keep its drivers alert with a few rules: keep those headlights shining bright, day or night, and save the phone chats for the cozy cafe stops. Seatbelts are a must for everyone – from the tiny tots to the grown-up explorers. And here’s a golden rule – driving under the influence is a big no-no, with consequences as steep as the fjords.
One last pro tip: give cyclists their space (at least 1.5 metres of space between the vehicle and the cycliat), and in those quirky roundabouts, it’s the inner lane that’s king.
|Many rural roads in Iceland are gravel roads and not suited to fast driving. Please drive carefully and show other road-users consideration at all times. When you meet another car, slow down, and pull safely to the side of the road
|The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 8o km/h on gravel roads in rural areas and 90 km/h on hard-surfaced roads. Please note: Special warning signs indicate danger ahead, such as sharp bends and there is generally a separate sign to indicate the recommended speed.
|Highland roads are for special cars. They are not meant for ordinary passenger vehicles. Insurance is limited on these roads.
|Driving off marked roads (i.e. off-road driving) is prohibited. It results in irreparable damage to the land and the plant cover which may remain visible for centuries. This can cause claims for compensation. Your insurance does not cover damages when driving off-road.
|Blind summits (blind hill/rise) are common in Iceland. They are marked with the sign (Blindhæð). Slow down and keep to the right as you will not see the approaching vehicle until very late.
|There are many narrow one-lane bridges on the roads. They are marked with a sign. (Einbreið brú). Only one vehicle can cross at a time.
|Tel 1777 for information on conditions of highland roads, they can be impassable. Strong winds can blow the car off the road. Be careful opening and closing doors in such high wind conditions. This is a common cause for damage to the cars. Caution is needed.
|Driving in snow or ice is difficult, drive slowly, no quick turns of the steering wheel and use brakes with care.
|Pay attention to road signs. Icelandic roads are very narrow and their condition is often unpredictable. Please use caution while driving.
|Unbridged rivers in the highlands can be dangerous. Never cross it alone, check it first. Insurance does not cover damages caused in this situation.
|Animals are often on the road or near it. They can easily run across the road when your car approaches, please pay attention
|Driving under influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited by law.
|Seat-belt use is obliged in all seats of the car by law. Please make sure all your passengers and driver have their seatbelt on.
|Never drive tired. During summertime you can experience 24-hour sunlight, this confuses many people. We recommend not driving in too long hauls. Take breaks, enjoy nature and if you are really tired drive to a safe area, away from traffic, and take a 15-minute nap.
|Headlights are obliged 24 hours by law. Please make sure that your car has the main headlights on at all times.
|Driving in ash/sandstorm can be dangerous, it can be slippery and soft, please drive carefully. Damages to the vehicle caused by ash or sandstorm are not covered by insurance. It is important to check the weather forecast before you go on your trip.
Respecting the Iceland nature when driving
Oh, the tales that the Icelandic nature can tell! From her mossy knolls to the rugged cliffs that stand guard over the Atlantic, she’s a beauty. But just like any good saga, there’s a code of honor here. Off-road driving? That’s the dragon we don’t dare to battle – it’s illegal, friends, because our natural paradise is as fragile as it is fierce. Treat it with the same respect you’d show a grand old storyteller, and we’ll all get to enjoy the epic tales for generations to come.
In this land of fire and ice, the sheep – those fluffy locals – roam as freely as the stories of elves and trolls. They’re part of the magic, dotting the hills and valleys with their carefree dance. But when you’re behind the wheel, remember to slow your roll. These woolly wanderers are known to leap before they look, and we want every tale to have a happy ending.
So, let’s make a pact as we buckle up for this adventure – to drive with care and leave no trace, except for the stories we’ll share. Let’s keep Iceland’s saga alive and pure, with every path we take and every track we leave behind. Because every time we choose to protect our wild and wonderful stage, we keep the magic of this land alive for tomorrow’s storytellers.
How to drive in Iceland? Basic rules in one video
In this video, Iceland Academy tutor and Duty Officer of Icelandic Search and Rescue Jónas Guðmundsson reveals key tips for safe driving in Iceland.
What types of cheap rental cars are available in Iceland?
At Firefly, we’ve got a fleet of trusty steeds that cater to every kind of traveller, from small 2WD economy cars to 4×4 SUVs. Fancy a robust four-wheel drive to conquer those wild highland routes? We’ve got you covered. More of a city slicker? Our compact cars are perfect for navigating Reykjavik’s charming streets with ease. And for those looking to merge budget with adventure, we’ve got options that won’t have you digging too deep into those pockets.
Choosing the right car is like picking the right hiking boots – it’s all about the fit for your journey. If you’re dreaming of venturing onto the F-Roads or dancing with the Northern Lights in winter, a four-wheel drive isn’t just a suggestion – it’s a must.
And here’s a little secret from us to you – we’re all about those savvy deals, which is why we’ve hung onto some charming older models that still have plenty of pep in their step. These gems are up for grabs at prices that’ll have you smiling all the way from the Golden Circle to the edge of Vatnajökull.
They’re perfect for the traveler who’s looking to pinch those pennies without missing out on a single awe-inspiring view. Because at Firefly, we believe that exploring Iceland doesn’t have to cost you a treasure chest. So, how about it? Ready to snag an amazing deal and hit the road?