Renting a car for your trip to Iceland? It’s important to know how to read the road signs! Read on for our complete guide on how to interpret Icelandic types of road signs and what each symbol means.
How to read Iceland road signs?
Almost all of the road signs in Iceland are icons or symbols, rather than words. This certainly comes in handy if you don’t happen to speak Icelandic! But it also means that you’ll need to brush up on your Icelandic road sign knowledge before hitting the road.
Road signs that have Icelandic words typically also include symbols that almost anyone can understand. For instance a sign that reads, “Óbrúadar Ár” and also shows a car fording a river. For American drivers, it’s important to keep in mind that speed limit signs are posted in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour.
Remember that most of Iceland’s road signs are simple to read with an obvious meaning behind the symbols.
The Basic Iceland Road Signs
Common Symbols and Their Meanings
Information signs help drivers know where to park, where speed cameras are, and dead ends. These signs tend to have more Icelandic words printed on them, along with the typical symbols and are fairly straightforward. These signs have a blue and white background with various colored symbols in their center.
Service signs in Iceland show where various amenities and servies are throughout town. A red cross with a white background indicates a hospital while a person swimming is telling drivers where the nearest public swimming pool is (a common community feature in Iceland!) These signs always have a blue and white background with a symbol in the center.
Prohibitory signs in Iceland will show a black symbol surrounded by yellow with a red bands around the outside and red diagonal line. These types of signs let drivers know the rules of the particular road they’re driving on, including speed limit, where you can park, and whether or not you can turn around.
Various signs to watch for include a circular sign that is yellow with a red outer band and no symbol. This means that you can’t go any further on the road. A circular yellow sign with a greyed out symbol and four black slashes through it means that a particular road zone is ending and new rules, including speed limit, will take affect.
Warning signs in Iceland will always be triangular in shape, have a red outer band, yellow background, and a black symbol or text in the center. These road signs alert drivers to any upcoming potential hazards down the road.
P.S. the speed signs in Iceland are usually shared the same color tone, that shaped as circle with a yellow background and a red circle outer band.
Some warning signs include an image of Icelandic sheep to warn of potential farm animals crossing in the road ahead, a curved arrow to indicate that the road is about to turn, or a simple exclamation mark which is simply warning drivers to slow down and be cautious!
You’ll see mandatory road signs scattered throughout Iceland. These signs are not a suggestion but signal a rule that drivers must follow! Mandatory road signs have a white outer band, blue background, and a white symbol in the center.
Mandatory signs to watch out for include an indication for where the bike lane is and two diagonal arrows that point downward which signifies that you can pass other cars on either side.
The Significance of Colors and Shapes
The most common road signs in Iceland colors you’ll see are red, yellow, black, white and blue. As a rule of thumb, red and yellow are typically warning and prohibitory signs, while blue and white indicate the rules of the road or how to park.
- Parking signs in Iceland are usually in blue with a P letter in white
Unique Road Signs You’ll Encounter in Iceland
While most of Iceland’s road signs are straightforward, some are a bit unusual. Here are a few unique road signs in Iceland to watch out for.
Gravel road sign
Gravel road signs are typically two in one. They show a yellow and red warning sign with a black exclamation on top and then have a secondary sign showing a car hitting gravel on the bottom. The words, “Malbik Endar” will typically be displayed beneath the image of the car.
Some roads in Iceland are entirely gravel, especially F Roads. It’s important to head these signs so that you don’t lose control of your vehicle unexpectedly.
One-lane Bridge Sign
The one-lane bridge sign in Iceland can be a little confusing. Although these signs are typically displayed on rural roads, its important to know what they look like.
These signs will also have an exclamation mark warning sign first and then a secondary red and yellow sign showing a car driving along a narrow bridge.
The words, “Einbreid Bru” will appear at the bottom of the sign. It’s incredibly important to pay attention for this sign, especially in inclement weather.
4×4 Car Required Road signs
If you’re driving around Iceland with a standard, 2-wheel drive car 4×4 car signs are especially important to watch out for.
This road sign will show a car, labeled 4×4, fording a river with the words, “Obruadar Ar”, at the base of the sign. If you come across this sign while driving a non-4×4 vehicle you’ll need to stop immediately and turn around.
There is no car insurance in Iceland that covers the underside of your car and you could potentially put yourself in a dangerous situation trying to cross a river without 4-wheel drive. Even with a 4×4 car, some rivers can become impassable in the summer months and its important to understand the potential risks.
Safety Precautions While Driving in Iceland
Adhering to Sign Instructions
Driving conditions in Iceland can be treacherous in some areas. Iceland sees more varying weather than just ice and snow. Volcanoes and ash also come to play. Road signs are posted for driver safety and should be adhered to strictly.
Additional Safety Tips
Unless you’re traveling Iceland in the summer months (June to August), you’re bound to encounter snow and ice on some of the roads outside the capital. Driving in winter requires previous knowledge on driving in icy conditions and visitors who have never driven in snow should be cautious even in the shoulder seasons.
Never head out on a drive in Iceland without first checking road conditions via their official website road.is . It’s also a great idea to check the weather forecast for your destination and the areas you’ll be driving through. Weather in Iceland can change with the drop of a hat.
One of the best tools to utilize for driving on Icelandic roads is a reliable car, particularly one with 4-wheel drive if there’s a chance of snow or ice. Firefly Iceland Car Rental is your best bet for inexpensive rental car options with a knowledgable and experienced staff that can help you choose the best car for your trip.
Driving in Iceland certainly comes with its challenges but if you can read the signs and know what to expect, you’re well on your way to a safe road trip around the country.
Book your rental car with Firefly Iceland Car Rentals for inexpensive rates any time of year. Their knowledgable staff can assist you with any questions about Iceland’s road signs, whether or not you need a 4×4 vehicle, and what insurance option you should choose, all important factors so that you can have an incredible time driving Iceland’s stunning roads.