ou’ve maybe decided to explore the amazing Icelandic wonders and you’re almost ready to jump in your car to start your next epic adventure. That’s great, Iceland is perfect for unforgettable road trips! But before you go, we would like to give you some tips about driving in Iceland and make a summary of safety rules and regulations. Conditions in Iceland are unusual (weather, road…) and unlike what you’re probably accustomed to… We all want that you reach your destination safely, so here we go!
Check the video made by the Office of Tourism in Iceland. They give on-line class and made this brilliant video who summarise all the good tips to have a safe drive in Iceland.
Car rental rules
The minimum age to rent a car in Iceland is 20 years old for regular car
For 4×4 and mini bus, the minimum age is 23 years.
You need a valid driving licence 😉
- A credit card will be asked for the guarantee
(debit card are not accepted)
If you need to rent a car, just click here for more informations
The speed limit in populated areas is from 30 to 50 km/hr
- The gravel roads have often a speed limit of 80 km/hr.
The speed limit on paved roads is usually 90 km/hr.
- Follow the signs: they indicate if other speed limits apply.
- Seat belts for everybody in the car regardless of where seated
Car headlights must be switched on at all times, day or nigh
The use of mobile phones whilst driving is prohibited. No alcohol, no drugs (who will do that?)
- Driving off roads is illegal and punished by laws!
You’ll damage the nature, you take risks, and… Just don’t do it!
- Most of gas stations are open until 23:30
- Some of gas stations have automats after closing time.
You can use them if you pay by credit cards.
Even if there is enough gas station all around the country, never wait the last minute to refill. You can go through isolated areas and you never know what’s next. We’re never too cautious.
- Warning triangle is supposed to be in all rental cars. Don’t forget to check
- Bring food, water, warm clothes: we never know…
Weather & road condition
Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable and change quickly between regions, so always pay attention to weather forecasts and traveling conditions. Before to go always check the website of The Icelandic Meteorological Office and The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. You can find all informations needed. Both websites are often updated and will be your best tool when travelling by car.
- Over the winter, the highland roads are closed
Getting around the country is easy during the summer but can be difficult during winter.
- The Ring Road – road n°1 is mostly paved and well maintained. However there are stretches of unpaved gravel surfaces in the eastern part of the country. The majority of the Ring Road is a single carriageway with two traffic lanes, one in each direction.
When driving, you can see the following signs:
This sign indicates that paved road changes to gravel. Sadly, accidents do occur on rural roads where a paved road suddenly changes to gravel. The main reason is that drivers do not reduce their speed before it changes to gravel and consequently lose control of the vehicle. This sign indicates a changeover to gravel. When driving on gravel roads, which are often quite narrow, it is important to show caution when approaching another car coming from the opposite direction.
This sign indicates that a single-lane bridge is ahead. The actual rule is that the car closer to the bridge has the right-of-way. However, it is wise to stop and assess the situation.
This sign indicates a blind hills, where lanes are not separated, should be approached with caution. There are many blind curves in Iceland that test a driver’s skill.
This sign indicates a change of the road surface.
Choose the speed in accordance with that.
This sign indicates that the road is closed. So it’s pretty obvious: don’t drive. Don’t risk your life and safety by driving into a CLOSED road..
In Iceland, you can expect livestock to be on or alongside the road. It’s usually sheep (sheep are around 440.000 when Icelanders are around 340.000 so, yeah, you’ll see them). Sometimes horses and even cattle can be in your path. (take a picture, don’t drive on them). This is common all over the country. (should we talk about Elves now?)
Focus on the road
It’s very easy to get distracted by the gorgeous landscapes… No matter how beautiful something is, don’t let it distract you from your driving. If you see something that demands your attention, please find a safe place to park.
Points of interest
When you’ll drive, you’ll see lot of gorgeous surroundings, all along the way. And you’ll probably want to make the perfect picture. Our best advice is to not stop on the side of the road, but to wait for a secure parking area. All around the country, there is some spaces where you can stop safely. And to be honest, the person who put the signs did a great job: sometimes you’ve the feeling that you MUST stop your car to enjoy the area. Just wait the parking. They have been chosen carefully and are the best spots, and you’ll not take the risk to damage your car.
This sign indicates that there is something to see, like a good point of view (let’s say that’s a breathtaking stop)
The attractions in a area will be indicated by signs along the road. A place of interest is written in red on a white sign.
Meet our friend
celand and tourists have a good friend: Elfis (not Elvis, he’s dead, or maybe not) an Icelandic elf who will tell you all about the dangers on the Icelandic road system. All we know about driving come from him.
Seriously, check the website and the videos: they are very informative, full of advices and good tips to be well prepared for the perfect safe adventure…
Click here to access to the website and to say him hello.
Have a safe drive and enjoy your visit!
Post by Thomas (with the whispers of Elfis – shhhh)