THE ROAD AHEAD
Self-drive tours around Iceland are a popular mode of travel. The sights along the way are numerous and breathtaking. But this beautiful and rugged landscape can also create challenges that drivers may not have come across in other countries. Make sure you are fully prepared and know the rules of the road. Here are some helpful tips for driving in Iceland.
The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue
Weather forecasts from The Icelandic Meteorological Office
Road conditions from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA)
- The 112 app
The Icelandic emergency number app with location based services
Instructional video from the Icelandic Transport Authority
Off-road driving in Iceland is prohibited by law. Due to our short summers, Icelandic soil and vegetation is extremely vulnerable. Tire tracks can leave marks for decades. Please respect Icelandic nature and tread carefully.
MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE
A “Green Card” or other proof of third-party insurance is mandatory for motorists driving their own cars in Iceland, except from countries from the EU and the EEA. Please make sure you aquire one before arrival.
Automated self-service filling stations are operated in all towns and along major highways. Distances between filling stations may vary. Make sure you have enough fuel to reach the next one.
How to drive in Iceland
Here are some key tips for safe driving in Iceland. Make sure you always stay safe on the roads when you head out to explore our beautiful country.
Watch this instructional video on how to drive in Iceland.
Special warning signs indicate danger ahead, such as sharp bends, but there is generally no separate sign to reduce speed. Please choose a safe speed according to conditions. Motorists are obliged by law to use headlights at all times, day and night. Passengers in the front and backseats of an automobile are required by law to use safety belts. Icelandic law forbids any driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while talking on a mobile phone is also banned.
The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on asphalt roads. Maps can be incredibly helpful. Ask for road maps and maps of Iceland at local tourist offices, bookstores or filling stations. Always take along a detailed map.
All off-road driving and driving outside of marked tracks is prohibited by law. Icelandic nature is delicate and tire tracks from off-road driving can cause substantial damage to the vegetation and leave marks that will last for decades. Respect the nature and tread carefully
Most mountain roads and roads in the interior of Iceland have a gravel surface. The surface on the gravel roads is often loose, especially along the sides of the roads, so one should drive carefully and slow down whenever an oncoming car approaches. The mountain roads are also often very narrow, and are not made for speeding. The same goes for many bridges, which are only wide enough for one car at a time. In addition to not having an asphalt surface, the mountain roads are often very windy. Journeys may therefore take longer than expected.
Most mountain roads are closed until the end of June, or even longer, because of snow and muddy conditions, which make them impassable. When these roads are opened for traffic many of them can only be negotiated by four-wheel-drive vehicles. For some mountain tracks it is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. Check road conditions with a tourist information office or the IRCA website.
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