DRIVING IN ICELAND SAFETY TIPS!
Iceland offers travellers an adventure of a lifetime in a beautiful and rugged landscape. However, experience shows that the forces of Icelandic nature can be harsh and unpredictable, and travellers are well-advised to exercise caution and respect for the country’s natural environment.
When driving in Iceland there are a few things travellers should keep in mind:
Speed limit and driving laws
- The speed limit on Iceland's route 1 or the ring road as it's called is 90 kmh/56mph (paved roads) and 80 kmh/50mph on gravel roads. In populated areas the limit is 30-50 km/h.
- By law everyone in the car has to wear seatbelts.
- It is mandatory to drive with the headlights on at all times, night or day, summer or winter.
- Driving after consuming alchol is strictly forbidden and can carry heavy fines and loss of drivers permit.
- All off-road driving and driving outside of marked tracks is prohibited by law and is considered a very serious crime. Driving a vehicle off road, that is not on a track, so that it damages the natural environment or leaves a mark carries heavy fines up to 500.000 ISK and/or up to 2 years in jail. The exeption would be if driving on surfaces where the vehicle does not leave a scar in the land. Like when fording rivers or driving on snow covered surfaces. 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.
- Keep in mind that the Icelandic nature is very fragile, especially in the highlands, and we would like to enjoy it for generations to come. Please respect nature and tread carefully.
Highland and mountain roads
- A 4×4 vehicle is essential in the highlands, where you might encounter rough terrain and unbridged waters.
- Most mountain roads and inland roads have loose gravel surfaces.
- Even the so-called highways can have fairly long stretches of gravel surfaces. The sides of the roads are especially slippery so please be careful when driving around Iceland 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. Journeys may therefore take longer than expected.
For up to date information on road conditions and openings, please visit the website of the Icelandic Road Administration.
- One of Iceland‘s most unique features is its weather. Icelanders are wont to say: ,,In Iceland you can experience all the four seasons in one day”.
- So we recommend coming prepared and keep a close eye on the weather forecast everyday. It is important that you always have some good outdoor clothes with you when you travel around Iceland.
- When driving in winter, you can expect to face snow, icy roads and darkness. If you are travelling outside of populated areas, always make sure that you check weather conditions and report your planned route to someone.
- If you plan on going hiking (which we most definitely recommend), please check the weather forecast just before leaving. As mentioned before the weather can change very quickly so even a two day weather forecast can be quite inaccurate.
Information on weather and weather forecasts can be found at The Icelandic Meteorological Office's website.