Iceland’s Ring Road, known as the ‘1’ is one of the most popular routes to take around the whole of Iceland. Although, this doesn’t mean to say you might take the odd side trip on your way around. The road is mostly paved and makes for easy driving in Iceland, especially if you’re driving on the opposite side of the road like I was.
After 10 days driving around this beautiful country in my Go Campers campervan, I’m by no means an expert. But I’ve put together some tips and advice for driving around Iceland. Please take special note of the speed limits. As I learnt my lesson the hard way!
Read about my campervan experience here: Hiring a campervan in Iceland
Driving in Iceland rules and regulations
- It’s against the law to operate after drinking alcohol.
- The law states that you must have headlights on at all times – both day and night.
- Seatbelts must be worn.
- Hands-free equipment must be used if using a phone.
- Only 4×4 vehicles are allowed to drive on the F roads (and for good reason).
- Off-road driving – It’s forbidden to drive off-road – this can result in serious damage to vegetation and can take decades for nature to repair. And serious fines or imprisonment!
Read my awesome money saving tips – 15 ways to save money in Iceland
What are the speed limits?
Please watch out for the speed camera signs. Police patrols are visible in the area, particularly on the way in and out of towns. And you will be issued a ticket if you’re caught speeding. I know this from my experience driving in Iceland, 10 minutes away from my campsite at 9.50pm, on a very long straight road. Yes, you guessed it, flashing lights and a very large fine, boo hoo :(.
Urban areas – 30 km/h or 50 km/h (Check signs as you enter towns)
Road tunnels – 70 km/h
Gravel roads – 80 km/h
Paved roads – 90 km/h
Conversion to mph
*Book your Iceland flights now: Skyscanner
General driving – Useful advice
- In Iceland they drive on the right (useful to know if you drive on the left – like me in the UK!)
- Be careful of long driving days in the summer due to the daylight.
- Watch out for strong winds when opening your doors. A strong gust can cause serious damage.
- It’s unsafe and dangerous to stop your car by the side of the road. Keep going until you see a suitable ‘Parking’ spot.
Here are a few other situations/driving conditions you will come across whilst you are driving in Iceland:
Gravel roads that go on for miles!
Reduce speed, stone chips can cause you to lose control if going too fast and not reducing when going from road to gravel. Show caution when approaching other vehicles. It’s just polite, I can say I was not impressed with the one idiot who sped past me whilst I was there.
Loose stones can fly up and hit the windscreen or side of the car. If you haven’t taken gravel protection insurance then you want to be careful. I drove carefully the entire time (apart from that speeding ticket) and still ended up with a tiny stone chip on the windscreen. Also on some gravel roads, there are huge potholes that you need to watch out for
some scary Blind hills
Some roads don’t have a centre line so approaching these with caution is the best advice. And they can have a steep decline on the other side so slow is the best way to go!
You might like to read: Top tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon.
Yet another Single lane bridge
I was surprised how many of single lane bridges exist along Iceland’s Ring Road. The rule is that the car closer has the right of way but sometimes it’s difficult to judge, especially as some bridges are quite long.
There’s a sign and flashing lights to warn you in advance.
Baa baa – Livestock on the road
The most common livestock is the sheep in the summer. At the beginning of the summer, all the sheep are released to venture up into the mountains. It seems when I was there most were all still hanging out on the road.
Be extra careful if you see lambs separate from their mothers, they are likely to run across the road to be with them. Please note if you do hit an animal then you are liable.
Filling up your vehicle
There are plenty of gas stations in Iceland. A mix of completely self-service pumps to full-service fuel stations. You pay by card to a pre-authorised amount. But if you don’t put that much in you will only be charged what you put in.
Remember to use them when you see them! For my 10 days drive around Iceland’s Ring Road I didn’t let our fuel tank drop much below half which did mean filling up most days but it gave you the confidence to explore without worrying about running empty.
Short on time? Check out this 4-day Iceland itinerary
National emergency number: 112
Road conditions and alerts: 1777 & 1778
Safety information: www.safetravel.is
Road conditions and alerts: www.road.is
Weather forecast: en.vedur.is
Foreign travellers (road and driving conditions) www.vegagerdin.is
Do you have any more questions or concerns about driving in Iceland? Ask me any questions in the comments below:
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