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 Ring 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.
The Ring Road is mostly paved and makes for easy Driving in Iceland
After 10 days of 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 driving in Iceland here: Hiring a campervan in Iceland
Driving in Iceland Rules and Regulations
- It’s against the law to operate after drinking alcohol in Iceland (same as UK + UK).
- Icelandic 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 whilst driving in Iceland.
- 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 in Iceland?
These speed limits for driving in Iceland are correct at the time of writing. You’ll notice that the limits are less than some of the speeds limits on roads when driving in the UK.
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
If you’re already thinking that driving might not be for you then this 3-day itinerary for Iceland which doesn’t involve driving!
Conversion to mph
Driving fines in Iceland
Please watch out for the speed camera signs when you’re driving in Iceland. 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 9.50 pm, on a very long straight road. Yes, you guessed it, flashing lights and a very large fine, boo hoo :(.
How much did my speeding ticket cost me?
Unfortunately, driving on a very long straight section of the Ring Road, I exceeded the 90 km/ h speed limit on the Ring Road. My speed was over 100 km/ h.
I’m not condoning what I did, but on very straight roads, with no traffic and good weather conditions, it’s easy to lose your concentration after a long day driving in Iceland.
I opted to pay my speeding ticket on the spot. I always carry a credit card for emergency situations and I was advised by the Icelandic police the speeding fine/ticket would be cheaper if I paid it upfront.
The amount was calculated on a sliding scale, so the faster you were driving above the speed limit the higher your fine! My speeding ticket cost me £175 – yes I know, so expensive and you’ll see why I recommend NOT to speed when you’re driving in Iceland!
General Driving in Iceland – Useful Tips + Advice
What side of the road do you drive on in Iceland?
- In Iceland, you drive on the right (useful to know if you drive on the left – like me in the UK!)
Is it Dangerous Driving in Iceland?
Driving in Iceland can vary how dangerous it is, depending on what time of year you travel. In the summer months, although the weather is better you can have days where the weather can be unpredictable. But the driving in the winter months is a completely different driving challenge and one that needs to be considered carefully before booking your trip to Iceland.
Top driving tip for summer
- Be careful of long driving days in the summer due to the daylight. It’s easy to be out exploring all day without taking a break.
- Watch out for strong winds when opening your doors. A strong gust can cause serious damage.
Here are a few other situations/driving conditions you will come across whilst you are driving in Iceland:
Can you drive on the Gravel roads in Iceland?
You can drive on the gravel roads in Iceland in a 2WD. But here are a few tips for driving on the gravel roads
- 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 was not impressed with the one idiot who sped past me whilst I was there, with stones flying everywhere.
Loose stones can fly up and hit the windscreen or side of the car, even when you’re driving slowly.
If you haven’t taken gravel protection insurance with your campervan rental 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.
Further reading on Iceland
Is it scary driving in Iceland?
Generally, driving in Iceland isn’t that scary, providing the weather isn’t too bad. But there are a few blind summits as you drive around the Ring Road. 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!
Stopping on the Ring Road in Iceland – It’s unsafe and dangerous to stop your car by the side of the road. Keep going until you see a suitable ‘Parking’ spot.
You might like to read: Top tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon.
What do you do at the Single-lane bridges?
I was surprised how many single-lane bridges exist along Iceland’s Ring Road. Wondering what they are? Basically, some bridges were built but were only wide enough for one car to pass at a time.
The rule is that the car driving closer has the right of way but sometimes it’s difficult to judge, especially as some bridges are quite long.
There’s also a sign and flashing lights close to the bridge to warn you in advance.
What else might you see whilst driving in Iceland?
In the summer months, the most common livestock you’ll see is the Icelandic sheep. At the beginning of the summer, all the sheep are released to venture up and graze in the mountains. It seems when I was visiting Iceland most were all still hanging out on the road so created obstacles.
- Be extra careful if you see lambs separated 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.
How to fill up your vehicle in Iceland?
Firstly, check whether your vehicle is Petrol or Diesel – you don’t want to make that mistake miles from where you hired your vehicle from.
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 fill up your fuel 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
More Useful information for driving in Iceland
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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