Driving In Iceland | ALL You Need To Know BEFORE You Go

Driving in Iceland - sunset views

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

Hints and tips for driving in Iceland
Driving 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?

Driving in Iceland - along Ring Road
Stopping on the drive to admire views along Ring Road

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

km/h mph
30 18
40 25
50 31
60 37
70 43
80 50
90 56
100 62

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

Waterfall in Iceland
Driving gives you so many more options for your trip

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?

Hints and tips for driving in Iceland
Watching the sunset on an Icelandic gravel road.

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?

Hints and tips for driving in Iceland - filling up fuel
Filling up at one of the self-serve fuel stations 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:

Save to your Iceland Pinterest boards

Planning a trip to Iceland? A great way to get around is by hiring a car or campervan. Read my useful hints and tips before driving in Iceland. Road trip in Iceland | Driving tips | Iceland's road | Tips for driving in Iceland | Iceland road laws | Campervan life | 4 WD in Iceland |

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.

6 thoughts on “Driving In Iceland | ALL You Need To Know BEFORE You Go

  1. John the Wanderer says:

    I generally don’t rent a car when I travel. But if I do, I will be sure to use these tips the next time I visit Iceland.

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah that’s great John. I don’t normally rent a car either but Iceland is a perfect place to do it in as it’s relatively easy to drive around. And there’s so much to see it gives you the freedom to stop whereever you want!

  2. mikaela says:

    Hi! Thank you for the helpful post! My husband and I leave in just a few days and are quite nervous about driving in downpouring rain, with wind and fog, due to all of the rain they’ve been getting! Did you run into any of this? We are particularly concerned that the driving/weather conditions in the Eastern Fjords might scare us off of going there, so we’d love your input!

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Hi Mikaela, Thank you for your comments. Wow, how exciting you’ll have a wonderful time. I was fortunate not to experience any rain but I did have a few days that were quite windy so I was extra conscious when opening the campervan doors as this is a comment accident that the wind didn’t damage them when opening (you basically need to ensure the vehicle is parked so the wind is blowing towards you). I do remember the East coast being slightly windier but the weather changes all the time. There was a great weather for roads and weather in Iceland which I checked most days to see if any big weather systems were coming in. I will find and send you an email. Have a great trip 🙂

  3. Henry says:

    Hello Becky.
    You may remember our paths crossed when we both came back from Iceland.I see you’re keeping busy still
    You mentioned in your travel notes that you were caught speeding and fined heavily. What you did not mention is that the Iceland police are very officious and a traveller may be left with the impression that they go out of their way to catch tourists to boost their receipts from fines.
    I have some random thoughts on my trip: if you go on a bus, get the ticket or a carnet beforehand. Otherwise you may be caught by a hefty minimum fare. No change is given
    I managed to avoid some of the expense of Icelandic prices by travelling the Northwestern fjords on a Dutch boat Tecla which I booked through Classic Sailing who do some weeks in June most years. https://classic-sailing.co.uk/schedules/tecla Very friendly family-crew/owners. You pay Dutch prices in Euros. Great week sailing in wild country round the NW Fjords, starting in Isafjordur. You get there by local flight from the little airport in Reykjavik and can use a couple of days at start and finish to see waterfalls,geysers and the city
    There’s a brilliant friendly open table fish restaurant in Isafordjur -Tjoruhusid. Excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. Long way to go, but worth it!
    Keep enjoying your travels, Becky !!

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah that sounds wonderful Henry, goodness that was over a year ago, so lovely to hear you’re still enjoying your travels too. Thanks for the tip, I’m not great on boats but it might be an interesting experience. Enjoy your travels too 🙂

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