Driving in Iceland
The Ring Road
The main road in Iceland is called The Ring Road (or Road nr.1) and it goes, like the name suggest around the island. It is by far the best road to drive on and it is the most popular as well. It is paved with asphalt and can be driven for the most part of the year. In total The Ring Road is 1.340 km and the speed limit is 90 km/h or 55 mph.
When driving there are a couple of things that are worth to bear in mind:
- Country roads are mostly gravel roads
- In Iceland there is Right-Side driving
- There are some single-lane bridges on The Ring Road
- Sheeps tend to cross the road and can create dange
When driving in Reykjavik
When driving in Iceland’s capital you’ll find that the roads are very good and well maintained. In the older part of Reykjavik there are narrow streets that are, in many cases intended for one-way traffic.The speed limit is usually around 50 km/h or 31 mph.
Wearing seat belts is mandatory in Iceland for all passengers. Drivers are held responsible for any passenger under the age of 15 not wearing a seatbelt. Not wearing a seat belt can result in a fine.
Alcohol and driving
Driving under the influence is strictly forbidden and can lead to a fine and possibly a jail sentence. The threshold for the alcohol level in blood is very low (.05%).
Talking on the phone while driving
It is forbidden to talk in the phone while driving in Iceland, unless you use a hands-free system. The fine is 5000 kr or about 45$.
Weather in Iceland
It is important to take into account the weather conditions in Iceland when driving. The weather can change very fast and unexpectedly. In the wintertime there can be heavy snow and fast winds. In the summertime there can also be a rapid change of weather. It is always good to be well informed. Information about the conditions of roads can be found at vegagerdin.is. Information can also be found at safetravel.is or you can call the Road Service for information at +354-1778 between 08:00 and 16:00 local time.
Caught in a stormIf you are caught in a storm the most important thing is to never leave your vehicle. Most fatal accidents involving tourists occur because they tend to underestimate the weather.
Highland roads (F-roads)
In general, rented cars are not meant to go on highland roads (marked F-roads). If a rented car does go on a highland road the insurance will not cover that. When renting a car, bear in mind that driving on highland roads is forbidden and can be dangerous. However it is possible to rent a 4x4 car or jeep that is suitable for off road areas such as the highland roads, but it should always be done with caution.
Going on highland roads in IcelandThe Icelandic highland is closed during the winter and it is only accessible during summer (july and august). Most highland roads are gravel roads that are not made for fast driving. The speed limit is 80 km/h or 50 mph and caution is advised when driving.
Going off-road in Iceland is forbidden
Driving off-road in Iceland is strictly forbidden by law in all of Iceland. Off-road is defined to be everything that is not marked on maps. Breaking these laws can result in a substantial fine.