In this section,ISLANDIACAR wants to offer you information that we consider important when traveling by car around Iceland, as well as driving on its road network.
We also want to provide you with relevant information on Iceland that could be of interest to you and that could be particularly helpful in getting you to know Iceland better before, during or even after your trip.
From our experience as drivers in Iceland and as enthusiasts of the landscape, folk and culture of this country, we hope that this can help you and that we can do our bit to make your trip around the “Magical Island” an unforgettable experience.
Icelandic nature can be wild and dangerous, especially for those unfamiliar with it and unused to travelling in uninhabited areas and rough country. Travellers should prepare well for each trip and know its trail and route conditions. This is the best way to prevent accidents and ensure a pleasant and safe journey.
Choose clothing and footwear with care. Read about conditions in the area you will be traversing and talk to people with local knowledge, such as rangers.Let somebody know about your planned trip.
Check weather and road conditions
- Information available from the Public Roads Administration, tel. 1777.
Check the weather forecast
- Information available from the Icelandic Meteorological Office, tel. 902-0600.
Iceland offers the traveller an adventure in a beautiful and rugged landscape. However, experience shows that the forces of Icelandic nature can be harsh and inhospitable, and travellers are well-advised to exercise caution and respect for the country’s natural environment.
Unfortunately, there have been far too many accidents in the past few years involving foreign tourists travelling around the country. These accidents range from minor to fatal.
The most common type of accident is that of hikers losing their footing on uneven terrain. The most serious injuries, however, are caused by road traffic accidents where travellers drive too fast in unfamiliar conditions and do not wear seat belts.
Icelandic weather is very volatile. Fair weather can change into a raging storm at a moment’s notice. Keep this in mind at all times, especially when travelling in the highlands.
For every 100m in altitude gained, you can expect the mean temperature to drop by 0.6°C and precipitation to increase. The temperature can drop below the freezing point even during summer, especially at night.
At mountain tops, wind force can multiply.
The mobile phone connection is fairly reliable in towns, but outside them it can be very unstable. Therefore, do not rely on a mobile phone as a safety measure. The long-range NMT network covers most parts of the highlands but not all parts. The signals are often strongest on top of hillocks and mountains.
Travellers intending to explore out-of-the-way areas are encouraged to use the Travellers'' Reporting Service of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), tel. +00354 570 5900.
The Emergency Number in Iceland is 112
In case of accident please call first to emergency services.
Road conditions in Iceland vary substantially.
Highway 1 is mostly paved, but other country roads are often very narrow, steep and washboarded gravel tracks with potholes and sharp corners.
Those unfamiliar with such conditions often find it difficult to drive on Icelandic roads, especially gravel roads.
Drivers are advised to choose a vehicle which they are used to driving and can handle easily. Many travellers who are not used to driving jeeps find them difficult to handle on Icelandic gravel roads.
- Slow down when you meet other vehicles, especially when driving on a gravel road.
- Where the road changes from a paved road to a gravel road, you need to slow down considerably.
Many serious accidents occur every year at such places, especially among drivers who are unfamiliar with such road conditions, lose control of their vehicle and drive off the road.
Highland roads in Iceland are usually narrow gravel roads, and most rivers are unbridged. On maps, they are indicated with an F before the road number, with most of these roads intended for jeeps only.
Highland roads are open only during the summertime, weather and other circumstances permitting.
As a guide we provide the opening and closing dates of the main roads "F" of Iceland in the period 2007-2011 clicking here.
¡WARNING! Driving outside marked trails is prohibited and is subject to nature conservation law.
Should be attempted only in fourwheel-drive vehicles, such as jeeps. Ensure that the four-wheel drive has been engaged before driving into the water. Drive very slowly but steadily in first gear and use the low range if available.
Keep in mind that fords over glacial rivers keep changing. On warm summer days, the flow increases as the day progresses. Heavy rain often causes rivers to swell, sometimes making them uncrossable even for large and wellequipped vehicles. Glacial rivers usually have less water in the mornings.
Deaths have been caused by underestimating the water volume in rivers. Before crossing a glacial river, it is necessary to examine its velocity, depth and bottom by wading into it. If you find that you would be unwilling to wade across the river on foot, you should not attempt to drive across it. Seek advice from experienced drivers and watch how and where they cross.
Below are two videos of how NOT to do it and how to DO it in case you have to:
- How NOT to cross a river.
- HOW to cross a river.
Remember that any damage from fording streams will always be the sole responsibility of the driver and in any case is covered by any insurance either CDW or SDCW.
There is only one petrol station in the highlands (at Hveravellir) that sells petrol and diesel. Keep this in mind when driving in the highland.
Are common in Iceland. Slow down and keep to the right-hand edge of the road.
Here are many one-lane bridges in Iceland. Slow down and use caution when driving across them.
Many Icelandic roads are raised on embankments against winter snows. Therefore, roll-over accidents often occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles and drive off the road. Such accidents can be very serious, especially when seat belts are not used.
In the summertime, there is sunlight 24 hours a day.
Drivers need to be aware of this and not drive for too long, as they might otherwise fall asleep behind the wheel.
THE SPEED LIMIT
In urban areas is normally 50 km per hour. Outside towns, it is 90 km, on paved roads and 80 km on gravel roads. Always adjust your speed to the driving conditions.
Are often close to, or even on, country roads.
Drivers who hit animals may be required to pay for the damage.
MOVILE & DRIVING
The use of hands-free kits is compulsory for mobile phone use whilst driving.
Driving while intoxicated from drug or alcohol use is prohibited.
Are required to be lit 24 hours a day while the vehicle is in operation.
The use of front and back seat belts is compulsory – they save lives.
We recommend that you visit the Safe Travel webpage.Book Now