Driving in Iceland

Driving in Iceland

When visiting Iceland and planning to self-drive to all the wonderful places or to chase the Northern lights, there are several things you need to know before you get behind the wheel. Please take note of the following safety precautions before you start driving in Iceland.

Although Icelanders are known to be hospitable, the Icelandic climate and nature may not be, especially if you tend to visit Iceland during winter. In order for you to get along with Icelandic weather and the nature, you have to stick to some strict guidelines and policies to ensure the safety of everybody. Icelanders follow them too, so as a tourist you should respect the rules to fully enjoy your visit without having any accidents.

Never Ignore Rules and Restrictions

Driving restrictions are implied in Iceland for everyones safety. Never ignore these restrictions. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Driving off-roads, and driving on marked tracks, is strictly forbidden.
  • Stay in your lane.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Driving while drunk or under the influenced of drugs will instantly put you behind bars.
  • Talking on your mobile while driving is prohibited unless you have a headset.
  • Drive slowly on mountain roads, roads with loose gravel and on national highways with a long stretch of asphalt to prevent tire slip. When the road changes from paved to gravel, you should also decrease your speed.
  • Mountain roads are usually very narrow and winding so keep your speed down to avoid falling off the cliff.
  • Never speed, even if there are no police around.
  • Sometimes you will come across old and narrow bridges that only one car can cross at the time. When a car is coming from the other direction, stop your car and let the other car cross the bridge before you.
  • There are lots of blind summits in Iceland so keep driving in your lane, on the right-hand side of the road, and be aware of other cars.
  • Never drive too long during summer where the sun shines for 24 hours. Some tourists forget about this because they are used to using daylight and darkness as symbol of day and night. This is one reason why accidents in Iceland occur, tourists can drive for too long and accidentally doze off while driving.
  • Icelanders care for their animals safety so keep in mind that if you see sheep or horses crossing the road, always let them cross first. If you hit them, you have to pay a fine or you could end up in jail. Better safe than sorry.

2WD vehicles are not allowed on road number 35 in KJÖLUR, road number 550 in KALDIDALUR and other roads that are marked F on Icelands official maps. You can get maps at gas stations, local tourist offices and in bookstores in Iceland. Please respect these rules and guidelines as they are to avoid any accidents. Drivers that do not comply with these rules, will have their insurance revoked and in many cases of accidents, whether it’s the driver driving 2WD fault or not, it will still be the one to be held reliable.

Other Useful Information

General Speed Limits

Here are the general speed limits in Iceland although there can always speed signs on the sides of the road too. It’s useful to memorise these:

Urban areas – 50 km/h
Rural areas (gravel roads) – 80 km/h
Rural areas (asphalt roads) – 90 km/h


Motorists need to turn on their headlights all the time. Remember, there will be times that the sun does not shine in Iceland, even during daytime, so keep them turned on at all times.

Gasoline / Petrol

Petrol stations are open until 11:00 pm / 11:30 pm in most areas of Iceland. In Reykjavik, gas stations are open from 7:30am to 8:00pm during weekdays and Saturdays. On Sundays they are open from 9:00am to 8:00pm. You can also find self-operated pumps at gas stations in Reykjavik that you ca use after closing time. They accept all major credit cards.

Insurance and Valid Driver’s License

If you are driving your own car then you must bring with you your “Green Card” or any third-party insurance proof. There can be exceptions on countries in Europe.

Always bring a valid drivers licence.

Mountain Roads

You can only drive on mountain tracks when you are driving a 4WD vehicle. It’s advisable, sometimes required, that two or more vehicles need to travel together. Please be aware that mountain tracks are slippery during winter period. Always ask the local tourist information offices about road conditions and check the weather forecast before you start your journey.

You will find many car rentals in Iceland where you can find a car that suits your needs, offering different car types for different budgets.

4 day self drive in West Iceland

4 Day Self-Drive in West Iceland

In the western part of Iceland you will find many wonderful and adventurous places. Here is an ideal four day self-drive route. Please note that it is important, especially in winter, to check the forecast and road conditions before you head off!

The 4 Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Deildartunguhver, Reykholt, Hraunfossar

You start the day by picking up your rental car, if you haven´t already. When everything is set, drive out of Reykjavík and head towards the Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel. When you have driven under the deepest fjord in Europe, head towards Borgarnes where you can make a short stop, grab lunch and get some fresh air. Your next stop is Deildartunguhver in Reykholtsdalur, which is the highest-flow hot spring in Europe. In the area you will find many interesting places, such as Reykholt and Hraunfossar waterfalls. From there, drive back to Borgarnes where you will spend the night. We recommend you book accommodation in advance. Borgarnes is a nice town where you will find museums, gardens, restaurants and much more.

Day 2 – Snælfellsnes

After enjoying breakfast, you drive out of Borgarnes and at the roundabouts you choose to road towards Snæfellsnes. The drive is a few hours but the scenery is breathtaking. Your first stop is Arnarstapi, a beautiful natural treasure. Within a walking distance, you will find Hellnar. Take your time to enjoy the scenery and the breathtaking nature. The Snæfellsnesjökull glacier is almost next door to Arnarstapi. The local agencies can inform you about tours, such as snowmobiling, if you are interested. There are several hotels in the area, which might be ideal for a Northern lights hunt in winter, but please ask in advance whether they are open all year round.

Day 3 – Stykkishólmur

After a good night sleep, you now start making your way to the other side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Your first stop is Ólafvík where you can enjoy lunch and take a stroll around the village. Your next stop is Stykkishólmur where you will check in at your hotel (please pre-book) and enjoy the rest of the day in this lovely town. You can go sailing, visit museum, visit Flatey island, go swimming or just relax.

Day 4 – Back to Reykjavik

This is the last day of the 4 day self-drive tour. We suggest you start heading back no later than noon so you can make stops on the way back to Reykjavík and enjoy the scenery and the beautiful nature. We want emphasize that it is very important, when travelling in winter, that you check the weather forecast and the conditions of the roads, as you never know what to expect weather-wise in Iceland, especially in winter!