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13 Important Things To Know Before Driving In Iceland


by Lolly Casale


Driving in Iceland can be an incredible adventure, allowing you to explore the breathtaking landscapes and hidden gems of this stunning country at your own pace. However, it’s important to be well-prepared before embarking on this journey. Iceland is known for its unique driving conditions and unpredictable weather patterns, which can pose challenges even for experienced drivers. To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, there are several important things you should know before hitting the road in Iceland. From understanding the local driving laws to being aware of potential hazards and knowing how to handle the rugged terrain, this article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to driving in Iceland. So fasten your seatbelt and get ready for an unforgettable adventure on the Icelandic roads!

Familiarize Yourself with Icelandic Traffic Rules and Signs

Before embarking on your Icelandic road trip, take the time to familiarize yourself with the country’s traffic rules and signage. This will ensure that you understand the local driving regulations and can navigate safely and confidently.

Check the Road Conditions and Weather Forecast

Icelandic weather can change rapidly, so always check the road conditions and weather forecast before setting off on your journey. The official website, “Road.is,” provides real-time updates on road conditions, closures, and weather alerts across the country.

Drive on the Right Side of the Road

In Iceland, as in most of mainland Europe, vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road. If you are from a country where driving is on the left, take extra care to adjust to the change and stay on the correct side during your trip.

Purchase a Good Road Map or GPS

Having a reliable navigation tool is crucial for a successful road trip in Iceland. Invest in a good road map or consider renting a GPS device to ensure you can navigate your way around the island efficiently and reach your destinations safely.

Be Prepared for Unpredictable Weather

Icelandic weather can be highly unpredictable, with sudden changes in wind speed, rain, and even snow. Pack appropriate clothing, including waterproof and windproof gear, to stay warm and dry during your driving adventure.

Watch Out for Wildlife

Iceland is home to various wildlife, including reindeer, sheep, and birds. Stay vigilant when driving, especially in rural areas, as animals may unexpectedly cross the road. Slow down and give them space to pass to avoid accidents.

Keep a Safe Distance from other Vehicles

Maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you is crucial, especially on Iceland’s narrow and winding roads. Keep a safe distance to allow for sudden stops or maneuvering, preventing any potential collisions.

Stay on Designated Roads

Iceland has strict laws regarding off-road driving. It is illegal to venture off designated roads, as it can cause significant damage to the fragile Icelandic landscape. Respect the environment and stick to authorized routes.

Be Mindful of Speed Limits

Adhere to the posted speed limits and adjust your speed based on road and weather conditions. Speeding fines in Iceland can be hefty, and more importantly, driving within the speed limit ensures your safety and that of others on the road.

Be Prepared for Fording Rivers

Iceland is known for its numerous rivers and streams that cross the roads. Be aware of the depth and strength of the water before attempting to ford. If in doubt, it is safer to seek an alternative route or wait for assistance.

Use Gas Stations Wisely

Gas stations can be few and far between in some areas of Iceland, especially outside of major towns. Plan your refueling stops strategically and make sure to start with a full tank before embarking on longer journeys.

Bring Snacks and Water

Exploring Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes can be time-consuming. Make sure to pack snacks and plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and energized throughout the journey.

Respect the Environment

Iceland is known for its pristine and fragile natural environment. Practice responsible tourism by disposing of your waste properly, staying on designated trails, and respecting the local environment and wildlife.


Driving in Iceland can be a unique and unforgettable experience, but it requires careful preparation and knowledge of the local traffic regulations and conditions. By keeping these 13 important things in mind before embarking on your Icelandic road trip, you can ensure a smooth and safe journey:

1. Obtain the necessary permits and licenses.

2. Choose the right vehicle for Icelandic conditions.

3. Familiarize yourself with driving on the right-hand side of the road.

4. Be aware of the speed limits and road signs.

5. Plan your route and check for road closures or conditions.

6. Stock up on supplies and fuel before heading out.

7. Respect the fragile environment and stick to designated roads.

8. Be cautious of unpredictable weather and road conditions.

9. Take regular breaks and rest when needed.

10. Have the necessary safety equipment in your vehicle.

11. Be prepared for encounters with wildlife on the road.

12. Be mindful of other drivers and share the road responsibly.

13. Enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and unique driving experience.

With these tips in mind, you can make the most of your driving adventure in Iceland and create lifelong memories.


Q: Do I need an international driving license to drive in Iceland?

A: If your driver’s license is written in English or a language that uses the Latin alphabet, you do not need an international driving license. However, if your license is not in English, it is recommended to have an international driving license as well.

Q: Are the roads in Iceland safe to drive?

A: While Iceland has well-maintained roads, weather conditions can be unpredictable. It is essential to exercise caution, adjust your driving speed to the conditions, and follow any road closures or warnings.

Q: Can I drive off-road in Iceland?

A: No, driving off-road is strictly prohibited in Iceland. It can damage the delicate ecosystem and result in hefty fines. Stick to designated roads and trails.

Q: What should I do in case of an emergency on the road?

A: Contact the emergency services by dialing 112. Be prepared with the necessary contact numbers, information about your location, and winter survival equipment in case of a breakdown or any other emergency situation.

Q: Are there any specific speed limits in Iceland?

A: Yes, the general speed limits in Iceland are 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on paved roads in rural areas. Always obey the posted speed limit signs.