Driving in Iceland Do’s and Don’ts

Driving in Iceland


Don’t Speed!

Speeding is dangerous, especially where the roads might not be like what you’re used to. Also, the speed limits assume perfect conditions, so if you’re driving in wind or with limited visibility, you should decelerate. If you need a further deterrent, speeding carries hefty tickets in Iceland.

Do stay on the road!

The Icelandic wilderness might look hardy enough to withstand off-road driving, but the ecosystem is in fact very delicate. Once the vegetation has been disturbed, it can take decades to heal. Driving off-road is illegal here as it’s extremely harmful to the fragile nature of this barren island. Please, don’t do it.

Don’t Forget the Roadtrip Playlist!

Iceland’s otherworldly landscape goes well with the ethereal tones of Sigur Rós, Múm, Mammút, and of course Björk, but if you want a bit more pep try some Monsters and Men or Kaleo! The Icelandic music scene consistently produces interesting and innovative talent, and you should check it out while you’re here. You just might end up discovering a new favourite artist!

Do make sure your driver’s license is international

If your driver’s licence is in a foreign language, it can be a good idea to get an international driver’s permit, just in case. It will facilitate matters in case of problems.

Don’t run out of gas!

Iceland is pretty well covered by gas stations, although if you’re driving in very sparsely populated rural areas such as the west or east fjords, it’s always a good idea to fill the tank when you pass through a town or a rest stop. Most gas stations have a pay-at-the-pump option and accept most major credit cards (although sometimes American Express cards can cause problems).

These are convenient to use but after business hours (and in very rural areas), they can be the only way to get fuel, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have a credit card that works or fill the tank during the day in larger towns.

Do consider Camping

If you’re travelling in summer, consider camping. Accommodation can be hard to come by unless you’ve booked in advance and camping can allow you to travel at your own pace without worrying about reaching a specific destination by evening.

Camping in winter is not recommended unless you’re an experienced and well-equipped traveller. Not only are the weather conditions treacherous but many campsites are closed during winter. If you’re camping, get a camping card – This can simplify and save you money. Don’t camp outside designated campsites!

Don’t Forget to Book Popular Attractions in Advance

Driving yourself gives you a lot of freedom but some things are still good to book in advance. For instance, the Blue Lagoon, dogsledding, and ice caving in wintertime, and Inside the Volcano in summer – book these in advance to maximise your experience.

Do Consider Taking a Tour Instead If You’re Not Feeling Up To the Drive

Just because you CAN drive somewhere, doesn’t mean you should. The quality of roads varies hugely depending on traffic and proximity to urban areas. Some roads really shouldn’t be driven at all during wintertime, at least not if it’s windy or snowing, and certainly not by inexperienced drivers.

Leave the driving to places such as Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk to professionals! It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and Iceland’s untamed nature can be rough on people who get stuck.

Doing it yourself? Rent a Car!

Stop by What’s On before you leave the city and
get information about destinations in Iceland.