Driving in Iceland is a fantastic way to get around and see the sights. You have the freedom to go where you want, when you want, at the pace you want. The road system is good and fairly simple.
There are of course many things to consider about driving to Iceland, such as what car to get, where to go and what to see, road quality and weather conditions, parking, gas and more. Here is our comprehensive guide.
Basic info about driving in Iceland
- We drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- The top speed in inhabited areas is 50 km/hr (31 mi/hr) unless stated otherwise, 90 km (55 mi) on highways and 80 km (49 mi) on gravel roads.
- Driving past animals:
- There are more sheep in Iceland than people. Sometimes they escape their fences and for some reason hang around the roads, especially in the springtime. The most important thing is to slow down. If a lamb is on a different side of the road than their mother, they are known to sometimes spring in fright across the road at the last possible minute, as if they were trying to get hurt.
- Horses can be on the road for different reasons. The trick here is to slow down to a crawl. If you honk or speed at horses, they might get spooked and kick the car, stampede or do any amount of unforeseeable damage. Let it take the time it takes.
- Be considerate to other drivers – If you drive slowly because you’re insecure or because you just want to enjoy the views on the way, let other drivers pass.
- DON’T STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD – It may not look like there’s a lot of traffic, but there might be more than you think. If you just have to get a photo, there are usually scenic stops along the way, where it’s safe to stop. If you don’t see a stop coming up, at least wait until you can stop on a side road, otherwise you might just cause an accident, or at least annoy your fellow drivers.
Renting a Car in Iceland
When renting a car in Iceland, there are several factors to consider, as conditions here are most likely very different from what you’re used to.
During the summer, you can probably get away with a smaller car, especially if you intend to travel in an area close to the city. In the winter, however, 4WD and studded tires are essential.
The further you get away from the city, the more likely it is that you will be driving on gravel roads (see below).