The first thing that you need to know about driving in Iceland is that it doesn’t have to be all too different from driving in your native country. It all depends on your own driving skills and preferences. It also depends on your own exposure. Will you be introduced to the many gravel roads in Iceland, or have you driven on them before? Questions like this (and their answers) will determine just how different it is when you are looking at car rental in Iceland.
If you’re a more experienced driver who wants to take on the wild parts of this beautiful place, you may want to consider 4x4 rental in Iceland. If you’d rather stick to the day to day driving, that’s fine too. Iceland is beautiful no matter how you choose to explore it. Regardless of whether you’re here to learn about a 4x4 rental in Iceland, or just a traditional car rental in Iceland, there are some serious details that you should know first and foremost to make sure that driving in Iceland remains safe for you and everyone else on the road.
Watch your speed
Unlike a lot of American or traditional European roadways, you’ll have to watch your speed when driving in Iceland. In town limits, you’ll have to stick to 30-50 km per hour. In the country, you’ll be able to change to 70-90 km per hour, and the gravel roads in Iceland are limited to 80 km per hour. As you may already know, there are a lot of steep and dangerous curves that you’ll need reduce your speed for.
Be wary of gravel
As briefly mentioned above, the gravel roads in Iceland are frequent, including on the main highways. You’ll want to be cautious and careful when approaching these marked spots in your journey. The shift over from pavement to gravel, and back again, are particularly prone to spitting loose gravel that can cause the car to fishtail, amongst other problems. The gravel on these roads, since it’s so frequently used, is often loose and cannot offer a sturdy compact surface like a lot of the gravel you may have seen in other spots. When you see gravel, slow down to the speed limit or further. Better safe than sorry.
Bridges are often single-lane
Single-lane bridges aren’t popular everywhere, but Iceland is the happy exception. Remember that the first person to reach the bridge gets the right of way. If there are cars backed up on both sides, it’s a one-and-one system and Icelanders do often follow it closely. Be respectful and wait your turn.
Beware of blind hills
You can also expect a lot of blind hills in Iceland. It’s important to stay right when approaching one of these, and remember to slow down and assume that there is someone coming up from the other side. This is called defensive driving and can help avoid accidents and injuries as a result.
You’ll have to get used to no street lights
Streetlights are not common rural areas in Iceland. During the dark hours, you’ll find yourself relying a lot of your high beamed headlights. Make sure you account for this if you are someone who doesn’t have much experience driving in the dark. There can be many dark hours, and long, twisting roads that will require you to stay vigilant, slow down, and focus on the road.
Watch for sheep
Sheep free roam in Iceland. You’ll want to make sure that you are cautious of them if you do come across them in your travels. They are often prone to simply running across the roadway and causing damage. Slow down and try to give them a wide berth if possible, just the same as you would do with deer or other wildlife that are frequent in other places around the world.
Put on your seatbelt
When you drive in Iceland, seatbelts are required. They reduce injury or death, and you will be expected to wear them at all times when in a moving vehicle. This is often the law elsewhere, of course, but it’s important to note here as well. If you are found to be driving (or otherwise in a car) without a seatbelt when it is motion, it can be cause for heavy fines.
Stay on the road
One of the biggest things to remember, even if you look at 4x4 rental in Iceland, is that you are not allowed to drive off-road. Not only does it give you a large, stiff fine if you’re caught, you will also be damaging vegetation and habitats. This will make the locals very angry. In Iceland, this is a serious offence, so it’s important to take it seriously and stay on the road at all times.
Avoid the F-Roads in the winter
F-roads, or “high roads," are often closed in the winter, so keep that in mind when you are visiting Iceland. Sure, you may think that you can take on the harsh conditions and enjoy the stunning view, but there is a reason the roads are closed. Please respect those closures.
You can find detailed information here: F-roads in Iceland
There‘s no lack of gas stations in populated areas all around the country and in the greater Reykjavik area you‘ll find over 70 gas stations.
You can find detailed information here: Gas stations in Iceland
All of these rules seem like a lot to remember, but you must remember that driving in Iceland is much the same as elsewhere. After all, in reading through these important focus points, not all of them are quite so foreign, right? Regardless of where you are used to driving, there are some shifts that will be needed in Iceland. If you have any questions or concerns, or you just want to have someone go over the details with you again to make sure you understand the potential changes, feel free to ask that when you organize the details for your car rental in Iceland. We’re more than happy to help assure everyone’s safety and comfort on Iceland roads at all times of the year. We want your time here to be happy and safe, especially when on the road. These tips will help you get off to a great start.