How to drive in Iceland

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How to drive in Iceland

Self-drive tours are getting extremely popular in Iceland, so here are a few tips on how to drive in Iceland where we have some special rules and conditions. This article teaches you everything you need to know to survive the Icelandic „ring road“. Although the ring road is mostly paved, in some places in the East of Iceland there are still gravel roads. Be prepared to get dirty and drive safely!

Speed limit

Within the cities or towns, the speed limit is usually 30 – 50km/h but in the countryside it is 90km/h on paved roads and 80km/h on the gravel or dirt roads. Be aware that there are active speed cameras in various places on the ring road.

How to drive in Iceland in a two lane roundabout

how to drive in IcelandThere are many two-lane roundabouts in the city of Reykjavík. The car which is on the inner lane ALWAYS has the right to exit first. Whenever the car on the inner lane wants to exit the roundabout, the car on the outer lane must let it pass. E. g. in the drawing on the right, the blue car is leaving the roundabout and the black and white car must wait for it to exit, before continuing.

In roundabouts, you must always use the turn signal when exiting. If you are in the outer lane but not leaving the roundabout at the first exit, you have to use the turn signal as well to show that you are going to stay in the roundabout.

Our next-door neighbors – the sheep!

When you are driving in the countryside in summer please be aware of the sheep. They often are on or on the side of the road, and lambs often cross suddenly to get back to their mothers. Please show caution and slow down. If it were to happen that you run over a sheep, please notify the farmer at the nearest farm.

how to drive in Iceland

Gravel roads

When approaching a gravel road, please reduce the speed to avoid losing control over the vehicle. If it were to happen, step off the gas and steer the steering wheel in the same direction as the car is heading.

One lane bridge

There are many (or to be exact 39) one lane bridges to be found on the ring road. That is a whole lot! The rule that Icelanders follow is: the car which is closer to the bridge gets to go first. Even if you know you are closer, make sure to reduce the speed to see if the other car is slowing down.

Stopping on the side of the road

If you see something that catches your eye and you would like to take a picture of it, please do NOT stop at the roadside. It can cause accidents! Just drive a little further till you find a viewing or stopping point.

how to drive in IcelandBlindhæð / Blind hill

When driving over a blind hill, please reduce speed and keep the vehicle on the right side. You can never stop a vehicle on top or after the blind hill.

Other important notes about how to drive in Iceland

  • It is against law in Iceland to drive after consuming alcohol
  • Headlights are required to be turned on all the time, even in summer
  • In Iceland, we drive on the right side
  • You cannot turn right on a red light
  • To rent a car in Iceland you must be at least 20 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
  • Drivers and all passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts.
  • Children must be in a car seat or a booster seat.

We recommend looking at Vedur to see weather conditions and Road to see road conditions.

If you are interested in testing your skills of driving in Iceland, here are our summer self-drive tours.

Guðrún Halla Friðjónsdóttir
Posted in November 2016