How to Drive in Iceland

How to drive in Iceland

General Information

The total length of the Ring Road (Route 1, the national highway) around Iceland is 1,339 km (832 miles).

The usual speed limits are as follows: 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on asphalt roads. 

Special warning signs indicate dangers ahead, such as sharp bends, but there is generally not a separate sign to indicate a reduction in speed. Always choose a safe speed according to weather and road conditions.

Motorists are obliged by law to use headlights at all times—day and night—and all passengers in the vehicle are required by law to wear safety belts. Also, driving off road or on unmarked tracks is strictly prohibited by law as is driving under the influence of alcohol.

Public Roads Administration

The Public Roads Administration publishes helpful information about driving in Iceland along with up-to-date conditions of roads around the country:

Tel.: +354-1777, daily 8:00-16:00

On the website above, you will also find a brochure and video published by The Road Traffic Directorate in which you can see some examples of what to bear in mind when driving in Iceland in order to avoid common hazards and enjoy a  safe, hassle-free holiday. Please note that also provides all car rental package customers with an information booklet on safe driving in Iceland.

Road maps and maps of Iceland are available at tourist information centers, bookstores or filling stations. Please note that provides all car rental package customers with a detailed map of Iceland with the route and accommodations marked. Interesting landmarks and attractions are often marked as well.

Petrol Stations

In the greater Reykjavik area most petrol stations are open daily until 23:30. Many of the stations in the larger towns of Iceland also have automats in operation after closing, which accept major credits cards as well as Króna notes. Opening hours at petrol stations in rural areas, where many of the pumps are privately operated, can vary from place to place.

On the most sparse stretches, such as between Vík and Mývatn along the Ring Road or in the Westfjords region, it is important to fill the tank when you have a chance since petrol stations are few and far between.

Mountain Roads (F-roads)

Please note: if you choose to drive the mountain roads in Iceland, you must rent a vehicle—typically a jeep— that is appropriate for such driving. For car rental packages at, those vehicles are the E and F categories.

Most mountain roads and roads in the interior highlands have a surface of loose gravel. The same applies to some sections of the national highway though it is mostly paved. Owing to the loose surface of gravel roads, especially along the sides of the roads, one should drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching an oncoming car. 

The mountain roads are also often very narrow, and are not made for speeding. The same goes for many bridges, which are only wide enough for one car at a time. In addition to not having an asphalt surface, the mountain roads are often very winding. Journeys therefore can take much longer than expected.

Mountain roads are usually closed until the end of June, or longer due to wet and muddy conditions that make them totally impassable. When these roads are opened for traffic most of them can only be negotiated by four-wheel-drive vehicles. For some mountain roads it is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. Also, before embarking on any journey into the interior, be sure to collect as much information as possible regarding road conditions from your hotel, a tourist information office or the Public Roads Administration.