An Icelandic road in summertime

3 minute read


A road trip around Iceland is one of the best ways to see the country. With a car, you have ultimate freedom to go where you like, when you like. And for the remotest places, there’s often just no other way to get there!

Driving in Iceland is generally safe at most times of year. That said, things will probably be a bit different than what you’re used to in your home country. Read on for tips and tricks for seeing Iceland by car.

What side of the road does Iceland drive on?

In Iceland, you drive on the right.

What are the speed limits in Iceland?

Speed limits are in kilometers per hour (km/h), and distances are also in kilometers (km).

These are the main speed limits on roads in Iceland:

  • Urban areas – 50 km/h (31 mph)
  • Gravel roads – 80 km/h (50 mph)
  • Paved roads – up to 90 km/h (56 mph)

Speed limits might well be lower in certain areas, so always follow the limit on local signs.

Traffic signs in Iceland

3 Icelandic road signs

Einbreið brú (Single-lane bridge)

Give way (yield) to oncoming vehicles already on the bridge. Wait for other vehicles to pass before entering the bridge.

Blindhæð (Blind summit)

Oncoming traffic might be obscured by the crest of a hill. Slow down, stick to your side of the road, and drive with caution.

Malbik endar (Gravel road ahead)

Slow down and drive with care, there’ll be loose gravel and potholes ahead.

Is driving in Iceland in winter safe?


In the winter months, the weather in Iceland can get a little… challenging. If you’re planning to visit Iceland at this time of year, a larger vehicle with 4-wheel drive is highly recommended.

You should expect icy road surfaces and snow. It’s a good idea to check the road conditions on before you head out for the day.

Make sure your car is equipped with winter tires at this time of year for extra grip and better handling in wintry conditions.

If there is a major storm, certain roads in Iceland might be closed temporarily. Main trunk roads, such as the Ring Road (Route 1), are cleared regularly though, so you can continue your journey once the storm has passed.

For more tips, see this guide on how to drive in Iceland. And if you’re feeling like getting out on the open road, check out these Iceland Ring Road packages.


What do you do if there are sheep on the road?

As you drive around Iceland, you can’t help but notice how many sheep there are. They more or less roam free, and won’t always be kept inside fenced-off areas. So you should expect sheep to cross the road in front of you.

If this happens, stop and allow the sheep to pass. If they’re being stubborn and not clearing the road, sound your horn and they’ll soon move out your way.

Is off-road driving in Iceland allowed?

To protect the country’s sensitive natural environment, off-road driving in Iceland is illegal and can carry heavy fines. Help keep Iceland beautiful and stick to gravel and paved roads.

Roundabouts in Iceland 

If you’re doing a self-drive tour of Iceland, you’ll likely come across a few roundabouts. Most of them are near bigger cities like Reykjavík or Akureyri.

Before you hit the road, you should know that driving through a roundabout in Iceland is a little different than you might be used to.

To navigate them safely, here’s the rule you need to remember: when you’re in a 2-lane roundabout, cars on the inner lane always have the right of way.

This means that if you're driving on the outer lane of a 2-lane roundabout, you have to yield (give way) to the cars on the inner lane. Usually, in other countries, the opposite is true. Many first-time visitors don’t know this, making driving through roundabouts confusing and sometimes dangerous.

Parking charges and tolls

On your Iceland adventure, you’ll be parking close to attractions and national parks, as well as in towns and cities. Some places charge small fees for parking to cover their maintenance and running costs.

You’ll see signs letting you know if you need to pay when you arrive at a site’s parking lot. This info will also be displayed next to street parking spots in the cities.

It’s also good to keep in mind that some hotels have limited or no parking, so you might need to find a paid parking space on a nearby street.

Street parking in Reykjavík is free before 9:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. on weekdays, and between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on weekends. Charges apply outside of these times, which you’ll find clearly displayed next to each parking zone.

Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland, also has paid parking zones in the city center. That said, most parking spots on the city’s outskirts are free.

You can pay for parking in 3 ways: cash, credit cards, or mobile apps (Parka app or EasyPark app).

You might also come across a few tunnels on your road trip. Most are free, but the Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel between Akureyri and Húsavík charges a small toll. You can pay the fee using their website or app.

Other tips for driving in Iceland

In Iceland, you must wear a seatbelt by law at all times when in a vehicle.

Also, you must have your headlights on at least low beam (dipped) at all times of day, in all weather conditions.