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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.
- Thinking of taking a road trip? Find out all about car rental in Iceland.
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
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.
Malbik endar (Gravel road ahead)
Slow down and drive with care, there’ll be loose gravel and potholes ahead.
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.
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 road.is 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.
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
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.
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.
- Get ready to hit the road on one of these self-drive trips of Iceland.