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40 things that you need to know about driving in Iceland

Driving is one of the best ways to explore Iceland. Being a photographer’s paradise, driving allows you to explore at your own pace, go to the less known/less popular places, explore the not so accessible areas, or simply go where you want to go without having to follow some pre-decided schedule.

This land of ice and fire offers breathtaking scenery at every turn. What you will get to see behind each mountain is way beyond the imagination. I know how frustrating it can be when the tour bus cannot stop for you, but the moment is just so perfect.

It is not rocket science to drive in Iceland. You simply need to have a driving license, some understanding of the local road signs, some understanding of the local road conditions and weather, know where you are going, and you are good to go. Easy, right? Yes and no.

Here are some of tips about driving in Iceland + some of my own experiences having driven in Iceland during summer, winter, and everything in between.

The entire list

#1 – Is it safe to drive in Iceland?
#2 – Do I need an international driving license to drive in Iceland?
#3 – Drive on the right side
#4 – Road signs in Iceland
#5 – Speed limits
#6 – The Icelandic Weather
#7 – Hold the door!
#8 – How are the roads in Iceland?
#9 – Driving during the winter
#10 – Rent from the airport
#11 – Car or camper?
#12 – Is 4×4 necessary?
#13 – Taking the ring road
#14 – Driving on F-roads
#15 – Driving in the highlands
#16 – River-crossing
#17 – Off-road driving?
#18 – You cannot camp anywhere you want
#19 – The best camping grounds in Iceland
#20 – Planning ahead with a flexible plan
#21 – Rural road hazards
#22 – “I need a picture of this” – don’t kill yourself for it
#23 – Is GPS necessary?
#24 – How much does diesel/petrol cost?
#25 – Mark out your gas stations beforehand
#26 – Do I need to pay for parking everywhere I go?
#27 – There are not so many public toilets
#28 – What is the recommended driving distance each day?
#29 – Where to go for not so expensive food?
#30 – Get a travel credit card
#31 – Must I get travel insurance?
#32 – What do I do in an emergency?
#33 – Must I drive to experience Iceland?
#34 – Any other alternative if I am not comfortable driving?
#35 – When is the best time to visit Iceland?
#36 – When is the best time to see aurora?
#37 – Where is the best place to see aurora?
#38 – What do I need to bring on a self-drive in Iceland?
#39 – Accommodations in Iceland
#40 – Other general information about Iceland


#1 – Is it safe to drive in Iceland?


Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. Crime-rates are shockingly low, and hitch-hiking is like everyday life. It is definitely safe to drive around, even alone, so long as you know where you are going and what you are doing.

Beautiful as it might be, the weather in Iceland is unpredictable, sometimes even mean. There have been many life-threatening incidents over the years when tourists get themselves into dangerous situations simply because they belittled the weather.

The Iceland weather forecast website is the official source for weather warnings. Safe Travel is another website that you should check out for road and safety information when driving in Iceland.

A word of advice – heed the warnings. If a road is closed, there is a good reason why it is. Speak with the locals if you are not sure how the conditions are, the locals are very friendly and will not hesitate to offer some help.


#2 – Do I need an international driving license to drive in Iceland?


No, you do not need an international driving license if you have a valid driving license with a license number, a photograph, a valid date and in Latin letters. All driving licenses from US, UK, Canada, EU, EEA, Australia, China, India are valid. If you are not sure, just check with the car rental company and they will be able to advice you.

One other thing that you might like to take note is that you need to have had the license for a minimum of one year to drive on Iceland’s roads. Also, to rent a car you need to be at least 20 years of age for a passenger vehicle, or 23 years of age to rent a 4WD or all-wheel-drive vehicle.


#3 – Drive on the right side


Cars drive on the right side of the road, meaning that the steering wheel is on the left side of the car. So, if you do not have it the same way in your country, then you have some getting used to do because everything will be on the opposite side.


#4 – Road signs in Iceland


#5 – Speed limits

#6 – The Icelandic Weather

#7 – Hold the door!

#8 – How are the roads in Iceland?

#9 – Driving during the winter

#10 – Rent from the airport

#11 – Car or camper?

#12 – Is 4×4 necessary?

#13 – Taking the ring road

#14 – Driving on F-roads

#15 – Driving in the highlands

#16 – River-crossing

#17 – Off-road driving?

#18 – You cannot camp anywhere you want

#19 – The best camping grounds in Iceland

#20 – Planning ahead with a flexible plan

#21 – Rural road hazards

#22 – “I need a picture of this” – don’t kill yourself for it

#23 – Is GPS necessary?

#24 – How much does diesel/petrol cost?

#25 – Mark out your gas stations beforehand

#26 – Do I need to pay for parking everywhere I go?

#27 – There are not so many public toilets

#29 – Where to go for not so expensive food?

#30 – Get a travel credit card

#31 – Must I get travel insurance?

#32 – What do I do in an emergency?

#33 – Must I drive to experience Iceland?

#34 – Any other alternative if I am not comfortable driving?

#35 – When is the best time to visit Iceland?

#36 – When is the best time to see aurora?

#37 – Where is the best place to see aurora?

#38 – What do I need to bring on a self-drive in Iceland?

#39 – Accommodations in Iceland

#40 – Other general information about Iceland

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