How to drive in Iceland?
Iceland, with its breathtaking landscapes and enchanting vistas, offers a driving experience like no other. If you're planning a road trip in this Nordic wonderland, it's essential to familiarize yourself with local road information, regulations, the International Driver's Permit and useful tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about driving in Iceland.
Obtaining a Driving License:
To drive in Iceland, you must have a valid driver's license from your home country. International Driving Permits are not mandatory, but having one as a supplement to your license is recommended, especially if your license isn't in English.
Iceland's Ring Road (Route 1) circumnavigates the island and is the main route for most travelers. While it's well-maintained, be prepared for some gravel sections, particularly in remote areas. Other roads (marked with a single digit) may be more challenging, requiring a 4x4 vehicle.
Speed limits are strictly enforced in Iceland. The standard speed limits are 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas, 80 km/h (50 mph) on gravel roads, and 90 km/h (56 mph) on paved roads. Some areas might have lower speed limits for safety reasons, so pay attention to signage.
Driving on Gravel Roads:
Take extra caution when driving on gravel roads, as they can be slippery and unpredictable. Reduce your speed, especially when approaching bends and hills. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles to avoid flying rocks.
Iceland's weather can change rapidly, even during summer. Check weather forecasts before heading out, and be prepared for rain, fog, or strong winds. Use headlights at all times, and consider renting a 4x4 vehicle if you plan to explore remote areas.
Fuel stations are readily available in populated areas and along main routes. However, when venturing into rural areas, plan your fuel stops in advance, as stations may be scarce.
Filling Stations with Credit Cards:
Most fuel stations in Iceland accept credit cards, but some remote locations might only accept cash. Carry Icelandic krona (ISK) in case you need to pay in cash.
Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland and strictly enforced. Respect nature and stick to designated roads and trails to preserve the delicate environment.
Wildlife on the Roads:
Watch out for sheep, reindeer, and other wildlife, especially in rural areas. These animals often roam freely, and collisions can be dangerous for both you and the animals.
Driving in Winter:
If you plan to drive in Iceland during winter, be aware of icy conditions and potential road closures due to snowstorms. Check the road conditions at www.road.is before setting out.
Iceland requires drivers to use headlights at all times, even during the day. This practice enhances visibility and safety, especially in challenging weather conditions.
Seatbelt usage is mandatory for all passengers in the vehicle, regardless of where they are seated.
Fines and Penalties:
Traffic violations in Iceland can result in hefty fines. Ensure you follow all traffic rules and speed limits to avoid penalties.
Useful Emergency Numbers:
In case of an emergency, dial 112 to reach the Icelandic emergency services, including police, fire, and medical assistance.
Driving in Iceland with your International Permit offers an incredible opportunity to witness nature's wonders up close. Remember to respect the local regulations, drive cautiously, and embrace the beauty of this enchanting country while keeping safety as your top priority. With proper preparation, the International Driver's license and adherence to road rules, your Icelandic road trip is sure to become an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.