Driving in Iceland - useful tips

4x4 Iceland Car Rental specializes in rentals cars equipped for Icelandic gravel and highland roads. Our fleet consists of cars specifically chosen for the Icelandic terrain and is all equipped with GPS navigation, unlimited mileage and have raised ground clearance and bigger special tires for the rough conditions.

Our most popular car is the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 that is engineered for comfort and off road adventure. We take pride in our business and do our absolute best in representing our country. We encourage you to shop around as we are certain that we offer the best rates for the quality of service provided.

Iceland is one of the most unusual and breathtaking places to visit and is guaranteed to offer a unique unforgettable experience with its unspoiled and amazing nature, culture and great opportunities for adventure. Hire a car from Iceland 4x4 Car Rental and explore what Iceland has to offer. Our inexpensive (cheap) rental cars will provide a safe and enjoyable experience during your travels in Iceland.

Driving in Iceland in the winter

Things you didn't think you would have to watch out for!

Because of conditions around mountains there are sometimes strong gusts of wind in Iceland, this can be somewhat unexpected, and can cause serious damage to doors on your rental car. Since damage like this is not covered by insurance, make sure you hold on to doors when opening in windy conditions and do not leave them open in wind. The best way to avoid door damage cause by win is to park your car with the front facing the wind.

When crossing rivers, there can easily be big rocks in the water that will damage the underside of the car. This damage is not covered by insurance, so make sure you see into the water or wade into the water (with or without shoes - it's your choice) when crossing rivers.

Did you know that horses can damage your car? It happens more often that you'd think, since horses like the salt that sits on the cars (near the seaside) and they will naw the car and damage the paint. This also: not covered by insurance. This is something to be aware of, but of course horses do not generally roam free in Iceland.

Our tips on driving in Iceland

North Iceland road ahead

Mountain roads - F-roads

Most mountain roads and roads in the interior of Iceland have a gravel surface. The surface on gravel roads is often loose, especially on the shoulder and centre of the road, so slowing down whenever approaching an oncoming car is a good practice. Mountain roads marked (Iceland F roads) on public maps are often narrow, pacing a vehicle can be tricky and care should be taken to pick a suitable spot. Many roads in Iceland also have narrow bridges, only wide enough for one car at a time.

Please note that F249, the road to Þórsmörk (Thorsmork), is not allowed on any of our vehicles, not so much because of the road but because of the river crossings, especially Krossá river crossing, which should only be crossed by people familiar with the conditions - experienced river crossing drivers. See this news article on the dangers of Krossá.

Note that water damage is one of the items not covered by insurance - see details.

For information on Iceland road conditions, tel.: +354-1777, daily 8:00–16:00, or visit: www.road.is.

Learn more - educate yourself to stay safe! Visit the official source on safetravel.is.

Road symbols in IcelandRoad symbols in iceland

Icelandic symbols are unique to our country, so you are unlikely to find them anywhere else. Some of them will indicate the road ahead (square), others are alerts (triangle) and yet another type of sign (circle) will tell you what you can and more importantly can not do (such as not stopping your vehicle, not parking it, not entering and such).

When in doubt, always look up the signs you are facing (or the translation of the words on it) to make sure you know what's ahead.

On the right you can see a few examples of signs and what they represent.

Speed limit in Iceland

The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads, and 90 km/h on asphalt roads.

Fines for speeding in Iceland are substantial, follow the speed limit but always adjust your speed and driving according to conditions. Please note that the registered driver of the vehicle is always responsible for all traffic violations (speeding/parking) and will be billed in accordance with the rental agreement.

Off Road Driving

Generally driving outside marked trails is prohibited and is subject to nature conservation law. Driving rental cars on roads or tracks that do not have a road-number is forbidden. Passenger cars and 2wd vehicles are strictly forbidden on roads that are marked with an F on public maps. This also applies to Kjölur (road 35) and Kaldidalur (road 550), however our 4x4 cars can be driven on roads marked with F along with road 35 and 550.

River crossing in IcelandRiver crossing

Please Note! Insurance does not cover damages to the chassis of the vehicle nor damages caused by driving in or across rivers or any kind of waterways. Read more on our insurance policy.

Crossing rivers in the Iceland highland

Few points regarding rivers and streams in Iceland:

  • Rivers often have less water volume in the morning than evenings, this is especially so for glacial rivers
  • Fords over rivers change over time, fords over glacial rivers can change in minutes!
  • Rain causes most rivers and streams to swell and often making them impassable! Seek advice from experienced native travellers or rangers before attempting river crossing and ensure that the four-wheel drive has been engaged before attempting river crossing.
  • The general rule is “if you are unwilling or unable to wade across, do not attempt to drive across”

The image to the right is an official guide to crossing rivers from the safetravel.is website.


See also our 10 tips for when you're on the road in Iceland.