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Driving in Iceland – Guide to Self Driving

The best way to see Iceland is self driving in Iceland. So, if you are planing a self drive road trip across Iceland then you must know all things you need to know before driving in Iceland. We drove around the ring road in Iceland and from our experience, as well as the research we have been doing before our trip, we will provide you a guide to self drive in Iceland.

You can opt for group tours from Reyjkavik, but the freedom of exploring at your own pace is gone. Most importantly hiring own car is the most cost effective option to explore Iceland.

Which side driving is in Iceland?

In Iceland you need to drive on the right side of the road similar to USA and opposite to UK/India. The driver seat will be in the left hand side of the car. If you are traveling from US, Canada it will be same as your homeland.

If you are coming from UK or India, it is opposite side for you so it will take a day or two to get used to. We are used to with driving on the left side of the road, so every turn and circle we had to cautiously remember how to drive. It is also easier if someone sitting in the passenger seat keeps an eye on the initial days.

Should I get a Automatic or Manual car?

Hiring manual or automatic car depends on which side of driving you are familiar with. If you are used to driving in the left hand side of the road then, I highly recommend o hire an automatic car even if it’s a bit expensive. If you are used to driving on the right hand side of the road then you can take a manual car rental.

In the end it also depends on the cost if its way too expensive to get a automatic car then manual car is your only option.

Traffic rules to follow while driving in Iceland?

Iceland has heavy fines if you break traffic rules. You need to follow all the rules while driving but we are listing the major ones below, hope it help.

Iceland has heavy fines if you break traffic rules. You need to follow all the rules while driving but we are listing the major ones below, hope it help.

No Drink and Drive

– It is obvious as it sound so please do not risk it. We drank after reaching our destination and that too not much as alcohol should not be found in your blood even if you drive early morning. They have zero alcohol tolerance policy.

Switch on the Headlights at all time

– Yes! even if it’s sunny day, you need to switch on your headlights at all times while driving in Iceland. Initially, we thought it’s for cloudy days only but when we saw the rule book we realised few days we didn’t have headlights on. We were very scared that we will get a ticket but we didn’t, hence we are letting you know.

No Speeding

– This rule sounds obvious but during our trip we have seen many tourists break this rule. Again be careful even if you are on the highway and do not see a single soul for hours there are speed cameras, even in middle of nowhere. You really don’t want a fine for speeding, given this trip is going to put a dent on your pocket.

Wear your Seat Belts at all times while driving in Iceland

-Wear your seatbelt at all times. You need to follow this rule for all passengers.

No Mobile phone while driving

– You are not allowed to use mobile phones while driving.

Off-roading is complete NO NO while driving in Iceland

– Off roading is strictly no no if you are driving in Iceland, you will be heavily fined remember that.

No Highlands without 4×4

– F-roads or highland roads are only allowed with 4×4 vehicles, people do travel often with normal vehicles but you are not allowed to do that. You need to have a 4×4 vehicle to drive in mountain roads. Here are the f-road lists.

Here are the detailed traffic rules of Iceland and the associated fines.

How to fill Gas/Petrol?

You need to fill Petrol / Gas by yourself in Iceland, most of the gas stations are unmanned. If you are doing Ring road then, please make sure to have the tank full whenever you get the opportunity.

All major cards are accepted in the petrol pumps, and charges full tank cost even if you fill 1 ltr of Petrol. Please note it is wiser to use Credit cards to fill the Petrol, as it charges full tank cost each time you fill gas, and revert back 2-3 business day later the remaining balance. We made a major mistake of using out travel card in the petrol pump and all the money we had got deducted just for getting 1 ltr petrol. Ya! we were just trying how to fill gas on our own for a liter of gas and our money was blocked for whole 5 days as we tries on a weekend.

How are the road/traffic conditions?

Icelandic roads are less in traffic and very well maintained. You will have no issues whatsoever while driving in Iceland as long as you are following all the rules. If you stick to Ring road or the Golden Route you will have no issues at all. Mostly the roads are straight with few circles in between, and no inclined roads.

We have faced two scary huge tunnels so be prepared for that, as the tunnels are single lane with both way traffic it can be scary. One of the tunnel you will face just before Akyueri, and another Kirkjufel to Reyjkavik. The one towards Reyjkavik has turns within the tunnel and tend to be busier, so better to have a skilled driver on wheel ( I freaked out here).

Is it easy to drive motor-homes or caravans?

 Yes, it is easy to drive motor-homes or caravans as the roads are wide enough with not too many steep turns or bends. Being said that, we have not tried it yet but we wish to, but we have hardly seen anyone struggling.

What about Parking while driving in Iceland?

You need to park in the designated parking areas, most of the scenic places will have designated parking to enjoy it. You really don’t need to stop on the road for a snap or two. Initially we used to think that we are missing on clicking these beautiful landscape as we can’t halt randomly but then slowly realised everywhere there is a parking area so keep your eyes open for them.

Cost of Driving in Iceland?

You know that Iceland is expensive, so the car rental and petrol or gas cost is also expensive. You can expect average of £55-£70 pound / day (₹5500 – ₹7000/day) car rental cost and the petrol cost is 310-375 ISK /ltr (i.e. ₹230/ltr, £/2.18/ltr).

Rental car options to drive in Iceland?

 There are multiple rental car options in Iceland, all the famous companies like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise have 24/7 counter right outside the airport. If you are renting campervan then you might have to take bus to the city to get them. One more thing to consider is they do not have 24/7 services, it might cost you more. Some rental companies do provide return bus tickets.

Insurance to choose from?

  We normally get the basic insurance from the car company whenever we are on any other trip. If you want to be safe then we would suggest you to take gravel and wind protection. Icelandic weather can be crazy at times. Snow storms or crazy wind might cause flying stones. That can break your windshield. Even if it is repairable rental companies will charge you for the whole glass. You need to get your gravel and wind protection on top of your basic insurance what we will suggest.

What are mountain roads or F-roads in Iceland?

You will often see signs of F-Roads, Mountain Roads or Highland roads during your road trip. One can get into these roads only if you have 4×4 vehicle. You will be fined if you are driving in these roads with and 4×4. During our trip, many times google directed us to some shortcuts to save fuel or distance. Those shortcuts turned out to be gravel roads. We thought they are F-roads so we U-turned to take proper roads. You can check the list of F-roads here.

What about driving in Iceland in snow?

We have not visited Iceland during winter. We have heard that it will be easy to drive during winter if you stick to the main roads. You need to be extra cautious about weather predictions and snow storms so that you can plan accordingly. All car rental company provides winter tires for driving in snow conditions.

If you have any further question, please comment below will be happy to help.

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