Iceland has become a trendy destination for travellers from around the world.

If you are planning to visit Iceland to enjoy its rugged landscape and natural wonders, driving a car is the best way to get around Iceland.

On our trip to Iceland,

car rental iceland

Here are some driving tips if you want to use a car in Iceland

Different Road types in Iceland

There are different types of roads that you should be aware of for your safety while exploring the vast and rugged landscape of Iceland.

This will also save you from getting hefty driving fines while you are in Iceland. Toll roads can also be found in Iceland so always keep an eye on the toll road signs.

The National and Municipal Roads

These are the public road system in Iceland that are maintained by the government.

The national and municipal roads are classified into five different types. These are:

Primary Roads

These roads are the main artery of the road system in Iceland. The Route One or Ring Road is one of the primary roads in Iceland. These primary roads interlink all the municipalities around the country.

Primary Highland Roads

These are also known as the F Roads or the mountain roads.  These types of roads are found in the highlands where most of the volcanoes and glaciers are located.

This road system is closed during winter time due to safety reasons. Only 4x4 vehicles are advised to access these roads.

Secondary Roads

These types of roads are typically connected to the two main primary roads in Iceland. The secondary roads also link various villages to the primary road systems.

Local Access Roads

The local access roads are the roads that will typically lead to the rural communities, e.g. farms, factories, churches, and other places outside the populated areas in Iceland.

Highland Roads

This road type usually is running across the mountains and moors in Iceland. Same as the Primary Highland roads, these roads are closed if you are planning on driving in Iceland in winter. Only large vehicles such as 4x4 and larger are permitted to use these roads.

driving in iceland in winter

Speed Limit in Iceland

Watch your speed! It is easy to speed while trying to take in the beautiful landscape of Iceland. There is an expensive fine if you get caught by the police and speed cameras.

The speed limits in Iceland 

  • 90 km/h on Paved roads
  • 80km/h on Gravel Roads
  • 50km/h on Urban area.

Off-road Driving in Iceland

Most of Iceland landscapes are covered with moss and other plants that live in very harsh Arctic conditions.

Icelandic government set a driving rule that it is imperative not to drive off- road unless it is a paved mountain roads or F roads.

If you are caught violating this, you will face a hefty fine due to the reckless driving and destruction of the Icelandic protected landscapes.

Road Signs and Navigation in Iceland

Familiarise yourself with the different Icelandic Road signs. Most of the signs don’t have any English translations. Here are some handy Iceland traffic signs and their meanings.

Bring a map and mark all the destinations you want to visit. There are some areas in Iceland where you won’t get any mobile phone or GPS signal.

If you have any pocket Wi-Fi router, this will also be handy for road and walking navigation in Iceland.

Getting Petrol in Iceland

This is very important if you don’t want to max out your pocket money while in Iceland!

The majority of the petrol station in Iceland are self- service, and most likely they only accept card payments.

Pick the exact amount of money in Icelandic Kronas you want to spend in topping up your petrol.

I highly recommended NOT to choose the FILL-UP option as this will authorise your card up to a maximum of £130 or the equivalent amount in your currency per transaction.

This authorisation will hold your money for the next ten days regardless of how much you’ve spent on petrol!

Also note the travel distance and the amount of petrol that you have on your vehicle, especially if you are making various road trips from Reykjavik.

The petrol stations in Iceland are sparingly dotted around the country and not situated in a very close distance to each other.

To prevent any breakdowns, just make sure that you have enough petrol before you head off for a long road trip in Iceland.

Driving License Needed

Valid Driving licenses issued by the USA, Canada and the European Economic Area (EEA) are permitted to drive in Iceland and you do not need to have an International Driving License.

If your driving license is from a different country mentioned above, you will have to secure an International driver’s license to be able to drive in Iceland.

As for British Driving License, in case your car rental in Iceland requires a DVLA Driving License code check your Driving License, you can get your DVLA code here.

Car Rentals and Driving Insurance

best way to get around Iceland

The car rental service in Iceland that we took was complete with all the car insurances needed for our trip like the Gravel Protection, Super Collision Damage Waiver Insurance and Satellite Navigator (GPS).

This is advisable to have because some roads in Iceland are dirt roads and it is inevitable that your car will be scratched due to the stones and other debris on the road.

The car rental companies in Iceland will advise and brief you prior to handing you your car keys to familiarize you with the safety driving rules and driving signs in Iceland.

Like with any car rentals, you have to return the vehicle in the same condition when it was given to you and make sure to top up the petrol prior to returning the car to the car rental services.

See some car rental hacks to save money.

Manual or Automatic driving?

This will depend on your preference.  Both transmissions are available with most car rental services in Iceland.

Other Driving Tips in Iceland

Headlights are required at all times while driving and always use your seatbelt when driving as a standard practice.

Requirements for car rental

You must be 18 years old with a valid driving license issued by the USA, Canada or EEA region. Otherwise, an International driving license is needed.

Getting the extra insurance for Gravel Protection, Theft and Super Collision Damage Waiver are worth it.

Depending on your planned activities, you can rent a car with the smaller engine if you are planning to go around the primary roads in Iceland.

If you intend to be more adventurous and go to the F Roads in Iceland, then you must get the 4x4 type of car or bigger.

Car rental prices varies per day from €35 – €100 per day.

Self Drive Trips (Road Trips) by Iceland Travel

Parking in Iceland

Parking in Iceland is normally free unless you are in Reykjavik and Akureyri centre.

There are parking meters displayed around Reykjavik where you need to pay by the hour (pay and display). The parking zones are divided into four in Reykjavik:

P1 Red Zone  

Price: 275 ISK     Mon- Fri: 09:00 – 18:00 | Sat: 10:00 – 16:00 | Sun: Free

P2 Blue Zone

Price: 150 ISK     Mon- Fri: 09:00 – 18:00 | Sat: 10:00 – 16:00 | Sun: Free

P3 Green Zone

Price: 125 ISK for 1 to 2 hours | 30 ISK per hour after the first 2 hours

Mon- Fri: 09:00 – 18:00 | Sat: 10:00 – 16:00 | Sun: Free

P4 Yellow / Amber Zone

Price: 150 ISK      Mon- Fri: 09:00 – 16:00 | Sat: Free | Sun: Free

There are also alternative car parking buildings in Reykjavik.

Celebrity Port

Vitatorg

Kolaport

Vesturgata

Hall

Traðarkot

Bergstaðir

Driving in Winter in Iceland

iceland winter road trip

If you are planning to visit Iceland in the winter months, be prepared for road closures.  Most of the F roads in Iceland are closed due to the dangerous weather and road conditions.

Some of the main roads will be open as usual, but be extra careful when driving. Iceland is known to have very erratic weather conditions and the daylight during winter months are very short.

I hope this Driving Guide to Iceland will enable you to enjoy this beautiful country and everything it has to offer.
In case you will need a visa to visit Iceland, you can check out my Schengen Visa guide.

Have you been to Iceland?
Would love to know your driving experience in Iceland in the comment box below!

Self Drive Trips (Road Trips) by Iceland Travel

Guide to driving in Iceland
Driving In Iceland Tips