There is one major motorway which runs around the island in a ring and is aptly named the Route 1 Ring Road. Winter weather means that many mountain roads are closed until at least June and are often gravel roads. Travel at appropriate speeds and plan your journey when travelling into the interior of the country. Check with your rental company as some restrict use of hire cars on unsecured mountain roads.
As a country packed full of incredible natural sights, car hire is a fantastic way to get around during your holiday here.
Tips for driving in Iceland
A UK paper driving licence is only valid when accompanied by photographic proof of identity, e.g. passport.
Which side of the road do they drive on?
Drive on the right, overtake on the left. Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles coming from the right have priority at junctions.
If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle.
Driving with children
Children under 3 must be seated in a child restraint system appropriate for their size and weight. Children over 3 and shorter than 150cm must be seated in a child restraint system appropriate for their height and weight.
Blood alcohol limit
The blood alcohol limits is 0.5mg alcohol per 100ml of blood. Drink driving is strictly punishable with loss of license, possible prison sentence and a fine of up to 160,000 Krona. The minimum fine is usually 70,000 Krona.
Can I use a mobile?
It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless using a hands free kit.
Reflective vests, triangles & other essentials
A warning triangle must be kept in the vehicle at all times. It is recommended that a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and set of replacement bulbs are also kept in the vehicle.
Do I need winter tyres or snow chains?
Winter tyres are compulsory on roads that are affected by winter weather between November and April. They may still be required outside of these dates depending on weather conditions. The use of spiked tyres is permitted between November 15th and April 15th whilst snow chains may be used when necessary.
Parking is generally not an issue and is usually metered in two hour slots. There are numerous multi-storey car parks in Reykjavik.
On the spot fines
Icelandic police can impose and collect on the spot fines. Fines may sometimes be payable at police stations. Details may also be provided of the official bank account into which the fine must be paid.
Horns and headlights
Use of headlights is compulsory at all times and you may be fined if you fail to comply.
Driving on mountain roads
Roads in Iceland are graded and maintained by the Icelandic Road Administration as follows:
(S) - Primary road
(T) - Secondary road
(H) - Local access (roads to farms etc)
(L) - Highland & mountain roads.
(F) - Unpaved roads only suitable for a 4x4 vehicle.
Most of the mountains roads have a gravel surface therefore do drive carefully, particularly when passing oncoming vehicles. Be sure to drive at sensible speeds. Generally mountain roads are closed until the end of June as they are usually impassable. Before travelling on any such roads, check the road conditions at the local travel bureau.
Driving off-road is illegal in Iceland to protect the flora and fauna.
What should I do if I breakdown?
If you breakdown, you must put on a reflective jacket and place the reflective triangle 30m behind the vehicle to warn other drivers. Call the supplier who will be able to advise you further. It is recommended you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.
What should I do if I have an accident?
If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and the car rental provider and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. It is recommended that you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.
A toll is payable when driving through Hvalfjudor Tunnel. This is the only toll road in the country and costs approximately 1,000 Krona.