Iceland speed limit and other driving essentials
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
With open roads and breath-taking scenery Iceland is a fabulous place to drive. There are so many natural wonders to explore that the country really does lend itself to a road trip style of holiday. There is a great network of excellent campgrounds too, so hiring a motorhome or rental van camper is a good choice. Iceland also has a famously small population, so the roads rarely get too crowded. Do remember though that you will be sharing the roads with other travellers from around the world. Some of them may be a little unsure of their vehicle and the driving conditions. So always keep that in mind and go easy.
Driving in Iceland is a whole lot of fun. However, there are several rules and regulations that you should be aware of before getting behind the wheel of your rental company camper. Believe us you will not want to pick up any driving fines. Getting an Iceland speeding ticket would be a costly mistake. In this article we have put together a set of driving tips and advice. We have included Iceland speed limit information and various other driving essentials to help you enjoy a smooth ride.
What side of the road do people drive in Iceland?
In Iceland traffic drives on the right hand side of the road and overtakes on the left. Visitors from most of Europe and the US will be happy to hear this. If you are visiting from the UK you will need to keep giving yourself that extra reminder – cars in Iceland drive on the right!
What is the Iceland Speed Limit?
Every Iceland road will have a clear speed limits sign in kilometres per hour. So as long as you keep your eyes on the road and the speedometer you will be fine.
The general Iceland speed limits are as follows:
Towns, cities and built up areas 50km/h (30mph)
Rural paved roads 90km/h (55mph)
Rural gravel roads 80km/h (49mph)
These speed limits can vary a little if the road conditions call for it. For example the speed limit may be lower on a steep hill or approaching a single lane bridge, or change in road surface. So do keep an eye out for the speed limits signs. Road surfaces vary in Iceland, but the well-travelled routes, such as the Golden Circle or the ring road will be sealed asphalt. So the general speed limit of Iceland ring road sticks at a steady 90km/h.
When the road is wide, the traffic light and the road trip music turned up, it might be tempting to ease your foot down. Please don’t though. Aside from being dangerous the Iceland speeding ticket is not something you want to find on your account balance. The speeding ticket cost in Iceland can be as high as $800 US and will be about $200 US at the very least. The rate operates on a sliding scale depending on how far over the limit you are driving and on what type of road. We won’t go into the finer details here, but play it safe and stay within the limit, even when there are no speed cameras in sight.
Can I drive off road in Iceland?
Driving off road in Iceland is strictly forbidden. Iceland’s beautiful landscapes support fragile eco-systems. The vegetation is often slow growing and easily damaged, and as such can be easily harmed by roving wheels. Stick to the marked paved roads, gravel tracks and parking areas at all times.
What roads can I drive on in Iceland?
The majority of Iceland roads are accessible to all vehicles including all paved roads and many gravel roads too. There are certain routes that you will only be able to drive in a 4x4 camper or SUV. These include all of the F roads in the highlands and certain others at various times of the year. There will always be a large and clear sign letting you know any vehicle restrictions on the road. So you will always be well aware if you are approaching one and can turn back. Because driving conditions can sometimes be hazardous it’s important to obey the road signs. As well as the safety concerns, your Iceland rental company insurance will not cover you for travel on the incorrect road conditions for your vehicle. Posing more potential damage to that bank balance.
What are the hazards of driving in Iceland?
One of the main risks that camper and car rental companies will emphasise is the weather in Iceland. It is famously unpredictable with the potential for some very strong winds and/or low visibility in snowstorms. You should listen out for weather warnings and obey official advice on when it is safe to travel or not. This is especially true if you are visiting Iceland in winter. Please also be aware that when the wind is strong it can easily damage your vehicle doors if you open them too quickly. So be aware of which way the wind is blowing and open your door with caution.
What about parking in Iceland?
Parking in Iceland should not be an issue. It is generally free to park in towns and at beauty spots and attractions right across the country. In Reykjavik and the northern Iceland city of Akureyri there are different parking zones with varying charges. When it comes to Iceland road parking in rural areas there are loads of pull in areas. It can be tempting to pull over on the side of the road. Especially when it seems quiet and there is another beautiful view to drink in or photograph. It is much safer though to keep driving for a minute or two and use one of the many pull in areas instead.
Anything else I need to know?
Belt up! Wearing a seat belt is compulsory for both the driver and all of the passengers in Iceland. If you are travelling in Iceland with small children there are also laws around using the correct child seat. More detailed information on this can be found at the Icelandic Transport Authority website.
Fill up! In certain areas of Iceland petrol stations can be few and far between. The general rule is that if you see a gas station then pull over and top up your tank. Even if you have a partly full tank and you’re cruising, it is still a good idea. Some of the more rural gas stations are unmanned, but credit cards are accepted for payment and there are simple instructions to follow in English. If you are camping in Iceland’s more remote areas and/or driving in winter, then carrying a gas can as back up is wise.
Exploring Iceland by campervan or motorhome will be an incredible experience. Just keep in mind the rules of the road and you can’t go far wrong.