Conditions in Iceland are unusual and unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to find out how to drive in this country. The beautiful landscapes can easily draw the driver’s attention away from the road. But in order to reach your destination safely, you must keep your full attention on driving.
- The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/hr.
- The speed limit is often 60 km/hr on thruways, but in residential areas it is usually only 30 km/hr.
- The main rule in rural areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/hr, and paved roads 90 km/hr.
- Signs indicate if other speed limits apply.
All mountain roads and roads in the interior of Iceland have a surface of loose gravel. The same applies to large sections of the national highway, which also has long stretches of asphalt. The surface on the gravel roads is often loose, especially along the sides of the roads, so one should drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching an oncoming car. The mountain roads are also often very narrow, and are not made for speeding.
The same goes for many bridges, which are only wide enough for one car at a time. In addition to their not having an asphalt surface, the mountain roads are often very winding. Journeys therefore often take longer than might be expected. For information on road conditions visit vegagerðin
The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on asphalt roads. Please note: special warning signs indicate danger ahead, such as sharp bends, but there is generally not a separate sign to reduce speed. Please choose a safe speed according to conditions. Motorists are obliged by law to use headlights at all times day and night. In Iceland all driving off roads or marked tracks is forbidden. Passengers in the front and back seats of an automobile are required by law to use safety-belts. Icelandic law forbids any driving under the influence of alcohol.
Opening of the mountain tracks
Most mountain roads are closed until the beginning of July, or even longer because of wet and muddy conditions which make them totally impassable. When these roads are opened for traffic many of them can only be negotiated by four-wheel-drive vehicles. It is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. Also, before embarking on any journey into the interior collect as much information as possible regarding road conditions from a travel bureau, tourist information office or the Icelandic Road Administration (ICERA) Tel: +522 1000 or 1777 –http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/. A booklet called Mountain Roads can be obtained at Tourist Information Centres and the offices of the Icelandic Tourist Board abroad. Always take along a detailed map.