Visiting Iceland is an exhilarating opportunity, but one must remember that you are also coming to a tiny island in the North Atlantic that encounters some very unpredictable weather conditions. So in order to keep yourself safe and others around you, today we would like to share some driving in Iceland tips.
General Advice About Driving in Iceland:
- Drive on the right side of the road (and the left side of the car).
- Your seatbelts and headlights must be on always, daylight or not.
- Icelandic roads can be coarse, unpredictable, and can feel VERY at narrow at times.
- Follow the speed limit! It’s a heavy if you don’t and many times you’re caught on camera.
- DO NOT DRIVE OFF ROAD. I repeat, DO NOT DRIVE OFF ROAD. The landscape is delicate and it takes 100’s of years for your damage to be recovered if you were to. You will also be heavily fined, so just don’t do it.
- DO NOT drive on any road that does not have a number (IE, Route 1, Route 36, etc) because you could get into a really bad situation (IE, like crossing a river in your economy car) or be invading someone’s private property.
- To Buy Fuel: Know your debit or credit card “pin” beforehand (MasterCard or VISA) OR buy prepaid cards to use at the fuel pumps once you arrive in Iceland for various amounts in ISK (Most common fuel stations in Iceland are: N1, Olis, and Orkan).
- Iceland’s Emergency Number (Search and Rescue Team) is: 112. Special Note: The group who responds are volunteers so please do not use this number if you need tow or are not endangered in some way.
- Dangerous gale force winds, rain, hail, snow, or blizzard conditions can come out of nowhere, fast. Be prepared and before traveling each day check: http://safetravel.is/, http://www.road.is/ and http://en.vedur.is.
- Have an emergency kit on hand (this can be as simple as a first aid kit, food, water, extra fuel etc).
- Do not drink and drive!
- Pay attention to signs (ie, blind hills) and one-lane bridges.
- Lookout for sheep!
Things NOT to do while driving in Iceland:
- Do not stop on the road to take that “perfect social media photo.” You endanger your own life and others by doing so. Please park in designated areas and walk back to where you want to take the photo.
- Do not take photos while driving.
- Do not have your phone to your ear while driving (it’s illegal).
- Do not drive fast on gravel roads, you can lose grip and end up on the side of it stranded.
- Do not drive during storms. The wind is not joke here folks and many of our “storms” are gale force wind level (IE, 60+ mph). –See point 9 above.
- Do not take turns from inside roundabouts from the inside lane without signaling and being aware of where other cars or trucks are.
- Do not stop on the side of the road to feed the animals (IE, Icelandic horses or sheep).
- Do not drive into anyone’s drive way or land without permission.
Specifically driving in Vik:
- If there is a wind / sand storm, do not drive east from the village, wait it out. One of the most open/vulnerable drives in Iceland is the drive from Vik to Kirkjubæjarklaustur because you are crossing a black desert which during a storm is BRUTAL. The photo below shows what a 10-minute sand storm did to someone’s rental car. –Blew out the windows, took off the paint, saturated every cavass with sand.
- Take care opening car doors, the wind can often blow the door from your hand.
- Park into the wind if possible so you can open your doors easier.
- Do not drive on any of the beaches or glacier areas. The waves are violent and there can be quicksand.
- Do not drive into anyone’s drive way or land without permission from the owner. Respect the local people.
- See previous points above and lastly, DO NOT OFF ROAD.