10 Essential Tips for Road Tripping in Iceland: Your Ultimate Guide

Iceland is a stunning country with many of the most breathtaking landscapes, it’s well known for its vibrant culture and history. From its beautiful scenery to its unique traditions, Iceland is worth the trip and one of the best options to fully enjoy the country’s natural landmarks is a rod trip!

asphalt road and a cliff in Iceland

Opt for an Iceland car rental and embark on a fantastic, adventure-filled journey! To make the journey even better, I have listed essential tips for a road trip in Iceland.

The land of ice and fire is a spot of beauty and wonder, and it offers a ton of world-known landmarks to visit. Like Snæfellsjökull Glacier or the Skógafoss Waterfall, and all the way to the Golden Circle, the stunning scenery will surely leave you in awe.

As for road-tripping wise, Iceland is perfect it has some top-notch roads around like Route 1 (famously known as Ring Road) that gets around the country in 1320km, which is perfect for getting a good look at everything from glaciers, and volcanoes, and waterfalls in a single trip.

A single road trip may not look like a big challenge for most experienced road trippers, but there are many essential tips you must know before hitting the road.

Essential Tips for a Road Trip in Iceland

Right-Hand Driving

If you are coming from the US (or most parts of Europe) you don’t need to worry to get used to driving on the left side. In Iceland, the traffic is right-handed.

This is something remarkable to bring up since most people think this country is a left-handed driving country, and are thrown off by this misconception.

Be Careful in the Winter Months

The winter months in Iceland are from October all the way to March, and the weather gets really messed up sometimes. There are frequent icy storms and strong winds and driving in those conditions is not for the faint-hearted adventurer, in fact, it’s completely discouraging to do.

The roads are often closed during strong storms and powerful winds.

No Special License Needed

If you’re coming from the United States, you don’t need a special permit to drive your Iceland rental car. At least as your driver’s license from the US is valid.

But that’s not only applicable to US citizens, the same applies to people coming from the United Kingdom and Europe.

The Highlands and Unpaved Roads

The exciting part of the land of ice and fire is the nature and wilderness, and if you’re going to the Highlands you’ll notice many of these roads are unpaved, and you’ll even need to cross a river from time to time.

In those cases, a 4×4 car is a MUST, and fortunately, you can find a 4×4 rental in Iceland.

Notice those roads are NOT a problem if you stick to the Ring Road and main attractions.

Driving Laws You Should Know

There aren’t many driving laws in Iceland that you can not find in other countries, like adhering to the speed limits, seatbelts must be worn at all times by every passenger in the vehicle. Or don’t drive while using the phone or talking on the phone without headphones.

Something worth noticing is the fact that you MUST drive with the car headlights on constantly.

Types of Cars for Rent in Iceland

You should note that there are 3 types of cars you can find on any car rental in Iceland, a normal 2WD car, which are the smaller and the cheapest option available, and also the one with the most variety.

A campervan, is by far the most popular option to rent in the country, since it can work as accommodation and transport. These types of cars are in high demand during peak visitors time.

And 4×4 cars, 4WD are also popular among recurrent Iceland visitors that want to opt for an off-road trip experience.

Some things worth knowing:

  • Automatic cars are usually more expensive than manual cars.
  • You need to be 20 years old to rent a car and 23 to rent a 4WD (4×4)

Do not Misjudge the Iceland Weather

Even outside the winter months, the weather in Iceland is pretty rough and intense. At any time of the year, you can encounter heavy rain or snow and tough winds, but the worst can be expected during winter months.

Do not take the country’s wind for granted, it’s on a different level!

Don’t Speed!

Even though you won’t see that many police cars on the roads of Iceland, there are a ton of traffic cameras all over the country. In case you were speeding, and a camera spotted you doing it, you surely will get a ticket email.

Be Careful when Pulling Over

Most of the main roads in the country of ice and fire are two lines (besides some roads that are not main), and almost all the roads don’t have shoulder areas to pull over. Now, the scenery and landscape are breathtaking, and you will be tempted to stop many times to take pics, but you MUST be really careful when doing this.

The right tip is “Don’t pull over to the side to take photos” but I know most people will do. Don’t open the doors of your car while on the road, this is dangerous, not only for you but also for other drivers.

Single-Lane Roads

If you leave the main roads, you’ll be facing a ton of one-lane roads. The main roads in Iceland are almost flawless, well-paved, and maintained, but once you leave the main roads you will find single-lane roads that are narrow.

Many times only a single car can get through, you can even find bridges and tunnels like this.

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