Travelling in Iceland

The information on this website comes from a guided tour as well as from individually planned trips. Guided bustours are suitable for travellers being the first time in Iceland to learn something about the country and its points of interest. Iceland can be travelled on serveral ways such as on feet, by bicycle. by camper or simply by car. Parts of the ways can also be done on horseback or by ship or boot.

The Icelandic ring road is more than 1300 km long and follows mainly the coast around the island. Almost all parts of this road are paved and have one lane in each direction. This road and a lot more in flat regions are passable in normal passenger cars and plenty of the points of interest can be reached. There are also a lot of gravel roads apart from the main road that can be driven by two-wheel-driven cars. Most of the smaller bridges are single lane and made of wood and/or steel even on the ring road. The speed limit is 90 km/h on paved roads and 80 km/h on gravel roads. Even this speed can be too high for the roads ahead, so please slow down when changing from paved roads to gravel roads.

When travelling mainly apart from the main roads it is more relaxing to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, because the surface of the gravel roads is often very loose, especially along the sides of the roads. Highland roads require 4x4 cars with more ground clearance, such as jeeps. Those roads are marked with an "F" before the road number. Highland roads are open only during the summertime. They usually open in the beginning of June but also depending on weather conditions and other circumstances. Mud and snow can make the roads completely impassable even in summertime. For some mountain roads it is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. You are also advised to use detailed maps and it is recommended to rent a GPS with your rental car, because GPS devices with maps of North America or Europe do generally not contain detailed maps of the Icelandic highlands. But they are suitable for travelling on main roads in Iceland.

Many rivers in the highland have no bridges, and those bridged are usually only wide enough for one car at a time. Crossing rivers should be attempted only in four-wheel-drive vehicles, such as jeeps. Keep in mind that fords through glacial rivers keep changing. They usually have less water in the mornings. On warm summer days, the flow increases as the day progresses. Heavy rainfall often causes river water to rise, sometimes making them impassable even for large and modified vehicles. That makes it necessary to examine its velocity, depth and bottom by wading into it. Never ever drive into water deeper than the diameter of the wheels and always try to keep the engine running even if stuck. Underestimating the water power in rivers has caused fatalities in the past

There are petrol stations in all bigger towns/cities and many smaller villages, but there are no filling stations in the highland except Hveravellir and Hrauneyjar on the way to Landmannalaugar. It is always a good idea, filling up the car before starting a longer tour even on the main roads to keep flexible. Keep this in mind if you plan driving in the highlands and take jerry cans for longer drives in the highlands. You should also keep in mind that journeys on highland roads and above all on mountain tracks take usually much longer and the cars need more fuel than expected. According to my expierence an average speed of around 30 km/h on highland roads is suitable for planning a trip. On really bad mountain tracks the speed can be at walking pace to prevent any damage to the car. Consider, the slower you drive the more you see..

Driving outside marked trails is prohibited and is subject to nature conservation law. Make sure that you have enough food and drinks as well as warm clothes for an emergency if you are forced to spend a night in the highlands. Note, this is just basic information. Make sure that you are well informed and equipped when driving in the Icelandic highland.

The native language in Iceland is Icelandic, but English and Danish are very common. When you book a guided bustour at your local travel agency, they are normally guided in your native language. International groups are usually guided in English. Creditcards are largely accepted. Some smaller accommodations accept payment by cash only.