Top Tips for Driving Safely in Iceland

Top Tips for Driving Safely in Iceland

Visiting Iceland and renting a vehicle? Here are some tips to keep you and your travelling partners safe on the notorious Icelandic roadways.

Stick To The Speed Limits

Most rural mountain roads in Iceland are made up of loose gravel, which can be slippery. The speed limit on gravel roads in Iceland is 80 KM/H—and it is advisable to adhere to these limits from both a legal and safety standpoint. Many car rental companies will not allow their vehicles on unsecured mountain roads.

Within city limits, for example in Reykjavik, the speed limit is 50 KM/H unless otherwise posted. The limit on the highways is 90 KM/H unless stated otherwise.

Proof Of Car Insurance

Proof of third-party insurance (also called a “Green Card”) is compulsory for those driving their own cars in Iceland, except from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Channel Islands, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Vatican.

Minimum Age For Driving In Iceland

You must be twenty-one to rent a vehicle in Iceland, with the exception of off-road jeeps, for which you must be twenty-five. You must have a valid driver’s license, passport, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration to drive in Iceland.

Alcohol Limits

There is very strict legislation surrounding being intoxicated behind the wheel in Iceland. The police heavily enforce and monitor motorists, and can take away your license for driving with 0.5 BAC. Be safe and elect to take a taxi, public transit, or arrange a designated driver if you are planning to have any alcohol in your system!

Emergency Services

To reach the police, emergency medical, and fire department services you must dial 112. In the Reykjavik area, “1770” calls a doctor to be sent in the case of medical emergencies.

For information on road conditions, telephone the Icelandic Road Conditions Hotline at +354-1777, daily from 8:00-16:00, or visit their website at for up-to-date travel conditions on rural mountain roads.

Driving Through Mountains

Most mountain roads and roads in the interior of Iceland have a gravel surface. In particular along the sides of these gravel roads, the rocks are often loose, so one should drive cautiously and courteously, slowing down when approaching oncoming motorists. These rural roads are also rather narrow and not built to speed upon. This also applies to many bridges, which are often only wide enough to allow one car to cross at a time.

It is also very common for these mountain routes to become rather windy, which can decrease visibility and ultimately add to the amount of time it takes to arrive at your intended destination. It is always a good idea to be safe rather than sorry. Do not rush the drive if conditions are less than ideal, and pay close attention to the roads, in particular the loose gravel roads on rural mountain routes.

Road maps and local maps are available for route-planning at most petrol stations and many gift shops. Take the time necessary to pre-plot your travels, as it is relatively common to get lost when you are driving in an unfamiliar location. Check out the map below for the location of gas stations in Iceland, thanks to TripCreator.

Map of Gas Stations in Iceland by TripCreator

For further information, tips, and advice for driving in Iceland, visit or download the driving safely pdf.

Following the above tips and driving cautiously will certainly allow you to truly enjoy the rugged beauty of the paradise that is Iceland. Safe travels!

Bradley Taylor loves writing about anything automotive, from road trips to classic cars. He focuses on the latest Audi and Mercedes Benz news. He is also a keen football fan and you can always find him on Twitter and Google Plus.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!