Iceland is a Nordic Island Country and is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Only 5 hours by air from the United States, Iceland is the home to the largest European Glacier (Vatnajokull). Best ways to get around Iceland by car is to drive along the main Ring Road or take a Golden Circle Route.
How to Drive In Reykjavik
In Iceland, you drive on the right side of the road – same as in the United States. The general speed limit is 30-50 km/hour in populated areas, such as Reykjavik and 90 km/hour (55.9 miles/hour) on paved roads.
The road signage in Reykjavik is quite unique, but manageable with patience and practice.
Iceland Driving: Winter vs. Summer
In the winter, people from all over the world flock to Iceland to hunt for Northern Lights and relax in the hot waters of Blue Lagoon, visit icy waterfalls and glacier lagoons.
The main roads are kept open and cleared as much as possible throughout the winter, making it fairly easy to drive around the Southern and Eastern coasts of Iceland. However, road closures are fairly common in Iceland in winter. You will need a 4WD car in Iceland during winter. By the way, winter in Iceland lasts December to March.
But if the Arctic winter conditions are not for you, Iceland transforms into the colorful and warm landscape with 21 hours of daylight and midnight sun during the summer! Iceland is the magnet for visitors during warmer summer months thanks to its stunning waterfalls (Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss) and glaciers. In fact, some of Iceland’s glaciers are only accessible during the summer. Just get on the road!
But it’s not just going to be about glaciers and waterfalls. The major highway in Iceland, called the Ring Road takes you from Reykjavik to hot springs, waterfalls and glaciers.
How to Get Around Iceland by Car
Iceland’s small scale makes getting around easy and enjoyable. There are two main routs around Iceland! Ring Road and Iceland’s Golden Circle.
Iceland’s Ring Road
- Ring Road takes you all the way from Reykjavik to the southmost point in Iceland, around Vatnajokull glacier to its Northern side and then back to Reykjavik.
- This is a major highway and it will take around two weeks to travel all around Iceland on its Ring Road stopping at many of its beautiful attractions.
- Some of the spectacular attractions along the ring road are the mighty Geyser Stokkur, Gullfoss Waterfall, Skogafoss Waterfall, Vatnajokull Glacier, Skaftafell National Park, Black Sand Beach in Vik, Dyrholaey, Iceberg Lagoons and Ice Caves, Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon, Diamond Beach and many more!
Iceland’s Golden Circle
- Iceland’s Golden Circle is a convenient route between 3 of Iceland’s most visited attractions.
- You begin in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, then drive southwest, visiting Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.
- The loop completes back in Reykjavik. This trip does NOT include any glaciers! Expect to spend six to ten hours visiting all the attractions on this route.
- I recommend renting a vehicle to get around Iceland in order not to be at the mercy of huge tour buses. The roads in Iceland, as mentioned above, are easy, well maintained and enjoyable to drive on!
Road Safety in Iceland
The main roads in Iceland are kept open and cleared as much as possible, especially for he Arctic country. It’s fairly easy to drive around the coastal areas of Iceland since most of the main roads are paved.
The exception is highland roads. Those are the roads in the more mountainous and interior area of the country. These roads are not maintained and are closed to traffic throughout the winter. Don’t worry – you will find warning signs!
Enjoy driving in Iceland!