If you’ve ever heard that driving in Iceland is unlike driving in other places, you’ve heard it right! But don’t let that scare you away from hitting the land of fire and ice road trip style! However, to be safe on the road there are a few things you should expect when driving in Iceland.
After our road trip through Iceland, we honestly can’t imagine visiting the country any other way.. well, maybe other than bringing our home on wheels with us. And honestly, if you’re comfortable driving, we one-thousand times over recommend exploring Iceland with a car. Be prepared for driving in Iceland with these twelve tips to keep you on the road!
Be Prepared for Single Lane Bridges
These bad boys are everywhere. Like for reals, everywhere. While driving down the main highway soaking in those Icelandic views, keep an eye out for single land bridges. If you find a short one, obviously don’t go on it while another vehicle is coming at ya, but the longer ones have pull-outs throughout. Go ahead and take those on, at a slow speed!
Drive the Comfortable Speed for You
Don’t go so slow that you’re causing a hazard for the drivers around you, but do drive at a speed you feel comfortable. – Especially if you’re visiting Iceland in the winter! We had so many people fly past us while we were driving, however, in our little dinky rental car, we didn’t feel comfortable taking on the icy roads too fast.
Be Aware of the Wind
Oh. My. Goodness. The wind in Iceland is no joke. Huge gusts of wind will come out of nowhere, and make you swerve all over the place. Driving down the highway, there are signs that say when to expect wind.. Take these things seriously and drive with two hands on the wheel!
Avoid Driving at Night
With the wind and crazy weather patterns in Iceland, we suggest not driving at night. Adding darkness to the already different road conditions just adds to the level of stress behind the wheel.
Always Have Your Headlights On… It’s the Law
Yes, even in the daylight, it’s the law to always have your headlights on in Iceland. Maybe because the weather can change so abruptly, who knows.. regardless, just do it to avoid getting a ticket!
When our rental car agency picked us up, they actually got pulled over on the way out of the airport because he forgot to put the lights on. He rolled away without a ticket, but we’re sure if it was one of us driving, there would have been a ticket handed out. And, yes, we’re glaring over here that the police are just lurking outside the airport to catch the tourist who doesn’t know!
READ MORE : Renting A Car in Iceland
You Need a Gas Card
Unless you’re using a card with a pin to fill up the tank, you’re going to need a gas card. You can buy these at gas stations, then pre-load them with money to use at the pump. The gas stations aren’t open 24/7, so be sure to have a usable card before it gets too late.
People Will Pass You… And Way Too Close for Comfort
Holy smokes, when people pass, they often leave only centimeters between you and them. Every single time we got passed we were so nervous. Prepare yourself this by paying attention to people in your rearview, and then again, gripping the wheel with both hands when they begin to pass.
Ignore the People Tailgating You… It’s Bound to Happen
Coming from the same idea of people passing you, you’re also bound to be tailgated. Regardless of how fast or slow you drive, someone else is always going to be in a hurry to get somewhere and will ride your butt. Hold your ground, continue driving at the speed you feel comfortable, and when there’s a safe pullout space, you can pull over to let them pass. Don’t let these people bug you, keep remember you’re in Iceland, and just enjoy those views!
Only Pull Off for Photos When There’s a Packed Shoulder
With a picture perfect landscape around every corner, you’re going to want to stop for pictures. Only pull off when it’s safe. Look for packed shoulders so you don’t ruin the terrain, be sure to give enough time for the people behind you to brake too, and for the love of all things good… use your blinker.
Download an Offline Map
With the remoteness of a lot of places in Iceland, we found that we often didn’t have service. Download an offline map like maps.me or a google map straight from the app to ensure you can make your way around the island.
Drive on the Right!
For some, this is innate… for us coming from the U.K., we had to adjust our brains and really think every time we turned onto a new road… and Heather maybe just once or twice went to the wrong side of the car to get in.. ha
Fill up Often
While we never had a problem with gas, we found that in some areas there were pretty long stretches of road without a gas station. While you don’t need to stop at every station you see, don’t let your tank get below a quarter full!
Driving in Iceland can be an intimidating feat. But remember, the freedom you’re given with a car is so worth it! Keep these twelve driving tips in mind when you hit the road! If you think we’ve left anything out, let us know in the comments below.
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