On the road in Iceland | Do’s and Dont’s

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Iceland does not have public transport and the best way of getting around is having a car. It gives you the flexibility of chosing where to go, what to do and most of all, it is fun! It was just the two of us, since we went to Iceland on our honeymoon. But if you are a group of 4 people, it actually turns out pretty cost effective. We will have a post about our car rental experience soon which will be linked here. Till then here are some signs and tips for road tripping in Iceland.

01. Ring road vs Off Ring Road

Route 1 or the Ring Road in case you don’t know is a national road in Iceland that runs around the island and connects most of the inhabited parts of the country. Most of the touristy spots are around the Ring Road. This road is paved and very easy to drive even in winter. But let that not stop you from going off the Ring Road and exploring. Keep in mind though that F-Roads may be closed in winter and gravel roads need a four wheel drive.

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02. Rest stops:

The views are breathtaking and you may be tempted to stop and click a picture. Warning: That is illegal. Make sure that you stop at a marked rest stop. Yes, it is the law but also it ensures your safety.

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03. Coffee and Food

There are some restaurants and cafes on the ring road. But make sure you check google maps for how far you are from the nearest one and what are their opening times. Many places might be closed for winter. Some rental car companies can give you discount on coffees at N1. If you are looking for a hot meal, almost all restaurants serve daily soup with local bread which is delicious, hearty and easy on the pocket.

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04. Gas stops

The most commons gas stations are N1Skeljungur and Olís. Unlike gas stations in most countries, some of them have a full sit-down restaurant. You can also buy essential groceries, do some shopping for woollens and get your coffee. Make sure that you know where the next gas stop is. Towns and villages are far from each other and you can stuck in bad weather. It is always a good idea to stock up a bit early rather than running out. Self service petrol pumps are in almost every station and chip and pin cards are accepted.

05. Infographics and Signs

Iceland is well marked with signages that are easy to understand for tourists. Apart from the usual road signs which indicate speed and turns, the landmarks are also marked making life easier for tourists. If you miss one, you may have to take a turn at the roundabout after kilometers, so make sure you have someone who keeps their eyes on the roads for signs. Watch out for signs for sheep (yes, really!), one lane bridges, amenities, and police cameras.

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06. Toilets

Nature is calling and you still have a couple of hours to go? Here are your options. If you are stopping for food or gas, you can use the facilities within the premises. You may come across some toilets that are paid with a sign like the one below. Pingvellir National Park has a 200 krona toilet fee. They accept both coins and cards. Spend all day there and you will end up shelling out a good amount that will make you curse your bladder. Also note that paid toilets in smaller towns might not accept cards, so carry some change around with you.

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We hope that these tips will help you on your road trip to Iceland. Wishing you a safe and fun journey. If you are looking for a winter itinerary, have a look at our 15 day Iceland winter itinerary post.

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On the road in Iceland

Also, if you are a Pinterest fan, check out our Iceland board for more ideas.

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52 Comment

  1. Lord says: Reply

    Would love to visit Iceland! Either this year or next year 🙂

    1. Shruti Prabhu says: Reply

      Iceland is amazing. We would love to revisit to experience it in the summer!

  2. Tami says: Reply

    Great post! And the blurb about bathrooms is very appreciated. Seems like most guides omit that important information! I keep hearing more and more about Iceland. I’d really like to make it one of our itineraries soon!
    Tami recently posted…Desert Wildflowers Day Trip — Borrego Springs, CAMy Profile

    1. Shruti Prabhu says: Reply

      Yes. You never think visiting the bathroom would add to your trip costs, but it does in Iceland. 😛

  3. James says: Reply

    Wow! All we know is we now want to visit Iceland but never thought to stop and think about these things! Paid toilets- good point too lol. Thanks

  4. We love Iceland and would love to return. We drove the Ring Road and took a few turns off road, but for the most part had plenty to see and do on the Ring Road. For lunches, we ate at most of the N1 gas station restaurants because they were cheap and good hot sandwiches or soup. Bathrooms were also free at all the gas stations.

  5. These are such excellent tips. We are considering a road trip in Iceland this year. Maybe. Your tips are really great for planning but they are also helpful for deciding whether we want to do this trip and what to expect. Thanks for these.
    The Travel Ninjas recently posted…AO Show at The Saigon Opera House – Fun, Amazing, & MeaningfulMy Profile

  6. Nisha says: Reply

    Great post and excellent tips. I am glad that you mentioned about toilets, that’s the main thing I look for on a road trip. I think it’s better to have your vehicle considering the distances and lack of facilities.

  7. Donna says: Reply

    I’ve heard from many people who have driven in Iceland, but I never realized it was pretty much the only way to get around. These tips for driving the Ring Road are invaluable. Thanks!

  8. We would love to roadtrip through Iceland and these tips are amazing. We will save this one for later. Thanks guys 🙂
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  9. Claire says: Reply

    Doing a roadtrip around Iceland is quite high on my bucket list so thanks for these tips. I didn’t realise it was illegal to stop for pictures outside of the rest zones so that’s really good to know! If the toilets are pay to use I’m glad I have a strong bladder 😉
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  10. Iceland is definitely on our bucket list to visit one day, it looks amazing! When we travel we love to take local transport/walk, but it sounds like we’ll have to get a car, thanks for the note on public transport! Some great tips for staying safe on the roads, so thanks for sharing. It’s so easy to just start driving without thinking about if you’ll make it to the next petrol stop, or if you’ve got enough food/drink in the car.
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  11. neha says: Reply

    Very informative post to help plan a trip to iceland. Do you also have one on a complete itinerary covering all the major sightseeing places around the ring road? I will love to have a look and plan my itinerary accordingly when I visit here
    neha recently posted…Top places to visit in Coorg, Karnataka, IndiaMy Profile

  12. Super helpful tips about driving in Iceland. I’m hoping to make it there and appreciate the tips, especially about where you’re allowed to stop and where you aren’t. Good to know that the Ring Road is paved.
    Debra Schroeder recently posted…$5 Cars, Hawaii on the Cheap, and More!My Profile

  13. Oana says: Reply

    Great post and excellent tips. Iceland is my favourite country so far and I would go back without second thoughts. If you visit during winter time, bare in mind you can get stuck in the snow without anyone around for miles so take proper equipment in your car.
    Oana recently posted…Discover Basel in 48 hoursMy Profile

  14. cat says: Reply

    LOVE hearing about Iceland. Always wanted to go, and so happy that you guys got to share this post 🙂

  15. Another tip is if you are camping you can take showers at all the pools. Each city has an indoor pool, very convenient.

  16. Heard a lot of great things about Iceland. I’m so glad you shared these helpful tips! I also took a quick look at the itinerary link you shared. I’ll bookmark it just in case 🙂

  17. Iceland is a fairyland of snow. Driving in such beautiful environs must indeed be a thrilling experience. Of course safety is of prime importance. You have provided some great pointers which will stand in stead for first time road trippers to Iceland.
    Sandy N Vyjay recently posted…Have you heard of the Heritage Transport Museum near Delhi?My Profile

  18. Tony (tonyandkimoutdooradventures) says: Reply

    Thanks for the share. To Capture some snow photos are on the bucket list. Cannot believe you have to pay to use a toliet like Europe. All public toliets are free in Australia.

  19. This is such great practical info for a road trip! Street signs in each country are different, so thanks for the heads up! I would love to go to Iceland one day. Oh, and, yes, curse my tiny bladder.

  20. Iceland looks beautiful and mysterious. A road trip looks like a great way to explore with the freedom to stop whenever you want. And it’s good to know there are plenty of clean modern toilets along the way!

  21. Iceland is a place we’d love to go one day. Thanks for this helpful info!!
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  22. A bathroom that accepts cards? Classy! I really love the idea of an Icelandic roadtrip and this post will come in very useful when I do eventually make my way over there. Love the idea of discounted coffee too – I might just be able to survive in Iceland!
    Travel Lexx recently posted…72 Hours in Hamburg: A Weekend in Germany’s Cool Second CityMy Profile

  23. Kerri says: Reply

    Great information. We are heading here in June and planning on driving so have taken all these tips on board. So looking forward to getting over there., an epic place to drive!!

  24. This is such an informative post. I might be going to Iceland this September and this will come in handy. I heard to rent cars are pretty expensive. Is that true?
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  25. Iceland is on my bucket list for a very long time (just don’t like the expensive plane tickets ), so I will save this for later 🙂 thanks for sharing an interesting tips!

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  27. Garth says: Reply

    We love Iceland!! so much so we’re planning our third trip! Great tips guys
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  28. Reshma says: Reply

    Nice to see some valuable tips some of which are pretty simple but often overlooked. Iceland is a gorgeous country and it’s true that people can get carried away and stop by anywhere for the pictures and views!
    Reshma recently posted…Valley of Flowers – A Tale of An Adventurous Trek To The Paradise of FlowersMy Profile

  29. Great tips on the signage and what to expect when driving the road. I will definitely pin this for later use. I would love to rent a car so I can stop only at rest stops and go to places I want to visit. I will look forward to your link on car rentals. I pinned this for later use. Thanks for sharing 🙂
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  30. Megan Jerrard says: Reply

    Great post 🙂 We loved our trip around Iceland, and even though we traveled during June, so peak tourist season, as soon as we drove out of Reykjavik, tourism seemed to complete disappear, even staying pretty much true to the ring road the whole time. Haha and yes, I learnt about F roads the hard way when I didn’t read the map correctly and we took a wrong turn – they were pretty tough in summer, I can’t even imagine trying to drive them in winter!

  31. Chiara says: Reply

    Iceland has always been on my wish list, one day I’ll visit it and I’ll keep your post in mind 🙂

  32. I love useful tips like where to use a toilet and signage. That’s the kind of thing I need to know! Pinned this for later.
    Carmen Baguio recently posted…What to Eat & Drink in Rio de JaneiroMy Profile

  33. Great tips! One day I’ll be visiting Iceland and these tips will come in handy. Paying to use the toilet is such a pet peeve of mine. I made sure to use go to the toilet at every museum or restaurant that had it available for free whenever I had the chance in Europe.
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  34. Thanks for these amazing tips! They’ll come in handy when we visit Iceland, my husband and I has always wanted to visit so this is really helpful information. Where did you stay for your honeymoon?

  35. very information tips. Hope you had good time in Iceland, look forward to more posts from your blog.

  36. Indrani says: Reply

    Good useful points. I am hoping to get there soon some day.
    We plan to drive through… that should give some flexibility.

  37. Covered very nicely, and that’s coming form someone who has been there! Thanks!

  38. Great tips for driving Iceland. We want to go but have also worried about how the roads are and are they open in the winter, so thanks for such great tips. We need to get there!

  39. Blair villanueva says: Reply

    This is exciting, i would like to visit Iceland someday and have a spa! And have wonderful experience too 🙂

  40. Bhusha says: Reply

    Iceland for honeymoon? That’s just awesome!
    Great tips. Esp about it being illegal to stop over anywhere!
    200 krona toilet fee?? Whoa!

  41. Iceland no public transport. Wow! So that gives us a chance to another self-driven road trip. The F road and ring road sounds like super fun and cool. The tips mentioned will be really helpful for a visitor and road tripper like me. Thanks for this post.

  42. Now that you point out, those sign boards are really elaborate. And quite refreshing too. Driving around does seem like a lot of fun. Thanks for all those useful tips.
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  43. Iceland is on my bucket list, so these are some really helpful tips.Thanks for sharing!
    Karen Palamittam recently posted…Beautiful Sunsets From Around The WorldMy Profile

  44. These are fantastic tips! I visited Iceland in 2014 with my aunt, and we hired a tour guide so fortunately we didn’t have to worry too much about driving/signs etc.

  45. Krista says: Reply

    Wow! Good tips, especially on the paid washrooms. I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland & hope to make it there someday! Maybe we will also do a road trip so we can stop as we please 🙂

  46. Iceland is still on my bucketlist, but thanks for this informative guide about driving there! Will keep these tips in mind. I love that they have signs for sheep! Did you guys come across any on the road?

  47. Nicole says: Reply

    Oh my gosh, those pictures are so gorgeous. Guess Iceland is going on my bucket list! I didn’t even know I wanted to go there! 🙂
    Nicole recently posted…10 Etsy Shops for AMAZING Father’s Day Gifts Under $50My Profile

  48. Kelly says: Reply

    This was really interesting! Do you know if there is any history or an incident that caused them to outlaw pulling over at non-designated spots?
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  49. I really want to visit Iceland. Thank you for this guide

  50. Lovely lovely place!!! I almost travelled to Iceland last March. But due to some financial issues… I didn’t get to visit the place. I have seen and heard so much about the place just from the internet. Its definitely on my wishlist.

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