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Driving in Iceland in the Summer

Car rental in Iceland is becoming increasingly popular. A driving holiday in Iceland allows you to see so many of the beautiful local sights and surrounds. Driving in Iceland does, however, have its challenges, so take a look at our guide to staying safe whilst driving in Iceland in the summer.

Summertime in Iceland

Summer in Iceland falls between mid-June to late August. If you've never driven in Iceland or don't have much experience of driving in hazardous landscapes, the summer is the perfect time for car rental in Iceland.

Why visit in summer?

There are many more daylight hours in Iceland in the summer, which makes driving a much safer prospect. The roads also won't be as treacherous as in the winter, when they are often icy and prone to sudden closures due to weather changes.

Where should I drive in Iceland?

When you rent a car in Iceland, the first place you should head to is the ring road, which is officially known as Route 1. This is the country's main road, and the safest to drive on. It will take you past plenty of unforgettable sights, from geothermal springs and cascading waterfalls, to towering mountains and lush forests.

What hazards should I look out for?

Although Highway no. 1 is the safest road for those who are looking for cheap car hire in Iceland, it does have a mixture of gravel and paved surfaces. Be wary of speed limits for the road and be aware of where the road changes from tarmac to gravel to avoid skidding.

What are the driving rules in Iceland?

Driving rules are very strict in Iceland, and they are stringently enforced. Speed limits fall into three categories. 50km/h is the limit in built up areas, 80km/h is the limit on gravel roads, and 90km/h is the limit on asphalt roads. There won't always be signs for these limits, so it is best to learn them before you go. Seat belts are mandatory when driving in Iceland, as are your headlights, which should be switched on even during the daytime in the summer. Drinking and driving is also strictly prohibited, as is talking on a mobile phone whilst driving.

Can I venture off the main route?

Many of Iceland's mountain roads open for the summer, and they will lead you across the country's highlands for some magical sights. Even in good weather they are somewhat hazardous to drive, so make sure you read our guide to F-roads before you attempt them. Off-roading is strictly prohibited in Iceland and enforceable by law, this is to protect the delicate landscape.

What kind of car do I need to drive in Iceland?

Many Iceland rent a car companies offer four wheel drive vehicles as standard, and this is because they are better equipped to handle the demanding roads. They are also required on many of the mountain roads, which are illegal to drive on in a regular car. If you're looking for cheap car rental in Iceland and prefer to rent a compact vehicle, make sure you visit in the summer and stick to the main ring road.