Rent a 4WD
This is a necessity. It costs more (we know), but from our experience it was often essential in getting us from Point A to Point B. Iceland’s weather is so unpredictable. You’ll need to rent a car that can handle extreme weather and pothole a plenty gravel roads.
Check the Road Conditions every Morning
Use road.is to find out what the road conditions are every morning before you begin your drive. After selecting a region, you’ll see a map of all the roads in the selected region. Each road is highlighted with its current condition: green (easily passable), orange (spots of ice), light blue (slippery), dark blue (extremely slippery), white (wet snow/snow), purple (difficult driving), black (difficult condition), red (impassable), and grey (no winter service).
Check for Warnings and Alerts every Evening and Morning
Check the website safetravel.is for warnings and alerts. This site will provide up-to-date information on storms, road closures, wind gusts, etc… For example, the alert below notifies travelers that strong wind gusts are expected from Seljalandsfoss to Vík and from Skaftafell to Jökulsárlón! The alert advises drivers on bigger camper vans to not travel in the area.
Fill Up Your Tank Often
When there’s an opportunity to get gas, get it, because gas stations are simply not everywhere. When we drove in the East Fjords, we drove hours between fuel stations.
Plan on Needing Extra Time on the Road
We often needed more time than what Google Maps suggested. That’s because the road conditions varied. Mountain roads take longer. Gravel roads take a lot longer (especially if there are lots of potholes). And, you’ll want to take unplanned stops to admire the scenery and the animals (reindeer, horses, birds, etc…).
Slow Down When Approaching a Bridge
We recommend slowing down before approaching a bridge, because it can be difficult to assess whether it is a single-lane or a two-lane bridge from a distance. For single-lane bridges, the rule is whoever is closer to the bridge has the right-of-way.