Rules of the Road in IcelandPublished: 25. August 2017
We at Happy Campers wish you a fun and exciting adventure around Iceland, wherever the road may take you! At the same time, we also want you to get from point A to point B in a safe and efficient manner, which is why I prepared a list of Iceland’s rules of the road. Some of these are international standards and are straight to the point. However, you will come across signs or laws that are either unique to Iceland or generally new to you.
When you pick up your camper with us, we make sure to tell you about some of these laws and regulations along with other items we feel are of the utmost importance when it comes to driving safe and sound. This includes looking at Safe Travel, road conditions, and weather forecasts throughout the trip. And I recently noticed a lot more travellers asking me about other things to expect. So, without further ado, here’s an overview of the rules of the road in Iceland:
It is the law to park your Happy Camper in a designated campground and the locals will appreciate it! There are hundreds available throughout the entire country to choose from ranging in price and facilities, so check out which one is best for you on the Happy Campers campsite map.
Also known as mountain roads, these are off-limits to 2WD vehicles. This includes all Happy Camper rentals, which we’ll remind you about at the office. Why? The roads are not only rough, but also dangerous with rivers to cross and terrible conditions.
There are many of these, especially in Reykjavík. It can be tricky at the beginning, but as long as you understand the inside lane of a two-lane roundabout has right of way you’ll find roundabouts are the best!
Many places within North America allow right hand turns on a red light as long as the oncoming traffic is clear. This practice is illegal in Iceland, so follow the traffic lights exactly as they are.
Tolls - Hvalfjörður Tunnel
This is the tunnel connecting Reykjavík to the western and northern regions of Iceland in just 7 minutes, rather than the 1 hour it takes to go the long way round. It’s also the only toll tunnel at 1000isk each way. To avoid fines and surcharges, be responsible and please pay.
This one is straightforward: Always remember to buckle up! Everyone in the car must wear seatbelts.
Pedestrians have right of way at the designated crosswalks. Make sure to stop before the marked lines and everyone will be happy- and safe!
Intersections Without Traffic Signs
If you come across a small intersection that would otherwise have stop signs, it means the car furthest to the right has right of way, even if they’re turning.
One Lane Bridge/Tunnel
Due to small communities, a lot of bridges are only one lane and that means only one car can pass at a time. So who has the right of way? The one who is closest to the bridge! In a one-lane tunnel, there are shoulders you can pull off to side if there is oncoming traffic.
Passing Left Lane
There’s nothing more local drivers hate than a slow car in the left hand lane. Remember it’s for passing only. Otherwise you may find a passive-aggressive Icelander right behind you with no sympathy!
90km/hr is the maximum speed limit on the Ring Road (road 1). When you get into small towns and villages, expect to slow down to as little as 30k/hr. As a warning, there are police and cameras monitoring speeds throughout the country.
Handheld devices are illegal on the road. If you need to navigate, rent a Garmin GPS or wifi and attach your device on the window. Plug in your music device and let your co-pilot take charge of the playlist as you focus on the traffic ahead.
Parking is free all over Iceland with the exception of Reykjavík where there are pay zones in the downtown area. The lower the number, the closer you are to the centre, and therefore, the pricier. Although parking is free in Akureyri (capital of the north), you must have an official paper or clock on your windshield, which you pick up at various shops in the centrum.
Depending on the size of your child or infant, they will be required to use a child seat (which we can rent to you if you don’t bring one along). Please refer to Icelandic Transport Authority page for specific information.
Let’s just say sheep are not the smartest creatures. In case you see a few crossing the highway or one nibbling on grass along the edge, feel free to honk and scare them away. Stop if you must and in the case one is hit (hopefully not!), the sheep must be returned to it’s farmer.
We want you to not only have a great time on the road with Happy Campers, but also be safe on the road! If I’m missing an important point, please add to the comments below.
Until next time, safe and happy travels!
To check out Lea's adventures, follow her on Instagram @coolitchcowski
To read more about Lea's Happy Camper Adventures in Iceland check out these articles:
Gentle Giants in Húsavík
A Rejuvenating Experience at Myvatn Nature Baths
Happy Camper's Official Packing List for a Great Road Trip