Self Drive FAQs
Below is some basic information about our self-drive holidays - please contact our team should you wish to discuss this in more detail.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
Most people opt for the months of June, July and August when all visitor facilities are up and running and the weather is likely to be at its best. May and September are also good months to travel – it is less busy than during the height of summer and the ring road, Road 1, is normally free of snow but some visitor facilities may be limited. Between October and April, and depending on which part of the country you are in, the roads can be wet, dry, dusted or cloaked in snow – often with four seasons in one day! Many of Iceland’s most beautiful places are accessible year round and by going out of season, you may find you have them practically to yourself.
WHAT ARE THE ROADS LIKE?
Iceland’s Road 1 traces an almost circular route around the country and covers a distance of 1350 km (844 miles). It is mostly tarmac yet there are some sections that remain unpaved. These are generally signposted and extra care should be taken where the sections meet, especially driving from paved to gravel surfaces. All of our outline itineraries combine driving on both types of roads and although no special skills are needed, driving on gravel requires more care and extra time should be allowed for your journey. Watch out for Icelandic sheep and their lambs, which roam free during the summer months! Many major sights and accommodation options are within easy reach of Road 1 which may be covered in a week but by allowing ten days or more, you’ll better appreciate the sights along the way. For general information about road conditions in Iceland we recommending visiting www.vegagerdin.is
Roads through inhabited areas are usually of a reasonable standard, though narrower than Road 1. Particular care is needed when overtaking or meeting oncoming vehicles, especially on gravel roads. More time should be allowed for driving on minor roads where your speed may average 30-40 mph. A perfect excuse not to rush and just enjoy the scenery!
THE HIGHLAND TRACKS
Normally only open between July and September; these rugged tracks traverse uninhabited areas often crossing rivers - high ground clearance 4WD vehicles are essential. Extra care is needed when driving and especially when crossing rivers but with caution and common sense, the necessary skills are easily acquired to make the experience safe and exciting. Some of the routes can be driven in a day - accommodation deep in the highlands is limited to mountain huts and campsites where facilities are basic. For those prepared to 'rough it', the uninhabited highlands offer ample adventures and the chance to explore really remote areas. Please note that crossing rivers is not covered by insurance. Some vehicle categories specifically state they are unsuitable for these highland roads or ‘F’ routes as they are known locally.
see opening times of Highland Roads »
WHAT WILL I BE DRIVING
There is a choice of vehicles available. Most models have manual transmission but we also offer some automatic models too. For summer travel on the ring road and most minor routes through inhabited areas, a standard vehicle is fine. However as Icelandic weather, whatever the season, can be unpredictable and quite changeable, we find our clients are happiest when driving 4WD vehicles (with studded tyres in winter). On some routes particularly over the winter months, driving conditions, weather or surface related, can be quite different to those experienced in the UK.
more about the vehicles »
WHAT IS THE SPEED LIMIT?
The maximum speed limit on Icelandic paved roads is 90km/h. The speed limit on gravel is 80km/h but as mentioned previously, and especially if a first time driver in Iceland, you may feel comfortable driving a little slower. Please note - don’t be tempted to take advantage of traffic-free roads as speeding fines are set at up to 1900 Euros and Icelandic police may insist on immediate payment!
WHEN I’M ON THE ROAD, WILL MY MOBILE PHONE WORK?
Yes your personal UK GSM mobile will work (as long as you have arranged with your provider for 'international roaming') but calls may be very costly - please check with your service provider. Reception in towns and villages and most of the Ring Road is usually excellent although this may be limited in more rural/highland areas. All our clients who book car rental with us will automatically receive an Icelandic SIM card, together with ISK 1000 worth of calls. You will need to contact your service provider and check if your phone is unlocked so that any SIM card provided by another service provider is accepted. If not already unlocked, you may need to pay a small administration charge to make this happen. The SIM card is provided by "Og Vodafone" (the local Vodafone franchise) and top up cards are widely available throughout the island. The SIM card will be sent with your travel documents some weeks before your departure, so you will have plenty of time to let your friends know your Icelandic contact number. Details on how to use the service will be provided with the SIM card or a summary can be seen on the website: www.vodafone.is/en/gull. Please note that some service providers may refuse to unlock a customer’s phone, regretfully we are unable to assist in this instance and there is no cash alternative available.
The approximate kilometres shown against each self-drive itinerary is a guideline only - given the suggested places to visit, the distance you cover yourself will of course be governed by your choice of route and what amazing places catch your eye along the way!
We offer a comprehensive range of accommodation throughout Iceland including comfortable hotels, self-catering cottages and charming guesthouses. In our collection of pre-planned itineraries we have selected what we consider to be the best value lodging option at each location.
find out more »
Clients travelling on a Discover the World self dive holiday will benefit from our new and exclusive iDiscover service - a fully integrated information system which will be available via an iPad Air that will be loaned to you throughout the duration of you holiday.
Download a handy summary
'Things you need to know'