Winter driving in Iceland intimidates a lot of travelers, but it shouldn’t. We are here to give you our best tips and tricks for winter driving in Iceland.
Are roads in Iceland safe to drive in the winter? Yes, most of them are as they tend to get cleaned up quickly. However, there are some places to avoid during the season due to heavier snowfall
The Highlands is an area you should avoid during winter in Iceland. Most of the roads are inaccessible and closed down for the season.
Northern Iceland runs into the same issue with the exception of Akureyri or main roads. If you have a remote area on your itinerary, it is best to save it for summer. That way you can ensure your safety when traveling.
East Iceland can also get a lot of snow, making a lot of roads dangerous to drive in the winter.
A 4X4 vehicle is going to be your saving grace for winter driving. These vehicles are designed for winter weather and rough terrain. Thanks to their secure traction and winter tires, you will feel safer driving during winter.
You can drive the Ring Road in winter, but most don’t. Most of the road is paved and cleaned up relatively quickly after a snowfall. Taking Ring Road to Vik or Southern Iceland in the winter is doable and a great weekend getaway. But Ring Road in Northeast Iceland is a different story. Some sections of the road have unpaved gravel sections that are very windy. This could wreak havoc during the winter months on travelers.
If you still want to drive it in winter make sure to rent a 4X4 vehicle and bring emergency supplies with you.
The Golden Circle is a safer alternative in winter. You can explore the whole route in one day, while still being close to Reykjavik. It is one of our top picks for winter road-tripping as you can still see some of the main attractions.
Popular stop-offs like Gullfoss Waterfall are magical in the winter. The waterfall is even known to freeze over in winter, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you are traveling during winter be mindful of driving at night. If snow has fallen during the day the roads may be fine. But at night, the snow can quickly turn into ice. We recommend getting off the streets before dark if possible.
If the sun melts snow and ice during the day this could refreeze over in the evening too. Just remember to be aware of your surroundings and to go slow.
If you want to explore Iceland's winter landscape, check the roads before you go. You can do this by visiting www.road.is, which is updated by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. You can view the roads by specific routes or areas of the country.
They will update you with Road Conditions and Weather while also providing live webcams of the roads. That way you can make a judgment call if you feel safe enough to drive on the current condition of the road.
Downloading a weather app can help you become prepared for your winter trip through Iceland. Make sure you have a weather app downloaded and set your location to “Current”. That way the app will move with you as you travel the country. Turn on notifications and alerts too. This will send a push notification to your phone if rain, snow, high wind, or anything else is projected in the forecast.
Veður is the top app for weather in Iceland. Download it before you go so you can stay up to date on the weather in the area.
If you do run into a dangerous situation when winter driving, call 112. 112 is the common emergency telephone number in Iceland. This number is identical to 911 in the USA and 999 in the UK