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Driving Gravel Roads in Iceland

Taking a road trip around the uniquely beautiful island of Iceland is a wonderful experience. Immense landscapes and sight after incredible sight greet you at every turn. You really don’t have to drive far in Iceland before the landscape yields yet another stunning waterfall, volcano or glacier. This reasonably compact scale combined with the wide-open spaces is one of the appeals of travelling around Iceland by road. Renting a car or hiring a camper van or motorhome are all popular ways to explore. The freedom of the open road and the flexibility and affordability that driving brings makes it a great travel option.

Dramatic landscape view with gravel roads in Iceland. Mountains and low cloud in a green valley.

There are of course a few things to bear in mind if you do decide to rent a campervan for a road trip. Driving in Iceland can be quite challenging at times. Getting behind the wheel in the land of fire and ice will likely be quite different to what you’re used to. Gravel roads in Iceland are the norm and the weather can really kick in at times. There are plus sides too. You certainly won’t be sat in traffic for hours. The roads in Iceland are pretty quiet in general. Let’s look in more detail at the driving challenges you could face.


Iceland road driving and its challenges

One of the main challenges of driving in Iceland is the wild weather. High winds, driving rain and think snow and ice can all make an appearance. All of them make navigating the roads much more tricky. Of course the weather in Iceland depends very much on the season that you visit. The summer months are much more settled. But it is still not unheard of for a storm to blow in. The weather way up next to the Arctic Circle really is that unpredictable.


Another potential driving challenge is the road surfaces. Although there are a fair amount of paved roads in Iceland there are quite a few gravel roads and tracks too.


Driving on gravel roads and how to tackle them

If driving anywhere outside of Reykjavik then you are sure to come across at least a few stretches of gravel road. Many of these gravel tracks will be short stretches leading up to the parking lots of Iceland’s beauty spots. These are easy enough to negotiate. You simply need to go slowly and carefully and watch out for other vehicles passing.


However there are many much longer stretches of gravel road in North Iceland and on the highland roads. If you drive the Ring Road and the Diamond Circle you will encount