Driving and Iceland are practically synonymous, so it’s no surprise that our beautiful country has so many scenic routes. If you’re looking for stunning natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you decide to get a rental car, campervan, or motorhome, get ready to hit the open road with some of the coolest roads to drive on in Iceland.
Iceland’s coolest roads and scenic routes: Safety first
Before we start with our list of the most scenic drives in Iceland, I think it’s important to address safety first. Road conditions and weather conditions can be unpredictable, so the best you can do is be prepared. When you drive in iceland, there are a few things to be aware of.
The speed limit in Iceland depends on where you are traveling as well as the surface of the road. On paved roads like Ring Road, the speed limit is 90 km/h (56 mph) in rural areas. When driving on gravel roads, you’ll need to slow down to 80 km/h (50 mph). For larger towns and populated areas like towns and villages, you’ll need to go 50 km/h (31 mph).
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with ICE SAR, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue. The road and Coastal Administration is also useful as it can help you with road conditions and closures. They are in charge of road administration and maintaining the road system in Iceland.
Okay, with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s move on to more of the fun topics. Let’s talk about the most beautiful roads to drive on in Iceland.
The Dramatic Beauty of a Scenic Drive along Snaefellsnes Peninsula
This awe-inspiring territory, known as Iceland in miniature, is filled with all of the typical Icelandic highlights one could hope for. From the imposing Snæfellsjökull glacier to the postcard-perfect Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss, this is one of the most scenic routes in Iceland. In fact, the aforementioned mountain and waterfall were featured as a filming location in Game of Thrones. You also find quaint Icelandic fishing villages as well as intimate hot pots, hidden canyons, and secret waterfalls. You definitely want to make time for a drive around the peninsula and a stop at its national park.
It’s no wonder Snæfellsnes Peninsula is such a popular tourist destination, especially since it’s only two hours from Reykjavik. This makes it perfect for a day trip or weekend excursion during your campervan road trip.
Cool Iceland Road: Route 35 (Kjölur) in the Highlands
This is by far one of my favorites cool roads to drive on in Iceland. While many of Iceland’s most in enchanting routes are along the coast, this Highland road is one that is not to be missed. When driving from south to north on road 35 (known as (Kjölur/Kjalvegur) the picturesque natural landscapes you’ll encounter will blow your mind.
From driving between glaciers to steep mountain drop and waterfalls as well as hot springs and rhyolite rock formations, it’s here. You can only access this exclusive area during the summer months. You’ll need to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle and wait for the F-roads to open. This generally happens from June until around mid-September. Anyone who can visit the wild and untamed backcountry of the Icelandic Highlands absolutely should.
Drive the Westfjords Peninsula
While I am definitely a fan of the fjords in the east, I have to say that the fjords in the west coast of the country it definitely take the cake. This is one of the most remote and unspoiled areas of Iceland, which means you’ll encounter lots of spectacular nature and serene wildlife.
To drive around this whole area is about 1000 km (621 miles) from beginning to end but I promise that you most certainly will not be bored. There are plenty of twists and turns with the winding road as well as changes in elevation. There are also sheer cliffs, craggy mountains, and of course, the striking, spectacular fjords.
You should also make time for a stop at Dynjandi waterfall, which you’ll pass along the way. Dynjandi waterfall is not one, but a series of cascades, and it’s one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland.
One note about the Westfjords. Much like the Highlands, they are also closed most of the year due to dangerous driving conditions. They open up in late May and generally stay open until mid September.
Iceland’s Most Scenic Roads
Of course this is just a short list to get you started. There are no doubt plenty more magnificent and mesmerizing places to visit. I personally am also a huge fan of the Eastfjords region, Strandir, the Golden Circle, and the South Coast. Each area has its own particular charm and gorgeous landscape. Take a trip around the whole island to discover all there is to see.