This was our first time ever driving in a foreign country and I’m not going to lie I was very skeptical when the nice man at the Blue Car Rental handed us the keys and said “Have a nice trip.” Excuse me?! We are not qualified for this. We don’t know what we are doing! Are you sure you want to trust us with this car? Apparently he was not concerned and off we went. So here are some tips and tricks, some life lessons if you will, about driving in Iceland.
I’m going to suggest googling Icelandic street signs before you go. Just a quick glance will really up your driving game. We found this out when I hit gravel road at 70kmh because we were busy puzzling out what that danger sign back there meant and what the translation for “Malbik endar” was. (Spoiler alert: It means the pavement ends)
Addresses don’t exist.
I’m still trying to figure this one out but addresses do not work in your maps app. I don’t care what app you use. Iceland does not feel the need to help you unwrap its mysteries. So if you are looking for an airbnb or a hostel or somewhere not necessarily on the golden circle, use the directions they give you. Your map will lead you astray.
Don’t Stop on the Roads
You’re driving along at 90kmh, which is the almost universal Icelandic
speed limit, and some idiot has parked their car in the road! My gosh I don’t know why people think this is OK, but DO NOT BE THIS PERSON. There are no shoulders on most of the roads. Yes, that baby cow is adorable but you did not need to put everyone’s life in danger to get a photo of it. There are plenty of places to pull off, marked by little “park” signs. It has a pine tree and a picnic table on it (which is interesting seeing as the tree population in Iceland seems very small) so just wait for your opportunity.
One way bridges
I’m just letting you know that for some reason Iceland does not feel the need to make its bridges more than one lane. It makes zero sense to me but whatever, I’m not in charge. It means that you have to stop and let the other side of the bridge go for a while and then that side has to arbitrarily decide that it is your turn. There is no rhyme or reason and it is terrifying every single time. Good Luck.
Blinkers in Roundabouts
This country loves a roundabout. What we noticed is that as cars exit, they signal with their blinker so that the people at the next exit know they can go. I loved this, so efficient. Do the right thing and participate in this best roundabout practice.
Gas is Expensive
It will cost you about $100 to fill up a mid-sized sedan. Prepare accordingly, maybe sell an organ before you come.
Safe travels, friends!