From our blog

How To Drive in Iceland During Summer

Getting around

Prepare for all weathers

The good news is that statistically, you’ll enjoy better weather if you time your visit to Iceland for the summer months than if you travel at other times of the year. While temperatures are rarely as high as they were in 2020, they aren’t usually very low. Typically, you can expect a thermometer to register between 12 and 14°C most days, though sunshine doesn’t always make an appearance. You should expect to encounter some rain, often in the form of short showers. If that’s the case, slow down a little as roads can become slick and slippery. Wind might also be troublesome, particularly on exposed routes. Again, braking to a lower speed will make driving safer.

On and off the beaten track

One thing you will have to contend with if you plan a summer drive in Iceland is increased traffic. Far more visitors come to the country between May and September so you are likely to experience some congestion at busy spots. Many of the roads are single carriageway, so take care if you plan to overtake other vehicles – a little patience goes a long way. Be courteous, take turns to allow traffic in the opposite direction to pass on narrow spots and remember that Iceland’s magnificent scenery will still be waiting for you if you take another ten minutes to complete a journey.

There’s a useful website which not only boasts webcams of selected points but also maintains up to date information about weather and road conditions. You’ll be able to check road repair schedules and other variables which might affect your journey. If you’re keen to drive off the beaten track or on gravel roads, this will be especially helpful to you enabling you to plan more effectively for your journey.

Enjoy the luxury of long days

At these northerly latitudes, the sun rises early and sets late in the summer months. That can be challenging for light sleepers – if that’s you, pack an eye mask or choose accommodation which has blackout blinds. But the good news is that those long daylight hours means that most of your sightseeing driving can be completed before it gets dark. That’s much easier and safer for foreign drivers. For example, as you approach one of Iceland’s many single lane bridges, you’ll be able to easily see whether there’s oncoming traffic as you’ll see vehicles approaching. Enjoy these longer days to the fullest and time your visits to the country’s busiest attractions for later in the day when other tourists have gone back to their hotels for dinner.

Embrace the interior

Summers also open up the country’s rugged and mountainous interior. During the winter months the highland roads are closed as they are impassable due to snow and ice. But such treacherous conditions are unlikely to trouble summer visitors. You’ll still need an AWD vehicle with decent ground clearance, as roads are uneven, have gravel surfaces and routes often involve fording streams. But if you’re up for a challenge, the scenery that awaits drivers is simply breathtaking. Of course, there’s another option. Use your standard hire car for the roads on which you feel confident and book an organised tour to take you into the interior, leaving someone who knows the road to take care of the driving.