Travel Tips for Iceland

Road Signs in Iceland


Road Signs in Iceland


Booking a car rental in Iceland and taking a road trip around the country can be one of the most enjoyable ways to see some of Iceland’s top attractions. However, you must prepare yourself for the unique driving conditions in Iceland. You’ll likely find that driving in Iceland differs from driving in your home country, from the weather conditions to the roadways themselves.

One easy way to prepare yourself for driving in Iceland? Brush up on the meanings of local road signs. Learning what some of the most popular road signs in Iceland mean can make your trip more enjoyable, more convenient, safer and stress-free.

Here are the Iceland road signs that the road trip experts at Lava Car Rental — your trusted partners for exploring Iceland by car — say you’ll need to know.

 

Iceland Road Signs

You’ll likely notice that Icelandic road signs are somewhat familiar. Iceland road signs adhere to some global expectations, and just have a few changes based on the local culture. The road signs will inform you of the rules of the road in Iceland, as well as of potential safety concerns. As such, knowing the road signs in Iceland, and their meanings, can help you not only stay safe during your road trip, but also ensure you stay clear of any driving-related fines or fees.

Whatever the road sign, though, wherever you’re driving in Iceland, there are a few key things to remember that will help you identify what the road sign is saying, even if you’re only guessing at the exact meaning.

  • Triangle-shaped signs are warning you of something.
  • Circle-shaped signs are telling you to avoid doing something.
  • “Stans” means “stop,” so if a sign says “stans,” it’s a stop sign.

Now that you know these Iceland road signs basics, here are what some of the more specific road signs mean.

 

Speed Limits

Road with speed limit sign in Iceland

Speed limit signs will be circular and will display a number on them. Remember — circle-shaped signs tell you to avoid doing something, so these speed limit signs are telling you to avoid driving over a certain speed. These speeds are measured in kilometres per hour.

Often, the speed limits throughout Iceland are the same, depending on whether you’re in a residential or urban area, or if you’re on a paved or gravel road.

So, for example, if you’re in a residential neighbourhood, the speed limit is likely going to be 30 kilometres per hour. If you’re in a city, the speed limit will be a little higher, around 50 kilometres per hour. If you’re in a rural area, the speed limit will be even higher, but may be lower or higher depending on whether or not the road is paved. A paved rural road might have a speed limit of 90 kilometres per hour, as is the case on the Ring Road. Meanwhile, a rural gravel road will have a slightly lower speed limit, of 80 kilometres per hour.

 

Closed Road

Closed road sign in Iceland

If you see a circular road sign in Iceland that looks like a speed limit sign, but that includes no number, and is merely a yellow circle with a red border, this means that the road is completely closed. Variations on this sign might include a white bar through the middle of the circle, or a yellow line through the middle of the red circle. 

Whichever the case might be, if you see a circular, yellow and/or red sign with or without a line going through it, and without a number, stay clear of that road and choose another, as the road is closed for good reason.

  

Road Conditions

Remember that we said that triangle-shaped signs are there to warn you of something? That’s the case when it comes to signs warning you of specific road conditions. The specific road condition and warning will depend on what’s depicted inside of the triangular sign.

For example, if the triangular sign shows a snowflake, it means that the road may be icy. A triangular sign that shows a swerving vehicle is warning you that the road may be slick. A triangular sign that simply shows an exclamation point is not so specific, but you should slow down and watch for obstacles on the road, or potential hazards.

 

Upcoming Tunnel 

Tunnel road sign in Iceland

There are a few tunnels in Iceland, but only one tunnel is a toll tunnel. The toll tunnel, located in Northern Iceland, near Akureyri, comes with its own rules, which you can read about in our guide to road tolls and parking fees in Iceland.

Otherwise, look out for these upcoming tunnel signs in Iceland. Again, these signs are triangular, as they’re warning you that a tunnel is ahead.

 

Animal Crossings

Iceland animal crossing road sign

It’s common to see animals along the roadways during an Iceland road trip, especially sheep and, in certain parts of the year and in certain areas of the country, reindeer. Areas where these animals are particularly common and where they might try to cross the road in front of your vehicle are marked with triangular warning signs. These signs show black images of reindeer or sheep.

If you see one of these signs, simply slow down and keep an eye out for any animals on the road or beside of the road. If you do see one of these animals on the road or trying to cross the road, slow down even further and allow them to do so, waiting until they’re safely passed before you drive onward.

 

One-Lane Bridges

Icelandic road with one lane bridge sign ahead

If you see a sign that shows a narrowing road and a car travelling on that road, it means that the road is about to narrow. You’ll often see these signs before you get to single-lane bridges, where the bridge road narrows to the point that only one car can go across the bridge at a time.

If you see one of these signs, slow down and look out for other drivers, who may be trying to cross the bridge from the opposite side. You’ll want to ensure that no one else is coming, before you try to cross. Whoever reaches the narrow part of the road first, has the right of way.

 

F-Roads or 4x4 Road Signs 

Iceland river crossing sign

F-roads are roads throughout the Icelandic Highlands that are only traversable via a 4x4 vehicle. While you might think that, at first glance, you can traverse these roadways with a 2WD vehicle, refrain from trying. If you drive on an F-road with anything other than a 4x4 vehicle, you’ll be fined, as doing so is illegal in Iceland. F-roads come with their own challenges overall, so if you plan on driving on any F-roads with your car rental in Iceland, you’ll want to read our guide to Iceland’s F-roads.  

You can easily identify these roads by looking for the roadway sign, which is typically an “F,” for “F-road,” followed by the road number.

Sometimes, you’ll also see road signs elsewhere, beyond the F-roads, that still advise you to only traverse them with a 4x4 vehicle. These will often depict a vehicle and the phrase “4x4.”

  

Gravel Roads

Gravel road signs in Iceland

If you see a sign that shows what looks like rocks flying up from beneath a car tyre, that sign means that you are now on a gravel road. You may also see a similar sign that shows this image, but with the words “malbik endar.” This means that, while you may not be on a gravel road currently, the pavement is ending and a gravel road is up ahead.

If you see one of these signs, slow down, as you’ll find that you won’t have as much traction on a gravel road as you might on a paved road, and that going at a slower speed ensures you still have an appropriate amount of control over the vehicle.

 

Blind Hills

Iceland blind hill road sign

If you see a sign that looks like two cars going up a hill, from opposite directions, at the same time, this means that there’s a blind hill coming up. In other words, the road contains a hill that hides oncoming traffic, until you’re right upon it. 

As such, be careful, go slow and look for signs that a car could be oncoming, such as headlights. Be sure as well that you’re staying on your side of the roadway.

 

Camera Signs

Traffic cameras sign in Iceland

If you see a sign that looks like a camera, with the word “Löggæslumyndavél,” it means that there is a traffic enforcement camera in the vicinity. This further means that, if the camera catches your vehicle speeding or otherwise breaking a traffic law, the camera may record your license plate and send a fine to the license plate registrant. If you’ve booked a car rental in Iceland, that fine would go to the car rental company, and then the fine would be passed on to you when you return the rental car, along with an administrative fee.

 

Exit and Entrance Signs

Exit road sign in Iceland

If you’re pulling into a parking lot or similar, and are looking for the entrance and exit, look for a sign that says “Inn” for “In” or “Ut” for “out.” These signs will also feature an arrow that tells you which direction to drive for the exit or the entrance.

  

Police Station

Police road sign in Iceland

If you’re looking for the police station while travelling in Iceland, just look for a blue sign with a yellow, star-shaped badge in the middle. This sign indicates a police office is nearby.

 

Tips for Driving Safely in Iceland

Other than familiarising yourself with the road signs in Iceland, what else can you do to ensure you safely drive your Iceland car rental as you explore the country? Here are a few takeaway tips, but be sure to also read our full guide to driving in Iceland

  • Stay on the roadways.

While Iceland is an adventurous destination with lots of hiking and camping opportunities, don’t feel as if this adventure continues to off-roading. Off-roading in all of Iceland is illegal, as it can damage our one-of-a-kind ecosystem. So, stay on the roadways and enjoy the view from there.

  • Reduce speed on gravel roadways.

As mentioned, driving on gravel can reduce the amount of control you have over the vehicle, as well as your traction. Gravel roads can be slippery, even when it’s not raining or snowing. If you come upon a gravel road, reduce your speed before you even get on the gravel road, and then keep your speed reduced until you’re back on the pavement.

  • Yield to traffic as needed.

If you come across a narrow roadway, such as a one-lane bridge, do be courteous and yield to your fellow travellers. Doing so will ensure that everyone passes by safely.

  • Be prepared for changes in weather.

The weather in Iceland can change almost instantly, so be extra-careful to be prepared for the weather, whenever you’re driving around the country. Check the roadway conditions, as well as the weather forecast, via www.road.is andwww.vedur.is. SafeTravel Iceland, or www.safetravel.is, is also a handy resource, with very similar information.

If you’re driving in a rural area, it’s especially important to use road.is, as, sometimes, rural roadways will not be marked with signage indicating that a road is closed due for some reason, and the only way you can find out is if you check road.is before you head out.

  • Pick the right rental car

Lastly, be sure to pick the right rental car for your needs. If you’re travelling in the winter, you need a 4x4 vehicle that can handle Iceland’s snow and ice. If you’re travelling to the Highlands and plan to traverse the F-road, you need a 4x4 vehicle to ensure you’re driving legally.

At Lava Car Rental, we offer vehicles equipped for Iceland's diverse conditions, including 4x4 options for Highland roads, and our team of experts can help you pick the right vehicle for your individual Iceland road trip needs.

 

Enjoy a Safe Road Trip Through Iceland!

A fun and memorable road trip in Iceland starts as a smart, safe road trip in Iceland. Drive safely and responsibly, by learning the rules of the road in Iceland and adhering to all those rules, including road signs.

Your safe and enjoyable journey starts when you book your Iceland car rental with Lava Car Rental.

Not ready to book just yet and need more info? Check out our guide to driving in Iceland, guide to tolls and parking fees in Iceland, and guide to gas stations and EV charging in Iceland.

   Rent your Car in Iceland 

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