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Driving in Iceland during the Winter

Driving in Iceland during the Winter

When driving between regions you will often have to drive through mountain passages or heaths. These are usually the most dangerous part of your way since the weather in the mountains can be much worse than down by the seaside. When you do get into a heavy snow or a snowstorm, try to follow the sticks on the sides of the roads, they will keep you on the road until you get to better driving conditions. If you are caught in an Icelandic storm, the rule number one is never to leave your vehicle.

But what to do when driving on ice/snow and you lose control of the car? As soon as you feel you do not have control of the car, take your foot of the gas pedal. Be sure, whatever you do, not to hit the brakes because it would increase your sliding.

Always check the road conditions

The weather is not always the same and can vary in different regions of Iceland. The west Iceland is usually milder while the north and western fjords get more snow. Here below are good websites to use when travelling in Iceland in the winter. is the official website for weather in Iceland. But it doesn’t always give the right picture., is the website for the Icelandic Road Administration,  it is the best website to use if you use it correctly.

How to use


The web page presents overview maps showing road conditions and the current situation for all main roads at a given point. The pages also provide information about the weather and the local traffic and show real-time Webcam images of road conditions. If you are unsure then you can call 1777 and ask for the conditions (open 06:30-22:00) or 1778 an automatic telephone service open all day.

Weather signs 


If coming across a weather sign, please read the information given carefully.
Óveður means storm. On the road ahead the weather is very bad and you should avoid driving further if possible. Find a place to rest until the weather clears unless there is an emergency
On the signs you can see the temperature, average wind and the strongest wind.
Lokað means closed. The road ahead is closed and you should not continue. Find a place to rest until the weather clears.

If the average wind goes over 20 you should take special precautions.


Equipment for winter trips in Iceland

Cars must be fitted with good winter tires. Take along appropriate protective clothing in case your have to wait in the car due to weather or road condition. And of course your phone can be your best friend if you get in to trouble. The emergency number is 112. You should also check out the 112 Emergency App.

F-roads / Mountain roads in Iceland

F-roads are mountain roads in the highland of Iceland. The roads can be closed any time of year, depending on road conditions. We do not recommend driving on F-roads over the wintertime and most of them are closed. Some superjeep companies offer tours over F-Roads in winter but those tours are operated in specialized vehicles by expert guides.

Gas stations in Iceland

Gas stations are all over the country, so no worries. Many of the gas stations around the country are self-service so bring your debit or credit card and make sure you remember the pin number to be able to use it. The website GSM bensín tells you the price of fuel in gas stations around the country.

Speed limits in Iceland.

The general speed limit is 30-50 km/hour in populated areas, 80 km/hour on gravel roads in rural areas and 90 km/hour on paved roads. Drivers and all passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts. Older children must wear seatbelts and younger children and infants must be seated in car-safety seats. If you are caught speeding in Iceland you can expect hefty fines so our advice is to follow the law.

Off road driving is illegal in Iceland!

For more information about traveling safely in Iceland, visit

Snæfellsnes Circle



DAY 1 

Drive from  Reykjavík on Highway 1 through Borgarnes and when your reach the roundabout, take the last exit, the left one. Follow Highway 54 to the Snaefellsnes peninsula. After about 45 minutes you can see the crater, Eldborg, on left hand. If the weather is fine and you want to stretch out your legs, turn left to the farm Snorrastadir – from there you will have a nice view of Eldborg. If there is not too much snow you can walk up to it, which will take about 2 hours. After this stop you should get back on Highway 54 and drive on. After around 30 minutes you’ll arrive at Vegamót/Hotel Rjúkandi. Are you hungry – now is the time to eat something at the small restaurant. When you get back into your car and drive on, you can see the majestic glacier Snaefellsnjökull in front of you. A few kilometers from there you will see on the right side the sign Ölkelda – at this farm you have the possibility to taste the mineral water directly from the earth. Don t´be shy - come and try. Your next stop on the peninsula could be at the farm Ytri – Tunga, which is near the beach. Just walk a few steps on the red sand and feel the fresh sea air and if you are lucky you can feel some eyes following you from the ocean side – seals are often in this area. On you way to your next accomodation you have the chance to experience the wonderful area by horse or by quadbike at the farm Lýsuhóll, also for those who just want to get a little bit closer to the Icelandic horse are always welcome at the farm. There is a  restaurant too where you can get something to drink or eat. Leaving this wonderful experience, you can get back to your trip.

For the night you have a nice choice between these accomodations on the south side of the peninsula

Alll these accomodations are offering also dinner & lunch.


Today we will send you to the center of the Earth but before you do that, there are some worthwhile places to visit on the way. Take a short drive to the cliffs from the small villages Arnastapi and Hellnar. The birdcliffs are fantastic natural formations and you can really feel how rough the sea can be here in the North. After that you just follow the road west and see you are coming more closer to the glacier. After about 20 min you can see on the right side a small sign for „Vatnshellir Cave“ – this is your next adventure. A guide will show you the way down to the middle of the earth. The entrance to the cave is at the foot of the glacier. The cave is about 200 meters long and 35 meters under the surface. Just bring good shoes and a jacket with you. Your lunchpack was prepared before from Hotel Búdir, just remember to ask for it. After this activity ist is short to the next point. Just a few meters drive, then turn to the left towards the sea. There is Djupalónsandur, a wonderful beach with black stones. Here you will see old parts of a shipwreck and also have an amazing view to the glacier itself. The Highway 54 goes around the glacier along the coast through the villages Hellissandur (if you want to stay more than 4 days the Hotel Hellissandur is a nice oppurtiunity for the night). The next towns are Ríf, Ólafsvík and Grundarfjordur on foot of the beautiful mountain Kirkjufell. Hotel Framnes is your next stay for the night. If there is still time left you can go with Láki Tours on a whale watching trip to see the killer whales. Enjoy your dinner at the hotel restaurant or after a short walk aorund the fishing village at the Restaurant Rúben in the middle of the town.

 DAY 3

Enjoy your breakfast at the hotel, and drive on for about 30 minutes then you will arrive at the next town, Stykkishólmur. On the way is a must-see destination for everyone, so take be sure to sneak a peak at the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn – the farmers will show you around and you can taste the traditional Icelandic shark. Stykkishólmur is a nice fishing village with all the services you should need. It is famous for its old houses, that have been newly renovated at the heart of the town. If you are here at Tuesday or Sunday you will get the chance to join a boattour with Seatours („VikingSushi tour“) to sail around the thousand of the small islands of the Breidafjordur Bay and taste the freshest scallops and sea urchin roe. (please check for other departures directly in our office). Other must-see destinations in Stykkishólmur are the nice museums - the Library of Water, The Norwegian house or the Volcano Museum.

 A few possiblities of accommodation in Stykkisholmur

Accommodation in double rooms with bathroom or at the Harbour Hostel without private bathroom.



After having breakfast at your accommodation,or at the bakery Nesbrauð on the main road, you can drive back to Reykjavík or Keflavík airport.

Iceland Winter Break, Winter in West Iceland, is a cooperative project in West Iceland, spearheaded by the West Iceland Marketing Office, that aims to show travelers everything the area has to offer during winter.

Akranes - Hvalfjörður Circle

Akranes is just a stone's throw away from the capital largest town in West Iceland with the population 7.421.

The Museum Area at Gardar is without a doubt the cultural centre of Akranes and a popular destination for tourists. Not far from there is the highly-praised 18-hole Gardavollur golf course and, likewise, the Gardalundur outdoor area with a playground for children of all ages.

The swimming pool at Jadarsbakki are also just a few minutes from the Museum Area.

If you are into photography or just interested in exploring new things in Iceland you need to look at Akranes lighthouses. Down by the harbour you will notice two lighthouses. The bigger one that is currently in use is open to the public so you can go up and enjoy the view from there and there is even a photography exhibition to enjoy in there.

At Langisandur beach you can bathe in the ocean, build sandcastles and enjoy the view. You can also bathe in Guðlaug, a hot pool located in the rockgarden of Langisandur.

From Reykjavik City Centre to Akranes 49 km. There is a regular bus service from Reykjavik to Akranes several times a day.

Guesthouses, camping site, restaurant, café, museum, swimming pool and an 18- hole golf course.

Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord) gives an excellent opportunity to enjoy the unique beauty of Icelandic fjords, with its sloops, shores, canyons and waterfalls and its somewhat controversial history of whaling. The area is especially quiet and tranquil with few people around and it has endless possibilities to outdoor activities. Glymur, the second highest waterfall of Iceland (198 m) is in Hvalfjordur.

The War and Peace Museum is also located in Hvalfjorður where the unique and remarkable history of the occupation period in Iceland 1940-45 unfolds. The exhibition tells the story of how a peaceful countryside was transformed, in the context of world events and its importance to the victory of the Allies in World War 2. 


Iceland Winter Break, Winter in West Iceland, is a cooperative project in West Iceland, spearheaded by the West Iceland Marketing Office, that aims to show travelers everything the area has to offer during winter.

The Waterfall Circle

One of Iceland’s most popular attractions are waterfalls.

The Waterfall Circle leads you to waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, and some of them are among the best known in the country. Here you can see Iceland’s tallest waterfall Glymur, the unique Hraunfossar (Lava Waterfalls), the legendary Barnafoss (Children´s Waterfall) and many more. The Waterfall Circle also leads you to many of the most beautiful sites of West Iceland, like The Hvalfjörður (Whale Bay), Skorradalur Valley and The Borgarfjörður district.


Waterfalls on this route

The Itinerary

You can follow the itinerary below to visit the most significant waterfalls in the area.

Þingvellir National Park

Drive from Reykjavík on road nr.36 to Þingvellir national park. The ,,Althing“ at Þingvellir was Iceland’s supreme legislative and judicial authority from its establishment in 930 until 1262. Major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir and therefore the place is held in high esteem by all Icelanders. At Þingvellir you will find the waterfall Öxarárfoss.


If the weather is nice you can take road nr. 48 to Hvalfjörður. If there is snow and ice it is better to go back to road nr. 1 and take road nr. 47 to Hvalfjörður. During World War II, a naval base of the British and American navies could be found in this fjord. One of the piers built by the United States Navy was later used by the Hvalur, a whaling company. At the bottom of the fjord you can find the tallest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur. It takes approximately 4 hours to hike to Glymur and back to the parkinglot.


When going to Borgarfjörður, take road nr. 50. Some of Iceland´s most beautiful nature wonders can be found in Borgarfjörður. Hraunfossar waterfalls “lava falls”, are unique and picturesque waterfalls that come from underneath the edge of a lava field and spill into the glacial river Hvítá. Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hotspring. It provides at the moment 200 l/sec of 100°C hot water. There are two famous caves in Borgarfjörður, Víðgelmir and Surtshellir. Much has been written about Surtshellir and it is told that in earlier centuries a group of outlaws lived in the lava tube. Víðgelmir lava tube is the largest of all lava tubes in Iceland. If you are looking for hikes, it is nice to take a short hike to the Glanni waterfall and explore the Grábrók Volcanic Crater. Hafnarfjall Mountain is 804 meters and it takes 4 hours to hike up and down. From Hafnarfjall Mountain you have great view over Borgarnes and Borgarfjörður.


Borgarnes is the centre for trade and services in the Borgarfjörður area and has been so since the late 19th century when the town began to be built. In Borgarnes, there are two museums; The Settlement Center and Borgarfjörður museum.
Borgarnes thermal pool is a nice place to visit all year round. In Borgarnes there is an old fashioned playground, “Bjössaróló”, built by a man that lived in Borgarnes. Bjössaróló is a great place for kids to visit. Borgarnes has good accommodations and great places to grab a bite.


Akranes is the largest town in the west of Iceland. Grate outdoor area is the small forest at Garðalundur and facilities improved for outdoor activities. There is a playground for kids, a beach volleyball court and a grill area. Thermal Pool, Golf Course and the two kinds of beaches, black sand beach and white. Langisandur is white sand beaches which is rear in Iceland. Langisandur is a nice place to take a walk and if you are brave, you can go for a swim. The Lighthouse in Akranes is open for people in summer and you can go up to the top and enjoy the view. Akranes Museum area exhibits from former times, bearing witness to farming, housekeeping and social conditions in and around Akranes. Akranes offers good resturants and accommodation.

Iceland Winter Break, Winter in West Iceland, is a cooperative project in West Iceland, spearheaded by the West Iceland Marketing Office, that aims to show travellers everything the area has to offer during winter. 


West Iceland

Towns & Villages

The population centres in West Iceland are as varied as they are many. Ten places have over 50 residents and Akranes is the most densely populated with 6,500 inhabitants. 

All of the larger communities put ever-increasing emphasis on dynamic tourism where a wide selection of recreation and services are offered.   

Explore map by categories

Map Hellissandur, Rif Grundarfjörður Stykkishólmur Búðardalur Dalir Arnarstapi Hellnar Snæfellsnes Bifröst Húsafell Reykholt Borgarfjörður Hvanneyri Borgarnes Hvalfjörður Akranes Ólafsvík Bjarteyjarsandur