How to Drive on F-Roads in Iceland

A woman stood on a gravel f road in Iceland

To actually make the journey to much of the highland region, you’ll have to traverse a number of designated F-Roads. F-Roads have been determined by the Icelandic Road Administration to be potentially hazardous, therefore requiring a specific calibre of vehicle to ensure safe travel. This means a 4x4 or four-wheel drive vehicle is a must-have. 

If you attempt to drive a 2wd vehicle on these roads, you could be in breach of Icelandic traffic law, resulting in a fine. Furthermore, rented cars and trucks not suitable for f-road travel will not be covered in your insurance package. This is a standard practice to protect both the company and individual from issues that may arise. 

What are F-Roads?

F-roads can take many shapes and forms, although they are generally described as unpaved roads or tracks that are not maintained in the same way that the main road system spanning Iceland is. This means that you have to expect the unexpected and won’t truly know the state of an f-road until you see it. With that said, there are information services available to check road states (call 1777 for additional information about specific roads) and all f-roads are mapped and monitored for public visibility.

Conditions of f-roads can range from the following;

a 4x4 parked on a very rough road in the South of Iceland

To further complicate the matter, f-roads are often located in places where mobile network coverage can be unreliable, so you may be unable to contact somebody for help in the worst-case scenario. The emergency contact number is 112 and should be available even without a mobile signal.

How to drive on f-roads safely and is it difficult?

Driving on an f-road is certainly much different to the highways and roads you’ll be used to at home. Unpredictable weather and terrain will tax your skills as a driver, so it is important to be confident in your ability at all times. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to mitigate the risks and get the most out of your Icelandic adventure. Some of this guidance comes directly from official sources and some from our years of experience as a car rental service in Iceland. 

Why drive on f-roads?

It might all sound like a bit of a chore at this point, but we absolutely guarantee that the sights, sounds and vistas you’ll experience are truly unmissable. The highland is home to a number of unique locations, each different from the last. Some of our top recommended places to visit in the Iceland highlands include:

One of the most popular hiking areas in all of Iceland and named after the Norse God Thor, this gorgeous mountain ridge is flanked by three glaciers and rivers. 

One of the most active volcanoes in Iceland, with eruptions dating back to 874, this incredible spectacle was once known as the ‘gateway to hell’. 

With the nickname ‘Queen of Icelandic Mountains’, you’d expect something pretty grand. Fortunately, this remote mountain is so prolific in Iceland it’s been voted as the national mountain. It was first scaled only in 1908, years after the populace was aware of it. 

There are so many incredible places to explore within the highlands of Iceland that you shouldn’t shy away from the challenge - especially if you have an adventurous bone in your body! 

When do f-roads open in Iceland?

Due to the extreme weather during winter seasons, f-roads are only open to the public for specific periods of the year, mostly in the summer months. The Icelandic Road Administration publishes the opening dates each year to ensure motorists are fully appraised on where and when they can travel. This information has been included in our table below.

Mountain Roads
(2015 - 2019)
Earliest opening date Latest opening date Opening date median
Lakagígar, F206 14th June 9th July 24th June
Fjallabaksleið nyrðri, F208
1. Sigalda - Landmannalaugar 24th May 26th June 12th June
2. Laugar - Eldgjá 14th June 17th July 29th June
3. Eldgjá - Skaftártunga 5th June 26th June 15th June
Fjallabaksleið syrðri, F210
1. Keldur - Hvanngil 21st June 17th July 5th July
2. Hvanngil - Skaftártunga 28th June 23rd July 7th July
Langmannaleið (Dómad.) F225 28th May 3rd July 23 June
Emstruleið, F261 21st June 10th July 3rd July
Kjalvegur, 35
1. Gulfoss - Hveravellir 24th June 1st July 12th June
2. Hveravellir - Blönduvirkjun 22nd May 25th June 7th June
Sprengisandur, F26
1. Hrauneyjar - Nyidalur 20th June 10th July 29th June
2. Nyidalur - Bárðardalur 20th June 10th July 29th June
Skagafjarðarleið, F752 26th June 16th July 5th July
Eyjafjarðarleið, F821 28th June 24th July 19th June
Öskjuleið, F88
1. Inn að Herðubreiðarlindum 14th June 26th June 19th June
2. Herðubreiðarlindum - Dreki 14th June 26th June 19th June
Öskjuvatnsvegur, F862 14th June 24th July 24th June
Vesturd. (Hljóðaklettar), F862 12th June 24th June 7th June
Kverkfjalaleið, F902 14th June 26th June 18th June
Arnardalsleið, F905 11th June 26th June 17th June
Uxahryggjavegur, 52 16th April 11th May 1st May
Kaldadalsvegur, 550 1st June 7th July 7th June

Additional tips for Driving Around Iceland

We hope this guide has helped to educate about driving in and around Iceland, specifically when looking to drive on f-roads. For additional information about driving and other information about your journey to Iceland, please see our guides below.