Ultimate Guide to Driving Iceland’s F-Roads
We know that making the most out of your self-drive trip to Iceland is the priority if you’re visiting for a few days. The dizzying heights of Iceland’s Highlands are tempting for many, but the F-Roads of Iceland could stop you in your tracks.
For those who are not familiar with the highland routes, F-Roads are difficult to navigate, as they often contain loose gravel and unpredictable terrain. We have put together a few tips for drivers who are new to F-Road driving, as well as a trusty F-Roads of Iceland map so that you can enjoy the scenery without putting your safety at risk.
What are F-Roads?
F-Roads are roads that access the Highlands of Iceland. Iceland’s F-Roads are well known for taking drivers to some of the country’s most beautiful and wild locations. They are also infamous for their taxing conditions, with rough terrain and bad weather common in these more remote parts of the country. It's for this reason that we recommend doing your research or avoiding these F-Roads altogether, especially if you’re not a confident driver.
Do I Need a 4x4 Vehicle to Drive F-Roads?
Yes, an SUV with 4-wheel drive is essential. Iceland’s Highlands offer immense natural beauty but are untamed. The tracks can often be complicated to drive on, so it is important that you have a sturdy 4x4 vehicle to take you safely across the roads. Some of our most popular 4x4 models include:
This is mandatory by Icelandic law, so ensure you are prepared with a suitable rental car before venturing onto F-Roads. Most F-Roads will have the following road sign at the entrance to warn you of this restriction.
Map of Iceland’s F-Roads
As you can see from the F-Roads of Iceland map we have shared below, there are a number of Highland routes in Iceland. The most well-known roads are:
- F35 Kjölur
- F26 Sprengisandur
- F208 Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri
It’s important to take an F-Roads map with you when you are travelling in Iceland's Highlands. You should also check conditions regularly when your mobile signal allows you to do so. If you know you are planning to travel on a variety of F-Roads throughout your trip, you can visit Road.is to find their very helpful F-Roads map. It also shows you live coverage of the conditions of all the roads in Iceland. This will help you travel safely on the F-Roads and beyond.
Map from Road.Is
When are Iceland’s F-Roads Open?
Due to weather conditions, F-Roads are only open for a short period of time. Most of the roads open during summertime, anywhere between June - September. When F-Roads are opened for the season, they are assessed for snow on the roads and the level of damage. In order to open the roads, they need to be in good condition to withstand future driving.
Advice for Tackling F-Roads
If you do decide that you feel confident in driving on F-Roads in Iceland, there are some things to consider before and during your time in the Highlands.
- Check Beforehand: Even if you know that F-Roads are open, be sure to regularly check the Icelandic weather forecast and predicted road conditions.
- Be Confident: Get to know your vehicle and ensure that you are confident enough. It is imperative that your car is a 4x4, but you will also need to know how to handle it properly. Ask the staff when you pick up your car for more information.
- Limit Your Speed: It is important that you limit your speed when driving F-Roads. They can be complicated to navigate, so do not rush and take your time.
- Avoid Rivers: Heavy rain can raise river levels immediately, so crossing rivers is incredibly dangerous. We suggest avoiding crossing high water levels completely. Also, you should never cross a river where the water is still, as this could be a deep area.
Does my Route Contain an F-Road?
Due to the confusing nature of F-Roads, many travellers tend to wonder if their route contains F-Roads. In most cases, it does not. A large number of travellers tend to stick to popular routes such as The Golden Circle, The South Coast and Iceland’s Ring Road. These routes are easy to navigate and do not contain F-Roads.
List of Popular F-Roads
One of the most popular locations only accessible via F-Roads is Landmannalaugar. There are 3 main routes to take; F208 is by far the easiest and is accessible by most 4x4s. The second is F225, which requires a larger 4x4, such as a Toyota RAV4. There is also F26 and F206, which are completely inaccessible unless you are in a fairly raised vehicle. Here is a list of all of the main F-Roads:
- F26 – Sprengisandur/Sprengisandsleið - Hrauneyjar - Nyjidalur
- F26 – Sprengisandur/Sprengisandsleið - Nyjidalur - Bardardalur
- F35 – Kjölur - Gullfoss - Hveravellir
- F35 – Kjölur - Hveravellir - Blonduvirkjun
- F88 – Öskjuvegur - To Herdubreidarlindir
- F88 – Öskjuvegur - To Herdubreidarlindir
- F225 – Landmannaleið
- F550 - Kaldidalur