We have heard some scary stories about people getting into hopeless situations when they go off road in Iceland. Is it really that bad?
DON’T DRIVE OFF ROAD IN ICELAND!
(Note: ‘Tracks’ are not considered off road in Iceland. If there is a somewhat visible road/track, then it’s not off road).
As for driving somewhere where there’s clearly no road or a track:
a) It’s forbidden.
b) You will ruin the nature.
c) You will wreck your car.
d) You will have to pay a large fine.
e) You might risk your life depending on the location and weather conditions.
Yes it is very bad for the nature and your money !
It’s super dangerous (they’ve made the point above). But it will also be super costly! No insurances cover off-road driving in Iceland and you will damage the car when going off road. (because of gravels for example)
So for safety and costs reasons, stay on the road!
I hate to reiterate the same point but off-road driving is absolutely, unequivocally banned in Iceland. Not only is it very dangerous, it completely destroys the natural environment that so many people come here to enjoy. The moss that covers most of Iceland’s landscape is very delicate, and takes decades to regrow; the tyre tracks from driving across it take forever to disappear. Furthermore, the lava rock that stretches throughout the nature is very brittle, and will never reform its natural shape if damaged.
The enormous fines given to those who break these rules are entirely uncontroversial in Iceland. Even though much of the nature may seem like a sort of barren wasteland, it is an incredibly beautiful and unique barren wasteland that natives adore as part of their national character.
The fines you can receive can be up to 500,000 ISK, which is over 4000 USD and over 3000 Euros. You may also be required to do community service, and may even face jail time.
The only times that this kind of driving is in anyway excusable is if you are in a very dangerous situation you need to escape from. If faced with this situation, it is still almost always better to call 112 and explain your emergency, then either follow the advise received over the emergency line, or to sit and wait for help. The only situation I can think of, off the the top of my head, for driving off-road is in the face of a natural disaster.
If you are looking at getting as into the Icelandic nature as possible while still staying within the rule of law, wait until the summer months (from June to September) before coming, then rent a 4X4 vehicle and explore the Highland roads. The F-roads in these areas are bumpy, little used, and surrounded by wilderness, so you will no doubt get to experience the feeling of isolation that you desire. You can keep an eye on which roads are open here:
Hope that helps
Oh my goodness, I had no idea! I didn’t think it would effect nature. I was mainly thinking about safety. I am so sorry, I didn’t mean offense.
I will make sure to be SUPER careful when I come to Iceland and respect the earth, environment and nature. Iceland is such a beautiful place, it needs to be preserved in its natural state as much as possible.
I fully understand the heavy fines for wrecking a natural sight. Thank you so much for the information, I will definitely use the above link as a guide when driving in Iceland.
F-roads not off-road Thank you!