Driving F-Roads in Iceland Full Guide
Updated: Jan 14
More than 2 million tourists visit Iceland every year. Diverse nationalities, different personalities but oddly enough, most of them make the same choice: a road trip in Iceland. Personally, I think this is indeed the best decision one can make. It is not only one of the most affordable options but also one of the most flexible ones. But before hitting the road, you need to know what type of roads there are in Iceland. Have you ever heard about Iceland’s F-Roads? If there are any restrictions? Well, we have complete information about these roads just for you. Buckle up!
What are the F-Roads in Iceland?
The “F” stands for “Fjalla” which translates to “mountain.” So they are basically mountain tracks or roads. You will find them mainly in the Highlands of Iceland. This region covers most of the interior of the island, and it is remote and wild. The Highlands have many utterly otherworldly landscapes. They are so unique you will find it hard to believe they actually exist.
If you decide to take a road trip in Iceland, knowing how the road system works is essential. Most roads are numbered, with Road 1 or the “Ring Road” being the most important one. But it won’t take long until you notice some roads have an “F” in front of their number. That is how you can tell if it is a mountain road or not.
Are Iceland F Roads worth it?
The beauty of the land is undoubtedly worth visiting. Now, the terrain is irregular, rough, and rugged. Before doing so, you need to know there are certain restrictions on both seasons and type of vehicle.
Do I need a 4x4 vehicle for F-Roads in Iceland?
Yes, you do. As mentioned before, the Highlands are beautiful but wild and untamed. So are F- Roads. These tracks can be complicated to drive on, so you need both experience and a sturdy 4x4 rental car in Iceland. That is mandatory by the Icelandic law, and most road signs at the entrance of an F-Road will warn you about this restriction.
The majority of visitors that come to Iceland decide to make their trip in a rental car. If it is also your case, make sure to contact your car rental company so they can confirm your 4x4 rental vehicle is allowed on F-Roads. There is no police checkpoint at the entrance of such areas, so your safety and welfare depend solely on you. In the Highlands, you will rarely encounter a bridge. That automatically translates to crossing rivers with your rental vehicle. If you don’t have the right car nor enough experience, it can be life-threatening.
Do not drive on F-Roads with a 2WD vehicle under any circumstances. Driving a 4x4 means the power of the engine goes to both front and rear wheels. That gives you plenty of control over the entire vehicle. If you happen to be driving on a rocky and uneven trail, that’s exactly what you need.
Opening Times of the F-Roads in Iceland
Unfortunately for many, these mountain roads are not open all year long as they are not easy to drive. They only open during the summertime. That is because they are located in the Highlands, where the climate is even more severe compared to other areas of the country. The weather conditions during the wintertime are harsh, and the roads become impassable.
Opening times depend on several factors: weather conditions, road conditions, and how safe it is to drive on them. Below you can find an approximate calendar of the opening dates for these roads. As the Icelandic weather is very changeable, this can vary from year to year.
When do F-roads close?
just like with the opening dates, there are no specific closing dates for F-roads or mountain tracks. closing dates depend on the weather and that is something that varies every year. However, the statistics do show that most F-Roads close in mid or late October when the snowfall makes it impassable for normal traffic.
If you wish to enjoy the highlands in winter, you may want to join a guided tour. They have monster 4x4 jeeps prepared for this kind of road condition.
Iceland F Roads Map
There are several F-roads in Iceland. This map will surely help you visualize where most of them are located within the country:
Does my itinerary include any F-Road?
As you can see in the map above, most F-Roads in Iceland are located in the interior of the country, The Highlands. An area that is not common within the most typical touristic circuits. I dare to say that 90% of tourists and visitors take Route 1 or the Ring Road, which does not include any F-Road. As easily seen in the map below, the Ring Road circumnavigates Iceland along the coast, avoiding any interior land.
Does the Golden Circle have F Roads?
The answer is no. The Golden Circle route includes Road 1, Road 35, and Road 36, which are just "normal" secondary roads, not mountain roads.
The confusion comes with Road 35 and Road F35. If you check on Google Maps, you will notice that to head to Gullfoss waterfall, you need to take road #35. However, close to the waterfall, the road is named F35!
So, to clarify this you need to know that Road 35 becomes an F-Road or mountain road a couple of kilometers after passing Gullfoss waterfall. Therefore, you can perfectly visit the waterfall using a common road and just undo the path using the very same road. There is no need to take the F35 Road unless you plan to visit the Highlands from this point on.
Main F-Roads Full Guide:
We are gradually adding information on specific F-Roads in our blog. Here you have some interesting entries:
Tips for driving on F-Roads:
Even if F-Roads are open, you should check the Icelandic weather forecast and road conditions regularly to avoid any undesired situation. Details are provided by the Icelandic Road Administration and are continuously updated to keep drivers informed.
Get to know your rental vehicle. It is vital to have a 4x4 car but you also need to know how to handle it. When picking up the vehicle, if you have any questions, ask, and the staff and they will gladly help with any doubts you have.
Limit your speed. Driving on complicated gravel roads full of sand and ash or mud requires a slow speed. Do not rush; it can destroy your vehicle and be dangerous for you and your loved ones.
If you plan on fording rivers, then it is essential to know if heavy rain is falling in other regions close to where the river runs. This rain can raise the river level in no time. Do check this information right before crossing. Never cross a river where the water is calm, as this would be the deeper area — changing gears while in the other is not recommended either.
Complete information on the Highlands' F-Roads
That is everything you need to know when traveling in Iceland. The Highlands are Mother Nature at her best. So if you want to enjoy it, be sure to follow our instructions. Driving in Iceland is not hard when done on the main roads. On the other hand, F-Roads are not easy but they are absolutely worth it. Have a safe trip!