Road system in Iceland

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Map of the Hringvegur (as of 2004); (1) Reykjavík ; (2) Borgarnes ; (3) Blönduós ; (4) Akureyri ; (5) Egilsstaðir ; (6) Hofn ; (7) Selfoss .

The road system in Iceland is legally defined by the Roads Act ( Isl. Vegalög , No. 80/2007) and administered by the Icelandic road administration Vegagerðin ( Eng . Road construction ), which does not carry out any construction work itself. The most important road in Iceland is the Hringvegur (ring road), which connects the most important places in Iceland.

National roads

National roads (isl. Þjóðvegir ) in Iceland serve "the free movement of the general public" according to the Roads Act 2007 and are divided into the following categories:

Main road

Main roads (Isl. Stofnvegir ) are part of the basic transport system and serve the supra-regional connection of the urban areas of the country. According to the Roads Act, villages with more than 100 inhabitants are considered urban. Many of the main roads, especially those in the urban area of Reykjavík and the ring road , are now paved asphalt roads with sometimes two or more lanes in each direction. In rural and relatively sparsely populated areas, however, there are still mostly gravel roads.

Main road in the highlands

Only four of the highland roads are considered to be the main highland roads:

Sprengisandsleið , (F26)
Kjalvegur , (35)
Fjallabaksleið nyrðri , (F208)
Kaldadalsvegur , (550)

The difference to normal main roads are the limited refueling and rest options. Most of these roads are gravel roads, some of which are unpaved and often do not have any bridges to cross rivers and watercourses. During the winter months (depending on the weather from the end of August to mid-June) they are often impassable or even closed. All-wheel drive is compulsory on roads with fords.

Back road

At the Vatnsdalshólar in the Austur-Húnavatnssýsla district : display board on a side road with the names of the farms along the way

Side roads (Isl. Tengivegir ) are roads outside of populated areas that connect main roads with highland roads or another main road. These also include roads that connect villages with fewer than 100 inhabitants or special sites such as seaports or airports and national parks to the main road network for logistical and tourist development.

Local access road

Local access roads (isl. Héraðsvegir ) represent connections to individual farms, factories, churches, power stations, public schools and other facilities in unpopulated areas. These roads are mostly unpaved.

Highland road

Landmannaleið highland slope (F225)

Highland roads (Isl. Landsvegir ) are all roads that cannot be classified in any of the previous categories. These usually lead over mountains and through stone deserts in the highlands and are therefore subject to special seasonal conditions and restrictions. Highland roads are narrow, unpaved gravel roads with no structures to bridge rivers and terrain cuts. For many of these roads, all-wheel drive vehicles are therefore not only recommended, but also prescribed and in some cases the insurance cover for vehicles with conventional drives expires when driving on these roads.

Other roads and public roads

Public paths are used for cycling, horse riding and hiking for everyone and are operated and maintained by the Icelandic Road Administration. The responsibility for private roads and paths, on the other hand, rests with the respective owners.

Numbering the streets

Bridge on streets of the lowest order

The number of the street results from its location.

2 er streets   from Skeiðarársandur to east of Þjórsá
3 er streets west of the Þjórsá to the capital area
4 er streets the Reykjavík area and the Reykjanesskagi peninsula
5 er streets the area of Snæfellsnes
6 er streets   the Westfjords
7 er streets from Hrútafjörður about to Siglufjörður
8 er streets approximately from Ólafsfjörður to Langanes
9 er streets East Iceland to Skeiðarársandur

In addition to the number, every street has a name. For example, the highland road is LF208called Fjallabaksleið nyrðri ("Northern way behind the mountains"); the one south of it LF210is called Fjallabaksleið syðri .


Múlagöng (also called Ólafsfjarðargöng)
Crossing inside
Vestfjarðagöng tunnel

See also: Tunnel in Iceland

Despite the challenging topography, there are very few tunnels in Iceland.

Now, in January 2020, 12 tunnels are in operation in the country, one under construction and 2 more in the planning stage. In the planning of tunnels from the year 2000 by the Icelandic road administration Vegagerðin , 24 possible projects were examined. Seven of these tunnels have now been completed and another is under construction. The Icelandic word göng for tunnel is a feminine form that only exists in the plural .


Due to the numerous rivers in Iceland, there are correspondingly many bridges in the Icelandic road network. However, there are almost no bridges on the highland slopes; H. Streams and rivers have to be waded . In the rest of the road network, all rivers and streams are bridged. Bridges in Iceland are traditionally single-lane. One of the earliest significant motor vehicle bridges is the 1928 Hvítá Bridge near Borgarnes. However, the single-lane bridges have been and are increasingly being replaced by two-lane bridges on more heavily used routes and on the ring road. There are still single-lane bridges along Ringstrasse 39. Current construction work has reduced the number to 34. The longest and single-lane Skeiðarárbrú is also affected. It was decommissioned on August 30, 2017 and replaced by a 68-meter-long bridge over the Morsá .

Longest bridges

bridged water Construction year length Lane Street Remarks
Skeiðará 1974 880 m single lane Hringvegur out of service since 2017
Borgarfjörður 1979 520 m two-lane Hringvegur
Súla 1973 420 m single lane Hringvegur with alternative bays on the bridge
Ölfusá ós 1988 360 m two-lane Eyrarbakkavegur (34) at the mouth
Gígjukvísl 1998 336 m two-lane Hringvegur
Kúðafljót 1993 302 m two-lane Hringvegur
Lagarfljót 1958 301 m two-lane Hringvegur Metal roadway
Hvítá (Ölfusá) 2010 270 m two-lane Skálholtsvegur (31)
Hornafjarðarfljót 1961 254 m single lane Hringvegur
Markarfljót 1991 250 m two-lane Hringvegur


The state budget for the road system also includes funds for the operation and expansion of ferry connections over straits and fjords , provided that these replace an existing road connection for part of the year, for example in the winter months due to weather conditions.

Road conditions / opening times of the roads

The roads are basically in a good condition, as long as they are not unpaved gravel roads. The main roads are largely paved and the secondary roads are often paved. The gravel roads are basically easy to drive on, taking into account the natural road. The asphalt roads are basically two-lane (6 meters), as are the gravel roads, but when crossing, the speed must be reduced due to the lane width of mostly 4 meters. Longer single-lane road sections are - apart from tunnels and bridges - seldom and only to be found on secondary roads. Gravel roads and slopes in particular can have confusing knolls, tight curves and steep gradients. Due to the arctic climate, snow and ice can be expected between September and June. Road conditions can be precarious, especially in winter (October to April). Roads are usually closed in winter due to the weather and can last for a few days. Closures of the ring road, however, are rather rare. The Icelandic road administration Vegagerðin keeps you informed about the current road condition and the current traffic volume on all main and most secondary roads. Slopes and exposed roads are usually closed from mid-September to the end of May, but particularly exposed stretches can be closed from August to early / mid-July.



There are no highways in Iceland . Some of the main roads in the city of Reykjavík, as well as the Reykjanesbraut , which connects the city center with Keflavík International Airport, about 40 km to the west on the Reykjanes peninsula , are already being developed like a motorway (i.e. at least four lanes and with structural separation of the directional lanes), including some a motorway junction. Nevertheless, according to the definition of the Roads Act, these are only main roads.

European roads

Apart from the European miniature states, Iceland is the only state in Europe that does not have any European roads.

Left-hand traffic

Until 1968 there was left-hand traffic in Iceland .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Vegagerðin: Vegakerfið 2009 (PDF; 2.9 MB), p. 2, section "Þjóðvegir". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  2. Jarðgangaáætlun. Retrieved January 10, 2020 (Icelandic).
  3. Beygingarlýsing íslensks nútímamáls: göng. Retrieved January 11, 2020 (Icelandic).
  4. Gabriele Schneider: Half a century to replace single-lane bridges on the Ringstrasse. (No longer available online.) In: . September 20, 2016, archived from the original on September 15, 2017 ; accessed on September 30, 2016 .
  5. Ferjur. Retrieved September 6, 2016 .