The F-roads in Iceland are definitely not for the faint of heart. They are certainly for those who long for some adventure and want to experience the untouched Iceland. These mountain roads are only open for a short period of the year and are exclusively made for 4x4 cars and skilled drivers.
Exploring Iceland by car is the best way (in our opinion) to see the country. You can get to most places around the island with a regular car and without any hassle, but what if you’re in the mood for adventure?
The F-roads in Iceland are the roads to the wild mountain areas. Remote places where there is no civilization and no permanent settlements. Check out our guide to these untamed lands to find out more about these untamed roads.
What Are the F-Roads in Iceland?
Most road trips and self-drive itineraries in Iceland focus on how long it takes to drive around Iceland or see everything in the lowlands. The F-roads in Iceland represent the opposite side of the coin, where you drive so far off the beaten path that you will need a map just to ensure that you are still on any sort of path!
These roads are never paved and rarely well maintained. They are mostly some sort of gravel road, and all of them are made exclusively for 4x4 vehicles, so the need and urgency to maintain them is simply not there.
Driving these roads requires great driving skills and confidence behind the wheel. The F-roads in Iceland will be tough at times but will reward anyone who dares and manages to use them.
If you are an outdoorsy person with a yearning for adventure and wilderness, getting on the Iceland highland F-roads is a must and a great way to travel cheaply in Iceland.
Where are the F-Roads in Iceland?
The F-roads in Iceland are all the rougher roads that go through mountain areas. Iceland has no shortage of mountains, so, as you might have guessed, there is no shortage of F-roads either. The “F” in the name stands for “Fjall”, which is the Icelandic word for “mountain” and makes perfect sense for the name for this type of road.
If you look at an F-roads Iceland map, you’ll notice that the vast majority of the F-roads in Iceland can be found in the central-to-north highlands. Very few F-roads are outside this area, but will be found whenever there is a rough mountain pass or tough route along the coast.
This sounds like there aren’t so many of these roads, so you might think, “how often will I encounter F-roads in Iceland?”. To be honest, not that often unless you are driving close to the mountains and highlands.
You will see F-roads if you travel around Ring Road 1 and drive routes like the Golden Circle and Diamond Circle. However, they will be at the end of the road for the most part. You might also run into roads that look like F-roads in Iceland, but are really just unmarked gravel roads in rural areas.
Do F-Roads Open All Year Round?
For multiple reasons, the F-roads in Iceland are not open all year round. For most of the year, the highlands and mountain passes will be covered in snow and impossible to traverse with a car.
As a result, all F-roads are closed during the winter, and you’re not allowed to go there before they are officially open. The snow in the Icelandic highlands can lie for quite some time into the summer, making the driving season for these areas very short. This means that you shouldn’t need snow tires in Iceland on these roads.
However, even when the snow is mostly gone, the roads might still not open. You see, this nation is very protective of its nature, and when the snow disappears around the F-roads in Iceland, it’s time for the vegetation to grow.
Even though we mean well when we drive around in the highlands, mistakes are made, and it’s easy to drive slightly off the road from time to time. At the beginning of the season, this might happen if you try to avoid getting stuck in some residue snow or mud in the middle of the road.
Whenever any visitor to the highlands steps in the moss or vegetation, it can cause severe damage. Whenever a car drives on this moss or vegetation, it also causes damage, but much, much more severe. That’s why the F-roads in highlands are closed for some part of the year, even when the snow is gone.
When do F-Roads Open in Iceland?
So, when can you explore the mountains and highlands and travel on the F-roads in Iceland? The roads will open on different dates, different years, and will differ between roads.
There are many differences between the roads, obviously, but the one common denominator is that the Road and Coastal Administration in Iceland publishes the opening dates each year. This way, you will get all the information from one single source.
According to the Road and Coastal Administration, the F-roads in Iceland have opened on these dates between the years 2017-2021:
Mountain Road Routes
F206 – Lakagigar
F208 – Fjallabaksleid north
1.Sigalda – Landmannalaugar
2.Laugar – Eldgja
3.Eldgja – Skaftatunga
F210 – Fjallabaksleid south
1.Keldur – Hvanngil
2.Hvanngil – Skaftartunga
F225 – Landmannaleid
F261 – Emsturleid
35 – Kjalvegur
1.Gullfoss – Hveravellir
2.Hveravellir – Blönduvirkjun
F26 – Sprengisandur
1.Hrauneyjar – Nyidalur
2.Nyidalur – Bardadalur
F752 – Skagafjardarleid
F 821 – Eyjafjardaleid
F88 – Öskjuleid
1.Inn ad Herdubreidarlindum
2.Herdubreidarlindir – Dreki
F894 – Öskujuvatnsvegur
F864 – Holsfjallavegur
F902 – Kverkfjalaleid
F905 – Arnardalsleid
F910 – Austurleid
52 – Uxahryggjavegur
550 – Kaldadalsvegur
As you can see, some F-roads in Iceland are divided into segments that open on different dates of the year, and some roads are not marked as “F-roads”. Regardless of this, you need to adhere to the opening and closing dates of these roads, for your safety and others.
Iceland F-Roads Closing Dates
The opening and closing of the F-roads in Iceland are purely dependent on the weather, so whenever there is a long summer, the roads will be open longer. If the summer is cut short by early winter, the roads will be closed earlier than expected.
The F-roads in Iceland often close somewhere at the beginning of September, so the best time to visit Iceland for these roads will be August. Regarding hard closing dates, you will simply have to trust your driving and keep an eye out for the announcement of the closing dates. That's mostly when the roads start to become extra rough to drive at the end of the summer.
Driving the F-Roads in Iceland
Deciding to go off the beaten path and challenge the F-roads in Iceland is a good thing, but there are certain things you will need to be aware of before you head out up into the mountains.
To get a general feel for the road in this country, we suggest checking out the most frequently asked questions about driving in Iceland. Much of the good advice regarding driving on gravel roads can be applied to F-roads too.
When traveling between the F-roads, everything is terribly ordinary and boring, so make sure to learn the best road trip games in Iceland.
As we said earlier, the F-roads in Iceland are on pretty rough terrain and far from the golden standard of any normal road. When traveling these routes, you need to keep it slow and be wary of all the sharp turns, possible damage on the roads, and what can be lurking in the streams you go through.
Some stretches of the F-roads in Iceland might also be hard to see since it blends in nicely with the surrounding nature. This makes it extra important to have a GPS or an up-to-date map that shows you where the roads are. This will prevent you from accidentally drive on the fragile moss or mountain flora.
The highest speed limit in Iceland is 90 kilometers per hour, but you will have to drive much slower than that on the F-roads of Iceland. Setting a speed limit on these routes doesn’t make much sense. The average speed on the F-roads in Iceland will be a slow and steady pace and rarely go over 30 kilometers per hour.
It might surprise you to know that these roads are not available for just any car. So, what cars are allowed to drive on the F-roads in Iceland? Besides the debate of which is best, a standard or full-size car in Iceland, there are specific rules for these roads.
According to the law, you’re not allowed to drive on the F-roads in Iceland if you don’t have a 4x4. It’s also advised to make sure that there is some height to the undercarriage of your car. This will avoid any unnecessary scraping and getting stuck in bad spots.
It’s not easy knowing exactly what is needed of a car for this terrain, so, just check with the car rentals in Iceland for F-roads vehicles. The rental people know exactly what you need for an adventure in the tougher parts of Iceland. They are often pleased to point you in the right direction.
Car insurance is great to have for any accidents and unforeseen events. However, certain types of car rental insurance in Iceland will only cover you up to a point, and you need to be very well aware of where your limitations are.
So, what kind of auto insurance comes with renting a car in Iceland for the F-roads? Well, it will cover most things to the point when you make a bad choice and take unnecessary risks which might damage your vehicle.
This is extra important on the F-roads in Iceland, since there are plenty of opportunities (that you shouldn’t take) to go off-road or take a chance. Car insurance covers a lot, but it doesn’t cover reckless or stupid.
Driving the F-roads Safely
Nothing is more important than making sure you are okay on your holiday. Driving the F-roads in Iceland might not seem like a big thing, but we need to respect the risks of driving alone in isolated areas.
Below are some general safety measures you can take to ensure that you keep as safe as possible in the rough F-roads in Iceland.
Slow and Steady Keeps You Safe
Picking up speed on the F-roads in Iceland is a sure way to get you in trouble. Don’t rush, enjoy the drive, and stay safe.
Extra Supplies Might Be a Life Saver
You are far away from civilization, and if anything happens, you better have enough food and water to last you a while before you can get help or fix your problem.
Follow Road, Weather, and Traffic Updates
Knowing what’s happening with the weather in Iceland for the next few days is crucial for planning, just as knowing what the roads look like up ahead.
Running dry on the F-roads in Iceland is not something you want to experience. So, make sure to fill up your gas tank and maybe even keep an auxiliary tank with you.
These roads always become a subject when discussing the difference between gas and diesel cars in Iceland. F-Roads are quite challenging, so make sure you also select the right type of engine fuel, the difference between diesel vs gasoline can have an impact in your car's performance as well as in your budget.
Stay on the Marked Roads
Staying on the road is not only to save the flora, but also to keep you safe. Going off-road in the mountains is a sure way to damage your vehicle and risk your safety.
Travel in a Group
The best way to ensure your safety is to be at least two cars driving together. Forming a driving party will ensure that everyone knows that there is help close by in case an accident occurs.
Know Your Insurance
As we said earlier, insurance will only cover you so far. When driving on the F-roads in Iceland, you should always assume that most damage to the car will not be covered by insurance. These insurances are often drawn up with the other roads in Iceland in mind, not mountain roads.
Download the 112 app and save the important numbers for where you are going. The national parks often have numbers to call if you get into trouble in nature and need a helping hand.
Knowing where to camp on F-roads in Iceland is important. Check your route on this map of the F-roads in Iceland and mark the emergency shelters and tourist shelters. This will always ensure that you know where to go in case you get into trouble.
There are a few campsites in the highlands, but can also make use of the tourist shelters when pitching a tent or sleeping in your 4x4 car or campervan.
Start Your F-roads in Iceland Adventure!
The F-roads are tough to travel, but well worth the effort if you like the wild. If you want to go, you just need to get the best rental car in Iceland and start your adventure!