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We are making a 4 day trip to Iceland from 24-28 August 2013.

We want to rent a car. We heard that the F-roads (for which you would need a 4x4) are normally closed in August.

Questions:

  1. Are the f-roads normally closed at end of August?
  2. If they are closed, is it still worth getting a 4x4? Do you need it on the normal roads?

We don't mind driving quite a bit and would like to get to the eastern glacial if possible.

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A 4x4 is a damn right truck to drive if you are going to be driving in them mountains –  happybuddha Jul 24 '13 at 20:40
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

In August most roads should be open. The condition of any given road can never be guaranteed though. You should consult the website of the Icelandic Road Administration for up to date information about what roads are closed. If you click on the Condition of Mountain tracks you'll see the current state. Most roads are open by now, but its been a cold summer so not quite all of them are open.

By the end of August there may be some closures (most likely due to them being washed out) but most should remain open. If you are unsure, you can (while in Iceland) call 1777 for up-to-date information. Do not try to drive on a closed road. If in doubt, call for information.

It is astonishing the number of tourists who ignore road-closed signs and get themselves into serious trouble.

You do not need a 4x4 on "normal" roads. If you plan to stay on the primary roads you can get by fine without one. However, you should not go on any roads marked in red on this map if you are not driving a 4x4 with good ground clearance.

Note that you can drive on regular roads all the way to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Just follow the ring road (route 1) along the southern coast. Can't miss it. It is about 4-5 hour drive from Reykjavik, assuming no stops. And there are plenty of interesting places to stop along the way.

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Great! Thanks for the help. We'd like to try the 'off-roads' just to experience them if we can. What proportion of the f-roads are usually open at the end of August? I imagine it changes each year depending on weather, but to get a rough idea. –  peter.swallow Jul 24 '13 at 10:26
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Most of them should be open. You'll certainly find some that are and aren't far out of your way, if you just want to 'try them' a bit. Just keep it on the roads. All actual OFF-roading is illegal in Iceland. –  Kris Jul 24 '13 at 10:32
    
Is an f-road classed as Off-Road and therefore illegal to drive on? –  peter.swallow Jul 24 '13 at 10:36
    
It is about 4-5 hour drive — from where? –  gerrit Jul 24 '13 at 10:41
    
By "F-road" I assume you mean mountain track (Fjallvegur in Icelandic). They are marked in red on the map I linked to. It is OK to drive on them (assuming your car is capable of it). It is not OK to drive where there is no road (i.e. off road). –  Kris Jul 24 '13 at 10:47
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Just as an update...

We did eventually hire a Chevrolet Captiva 4x4, which was a great car to drive around.

We didn't actually make it onto the F roads, but ended up having to drive on gravel tracks, which were probably pretty much the same.

The only problem we had, was that this car which is a 4x4, aka all-wheel-drive, got stuck drive through some mud.

I then remembered that you really need Differential lock, to be able to drive out of mud, as both front and back wheels on one side were stuck.

If only front OR back wheels had been stuck, it wouldn't have been a problem, but it was both right hand side wheels were stuck and therefore the left hand side wheels just kept spinning.

Just a word of caution. We didn't drive through a river, it was a larger puddle...quite annoying. But a brilliant local turned up and pulled us out with a massive rope!

Enjoy!

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