I have previously written about self driving in January but now I want to talk about what it’s like in September. September is that lovely time where the Summer heat is cooling off and it’s really pleasant light layer weather.
I think driving in September is perfect. It’s not likely to snow, although it is Iceland, where anything can happen but generally it’s party cloudy to overcast to raining. It’s pretty much like Ireland so it is definitely weather I can drive in. I thankfully got glorious weather! It was mostly sunny all five days except the last day that was raining all day with high winds.
When it is dry and sunny, driving in Iceland is a dream. It’s open roads and gorgeous scenery. The only things I have to say is don’t get so distracted you don’t look out for oncoming traffic. Don’t stop in a small hard shoulder, where your car is jutting out on the road, to pet horses or take a picture. I know Iceland is breathtaking and yes, I wish there was one giant hard shoulder so you could pull off at any given second, but there isn’t, so you can’t just do what you want.
Driving in wind is kind of horrible, Iceland is known for gale force winds and passing through a pocket of strong wind feels like you will be swept off the road. My tip is slow down to where you don’t feel like the car is as unstable and watch when opening up car doors because people will not thank you if your car door smashes into theirs. And some insurance wont cover the damage if you hit a door or a door hits you. I found that people will go very close to you before they over take you on the roads. Even if it a completely empty road they will go really close. I never understood that. What I always do when someone is over taking me is when they have pulled out, I slow down. I don’t jam on my breaks but I slow a little so they don’t have to floor it or just incase a car suddenly appears. It’s just a nice gesture. Also don’t go really close behind someone, what if they want to pull off at a rest stop and take pictures. Don’t be mean!
Let me preface this post by saying, I have never been in a Nordic/Scandinavian country during winter and I don’t have much experience with snow at all really.
Now I thought driving in Iceland would be a lot different to how it was. This first picture is what I thought the One road would be like, wet but clear roads but oh how I was wrong! I went on the 1 road and the 49 and the 36 roads. If you are not used to driving in snow, please be careful. You concentration levels go up and journeys take longer so factor that into your plans.
The three days I was there, the weather was changeable and had strong winds. The roads for the first two days were like this photos below. All the roads where snowy and icy, all rental cars have studded winter tires which help dramatically.
I also went on a Grey Line tour, the busses are great on the snow and ice and it can take a lot of pressure and stress off your trip. A lot of people opt for Super Jeep tours (they look like a lot of fun) or bus tours. I think my Grey Line Golden Circle tour was around €65 per person. It was a full day from 10:30am – 7pm
Tips for Self Driving:
Weather changes very quickly. Pull over if you are nervous (In a safe place) and wait for it to pass.
Go slow, Icelandic people can drive fast but you don’t have to, go slow, they will over take you.
Watch the roundabouts, you can drift very easily.
Remember, a journey that takes 2 hours might take you 4 or 5. It takes two and a half hours from Reykjavik to Vik but it took us over 5 hours, with breaks and the crazy weather changes and the fact you have to concentrate more.
If you are driving around the country I recommend you have enough petrol, stop off and fill up the tank even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Just in case.
If there are high winds, loose snow can cause really bad visibility, keep calm and find the yellow post at the side of the road. It is usually because you are in between a mountain, it will pass.
This photo above is what happens when loose snow is pushed by the wind. It is terrifying in the dark! Generally if you want to travel great distances you go first thing in the morning when its dark, make smart choices, you can always turn back.
Driving in Iceland was an experience! It is scary and difficult but it is kind of fun and you do get used to it. Just remember, never go into dangerous situations, keep calm and drive carefully.