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Driving in April

We are going to Iceland in early April. Our group includes two couples and a nine-month-old baby.
I am wondering what it's like to drive in Iceland in April. I know April is iffy for weather, and I'm planning on cold weather. But what are the roads like? I'm concerned about booking lodging and then running into roads that are closed so we can't reach our destination.
Bus tours are more expensive and less flexible ... but are they worth it?

Posted by
3392 posts

A friend and I traveled to Iceland during the first week of April this past spring.
We drove around Reykjavik, around the Golden Circle, and all the way to Jokulskarlon / Diamond Beach and back. We had a wide variety of weather; fog, extremely strong winds, snow, and sun. The roads varied. In Reykjavik it was dry until it snowed one night and then the roads were a little slick. Around the Golden Circle the roads were dry until about 2/3 of the way to Gullfoss. It got colder and snowy, the roads were a bit icy, and the parking lot at Gulfoss had about 4 inches of snow. Driving the southern road down towards Vik and Jokulskarlon was the big adventure! Parts of the road were covered in ice so we just followed the tracks of the cars that drove before us and took it slow. When you get down to the more mountainous areas there are gusts of wind that come down the canyons that are quite powerful. If there is snow on the road you can see it blowing horizontally across the road ahead and anticipate where you will need to keep a tight grip on the wheel. You can also watch cars in front of you, see them get hit with the wind, and know about where it will be. If it is windy be careful opening the car doors - they can be blown backwards and damaged - yes, really.
We didn't find any roads that were closed except some unpaved roads going up into the mountains.
We were quite nervous about driving in Iceland but we just took it slow and gave ourselves plenty of time to get where we needed to go.

Posted by
1 posts

Wow traveling with 9 year old baby is quite a stress if the weather is iffy, try to postponed the trip and go to iceland in June/July, as the baby can bear the weather at that time. Bus tours are not optimal option to do, try to do road trip which will be comfortable for both mother and baby. I would suggest you to visit and buy trailer, pacifier and some toys to bring with your kids. wemomslife.com

Posted by
7657 posts

On our visit in April 2015, we did a combination of bus (one excursion to The Fontana baths+buffet dinner), tour (we hired a guide for several days, who did the driving and took us from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon and back, with lots of stops plus a glacier excursion with crampons and ice axes), and self-driving rental SUV.

The bus trip was supposed to include a northern lights sighting from 10:00 to midnight, but because of heavy cloud cover, that part got dropped by the organizers, and we got back early. It was still worth being able to relax after soaking and having a drink with dinner, letting someone else do the driving.

The guided part was not cheap, but the guide's ice trekking and safety experience were essential, and again, he did the driving so we didn't have to watch for signs and turn offs to sights.

After we'd been in the country for a week, we used the rental to drive the Golden circle and farther north and west of Reykjavik.

On our next-to-last day, having finished our driving tour with a stop at an extinct volcano crater, we headed back to Reyjkavik on clear, dry roads. It was not quite sunset, but the temperature started dropped in the late afternoon. Suddenly, a VW coming towards us flipped into the air, rolled several times, and came to rest in a snowfield to our right. One man died, apparently not having worn a seat belt, which is compulsory for all occupants in Iceland, front or rear of a vehicle. Invisible black ice had formed on the road, with tragic consequences. All of us on the road stopped to render aid, and the police arrived and detained us for a long time while they investigated the situation. We got back after restaurants had closed, but our hotel fixed us a cold meat and cheese plate.

Anita mentioned the wind above, and we passed a couple electronic signs one day that advised what the current wind speeds were ahead, in metric terms, to alert drivers.

Posted by
19 posts

thank you for your post - this was my exact question! In addition to driving around the Golden Circle, I'm a little apprehensive about driving from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. How is it driving on the highways? can you figure out road signs and etc?

Posted by
3392 posts

Driving from the airport to Reykjavik is fairly straightforward...it's a wide highway most of the way. As long as you have a good GPS you'll be able to navigate from the main road to wherever you need to go in Reykjavik.

Posted by
7657 posts

We used the cheap, fast, bus from the airport into Reykjavic, which was helpful after a relatively short, sleep-deprived flight and a very early morning arrival. Unless you can get a better deal renting for a full week than for, say, 3-6 days, pick up your rental in town, once you're ready to explore outside of the capitol.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks all - really helpful info, and thanks to OP for dealing with my question on this post too - hope the info was useful to you too!