If you have always wanted to know how to ride your own motorcycle in Iceland, here is our ultimate guide to motorcycle touring in Iceland.  There is plenty of advice, tips and useful links to help you on your way.  Or you can travel with us to Iceland!

Iceland – At a Glance


Culture shock: 3/10

European with a twist, Icelanders are warm and welcoming if a little eccentric at times. The country’s written and spoken language is Icelandic, an Old Norse language that has changed little since Iceland’s first settlers arrived over 1,000 years ago.  But don’t worry, but most Icelanders also speak English.  Food can be a challenge too.  How about fermented shark or smoked puffin anyone?  Your biggest shock will be the eye-watering prices – expect to pay up to double what you would pay in the UK for most things.

Road conditions

Paved road surfaces are good quality, and virtually all of Route 1, the main Ring Road around Iceland is paved.  Once out of town, normally the speed limit is 90kph.  Alas, police do have forward facing radar and can impose on the spot fines.  Single lane bridges are found in many places, so take care.  EINBREIÐ BRÚ means a Single Lane Bridge.  There are also a number of tunnels around Iceland and some are single track.  Passing places are marked by an “M”.  Wherever you are in Iceland, watch out for livestock on the roads, normally sheep (a bit like in Wales!)

Gravel roads

When the road changes from paved to gravel you will see the sign MALBIK ENDAR.  The “main” gravel roads are well graded and are used by normal saloon cars.  Speed limits on these are lower, normally 80kph.  The lesser designated gravel roads “F-roads” are more challenging, with ungraded surfaces made up of larger pebbles/rocks or lava ash, punctuated with river crossings.  Please also note: “All off-road driving and driving outside of marked tracks is prohibited by law. Icelandic nature is delicate and tyre tracks from off-road driving can cause substantial damage to the vegetation and leave marks that will last for decades. Respect the nature and tread carefully.”

Iceland Motorcycle Adventure Tour

You can check out www.road.is  for up to date info on road conditions. You might also find https://safetravel.is/ useful too.

Riding experience level

Stay on tarmac roads and primarily the Ring Road and Iceland is achievable by a novice rider.  But if you want to try the F-roads, then take it seriously – you’ll need good basic off road techniques.   Why not try an adventure riding course like those offered at Adventure Bike Training (www.adventurebiketraining.co.uk )

Why you should go to Iceland

An otherworldly place of fire and ice, marooned near the top of the globe, Iceland is where the mighty forces of nature have created a playground, perfect for adventure riding.  Outside of buzzing and bustling Reykjavik and Akureyrie, this is a land of tiny settlements.  Fishing villages and farmsteads are dotted along a rugged coastline, fjords and in small valleys, where you can enjoy peace, good food and craft beers.  Isolated roadways and remote gravel tracks take you past glaciers, lava fields, tundra, geysers, hot springs, waterfalls in the pristine wilderness landscape.

Venture into the interior and you’ll find an uninhabited moonscape, dominated by volcanoes and glaciers. Mother nature is at her most wild and creative.  This is truly a place for stress free riding – stop, breathe and drink in the views.   The only proviso?  The true magnificence of Iceland relies on clear, bright days to get that sharp “wow” intake of breath reaction.

Iceland Motorcycle Adventure Tour

What’s it like to go motorcycle touring in Iceland?

Heavenly. Traffic is negligible and largely you’ll have the road to yourself. You can cover a lot of the island on paved road surfaces, which are of good quality.

The main gravel routes are also good and well graded and can be tackled with just the basics of off-road training.    If you want to up the ante, the lesser-graded ‘F-roads’ are where you want to be looking, but make sure you and your bike are up to it.  By law, only off road capable vehicles can use these roads, such as 4×4 or adventure bikes, fitted with the appropriate tyres.

The weather can also be challenging, with potential strong winds, and the fact that you can encounter ‘four seasons in one day’ due to how far north Iceland is.

There is plenty of fuel, but many services are unmanned which means you must have a credit card with PIN number to get petrol or buy a prepaid fuel card – N1 has the most selection of fuel stations.

Must ride/see in Iceland

  • Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik – see the settler building architecture and experience the vibrant downtown bars and restaurants.
  • Riding by Iceland’s geothermal pipeline, an amazing achievement with over 85% percent of houses in Iceland being heated with geothermal energy.
  • See the largest glacier in Europe. Ride past Vatnajokull, familiar to Game of Thrones fans as “Beyond the Wall”!
  • Take on the motorcycle challenge of the infamous F-35 interior road across Iceland, between Langjokull and Hofsjokull Glaciers and stop at Hvervillur for a dip in the hot springs.
  • Head out on an amazing dirt road clinging to the cliffs to Látrabjarg, home to birds in unfathomable numbers and you might spot puffins
  • Westfjords, the most remote and isolated part of Iceland, where you can ride deserted and twisty roads along the fjords and spot whales.  Go to the Witches Museum in Holmavik.
  • Go native with Icelandic cuisine – if fermented shark sounds too extreme, sample smoked puffin, with a shot of Brennivin, an Icelandic Schnapps.

Back view of motorcyclist with thumbs up at glacier view on Iceland Adventure Motorcycle Tour

Getting your motorcycle to Iceland

If you’re feeling adventurous (and you have the time), ride up to Denmark and catch a ferry from there with www.smyrilline.com.  The boat takes 3 nights to get there, with a stop in the Faroe Islands en route for 6 hours or so. A return journey with all your meals and a single cabin will set you back around £1,600 (2021).  In June, July and August, there are two sailings per week on Tuesday and Saturday, returning just once a week on Wednesday or Thursday depending on your dates. This does mean you have to decide between a one week or two week stay, with no other flexibility.  Note that the ferry arrives in the east of Iceland at Seyðisfjörður.

You can freight your bike direct to the port in Reykjavik from the UK and fly out there to meet it for around £1,000 – £1,200 for return journey, using Eimskip based in Immingham.  If you want in-transit insurance, this is an extra charge. You’ll need to have a completed Iceland Customs Form E9 ready for the Icelandic Customs.

Hire bikes are also available between £200-300 per day, depending on how long you are renting for, and size and spec of the bike. The main BMW rental provider is Biking Viking, and it’s fair to say that their bikes are well used and still booked up well in advance.

When to go

Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable. In summer there’s a fair chance of bright and sunny days, and temperatures can reach as high as 20°C, but good is punctuated with the bad: rain, high winds and plummeting temperatures can hit at any time. So even if you go in peak summer, make sure you have packed warm clothes and waterproof gear.

June to August is your best bet but if you are aiming for the gravel, many of the F-roads are impassable until the end of June or even later because of wet and muddy conditions due to the spring thaw.

Finally remember that at this time of year, due to how far north Iceland is, there will never be any problems about riding at night.  For eg if you are travelling in August, it gets dark around 23:00 and light again around 03:00! So there is no time pressure when you are riding each day.

Where to stay in Iceland

Of course, the issue with there being such as short summer period is that everyone else is there at the same time.  That means accommodation shoots up in price (remember those ridiculous prices we talked about earlier?).  It pains me to say it, but due to summer demand, Icelandic hotels are often poor value for money.  A 3 star hotel in Reykjavik with breakfast could set you back £200 in high season; budget hostels around £60-80 with shared bathroom.  And you are wise to book in advance.  Just a general note about the heating and hot water. Iceland uses its natural resources via geothermic power plants, meaning that you will find that the hot water can sometimes be scalding – BEWARE – and that there can be a sulphur “rotten egg” smell in the bathrooms.

If you are on a budget, pack a tent and use the campsites or try wild camping.  You might als0 find your self dining a lot on hotdogs which are regulars at fuel stations!  It’s also worth bearing in mind that most museums and attractions are only open from late May to early September too.

What docs you’ll need

  • Passport – must be valid for at least six months beyond your date of entry. At time of writing, UK, USA, Canadian and EU Citizens do not require a visa in advance of travel
  • UK Driving Licence and International Driving Permit – UK riders should take their UK driving licence – you only need the photo card part.  If you’re outside of Europe, you’ll need an International Driving Permit.
  • V5C Vehicle Registration Document – for your own motorcycle; you’ll need the original to temporarily import your bike into Iceland.
  • Iceland Customs Form E9 – if you are freighting your bike (by container and not by Smyril Lines ferry), then you need to complete this form for Customs.
  • Motorcycle Insurance – Your UK motorcycle insurance may cover you in Iceland – check your insurance certificate. You must have insurance in place or your motorcycle will not be allowed into Iceland.
  • Travel Insurance – Remember to have travel / medical insurance in place.

Check out the latest FCDO travel advice for Iceland here https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland

We are passionate about travel by motorcycle and whether you decide to travel with us for two weeks or five months, our aim is to give you a great touring experience, supported by years of relevant expertise.

Book Iceland Beyond the Wall or Iceland Arctic Desert with us today!