What are F-roads in Iceland?

by Liam Davies
Created: 10. Apr 2018
(Updated: 02. Jan 2019)

F-roads are roads that access the highlands of Iceland. They are breathtaking routes, whilst also being very challenging and, in some cases, dangerous. These F-roads can contain a lot of loose gravel and some of them can also contain quite deep and wide rivers. If you are not a confident driver, then I would recommend avoiding F-roads.

To drive on F-roads, you are required to have a 4x4 vehicle (For the F-roads with rivers, It is required that you have a raised 4x4). It is also recommended that you drive the F-roads in a group of at least 2, in case any trouble arises. 

 

When Are F-Roads Open?

Due to weather conditions and safety, F-roads are not open all year round. In fact, they are only open for a short period of time. Some of the roads open in June, whilst others open in July. They will usually close around mid to late September. 

The opening of F-roads is determined by the amount of snow cover on the roads and how much damage the roads have taken during the winter months. The roads need to be in good condition to withstand the amount of driving that takes place during their opening.

You will see the opening times for 2017 below (they should still be valid for 2018):



F-roads in iceland, openings

 

Remember that these are the projected opening dates, and may change depending on the road conditions. 

 

A Brief Overview Of The Most Popular F-Roads

When booking a vehicle, in most cases, it will state whether the vehicle is or isn't suitable for F-roads. As previously mentioned, 4x4's are the only vehicles that can access F-roads. However, not all 4x4's can handle every F-road. 

One of the most popular routes that are accessed via F-roads is Landmannalaugar. To get there, there are 3 main routes: F208 (North) is the easiest route and is accessible by most 4x4's as it does not contain any rivers. However, the road is still fairly rough.

The second easiest route is F225, from the West, which requires a much larger 4x4. This could be a Toyota Land Cruiser or even the Ford Expedition. That also applies to the third and most difficult entrance, F208 from the South. The river on this route can be challenging, so avoid at all costs if there has been heavy rain. 

There is also F26 (Sprengisandsleið, long gravel road between the Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers) and F206 (Lakagígar, Volcanic fissure in South Iceland) which are completely inaccessible unless you are in a raised 4x4. 

There is one F-road which is only partially accessible, which is F249 to Þórsmörk. They instilled a shuttle service there, so you drive part of the route, before switching to a shuttle that can cross the river. 

When renting a vehicle, always remember to read the included and additional insurances carefully. Usually, rental agencies in Iceland do not have an insurance for the undercarriage of the vehicle or for water damage caused by crossing rivers. 

Due to the conditions of F-roads, the recommended insurances at the very least are 'Gravel Protection' and 'Super Collision Damage Waiver'. F-roads pose a high risk of damage, so protecting yourself is worth the cost compared to what you would pay if any damage was to occur. 

 

F-roads in Iceland

 

It is worth noting that some F-roads aren't even marked with the 'F' sign, even though they are F-roads and still only accessible with 4x4's.

The most popular route that is not marked with an 'F' is 35 (Kjalvegur, seen above). This F-road continues North from Gullfoss to the North of Iceland (Blöndulón).

Also, mid-way through this route, there is the possibility of a slight detour to Hveravellir, an amazing area containing accessible hot springs and great hiking trails.

This route is also popular as it is probably the easiest route to drive and can be driven by every F-road accessible 4x4. Another easy F-road to drive is 550, Kaldidalur. This, like F35, can be driven using most 4x4's. 

It is also worth mentioning that gas stations are usually not available on F-roads, so be sure to have a full tank (and even a spare fuel can). 

 

Does My Route Contain F-Roads?

Due to how confusing the F-roads can be, a lot of travelers tend to ask if their intended route contains F-roads. I can tell you that, in most cases, it does not. The traditional routes that people will travel are The Golden Circle, The South Coast and The Ring Road. These routes do not contain F-roads, though it is possible to take detours on F-roads from these routes.

Gullfoss Iceland

 

However, some key routes can contain F-roads. These are Láki, Landmannalaugar, and Þórsmörk among others. If you intend on accessing anything of these attractions, then reading the 'most popular F-roads' section of this post will be beneficial to you. 

It is also worth noting that some routes may not be F-roads but it is still recommended that you rent a 4x4 to go there. This includes the Westfjords and the North-East. The reason for this is that a lot of the roads in these areas can be quite damaged, muddy and also contain a lot of loose gravel. 

If you are unsure if your route does or does not contain an F-road, then do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Are They Worth Driving? 

If you are feeling adventurous, and are extremely confident at driving, then F-roads are 100% worth it. If you want to make the most of your trip, F-roads are the best way to do so. They take you to the most beautiful secluded places and even the drive is both a fun and testing experience. Definitely, one to tell your friends back home. 

But remember that safety comes first. Always drive carefully and be sure to, at least, have a working phone (especially if traveling alone) in case you get stuck. 

 

Do i need a 4x4 in iceland?

 

DO NOT take risks. If you're on an F-road containing a river it's always best to stop and evaluate the river before attempting to cross.

If the river is deep and/or the current strong, then always avoid crossing. If you do attempt to cross, then be sure that your vehicle is in 4x4 mode.

One tip is to look for tire marks. If you can see where others have entered and exited the river then follow those tracks. Keep a steady pace, do not change gear and do not stop. 

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