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Home Road Trip Driving in Iceland in May: The Complete Guide

Driving in Iceland in May: The Complete Guide

by Staff

Iceland Daylight Hours and Weather in May

Enjoy bright days and beautiful sunsets during May in Iceland

In May, Iceland experiences increasingly long daylight hours as it transitions into summer. Daylight extends up to 18 to 20 hours per day throughout May, offering ample time for exploration and outdoor activities.

Despite the extended daylight, the weather can still be varied and relatively unpredictable. May in Iceland is characterized by cool temperatures ranging from 41°F to 50°F (5°C to 10°C) on average, although temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. The strong May sun can warm you up on clear days, but the nights are relatively chill all over the country and may even go down to freezing.

You can expect frequent rain, strong winds, and occasional snowfall in higher elevations during May. This is usually less dramatic in the south of Iceland, but it’s always best to be prepared for sudden weather changes. Dress in layers to adapt to the varying conditions and keep your plans flexible.

Driving in May in Iceland

You can easily drive the Icelandic Ring Road in MayYou can easily drive the Icelandic Ring Road in May

In May, driving conditions in Iceland vary due to transitioning weather conditions. With the arrival of summer, the weather is warmer and less prone to storms, making it a more comfortable time to travel around the country with an affordable rental car. Daylight hours extend significantly so you can fit more activities into your travel itinerary.

While major roads like the Ring Road are generally accessible, you may still encounter patches of snow or ice. Windy conditions are typical, particularly in coastal areas, affecting driving stability, and you may encounter lingering winter conditions or late snowfall around the countryside.

A major thing to look out for when traveling outside Reykjavik is sheep. Over the warmer months, the Icelandic sheep roam freely around the countryside, and you’ll likely see a great deal of them on your travels. They have a tendency to stay close to roads and can very quickly run in front of your car when they see you coming! This means if you see sheep close to the road, keep your guard up and slow down.

Adhering to speed limits, using headlights at all times, and yielding to larger vehicles are essential for a safe trip. You should also always check the Icelandic weather forecasts and the local road conditions before heading out, as conditions can change rapidly.

Nonetheless, driving in Iceland in May can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience with proper preparation and awareness. By staying informed, exercising caution, and embracing the adventure, you can experience the beauty of Iceland’s landscapes while safely navigating its roads.

The Icelandic Roads in May

Discover the winding roads of the Icelandic countrysideDiscover the winding roads of the Icelandic countryside

While the Icelandic weather starts to transition into milder conditions in May, it’s important to note that some roads may still be affected by lingering winter conditions. This includes patches of ice, snow, and occasional closures due to maintenance or adverse weather.

The Ring Road and South Coast routes are generally well-maintained and typically offer relatively good driving conditions, making them accessible to smaller vehicles. However, many roads are still recovering from winter damage. It’s essential to drive cautiously, especially on unpaved routes, and to be aware of potential hazards like loose gravel and potholes.

If you’re venturing on gravel roads or into more isolated areas, you should consider renting a 4×4 SUV for better traction and stability on gravel roads and uneven surfaces. Keep in mind that the majority of mountain roads or “F-roads” are still closed in May, and most won’t open until the end of June.

With proper preparation and awareness of road conditions, travelers can enjoy a safe and rewarding driving experience along Icelandic roads in May, taking in the stunning landscapes and natural wonders that this unique destination has to offer.

Best Rental Car for Iceland in May

Your Iceland rental car choice depends on your travel itineraryYour Iceland rental car choice depends on your travel itinerary

When visiting Iceland in May, your choice of rental car depends on your itinerary. If you’re staying within Reykjavik or are planning to explore more accessible areas like the South Coast or Snaefellsnes peninsula, you can go for a small or medium-sized rental car. Just be mindful of the weather, and don’t take unnecessary risks by attempting to drive on more challenging roads.

If you’re traveling around North Iceland, the Eastfjords, or the Westfjords, opting for a sturdy and reliable rental car is crucial to navigating the varied terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. The best choice for this purpose is typically a 4×4 rental car like an SUV or jeep. These vehicles offer better traction and stability, especially on Iceland’s gravel roads.

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