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Complete Guide to Driving Highland Road F208 in Iceland


Highland Road F208 in Iceland

One of the most scenic routes in the entire country, driving the Highland road F208 in Iceland is undeniably beautiful, yet equally challenging. With loose gravel, river crossings and steep cliffside edges, the F208 is definitely one you need to be prepared for!

Intrepid adventurers will love taking this amazing Highland road in Iceland, soaking in the spectacular views of the dramatic and breathtaking landscapes. Make sure you’re ready to drive the F208 in Iceland by taking a look through our top driving tips and important information about this route before you set out. 

What is Highland Road F208 in Iceland?

Highland road F208 in Iceland is one of these mountainous F-roads, which leads to the Central Highlands. One of the most challenging roads in the country to drive, road F208 certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the reward at the end is definitely worth the challenge!

To understand what we're up against, we need a little bit of context first. Located in the middle of the island, the Icelandic Highlands are a rocky, mountainous, volcanic region of Iceland. These interior Highlands are famous for their sweeping views, hot springs, lava fields and unparalleled, rugged beauty.

Reaching the incredible Icelandic Highlands requires driving on the country’s F-roads, which are mountainous, unpaved routes. The F in front of the road number comes from the word ‘fjalla’, which means mountain in Icelandic. Made of unpaved gravel, often narrow and sometimes passing through rivers, the F-roads in Iceland are no mean feat to drive!

Where is Highland Road F208 in Iceland?

F208 is in Southern Iceland, spanning all the way from the coast to the Highland area of Landmannalaugar. This incredible natural area features colorful rhyolite mountains, epic lava fields and steaming geothermal springs.

Driving the F208 through the southern area of the Icelandic Highlands allows you to soak in 102 km (63 miles) of pure, wild and unspoiled nature – we’d even go so far as to say it’s probably some of the most beautiful territory you’ll ever see in your life!

You may also see Highland road F208 called ‘Fjallabaksleid Nyrdri’, as it leads to and through the spectacular Fjallabak Nature Reserve. The perfect place for hikers, this incredibly scenic territory is far enough off the beaten track that you’ll surely escape the crowds.

Iceland F208 road

When Does Iceland’s F208 Road Open?

Unlike the Ring Road in Iceland, the country’s F-roads are only open during the summer months. You can only access the uninhabitable Icelandic Highlands at certain times of the year, as icy and snowy road conditions simply make it too treacherous to attempt driving here outside of this limited period.

The specific opening dates are completely dependent on the weather and are different for every road. Icelandic road authorities inspect the roads to see how much snow is covering them and how quickly they’ve dried after the ice melts in the spring. Once the roads are no longer wet, they’re opened up to traffic.

F208 in Iceland usually opens around the middle of June, but we recommend double-checking with the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration to be sure. Sometimes Highland roads open as late as the beginning of July, with the summer season only lasting around a month and a half.

Things to Be Aware of When Driving the F208 Road in Iceland

All Icelandic F-roads require a certain amount of skill and expertise on the part of the driver, especially road F208 in Iceland. Here are some important points to consider when planning your trip on road F208:

4x4 Vehicles are Mandatory For F-Roads in Iceland

The most important thing to know about Icelandic F-roads is that you absolutely must have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. A 2-wheel drive simply will not cut it, as it’s a legal requirement to have a 4x4 car, SUV or camper van to drive on an F-road in Iceland.

4x4 F-Road drive

Gravel Road F208 Iceland Condition

Road F208 in Iceland has the standard rocks, stones, pebbles, gravel, potholes and uneven surfaces that you'll find on any of the county’s F-roads. These require a slow, considered and deliberate driving approach. You must keep your eyes on the road at all times and have 100% concentration.

The same is true when approaching blind hills and blind curves, both in the Highlands and on other roads in Iceland. The gravel paths are not very well maintained, so be prepared for loose rocks by maintaining a slow and steady pace and slowing down at any curves in the road.

Steep Cliffs of F208 Iceland

One of the most important things to be aware of when driving road F208 in Iceland is that there are sections with very steep drops that are unprotected by guardrails. The views you’ll encounter are absolutely stunning and totally out of this world, yet it’s important to always remain aware and keep a safe distance from the edge.

River Crossings on F208, Iceland

There are parts of F208 where you will have to cross unbridged rivers. It’s essential to assess the composition of the riverbed, the depth of the river and the speed of the current before driving across a river. If one of the river crossings you encounter looks too dangerous to cross, listen to your gut and just don't do it. 

If it’s been raining recently, you might not be able to cross at all because the water may be too deep. Make sure to only drive across shallow water with a weak current. It's also important to note that during the day, glacial rivers swell. This means that crossing in the morning will be easier than crossing in the afternoon or evening.

If this is your first time driving across rivers, we suggest getting help from an expert who can show you where and how to do it. You wouldn't want water damage to destroy your Iceland car rental, especially since no type of rental insurance in Iceland covers that. If having an expert show you the ropes isn't a possibility, we recommend waiting until there's another vehicle crossing at the same time. This way, help will not be too far away should you need it.

F208 River Crossing

Weather Conditions on F208 in the Icelandic Highlands

Like the rest of the country, weather conditions in the Icelandic Highlands can change very quickly. The best way to handle this is to check the local weather forecast in Iceland regularly. If you see that there's a storm coming or that there is heavy rain forecast, consider delaying your journey by a day. Iceland's climate is harsh, and you definitely wouldn’t want to attempt driving F208 in less-than-favorable weather conditions.

Make sure to check the weather forecast before you set out, so you’ve got the best chance of enjoying the wonderful views along road F208 in Iceland on a clear day.

Experience the Magic of Iceland’s Highland For Yourself!

Ready to go on an adventure to the Icelandic Highlands? You can experience the magical and otherworldly landscapes of road F208 and the other F-roads in Iceland’s mountainous region for yourself on your very own Iceland vacation.

Why not check out some affordable and reliable rental cars in Iceland to get started with planning your once-in-a-lifetime trip? Who’s excited? We definitely are!