The Highlands of Iceland are a sparsely inhabited plateau that cover most of the interior of Iceland. They are situated above 400–500 metres and are mostly an uninhabitable volcanic desert, because the water precipitating as rain or snow infiltrates so quickly into the ground that it is unavailable for plant growth.
The Highlands can be crossed only during the Icelandic summer. For the rest of the year the highland roads are closed. The best known highland roads are Kaldidalur, Kjölur and Sprengisandur. Most highland roads require four-wheel drive vehicles, because it is necessary to cross rivers. However, the Kjölur route can easily be traversed in an ordinary car and is therefore one of the more popular highland roads. Off-road driving is forbidden entirely in Iceland where there is no snow, including the Highlands, to protect the environment.
Most of the numerous glaciers,such as Vatnajökull, Langjökull and Hofsjökull, are also part of the Icelandic Highlands. Vegetation is only found on the shores of the glacier rivers. There is also the danger of glacier runs. Some of the most interesting parts of Iceland with volcanic activity are to be found in the Highlands, such as Landmannalaugar and the region around Askja and Herðubreið.