Thinking about driving the Iceland Ring Road?

Westfjords - Breidavik ring road

Driving the Iceland Ring Road is the new driving route 66 in the USA. For one it actually exists. As you circumnavigate our stunning islands your breath will be taken away by the incredible mountains, waterfalls and sweeping landscapes you come across. It’s self drive heaven, so organise your playlist, make a list of pit stops and get going.

How fast can you drive the Iceland Ring Road?

If you really wanted to you could drive the Iceland ring road in about 15 – 17 hours, but it would be unsafe, and no fun. We recommend at least a week, but if you can take longer then do! It just means more beautiful photo shoots and picnic spots for you!

Whilst planning your self drive adventure there’s a few things to bear in mind;

Whilst the speed limit on the main roads in Iceland is 90kph (and 50kph in urban areas) there is no way you will manage this. So don’t get frustrated, plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time incase you encounter things like this;

Before leaving your accommodation be sure to look on and to check the roads are open and clear, as well as the weather forecast. Sometimes even the Iceland ring road can be closed totally, though it is rare. You will probably arrive in the country in Reykjavik, where the weather can be a lot milder than the north.

Some of the most incredible locations you want to visit can’t be accessed straight from the ring road, and may involve a long hike. Be aware; just because a hike is short in distance doesn’t mean it will be short in time. Besides, you don’t want to be rushed, take time to enjoy the incredible views, or give your self time to have a nap in the car whilst a rain storm passes through.

There are entire, gorgeous, regions that are no where near the ring road at all for instance the Westfjords. Even if you feel that you can drive all night – and in the summer the midnight sun makes that really easy – know that towns and petrol stations are spread out, and many shops don’t have long opening hours. When you are in the towns take the chance to fuel up, stock up on snacks, and use the bathrooms – please don’t go in the wild!

Westfjords - Breidavik Iceland's ring road article
Some of the most stunning places are found off Iceland’s Ring Road

The Iceland Ring Road, route 1, is suitable for all vehicles however you’ll need spiked tires in winter, so check that option when you rent a car. You should also be aware that the centre of the interior of the country, called the highlands, is largely impassable for most of the year. Even when it is accessible the roads on it – called F roads – can be very challenging to drive on. A 4×4 is mandatory and most rental companies only allow a couple of specific vehicles to drive on them. Even a standard 4×4 may not be up to the job; the roads are extremely variable, with huge whole in and sometimes you’ll have to cross rivers.

If you are interested in visiting the highlands why no book a tour with us? We will take great care of you, whilst taking all of the stress out of visiting the highlands.

How many kilometres is Iceland’s Ring Road?

At 1330km the most basic loop of the Iceland Ring Road is a fair way, but most people will want to divert along the Snaefellsnes peninsular, in the west of the country at the very least. It is a gorgeous area and worth a trip in it’s own right. Even if you decide not to do the full circle this is a lovely addition to route one. It has a glacier on top of a volcano – so huge it is visible from Reykjavik on a clear day, stunning waterfalls, and the possibility of spotting orca from the northern coast of it. If you add this extra diversion it will bring your trip up to about 1600km.

The roads will be pretty clear from traffic, but please don’t just stop randomly if you want to take a photo, and also don’t pull onto random land. It will be owned by someone, and driving on the ancient most is illegal. Stopping in the road can cause accidents too so drive a little further and there will be a pull in.

A lot of the bridges on the ring road are single lane, so these will slow you down, as may rock falls on the road. Please keep an eye out for road signs. Other things to look out for are reindeer, especially in the south east, if they are near roads it will be mentioned on the twitter, and sheep during the summer. Sheep roam freely across the landscape and because there is so little traffic will often sit on roads. Be especially aware if the sheep have lambs, if the mother is on one side of the road and the lamb is on the other they may dart across in front of you, injuring themselves, or causing you to crash. If you do hit a sheep in Iceland please report it to the police do not just drive off!

We hope you have a wonderful time driving the Iceland Ring Road. Let us know your favourite places!

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