Driving Iceland’s Ring Road

Ring Road, Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    The Ring Road in Iceland, also known as Route 1 and Highway 1, is top priority for those planning to see the country by campervan or car. It’s Iceland’s main freeway and loops the island in a full circle. This road passes by the most popular tourist attractions including the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the Skógafoss waterfalls, and the Dyrhólaey cliffs.

    In this blog, we’ll answer your questions about the Iceland Ring Road, and provide suggestions on some of the very best places to see on Route 1. 

    Iceland Ring Road FAQs

    If you're planning a road trip to Iceland, it’s likely you’ll end up on the Ring Road, whether you’re doing the full circle or a shorter trip. 

    Got questions about Iceland’s ring road? We’ve got the answers.

    How long is the Ring Road in Iceland?

    The Ring Road in Iceland is 825 miles long (1328 Kilometers). That’s the equivalent of driving the length of the UK from Penzance at the Southernmost tip of England to John O’Groats in Scotland. Or in the United States, driving from Boston, MA to Charlotte, NC. 

    How long does it take to drive the Iceland Ring Road?

    The Ring Road is Iceland’s most famous road. So, the question of "how long it takes to drive the Ring Road?" is not unusual whatsoever. Driving the Ring Road in Iceland takes between seven and ten days. If you’re planning on only driving part of it, five days should be enough.

    There is so much to see across Iceland, the more time you spend travelling, the better. You don’t want to miss out on any of this country’s amazing natural beauty because you didn’t leave enough time!

    Is it safe to drive the Ring Road in Iceland in winter? 

    Yes, driving the Ring Road in Iceland is safe during winter, but be prepared for more changeable weather. It’s a good idea to check the weather and road conditions before setting off each day. 

    During summer, Iceland’s midnight sun means extra sunlight, so there’s plenty of time for additional driving and sightseeing. Many people choose the summer months to travel the Road Road for this reason. 

    Driving the Ring Road, Iceland

    Is it better to drive clockwise or anticlockwise on the Iceland Ring Road?

    You can drive clockwise or anticlockwise on the Iceland Ring Road. It’s a giant ring, so you’ll end up seeing everything eventually. 

    Many people choose to start with the Golden Circle before heading in either direction; clockwise or anticlockwise.

    Are there campsites along Iceland’s Ring Road?

    Yes, there are many campsites along Iceland’s Ring Road. Iceland Ring Road camping can be inexpensive, and many sites are open all year round

    Things to See on Iceland’s Ring Road

    Iceland is the perfect size for a road trip vacation, with stunning scenery and an abundance of historical sites. 

    Thinking of exploring Iceland by campervan or car? Read on for our top things to see and do while driving the Ring Road.

    Arrive in Reykjavík

    Arrive in Reykjavík by plane or ferry and explore the city before picking up your campervan or motorhome.

    Iceland’s capital city is home to just 233,000 people. Despite being a small city, it’s full of exciting and beautiful attractions that you can enjoy all year round

    Take a dip in The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. Its waters are rich in silica and sulfur, which helps to remedy dry skin and other skin ailments. Guests can enjoy a free face mask made from the silica mud at the edges of the pool. 

    Immerse yourself in Icelandic art and culture by visiting one of the many museums and galleries. Some great examples are the Einar Jonsson Museum and the Asmundur Museum. There are also many outdoor sculptures and street arts to enjoy across the city. Keep your eyes peeled! 

    The Ring, Iceland

    Visit the Golden Circle

    Pick up your campervan and head for the Golden Circle. This 190-mile route takes you to three of Iceland’s most popular natural attractions; Thingvellir National Park, the geothermal area of Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall.

    Thingvellir National Park is full of dramatic cliffs, flowing rivers, and deep gorges. It has been carved by nature herself over thousands of years! That’s due to the area being located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

    The Geysir geothermal area is full of hot-springs and geysers. The most famous geyser is Geysir, from which all geysers get their name. Geysir is currently inactive, but don’t worry because its neighbor, Strokkur, goes off every five to ten minutes. It shoots a column of boiling water up to heights of 130 feet! 

    Gullfoss, also known as The Golden Falls, is one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Watch in awe as water plummets 105 feet over two tiers into the river gorge below. Gullfoss can be enjoyed during winter with the Northern Lights floating in the skies above. Even in summer, when an almost permanent rainbow appears.

    Iceland Ring Road: Golden Circle

    Explore South Iceland

    Seljalandsfoss waterfall is the most photographed waterfall in Iceland, and for good reason. It’s an impressive natural feature with a 60-meter drop. The cliff behind the waterfall has a wide cavern, enabling tourists to walk a path around and behind it. Be prepared to get a little damp though as it’s very misty!

    Take a break and visit the fishing village of Vík to walk along the famous black sand beach. Game of Thrones fans might recognize this beach from the show. It was used a number of times in scenes North of the Wall. 

    The Dyrhólaey rock formation is close to Vík and provides breathtaking views. Those who are brave enough to climb up it will be blessed with views of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the Reynisdrangar black lava sea stacks, and an endless black coastline.

    Vatnajokull National Park is home to the mammoth sized glacier, Vatnajökull. This glacier is so big it takes up nearly 8% of Iceland’s land mass. The national park is popular with hikers, people wanting to try ice caving or a boat tour in the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

    South Iceland by the Ring Road

    Explore North Iceland

    Visit the delightful town of Akureyri in North Iceland. It’s considered the capital of the North and home to the Arctic Botanical Garden. Entry is free, making it a great choice for budget travelers.

    Continue to follow the Ring Road and visit Skagafjörður, a deep and impressive fjord. Alternatively, take a detour and follow the coastal road to Tröllaskagi, also known as Troll Peninsula. This area of Iceland has the most extraordinary mountainscapes in the country. With its stoic mountains, crashing sound of the waves, and clear winter skies; it’s truly a sight to behold. 

    Driving the Ring Road, Iceland

    Explore West Iceland

    If you’re interested in Viking history, visit the living museum of Eiríksstaðir. Visitors are invited to join the museum’s guides and storytellers and learn about 10th century Viking life.

    If nature is your thing, then it’s recommended you visit the fishing village of Stykkishólmur. You can enjoy panoramic views over the Breiðafjörður Bay.

    A short detour from the Ring Road will land you in the Snæfellsjökull National Park at the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It’s well known for its astonishing birdlife, lava fields and plush, green valleys. The scenery in this part of Iceland inspired the writer, Jules Verne, to write his well-known book ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. 

    Iceland Ring Road driving

    Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

    There is so much to see and do on the Iceland Ring Road. So, getting some Ring Road trip tips and recommendations from locals is always advisable. Luckily, we have prepared some itinerary ideas just for you:

    • 3 Days in Iceland: Explore Reykjavík and the Golden Circle.
    • 5 Days in Iceland: Take in the beauty of the Golden Circle and South Iceland.
    • 7 Days in Iceland: Visit the Golden Circle and South Iceland before you take a detour and traverse North Iceland. 
    • 10 Days in Iceland: With a whole ten days, you’ll be able to see everything the Iceland Ring Road has to offer! Take your time and enjoy the ride.

    Driving Iceland’s Ring Road Is Easy!

    Now we’ve answered your most frequently asked questions about driving the Ring Road, and shared our top tips on where to go; it’s time to book your campervan!

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