- This article is an itinerary.
Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, is the main highway in Iceland, connecting most of the towns, including Reykjavík.
Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, is the major highway in Iceland, connecting most of the towns, including Reykjavík, the capital and only major city. It is 1,332 km (828 mi) long and goes through the fjords, mountains, plateaus and flat land. Because Route 1 is the only road connecting east to west in Iceland, travelers should take precautions when crossing the country. The road is now (after a routing change in East Iceland) almost completely paved with a single remaining gravel section on the shores of Berufjörður fjord in East Iceland, between the towns of Djúpivogur and Breiðdalsvík. Akureyri to Egilsstaðir is regarded as the most remote part of the Ring Road and commonly closed at times in winter. The roads are in good condition so getting around the country safely is an easy task in the summer time. For traveling along the Ring Road you should reserve at least 5 days.
Some of the sights listed in this itinerary are part of a smaller ring route, so called Golden circle, a day trip from Reykjavík.
For visitors from abroad, there are in practice two ways for getting in. If you wish to bring your own vehicle, Smyril Line has a weekly sailing from Hirtshals, Denmark to Seyðisfjörður at the eastern end of the country. Otherwise, fly into Keflavík International Airport like most visitors do, and rent one there.
Of course if that vehicle is a bicycle, it can probably be transported on board your plane for an extra fee.
There are many videos on YouTube that can prepare you well for a road trip around Iceland. If you're too lazy to watch them, just know this: whenever you come upon something unexpected, slow down. Or maybe even stop.
In case you have Internet access while traveling, it is worth checking the website of the Icelandic Road Administration. It provides detailed information about overall road conditions, temperature, wind speed and direction and the traffic density almost in real time and also history for the past 48 hours.
More detailed weather information, including the forecast, issued warnings and Aurora borealis forecast is available at the Icelandic Meteorological Office website.
Distances are larger than you'd think, population density is lower than you'd think (Fresno has more inhabitants than all of Iceland and most Icelanders live in or near Reykjavik) and while Icelanders in general are helpful, getting stranded with an empty tank or a flat is not a pleasant experience.
Map stops are located around the country to assist tourists with nearby landmarks and local maps. Information about road signs, current traffic conditions, and a detailed road map can be found at the Iceland Traffic Council .
If you plan on driving outside the Route 1-Ring Road be sure to know what you are doing. Using under-equipped cars on bad roads can turn ugly very fast. Rental car companies also only allow you to drive mountain roads (F numbers) if you rent a 4x4 car suitable for these roads. Driving on F roads with a regular rental car is dangerous, can result in substantial damage to the car as well as hefty fines by the rental company. Any off-road driving is strictly forbidden in Iceland!
- Highway Emergency: 112
- Road conditions: +354 563-1500
- Search and Rescue: +354 570-5900
Being a ring road, there is no "beginning" or "end" but many worthwhile sidetrips are just off the ring towards the interior or coast. Signage is not always great and usually in Icelandic so a good map and GPS come in handy.