Ring Road Tours

Ring Road Tours

Iceland's Ring Road, also known as Route 1, circles the entire island, making it perfect for travelers looking to explore the country. Experience the adventure of the Ring Road.
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Rhonda Wylie

Rhonda Wylie

26/09/2023, 12:20
Review of 9-Day Northern Lights Self-Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road with Waterfalls & Hot Springs

I recently had the privilege of embarking on a breathtaking journey through the stunning landscapes of Iceland, and I cannot express how truly remarkable this trip was. From the moment I set foot in this land of fire and ice, I was utterly captivated by its beauty and unique charm. Our adventure began in Reykjavik, a vibrant and welcoming city that perfectly blends modernity with a rich cultural heritage. We explored its colorful streets, and even had the chance to soak in the world-famous Blue Lagoon, an otherworldly experience that set the tone for the rest of our trip. One of the highlights of our Iceland journey was the Golden Circle tour. This full-day excursion took us to three incredible destinations. First, the awe-inspiring Geysir geothermal area, where we witnessed the powerful eruptions of Strokkur, a moment of nature's grandeur frozen in time. Next, the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, whose cascading waters left us in awe of the Earth's raw power. Finally, the historic Thingvellir National Park, where we walked between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, truly feeling the earth's constant transformation beneath our feet. Our journey continued along the stunning South Coast, where we encountered black sand beaches, towering waterfalls, and glaciers that seemed to stretch to infinity. The breathtaking Seljalandsfoss waterfall allowed us to walk behind the cascading water curtain, a moment of sheer wonder. The nearby Skogafoss waterfall was equally impressive, and the panoramic views from the top of its staircase were breathtaking. I highly suggest spending as MUCH time as possible on the South Coast! It's remarkable! Exploring the otherworldly landscapes of Vatnajokull National Park was another unforgettable experience. We ventured into the icy heart of the park and marveled at the mesmerizing blue hues of the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The boat tour amidst the floating icebergs was a surreal and serene experience, making us feel like explorers in a distant, untouched world. Our local guides were knowledgeable, passionate, and eager to help throughout our journey. My Iceland trip was an adventure of a lifetime, a journey that left me with memories I will cherish forever. If you're seeking a destination that will both awe and inspire, I wholeheartedly recommend embarking on your own Icelandic adventure. This is a place where the natural world reigns supreme, where every turn offers a new and astounding vista, and where the magic of this extraordinary land is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Ring Road in Iceland?

The Ring Road, also known as Route 1, is a circular highway that circles the entire island of Iceland. It spans approximately 828 miles (1,332 kilometers) and connects most of the country's major towns and attractions, making it an ideal route for a comprehensive Icelandic road trip.

Is it possible to travel the Ring Road during the Icelandic winter?

Yes, the Ring Road is well maintained and is open for travel all year round. Before heading out on the Ring Road during winter, it is wise to check the weather and road conditions. Self-drive tours are an excellent way to explore Iceland in a rental car of your own, without all the stress and hassle of arranging every detail of your trip. Between November and March, Icelandic law requires all cars to be fitted with winter tires. Both winter and summer self-drive tours and vacation packages are available.

Do I need a 4x4 vehicle to travel the Ring Road in Iceland?

The Ring Road is well maintained and it is possible to drive all cars on the Ring Road, from small rental cars to larger transport, such as four-wheel-drive SUVs or buses. Please be aware that while 2WD vehicles will suffice in the summer, driving a 4x4 during the winter is highly recommended. Also, make sure to check road conditions before heading out on the road during winter.

What is the speed limit on the Ring Road in Iceland?

The maximum speed for cars traveling along the Ring Road is 55 miles/hour (90 km/hour). However, there are places along the route where the speed limit is lower. Please adhere to speed limit signs along the route and adapt to road conditions.

Are all of Iceland’s natural attractions found along the Ring Road?

No, not all of the attractions in Iceland can be found along the Ring Road, some are in isolated locations in the remote Highlands. But there are definitely enough natural attractions along the Ring Road for an adventure-filled road trip around the country.

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

It is possible to drive the Ring Road in about 15-17 hours, though this doesn’t take into account stopping at all the fantastic attractions and natural wonders en route. With that in mind, it is recommended to spend at least one week and preferably more than 10 days driving the Ring Road to give you enough time to take in the sights along the road.

Which is the best direction to travel around the Ring Road in Iceland?

The more popular direction is to head south first along the Golden Circle route which will then take you towards Iceland's South Coast. Going in that direction will take you to Iceland's most popular destinations first before heading to the more remote East Fjords. However, it is entirely up to you which direction to go.

What major towns and cities in Iceland does the Ring Road pass through?

Naturally, the Ring Road passes through Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, as well as the unofficial “capital of the north”, Akureyri. Other settlements en route include Hofn, Hveragerdi, Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Borgarnes, Selfoss, Egilsstadir, and Vik. Most of these towns have guided day trips that allow travelers to experience activities in the area around the town.

What are the main attractions along the Ring Road?

Some of the main attractions along the Ring Road include the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Skogafoss waterfall, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Mount Vestrahorn, Asbyrgi canyon, and many more.

Is it possible to camp along the Ring Road in Iceland?

Yes, though you must stick to designated campsites, many of which can be found in towns and villages by the Ring Road. Note that camping in the wild in Iceland is illegal and also that many campsites are only open during the summer months.

Are there gas stations and convenience stores along the Ring Road in Iceland?

Yes, the towns and villages on the route will have at minimum a convenience store and petrol station. However, there can be great distances between towns, so planning ahead is essential.

Should I drive the Ring Road even in bad weather?

Before heading out on the road in bad weather in Iceland, make sure to check road conditions to estimate the level of danger on the Ring Road. Do not drive unless you are comfortable in your ability to do so.

Can you drive Iceland's Ring Road in a week?

Yes, driving the Ring Road in one week is very much doable with plenty of stopping for attractions along the way. It all depends on how much time you have and how much driving you are willing to do each day. Five days on the Ring Road is the bare minimum and could make you feel rushed, but two weeks gives you a lot of time to explore and go your own way.

Is the Ring Road the same as the Golden Circle?

No, the Golden Circle is a fairly short route with three of Iceland's most popular attractions along the way which can be finished in one day out of Reykjavik. The 'Ring Road' is a nickname for Iceland's Route 1, which is a national road that circles the entire island and takes at least one week to drive, with stops along the way.

What is the best time of year to travel the Ring Road in Iceland?

The best time to travel the Ring Road depends on your preferences and interests. Summer (June to August) offers the most favorable weather conditions, longer daylight hours, and greater accessibility to attractions.

However, winter (December to February) can provide unique experiences, such as the Northern Lights and snow-covered landscapes. Renting a 4x4 vehicle is recommended as certain roads may be closed or difficult to navigate due to snow and ice.

Can I see the northern lights during a Ring Road tour?

The northern lights are visible in Iceland during winter, typically between late September and early April. The chances of seeing the aurora depend on several factors, including solar activity, weather conditions, and the absence of light pollution. Traveling the Ring Road during the winter can increase your chances of witnessing this natural phenomenon, as you will have access to various locations with minimal light pollution.

Can I rent a campervan for a Ring Road tour in Iceland?

Yes, you can rent a campervan in Iceland for your Ring Road tour. Renting a campervan allows you to travel at your own pace and create a custom itinerary. Be sure to book your rental well in advance, especially during the high season, and familiarize yourself with Iceland's driving regulations and road conditions. Remember to always park your campervan at a designated campsite before going to sleep.

What are the main driving rules and regulations on the Ring Road in Iceland?

Some important driving rules to keep in mind include:

1. Drive on the right side of the road.

2. Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers.

3. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05% - it is recommended to avoid drinking and driving altogether.

4. Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited unless using a hands-free device.

5. Observe posted speed limits, which are typically 90 km/h (56 mph) on paved roads and 80 km/h (50 mph) on gravel roads.

6. Keep headlights on at all times, even during daylight hours.

7. Off-road driving is strictly prohibited and can result in heavy fines.

Are guided Ring Road tours available in Iceland?

Yes, there are multiple guided Ring Road tours available that are mostly focused on photography in Iceland. This 10 day photography tour of the complete Ring Road includes an expert photography guide that helps you get the best out of your camera in Iceland, whether you're an amateur photographer or more experienced.

What type of accommodations can I expect along the Ring Road in Iceland?

Accommodations along the Ring Road are diverse, ranging from hotels, guesthouses, hostels and cottages. Booking accommodations in advance is recommended, particularly during the high season.

Is it safe to drive the Ring Road in Iceland?

Driving the Ring Road is generally safe if you adhere to Icelandic driving laws, stay informed about weather conditions, and drive cautiously, especially in remote regions.

Do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive the Ring Road in Iceland?

While an IDP is not mandatory for all visitors, car rental agencies require a valid driver's license written in the Latin alphabet. If your license is not in English or does not use the Latin alphabet, obtaining an IDP is advisable to avoid any issues.

Is there mobile phone coverage along the Ring Road in Iceland?

Mobile phone coverage is generally good along the Ring Road, especially in towns and populated areas. However, there may be some remote stretches with limited or no coverage. It is advisable to download offline maps and inform someone of your travel plans in case of an emergency.

Are there any specific safety tips for driving on the Ring Road?

When driving on the Ring Road, keep these safety tips in mind:

1. Be cautious of single-lane bridges and give way to oncoming traffic as necessary.

2. Watch out for wildlife, such as sheep or reindeer, which may wander onto the road.

3. Be prepared for sudden changes in road conditions, such as transitioning from paved to gravel surfaces.

4. Use designated parking areas and pullouts when stopping to enjoy the scenery or take photographs.

5. Be aware of other road users, including cyclists and slower-moving vehicles.