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A Local's Ring Road Tips

Verified Local


Dettifoss waterfall is often nicknamed 'the Beast' for its colossal size.

The Icelandic Ring Road, 'Route' 1, encircles Iceland, allowing travellers to drive all the way around the country. It is a popular itinerary for many visiting Iceland whether they choose to follow the road clockwise or anti-clockwise. You might have questions about this journey before you travel to Iceland; here are some answers you might have been looking for.

Stay away from alcohol. There is a strict zero tolerance for drink driving in Iceland and you should not get behind the wheel should you suspect there to be any alcohol in your system. Do not drink alcohol on your flight and carefully consider your fitness to drive if you have been drinking the night before.

Don't panic over fuel. There are regular fuel stops in most parts of the country and often warning signs if there is a large distance between. In areas such as the Westfjords, the Highlands, and the Eastfjords, you should be aware of what is left in your tank. Gas stations accept most credit cards and some debit cards.

Google maps work very well and the time estimates are pretty much on the mark.

A Local's Ring Road Tips

Restaurants are expensive but not crazy expensive. A really good fresh fish dinner outside Reykjavik usually cost around 30-40 EUR, which is not that far off from many big city prices. Beer is about 6-8 EUR and a glass of wine is around 10 EUR.

Most of the Ring Road and Snaefellsness is paved but there are sections which are gravel roads. In general, even the gravel roads are very driveable, albeit, at a slower speed, 2WD cars can handle them quite well. Gravel chips will hit your car quite often, so Gravel Insurance is highly recommended. Most of the Westfjord roads are gravel and a bit bumpier.

  • Find Snæfellsnes tours here.

Do take care of the sheep. They sit on the side of the road staring at you, and sometimes they just decide to cross the road when you are approaching! If you come across sheep on the road, reduce your speed and toot your horn until they pass.

Sheep can often be encountered on the roads, beware!

Single lane small bridges are common and allow only one car can pass at a time. Reduce speed accordingly and allow the car who reaches first to cross. Many are humpback bridges so take extra care as you may not be able to see approaching traffic immediately.

Check wind forecasts before going to waterfalls, so if the particular one you’d like to see has access from both sides you can avoid the side with the spray coming towards you. This applies especially to Dettifoss! You can check the weather here.

Picnic sites will often have portable public toilets. They are very clean and most even have running water and soap. You might want to leave a few coins in the donation box to help with their upkeep.

Please please please do not jump over No Entry signs at popular locations. Not only will you most likely damage the local habitat but your cliche hair-thrown-back Instagram pose in front of a waterfall is not appreciated by anyone else trying to take a decent photo while sticking to the rules.

The Mývatn region in the North of Iceland is packed with beautiful natural features.

Icelanders are very polite pleasant people who are usually only happy to help so if you find yourself lost, in trouble, or, simply in need of some advice, don't hesitate to ask.

We drove 3000km in 10-days, completing the Ring Road, plus a good chunk of the Westfjords and the Snaefellsness peninsula. It is doable and you will have time to see most of the sights along the way, although you won’t have hours to spend at each location of course.

  • Find more Self-Drive tours here.

It is possible to experience all 4 seasons in one day but you could also have consecutive days with continuous rain and low clouds swirling around you. We had 4-days of that, which was not ideal, so be prepared for that eventuality.

Most of all, drive carefully and enjoy the wonder and beauty of the wild and remote Icelandic countryside.

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