Information about Ring Road

Travelling the Ring Road presents many opportunities for aurora hunting in winter.

Iceland has one main road: Route 1, or the Icelandic Ring Road. This ring road goes all around the island and is 1,332 kilometres long (828 miles), allowing visitors to see all regions bar the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Perhaps most importantly, the road connects the capital, Reykjavík, to the second biggest city in Iceland, Akureyri, in the north of the country.

Other notable towns that are connected via the ring road are Borgarnes, Blönduós, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Vík, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Selfoss and Hveragerði.

Features on the Ring Road

The glacier lagoon is found just off of the Ring Road

A number of popular tourist attractions are also found by the ring road. In the south, drivers will pass the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss; the glaciers Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull; the black-sand-beach of Reynisfjara, and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

In the east, there is the largest forest in Iceland, Hallormsstaðaskógur, and the lake Lagarfljót, said to contain a monster, records for which date back centuries before the Loch Ness Monster.

In the north, the most notable features are Lake Mývatn and Goðafoss waterfall. In the west are many historical settlements and beautiful fjords.

History of the Ring Road

The road was completed in 1974, with the opening of Iceland's longest bridge, which crosses Skeiðará river in southeast Iceland. In 1998 a tunnel below the fjord Hvalfjörður shortened the drive around Iceland by about one hour and it offers a straight and easy alternative to a winding fjord.

The Hvalfjörður tunnel is the largest tunnel in Iceland, 5.8 kilometres (3.6 miles) long and an impressive 165 metres (541 feet) below sea level. The ring road has another tunnel called Almannaskarð in the southeast by Höfn, and the Vaðlaheiðar tunnel in north Iceland is due to open in the North Iceland which is set to shorten the drive from Akureyri to Húsavík by 16km.

In wintertime, most of the ring road is kept open, with the exception of a short passage in the eastern part of the country that may be closed due to heavy snow (a detour is needed to travel from the north to the east during wintertime).

Good to Know

The ring road consists mainly of paved two lanes road (one each direction). Some sections of the ring road are original 1940s country roads demanding caution when driving with features such as many sharp curves, blind curves, blind summits as well as single lane bridges.

The speed limit is 90km per hour on the paved section of the road (lower when it passes through towns), and 80km per hour on gravel.

The ring-road can be driven in a two-wheel-drive throughout the year, but it is highly recommended you rent a four-wheel-drive if travelling between October and May.

Guide to Iceland would advise people to drive cautiously on the ring road both in summer and wintertime, but also to explore other roads leading from it to multiple attractions. Be sure that if you want to stop to take a picture, make sure you have turned off into a safe parking area. Stopping on the Ring Road itself can be very dangerous for you and other travellers using it.

Services near Ring Road

All services in 50km radius

Attractions nearby Ring Road

The Geothermal Energy Exhibition

Photo from the Geothermal Exhibition The Geothermal Energy Exhibition is an interactive museum on Iceland’s volcanic processes at Hellisheið...

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Hellisheiðarvirkjun

The Hellisheidi Power Station is the largest geothermal powerstation in Iceland and the second-largest in the world. The power station is located by...

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Hellisheiði

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo Credit: ThinkGeoEnergy Hellisheiði is a lava plateau east of Reykavík, approximately 380 metres (1,247 ...

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Kristnitökuhraun

Kristnitökuhraun is a lava field to the west of Hellisheiði plateau in southwest Iceland. The lava field formed during an eruption in the ye...

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Þrengsli and Þrengslavegur

Þrengslavegur is a road in Iceland that connects Route 1 to the towns along the southern coastline, whereas Þrengsli is a picturesque...

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Reykjadalur

Reykjadalur, the Valley of Steam, is a beautiful geothermal region close to the southern town Hveragerði. It is a popular place for hiking and h...

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Raufarhólshellir

Photo from The Lava Tunnel | Raufarholshellir Caving Tour Raufarhólshellir is the fourth longest lava tube in Iceland at 1,360 metres (4,...

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Hengladalsá

Hengladalsa is a river in Southwest Iceland.  The river has its source by the Hengill area, from valleys Innstidalur, Middalur and Fremstidalur,...

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Hveragerði

Hveragerði is a town and municipality in the southwest of Iceland. It is often nicknamed ‘the Earthquake Town’ or ‘the Hot Spr...

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Nesjavallavirkjun

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Gretar Ivarsson. Nesjavallavirkjun is a geothermal power station in southwestern Iceland, operated by O...

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Nesjavellir

At the Nesjavellir geothermal area in Southwest Iceland, you’ll find Iceland’s second-largest geothermal power station. The Nesjavellir G...

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Arnarker

Arnarker is a 515 m (1,693 ft) long cave in the Leitarhraun lava field, north of the old road leading from Þrengsli towards Selvogur.  A...

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Þríhnúkagígur

Photo from Thrihnukagigar Volcano Tour Þríhnúkagígur is a dormant volcano in west Iceland, famous for its enormous magma c...

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Stóri-Bolli

Stori-Bolli is a crater south-east of Hafnarfjordur town about half an hour drive from Reykjavik. From this crater flowed the lava field Storabollahra...

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Þorlákshöfn

Þórlakshöfn is the main town of the Öfus district in South Iceland, located on the South Shore. It has a population of about ...

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Ingólfsfjall

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Bromr. Ingólfsfjall is a 551 metre (1807 feet) tall tuff mountain, named after the country&rsquo...

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Hafravatn

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo by Philipp Weigell Hafravatn is a lake on the outskirts of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík, in the ...

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Ölfus

  Olfus is a area in Arnessysla county, with its boundaries at Olfusa in the east and the Hellisheidi plateau in the west. The landscape of Ol...

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Hengill

Hengill is an enormous mountain in south-west Iceland, covering an area of about 100 square kilometres. It is a vital source of energy for south Ice...

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Heiðmörk

Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Credit: TommyZ Heiðmörk is a conservation area on the outskirts of Reykjavík, popular amongst locals and...

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