When you are doing your research for your journey around Iceland, you have encountered the name “The Ring road” quite often. So what is the Ring road aka Route nr:1 aka road nr:1?  Well, the short version is: It’s our “highway” that goes around the island.  Easy as that!

Fun on the Ring roadDriving the Ring road in the sunsetThe more detailed version is: It’s a paved road (most of the time) that goes around the greater part of Iceland, 1,332km/ (828 miles). It misses most of the fjords in East Iceland, does not include any parts of the northeast nor any of the peninsulas in the north. No part of the Ring road passes the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes peninsula is also excluded from the Ring road and maybe a third of the Golden circle is part of the Ring road.

The Ring road

Which way to choose to drive the Ring roadSo when you have decided to drive the whole Ring road, which way should you choose? Going straight north or starting with the south part? Well, you should let the weather decide for you. If it’s raining/snowing in the north, go south!

Driving the Ring road clockwiseIf you decide to take the northern route first, you just drive straight out of Reykjavik in an easterly direction. You don’t even have to turn until you get to Borgarnes. By that time, you have already driven an hour of the Ring road. There are not many turns at all on the Ring road. When you reach lake Mývatn, it doesn’t matter if you choose the southern or northern route but the southern route is much more picturesque. The north road is the part of the Ring road.

The ring road around Lake Mývatn


Driving on the south side of route nr:1Enjoying a road trip on the Ring roadIf you choose to only drive on the Ring road, you will miss out a lot of fantastic places. There are a few iconic places you will see if you only stick to the Ring road like a few black sand beaches and a few of our great waterfalls we have here but we do suggest you do you research, find out what you want to see or experience. If you have any questions, you can always mail our staff at rent@rent.is and ask away.  Life is only the adventure you want it to be in Iceland!

Camping along the Ring road

Camping along the Ring road

You will not have a problem finding campsites along the road nr:1. There are plenty of campsites around Iceland, Your problem is to choose!

Ring road campingCamping in Iceland might just be the safest place on earth to camp. Same goes for all the campsites along the Ring road. If you choose to come here during winter to camp in a camper van rental, you can safely do that too but then we do suggest you stay at any of the all year around campsites we have here, just to minimize the risk of getting snowed in in case you haven’t kept yourself up to date with the weather forecast.

To make sure you are up to date, we suggest you install these travel apps, especially the weather one and the safety app when traveling off season here.

The Ring road in the fallRead more: Open all year around campgrounds in Iceland

Camping off season by the Ring roadWhen venturing off the Ring road, you might want to try to camp in and around famous movie locations. You can find all the information you need in our blog post Camp like a boss. Why not recreate your own Hollywood movie while you are at it!  🙂

After this blog post was written, the latest Fast and the Furious has been added to famous movie locations here but that took place in the middle of the winter on Lake Mývatn so you can camp around the lake instead. There are several campsites to choose from.

VanLife on the Ring road

Speed limits on the Ring road

As Route nr:1 (ring road) goes through villages and towns, the speed limits vary from the lowest to the highest limits. You have to follow the road signs to know what the limits are. This is what the Road Traffic Dictorate of Iceland say:

The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50
km/h. Speed limit signs are not posted unless
other speed limits apply. The speed limit is often
60 km/h on through-ways. In residential areas
it is usually only 30 km/h. The rule of thumb in rural
areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit
of 80 km/h, and paved roads 90 km/h. 
Remember that, at times, the police can be very vigilant with speed cameras along the Ring road so keep your speed at legal levels.
To drive the Ring road

Gas stations on the Ring road

Part of the Ring roadThe gas stations in Iceland are your waterholes on the road. It’s where you fill up your Camper van, rinse off the dust, get food, ice cream, bath room breaks, even relax with locals for in small villages around Iceland, the local gas station often serves as a kind of community center.
CamperLife on the Ring roadMake sure you check out the billboards in these gas stations for there might be something going on in the village you would like to see or take part of. In 99% of all the stations, you can get the typical Icelandic hot dog too. Try to order one “með öllu” which means with all the condiments, a typical order. You can always get updates on road conditions, weather and what to expect ahead of you from the locals.

Bridges on the Ring road

Seljalandsfoss seen from the Ring roadSign for a single lane coming upThe are quite a few bridges along the Ring road and most of them are at least double lane bridges but there still are a few single lane bridges left. There are always signs (look to the right) telling you you are approaching a single lane bridge.
When you are closing in on one, lower your speed and make sure there are not any cars approaching you from the opposite side. No matter what, always slow down before passing a single lane bridge. If you see a car on the other/she arrived first, you pull to the right side and stop to give the passing car space to pass you. If you arrived first, the meeting car will stop on the other side to give you room to pass. Make sure you are 100% of his intentions before passing the bridge.
Sheep or other animals on the Ring road

Animals on the Ring road

CamperLife on the Ring roadIf you are on a road trip here between late spring to September, you will encounter sheep on the road. Everywhere! When spotting sheep on the road, slow down for they are very unpredictable little creatures and can suddenly just run over the road.
Rest stop on the Ring roadSheep roam free in Iceland and you can find them everywhere more or less. If you are unlucky to hit a sheep, by law, it is your duty to report it to the farmer and you might also be obliged to compensate for the animal.
Farmers might also herd their horses and cows over the road so take extra care when that happens.
On the east side, if you are lucky, you might run across a herd of reindeer. As with any creatures, take your time and drive carefully pass them.
Fun on the Ring road in Iceland
The Ring road is full of adventures and it changes in appearance all the time. If you want to take a picture somewhere along the way (and you will), make sure you park your camper van in a safe place and not just stopping in the middle of the road. Keep your speed and keep your eyes open for you are in for many, many amazing views.
Happy Camping!  #WohoCamper
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