Iceland - Ring Road

Iceland - Ring Road

There are some upcoming blog posts about our amazing trip on the Ring Road. Since it was a long trip and there were a lot of different sites on the way, I'm going to split that up to a couple of individual blog posts. This series is about our absolutely brilliant roadtrip on the ...

... Ring Road!

The Ring Road - It's the capital road in Iceland that goes around the whole island. Except for a small part it is paved, and worth a road-trip. Going by bike is clearly not recommended - although you will encounter some poor souls, you are constantly on the main road next to busses and tourists in cars. Also the weather conditions are not favorable for biking: Constant wind and frequent rain showers make your days on the bike hard.

A road trip on the other hand is nice. And there are a lot of places you should go on the trip.

Getting started

Best starting point is Reykjavik. Most of the travelers will anyways start from there, because Keflavík the only international airport in Iceland. If you come with your own car then Seyðisfjörður might also be a starting point, because of it's ferry connection with Denmark and the Faroe Islands. This story is about our starting point Reykjavik, you can adapt it to your needs if you're starting from Seyðisfjörður (and there's nothing wrong with that!)

We have been renting a car for about 10 days which was nice but not cheap. Also if possible book your car well before you go there, that saves you lots of trouble and precious travel time. In general I have the following recommendations

  • Plan your trip well ahead
  • Book your car well ahead (3 months is safe, 1 month is possible everything later could become tricky*)
  • If you stay at the Ringroad and it's main branches, you won't need a 4-wheel drive
  • Drive peacefully

* a friend of mine was able to book the car on the spot. I call it a lucky shot, although it was proof that it is possible. Decide for yourself if you want to have that or rather be safe 🙂

Planning your trip

Plan your trip well ahead of time, that safes you trouble. Book your car before you go there.

Although the ring road is well marked, you might consider getting your own GPS or navigational system with you. Since most cars have a power-plug, a not-too-old smartphone with offline maps (I recommend OsmAnd, but you can take whatever you like) works fine. Don't pay the additional fee for a navigational system but get a backup that doesn't depend on electricity (classical maps are awesome). Also: Driving around in Iceland will probably not challenge your navigational skills if you stay on the Ringroad 😉

The Ringroad is mostly paved - In the east there was (or is?) a small section of gravel road, but all of it is easily accessible with a normal 2-wheel drive. They will explicitly tell you to avoid the F-Roads (which are more adventurous roads) where you will need 4-wheel drive but I'm not going to cover that. If you're want to go on a Ringroad-road-trip, then avoid F-roads at all costs.

When going to pick up your car, take your time: Check your car before you go and make pictures of small damages. Because some people go on gravel roads, small bunks can not be excluded, and you want to document them. Do it properly, it safes you trouble. Also ask for gas discounts cards, as some car rental services have such cards for you.

On the road, drive peacefully. First because there are a lot of animals on and besides the roads. Farmers will let you pay if you hit their animals. Second: The roads are in good shape but the surroundings are not car-friendly. Also: Enjoy your trip. You're not on a race 🙂

So, in a nutshell, those are my recommendations based on our experience

  • Plan your trip and book the car at least 3 months before
    • Plan the places you want to visit. We used the the Lonely Planet book about Iceland, but there is plenty of good literature
    • Plan the accommodations. We used the Camping Card. I wrote a blog post about getting the locations of the Camping Card for your navigation/smartphone
  • Have a look at other travel blogs, what they write about Iceland
    I especially recommend I heart Reykjavik, a blog that I still follow
  • Going to restaurants is in general very expensive, so you might consider camping food style
    • Bring your camping cooking equipment, but buy the gas on the Island itself. Most gas stations sell camping gas
  • Bring offline maps or your smartphone but don't pay the navigational system offered by some car rental services
    • I recommend OsmAnd but any other OpenStreetMap based offline app will do the job
  • Plan a day or two buffer. You might want to enjoy some places a bit more 🙂
    • Or you cannot visit a place because of shitty weather
  • The weather changes A LOT
  • Gas stops might be long away from each other. In peripheral areas pump gas ahead of time
  • Road bridges are in general one lane only, but it works just fine
  • Drive peacefully, there are animals all over the place
  • Part of the Ringroad is gravel. Not much, not a problem, but be aware of it
  • The trip is gonna be amazing!

Stay in touch, more posts about our trip with recommendations and know-abouts are on the way.

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