Iceland is a country of stark contrast and natural beauty. From its towering mountains to its rugged coastline, there's no shortage of things to see and do in this Nordic nation.
One of the best ways to experience all that Iceland has to offer is by driving the country's famed Ring Road. In this blog post will share with you all you need to know to navigate the Ring Road in Iceland, along with the top seven stops along the way!
What is the Ring Road?
The Ring Road (or Route 1) is a 1,332-mile-long highway that encircles Iceland. It was built over the course of 40 years and completed in 1974. The Ring Road offers travelers unmatched access to some of Iceland's most popular tourist attractions, including the country's capital city of Reykjavik, the Golden Circle route, Lake Myvatn, and the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon.
Know Before You Go: Driving Tips for the Ring Road
• Renting a car or campervan is the best way to experience the Ring Road. Be sure to book your rental car in advance, as cars can be in high demand during peak travel season (June-August).
• The speed limit along the entire Ring Road is 55 mph, with some sections reduced to 35 mph or less. Marked speed limits are strictly enforced in Iceland, so be sure to obey them.
• There are gas stations located approximately every 30 miles along the Ring Road. Be sure to fill up your tank when you have the opportunity, as you may not always find an open gas station when you need one. Prices at gas stations can also be higher in rural areas, so it pays to stock up when you can.
• Road conditions can vary greatly depending on the time of year and weather conditions. Be sure to check local conditions before setting out on your journey, and take caution when driving in winter conditions.
• Ensure you have a valid driver's license and international driver's permit (if necessary). You'll also need proof of insurance when renting a vehicle in Iceland.
Top Seven Recommended Stops Along Iceland's the Ring Road:
7 - Plane Wreck on Solheimasandur Black Sand Beach
Solheimasandur is a black sand beach known for its plane wreck. According to history, In 1973, a US Navy DC airplane ran out of jet fuel and crashed on the Solheimasandur black sand beach. Luckily all passengers survived the crash, including the pilots!
If you want to reach the DC airplane wreckage, you need to hike there. The hike is a moderate to difficult hike, depending on weather conditions. However, the views of the surrounding landscape are worth the effort!
The trail's total distance (in and out) is under 5 miles or 8 kilometers.
Note: Ensure to check the weather forecast before heading out hiking. Also, It's a good idea to pack weatherproof gear as the weather in Iceland changes quickly. Last, don't forget to take snacks, water, and a functioning GPS.
Traveler Tip: Begin your hike early in the morning to avoid the crowds. The coordinates to reach the plane wreck are 63 27.546-19 21.887.
6 - The Blue Lagoon
The stunning Blue Lagoon is a naturally occurring geothermal spa in Iceland and a must-visit during your trip there! The lagoon is fed by water heated by volcanic activity deep underground. Furthermore, the surrounding rocks in the lagoon are rich in silica, giving the lagoon its famous blue color.
Visitors to the Blue Lagoon can enjoy various activities, including swimming, relaxing in the warm waters, and Mud Mask Therapy, which is said to help improve skin conditions. The cost to enter the Blue Lagoon starts at around $60; you can purchase tickets directly from the official website.
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland's most popular destinations, and it is well worth a visit if you are ever in the country!
5 - Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is one of Iceland's top-rated traveler destinations. The park is best known for being the site of the world's first democratically elected parliament, which met here from 930 AD to 1798 AD. Today, Thingvellir is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a popular hiking and camping destination.
4 - The Great Geysir
The Great Geysir is a hot spring that was once one of the most active geysers in the world. Although it hasn't erupted since 2016, its nearby neighbor Stokkur continues to erupt every six to ten minutes, shooting water up to 30 meters or more into the air! Geysir is located in Haukadalur valley, which is also home to several other hot springs and geothermal features.
3 - Vatnajökull National Park
Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, dominates Vatnajökull National Park. The park is home to various glaciers, mountains, lava fields, waterfalls, and many species of plants and animals. One of the most popular attractions in the park is Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon full of icebergs that have broken off from the Vatnajökull glacier.
2 - Hvítárvatn
Hvítárvatn is Iceland's largest lake and a prominent destination for many travelers. The lake is located in southwest Iceland, near Vatnajökull National Park. Hvítárvatn is renowned for its excellent fishing; it's commonly stocked with salmon and trout, making it a hotspot for anglers worldwide.
1 - Skógafoss
Skógafoss is one of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls. It's located on the Skógá River in south Iceland near Vatnajökull National Park. With a width of 25 meters and a height of 60 meters, Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. Visitors can trek to the top of the waterfall for an incredible view over south Iceland.
In summary, driving Iceland's Ring Road is one of the best ways to experience all this Nordic nation has. There's something for everyone along the way, from stunning landscapes to picturesque towns. Just be sure to rent a car in advance, obey all posted speed limits, and take caution when driving in winter conditions. With a bit of planning, you're sure to have an unforgettable road trip around Iceland!
Have you ever been to Iceland? What were you're favorite things to do and see there? Let us know in the comments below!