The Ring Road
Route 1 or the Ring Road is a national road in Iceland that circles the entire country. As a major trunk route, it is considered to be the most important piece of transport infrastructure in Iceland as it connects the majority of towns together in the most densely populated areas of the country.
How long is the Ring Road:
The total length of the road is 1,322 kilometers (821 mi).
What to except to see:
Many popular tourist attractions in Iceland, such as the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, the Black sand beach, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, as well as Mývatn lake, Dettifoss and Goðafoss waterfalls in the north are easily accessible from the Ring Road. The road passes through almost all areas of the country except for the Westfjords, making it a popular journey to take for tourists in Iceland.
Road quality, driving and dangers:
The Ring Road is paved for all of its length and is mostly two lanes wide. The Icelandic Road Administration, Vegagerðin, oversees the maintenance and operation of the Ring Road. The road is generally of good quality, recent road improvement projects have improved safety considerably. However the road still has hazards, going over many higher-altitude mountain passes in all parts of the country, which can have steep gradients and sharp curves, as well as blind curves and summits and single-lane bridges, especially in the more rural east of the country.
The speed limit is 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) on open sections; 70 kilometers per hour (43 mph) in tunnels and 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph) through urban areas. A few speed cameras operate on roads just outside of Reykjavík and in all tunnels.
In more rural parts of the country, mostly in the glacial plains of the south and the Eastfjords, 32 single-lane bridges exist on the Ring Road. Dating back to the original construction of the road in the 1970s, they are sometimes constructed of wood or steel. Vehicles who approach the bridge first have the right of way. These are often narrow and long, making passing difficult, especially when there is high traffic.
Driving in winter one must take special precautions and pre-check driving conditions with the Icelandic Road Administration to ensure the road is passable.
Route 1 has the highest priority for snow removal from the Icelandic Road Administration and is serviced 7 days a week during the winter, with teams keeping the road open as weather allows Conditions are monitored 24/7 and relayed to the public through their website and telephone helpline. During extreme weather it may take hours until the weather calms down to open the road, or for maintenance teams to clear the road of snow after major snowfalls.