Marketers in Reykjanes, Snæfellsnes, the Westfjords and the far northeast of Iceland often complain that sticking to the ring road means you miss some of the country’s greatest pearls – and that is undeniably true. On the other hand, you also drive right through some of the country’s greatest pearls and it is an excellent first-time introduction to Iceland before you return to the country again, and again (hopefully).
There are already articles about the major attractions in South Iceland, East Iceland, North Iceland and West Iceland on this site, so we won’t dwell on them too much here. Suffice is to say simply that you won’t run short of things to see and do.
The same is very much true if you want to roam off Route 1 and explore the East Fjords, and if you want to save a thousand krónur by taking the beautiful old Hvalfjörður road instead of the much shorter tunnel.
Route 1 is considered the national highway and it is used by lorries carrying freight almost every day of the year. This means snow ploughing is top priority in the winter and the road will be open when others may be closed. Of course extreme weather can shut even Route 1 for short periods, so it is always best to check the road conditions before you set off. There are no such concerns in the summer though (stated with at least 90% certainty).
The road was finally completed in 1976 and these days most, although not all, of it is paved. The small remaining sections in the East are gravel. The speed limit is 90 km/h (80 on gravel) and the police are extremely hot on dishing out speeding tickets. Apparently about half of tickets issued are to foreign tourists, and they even chase speeders by helicopter, believe it or not...
Example: 8/9/10 Days Round Trip in Iceland
Day 1: Reykjavík - Hvalfjördur - Borgarnes - Hraunfossar - Bifröst - Hvammstangi (sleep around this city)
(+1/2/3/4 days Westfjords)
Day 2: Blönduós - Glaumbaer - Hófsos - Öxnadalur - Akureyri - Godafoss - Mývatn (sleep around the lake)
Day 3: Mývatn - Detifoss - Egilsstadir (sleep at Egilsstadir)
(+1/2 days Mývatn + Askja)
Day 4: Egilsstadir - Hengifoss - East fiords - Fáskrúdsfjördur - Hvalnes - Stafafell - Stokksnes - Höfn (sleep at Höfn)
Day 5: Höfn - Jökursárlon - Skaftafell (Sjónarnipa, Svartifoss) - Vík - Reynisfjara - Dyrhólaey - (sleep around Vík)
Day 6: Vík - Skogafoss - Seljalansfoss - Golden Circle (sleep around Fluðir)
(+1/2/3 days at Landmannalaugar)
Day 7: Fluðir - Krýsuvík - Blue Lagoon - Reykjavík (sleep at Reykjavík)
Day 8: at Reykjavík, shopping etc...
Berglind Rós, Iceland24