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Driving Iceland’s ring highway – clockwise or anti-clockwise?

Driving Iceland's ring road - clockwise or anti-clockwise?


A standard query for guests to Iceland is whether or not it’s greatest to drive Iceland’s Route 1 ring highway in a clockwise or anti-clockwise path. Whislt we didn’t really drive the complete ring on our journey (we most likely lined round one third of it), I did plan to at first so spent fairly a little bit of time researching this subject. I hope my findings will allow you to make an knowledgeable choice as to what route is greatest for you.

First issues first

Before tackling the query of whether or not to drive the ring highway in a clockwise or anti-clockwise path, I’d first pose the query as as to if you do certainly wish to cowl the complete route. It’s 1,317 kilometres and, if you’re restricted to solely every week or so, I’d significantly take a step again and take a look at the important thing stuff you wish to cowl. See my earlier put up which explains why we selected to not drive the complete ring highway with the time we had obtainable.

Many of Iceland’s primary points of interest are within the south and west of the nation and, because you’ll little doubt be arriving at Keflavik Airport, near the capital of Reykjavik, within the south-west of the nation, a lot of need you to see might be inside a number of hours’s drive of there. I perceive that you just may wish to see as a lot as potential however, in case your time is treasured and restricted, does it actually make sense to be spending a lot of that point in a automobile?

OK, so that you’ve thought of the above however nonetheless wish to drive the ring highway, however are usually not positive which means round to go? Read on!

Clockwise versus anti-clockwise

When you learn up on this topic, the consensus of opinion is to observe the route in an anti-clockwise path and there are a variety of causes for this. The first of those is that the Golden Circle is a logical start line, significantly for those who’re visiting for the primary time. It’s the place you’ll discover a few of Iceland’s most iconic points of interest such because the Geysir and Strokkur geysers.

There’s a complete host of issues to see and do within the Golden Circle however, no matter route you’re taking, assuming you don’t wish to come again on your self, you’ll discover quite a few routes are inclined to ‘spit you out’ in direction of the south. This is as a result of the tendency is to enter the Golden Circle through Route 35 from Reykjavik which takes you simply north of the Þingvallavatn rift valley lake and to get again through a round route tends to imply heading south to get round this lake.

Since you end up in direction of the south, the logical factor to do is to then discover the south coast alongside Route 1, thus initiating an anti-clockwise route alongside the primary ring highway. It’s most likely additionally no co-incidence that excursions that go all the best way round Iceland additionally have a tendency to decide on to go in an anti-clockwise path.

The different robust reasoning in favour of adopting an anti-clockwise path is that you just’ll go to the busier points of interest first (alongside the south coast) and thus progressively transfer from away from the crowds to a number of the extra distant and fewer visited components of Icelandic, whcih feels a extra instictively logical solution to method issues.


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Two causes to contemplate a clockwise route

I can foresee simply two distinctive the reason why you may select to interrupt the mould and journey the ringroad in a clockwise path – the climate and the time of yr.

If the climate forecast simply occurs to be predicting poor climate within the south initially and good climate within the north, then I assume it’d make extra sense to let the circumstances dictate your route and do your greatest to keep away from adversarial climate circumstances. It is maybe unlikely that there might be a marked distinction like this, however you by no means know so it’s price checking the forecast.

Secondly, the time of yr. I’ve already talked about how the south could be busy and that by travelling in an anti-clockwise path, you’ll be progressively shifting away from the crowds, significantly when you begin to get past locations comparable to Höfn. That stated, for those who occur to be travelling on the finish of August / starting of September (the tip of the Summer holidays for a lot of households all over the world), then you definitely may keep away from the crowds within the south by leaving it till the tip of your journey. If that is once you’re visiting, this could be one thing that you just wish to contemplate as it could have you ever favouring a clockwise journey.

For most individuals, although, an anti-clockwise route appears to be by far the extra most well-liked of the 2 choices.

Have you travelled the complete Route 1 ring highway? If so, did you go clockwise or anticlockwise, and what was the rationale behind the route you selected?

Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You can watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here:

Disclosure: This put up is sponsored by Icerental 4×4. Our journey to Iceland was additionally sponsored by Helly Hansen.





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driving in icelandEuropehelly hansenhellyhansenhellyhansenicelandIcelandiceland 2022iceland2022RegionsRoad TravelSpeciality TravelWestern Europe

Iceland: Why we selected to not drive the complete Route 1 ring highway

Iceland: Why we chose not to drive the entire Route


One of the primary belongings you may take into consideration when planning a visit to Iceland is whether or not to drive the complete size of the ring highway that goes across the total nation – referred to as Route 1, and to not be confused with the Golden Circle which is near Reykjavik and offers you quick access to some key sights that may be seen in a single day.

To assess this, we would have liked to first know the way far it was and the way lengthy it could take. The reply to that query is that Iceland’s total ring highway covers 1,317 kilometres and, in principle, will be pushed in simply 16.5 hours (albeit by continuous driving – however even when sharing the driving, you’ll nonetheless have to cease to alter drivers and to re-fuel!). This additionally assumes no site visitors in any respect.

Given that you could, in principle, comfortably get all the best way round in simply two normal-but-long days of driving (8-10 hours), this leaves many individuals contemplating how achievable it’s for a circumnavigation of the complete nation by highway, significantly if they’re staying within the nation for longer.

So how lengthy do you really have to observe the complete size of the ring highway? The common suggestion that I’ve learn for that is that realistically you could permit not less than 6 days to drive the route in Summer or not less than 12 days if driving in Winter.

We had simply 8 days – 9 should you included the day of our departure however, since we had an early morning flight, it actually was simply 8 days. So, in principle, since we have been visiting in Summer, we had greater than sufficient time to do a so-called 6-day highway journey.

But the an increasing number of I studied the maps and examined what there may be to see and do alongside the best way, I significantly questioned whether or not 6 days is in any respect life like. There are so many pure wonders to see in Iceland that, should you have been to drive all the best way round in simply 6 days, I don’t suppose you’ll do any of it justice. Your stops must be hurried and you would need to miss out many issues that you simply may in any other case wish to see. In quick, it simply wouldn’t be enjoyable, in my view.

Let’s take among the points of interest for instance. If you wished to see Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach, which lies on the ring highway… are you actually telling me you’d be blissful to cease right here, see it and hop again within the automobile once more 20 minutes later? No, I hope not! You wish to take all of it in… admire the view, possibly wander across the lagoon little, even perhaps go on one of many boat rides. You’ll wish to wander from the lagoon to the shore and see the big blocks of ice on the seashore, glowing within the sunshine. You might simply spend not less than an hour or two right here, and probably for much longer.

Similarly, there are points of interest such because the aircraft wreck which, though thought-about to be on the Route 1 ring highway, are in all probability a 45-minute stroll away. You in all probability want to permit not less than 2 hours to go to the aircraft wreck, probably longer relying in your strolling pace and the way lengthy you wish to spend there.

Waterfalls similar to Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are the identical. They are very near the ring highway so, in principle, you possibly can hop out of your automobile, take {a photograph} and be in your method… however the place is the enjoyable in that? At Skógafoss, you’ll wish to climb the steps to the proper which really takes you alongside a path you possibly can observe for miles, taking in but extra waterfalls. At Seljandsfoss, you’ll wish to observe the trail that takes you around the again of the waterfall and possibly even go to the a lot lesser-known and tougher to entry close by waterfall of Gljúfrabúi. All of this takes time, however it’s time properly spent and I’d sooner be doing issues like this than spending most of my time in a automobile.

It’s additionally price mentioning that lots of Iceland’s key points of interest – significantly for first time guests – like within the south and west of the nation. Given that your journey will little question start from the south-west, both from Keflavik Airport or Reykjavik, you’ll discover the best focus of points of interest don’t necessitate you driving all the best way across the nation.

Then there are personal excursions that you simply may like to contemplate – for instance, we did a Katla ice cave tour that took up a complete morning and a snowmobiling tour that took up most of a day. If your purpose is to get across the nation in only a handful of days, you’re going to must forego lots of these sorts of alternatives.


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And I haven’t even talked about stopping for meals. Wouldn’t you favor to cease, sit down and calm down with some Icelandic meals, reasonably than simply seize some snacks from a service station and press on? Some of Iceland’s well-known purple scorching lava soup, maybe?

In quick, permitting your self extra time to get across the nation, or figuring out your limitations and selecting to not try it should you don’t really feel you may have sufficient days, is a vital determination to make. It’s the distinction between have a rushed and frantic keep in Iceland or having a way more leisurely one that you could correctly take pleasure in.

Returning to the advice of not less than 6 days to drive the route in Summer or not less than 12 days to drive it in Winter…. all of it appears far too hectic and rushed to me. I believe it’s extra life like to counsel 10-14 days in Summer and 20-25 days in Winter, and ideally selecting one thing on the latter finish of every of these ranges.

For this cause, since we had simply 8 days, we selected to not try to drive all the best way round. Yes, it might have been achieved. But I’m glad we made that call – there was nonetheless a lot for us to see and do within the time we had out there with out driving extreme distances. It’s straightforward to suppose that you simply’ll see extra by masking extra floor, however on this occasion I don’t suppose this may have been the case.

Have you pushed the complete ring highway? How lengthy did you allocate and did you are feeling it was sufficient?

Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You can watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here:

Disclosure: This submit is sponsored by Icerental 4×4. Our journey to Iceland was additionally sponsored by Helly Hansen.





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