Exploring Iceland- Ring Road (Southern Iceland)

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Route 1, more famously known as Ring Road, is a national road that runs the entire circumference of the island country of Iceland.

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The total distance of the road is 828 miles (1,332 kilometers).

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Several of Iceland’s most popular attractions can be found along this scenic route, including the incredible waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, located just a short distance from the road.

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I did an entire separate post on the stunning waterfalls of Iceland, many of which can be accessed by traveling Ring Road.

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Eyjafjallajökull volcano, site of the 2010 massive eruption that thwarted air travel all over Europe, can also be seen from Ring Road. There’s a sign telling the story of the eruption for interested passer-bys and a tiny museum can be found across the street.

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The mountainous rock formations are ENORMOUS in Iceland! Compare the tiny house at the bottom of the image to the mountains in the background.

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Thanks to Geysir Car Rental, we were able to have our own vehicle while exploring Iceland. This allowed us the freedom and flexibility to stop along Ring Road whenever we saw something we wanted to further explore, like these turf houses.

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As we were exploring, a small figure appeared off in the distance quickly getting closer and closer to us. This speeding figure turned out to be a black lab no more than 2 years old.

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She came running toward us from the farm house way off in the distance with a stick in her mouth. She dropped the stick in front of Sam and waited for the game to begin! Sam hurled the stick and she went tearing after it. She’d bring it back and drop it at his feet again. This game of fetch continued for a good 10 minutes or so. When we said our good-byes, I thought she was going to follow us to our car, but she took her stick and ran back toward her home. It appears she plays this game often with tourists who stop along Ring Road to see the turf houses.

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Next, we were off in search of a DC place that crash-landed on Sólheimasandur Beach after running out of fuel in 1973.

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We had the coordinates (63.459523,-19.364618) thanks to our Iceland in Your Hand book. You will definitely need a 4WD vehicle to get to this site. Once you turn off of Ring Road, you will be driving for a little over 2 miles on the black beach before you get to the plane. It’s a bumpy ride, so hang on!

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One of the most amazing traits of Ring Road is how often the scenery changes.

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As we continued along our route, we turned off toward Dyrhólaey Beach.

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The name of this beautiful rock formation is Arnardrangur.

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Off in the hazy distance are Reynisdranger and Reynisfjara.

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We walked over to Kirkjufjara where the waves were wildly crashing against the rocky shoreline.

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I can honestly say I have never been in such windy conditions in my life! We were not able to stand in one spot for long, as the wind was literally pushing us!

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The wildly churning sea was unlike anything I had ever seen! Certainly glad I wasn’t in a boat!

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Don’t let the calmness of this image fool you; I almost got blown off the cliff trying to take this picture!

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There is a lovely castle-like lighthouse at the top of the hill, which also provides great views of Dyrhólaey Rock to the left and Dyrhólaey Beach to the right.

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Dyrhólaey literally means “door hole”

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As we passed through Vik, we stopped off at Vikurskali for dinner. Vik is a small town to begin with and we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so our options were very limited.

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Overall, I would say the experience was ok. Sam loved his meal; I hated mine! He ordered the traditional Icelandic (lamb) stew, but since I don’t each much meat, I ordered the veggie burger thinking it was a safe bet. It was the absolute worst “veggie” burger I had ever eaten. It tasted like it had been deep fried. I barely ate half of it and ended up eating some of Sam’s meal, since the soup refills were free. The soup actually wasn’t that bad for this (mostly) vegetarian girl, so if you’re looking for a warm meal on a chilly day, stop in for some soup with free refills…just don’t order the veggie burger! You’ve been warned!

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The picture above was me happy…before the veggie burger arrived!

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On the way to our final destination for the evening, we came upon some reindeer grazing right off of Ring Road. Like I said, new scenery along the whole route!

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Please feel free to check out my post about Lodging Options in Iceland if you are looking for a place to stay along Ring Road. We stayed in 2 places on the south-side of the country that I would personally recommend.

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After a restful night’s sleep, we continued along Ring Road to discover some of the most breathtaking scenery to date.

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Jökulsárlón, the most famous of Iceland’s glacier lagoons, can be found just a few hundred feet off of Ring Road.

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Check out my post on Glaciers, Ice Caves and Lagoons to see more of these awe-inspiring scenes.


When traveling along Ring Road, something else to keep in mind… the further you get away from Reykjavik, the further you are from city lights. In the winter months, you may even be lucky enough, like we were, to see the incredible Northern Lights!

For a (printable) destination guide to what we did during our stay in Iceland (where we stayed and what we ate, what we saw, money saving tips, sample itinerary, etc.), click here.


  1. We were in Iceland in the summer. It was awesome. We saw the puffins at Dyrhólaey and they were only a few feet away! The days were very long so we could make the most of our short stay. We can’t wait to go back to complete the ring road. There were a lot of people, especially on the Grand Circle. The south side was fine except it was busy at the big waterfalls. Summer was great but no northern lights. We will have to return in the spring sometime.

    • See, and we need to go back in the summer! We’ve only experienced winter in Iceland and would love to experience the long days! You can definitely pack more in then. I can imagine it’s a lot busier in the summer months, though.

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