Route 1 (Iceland)

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Route 1 shield}}

Route 1
Þjóðvegur 1
The Ring Road of Iceland (as of 2004) and some towns it connects: (1) Reykjavík; (2) Borgarnes; (3) Blönduós; (4) Akureyri; (5) Egilsstaðir; (6) Höfn; (7) Selfoss
Route information
Length1,332 km[1] (828 mi)
Highway system
National Roads in Iceland

Route 1 or the Ring Road (Icelandic: Þjóðvegur 1 or Hringvegur) is a national road in Iceland that runs around the island and connects most of the inhabited parts of the country. The total length of the road is 1,332 kilometres (828 mi). Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, such as the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, Dyrhólaey and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, are by the Ring Road.

The road was completed in 1974, coinciding with the 1,100th anniversary of the country's settlement[2] when the longest bridge in Iceland,[3] crossing the Skeiðará river in the southeast, was opened.


For almost all its length, the road is two lanes wide: one lane going in each direction. Where it passes through larger towns, the number of lanes may be increased, as it also is in the Hvalfjörður Tunnel. Many smaller bridges are single lane, especially in eastern Iceland, and are constructed of wood or steel. The road is paved with asphalt for almost all of its length, but there is still a short stretch in eastern Iceland with unpaved gravel surface. The Iceland Road Administration, Vegagerðin, oversees the maintenance and building of both main roads and minor roads.

Some portions of the road contain potential hazards such as blind curves and blind summits, single lane bridges or narrow passes. In winter, icy roads and strong winds, 15 m/s for cars with trailers, 25 m/s for cars without trailers, can make travel hazardous. After a change of routing in November 2017,[4] only a short stretch of a few kilometres on the shores of Berufjörður in East Iceland remains unpaved.[5]

The maximum speed on most of the road is 90 kilometres per hour (56 mph), and 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) on gravel.

Driving in winter[edit]

Most of Route 1 is kept open over the winter, due to snow removal, but some parts are closed. Most notably, this used to affect the route between Breiðdalsvík and Egilsstaðir (over the Breiðdalsheiði plateau) in the east; although it was open in spring, summer and autumn.[6] Instead, travelers used the somewhat sinuous coastal route via Reyðarfjörður, using (now former) Routes 96 and 92 to travel between the towns. That coastal route became officially part of Route 1 starting in November 2017, replacing the Breiðdalsheiði route, which is now numbered as Route 95.[4]

Natural hazards[edit]

Route 1 crosses a few glacial plains, such as Skeiðarársandur, which made the original road construction difficult. In addition, the Skeiðarársandur plain is subject to frequent glacial floods during or after eruptions on the nearby Grímsvötn volcano. Bridges and other stretches of road over the plain have had to be rebuilt as a result.


Traffic levels on the road vary considerably between locations: in and near Reykjavík around 5,000–10,000 vehicles use the road daily, but the stretches farthest away from larger towns see an average of fewer than 100 vehicles per day.

The Ring Road is popular with tourists since it covers most of the country and many sights of interest are located near to the route. It has long been a popular tour with Icelandic families going on summer vacation, but in recent years the route is becoming more popular with foreign tourists who either rent a car or bring their own on the ferry to Seyðisfjörður.


The route goes by many names depending on its location. The following table shows road names (excluding tunnels) in a clockwise direction from Reykjavík.

The intersection of Suðurlandsvegur (left) and Vesturlandvegur (lower right) in Reykjavík. The latter continues more than 2 km to the west (far side), before merging with route 49.
Route 1, East Iceland
Name Location
Vesturlandsvegur Eastern Reykjavík to Borgarnes
Borgarbraut Borgarnes
Hringvegur Borgarnes to northern Akureyri
Hörgárbraut Akureyri
Glerárgata Akureyri
Drottningarbraut (partial) Akureyri
Hringvegur Southern Akureyri to the turning for Höfn
Suðurlandsvegur Höfn to Hella
Suðurlandsbraut From Hella to Selfoss
Austurvegur Selfoss
Suðurlandsvegur From Selfoss to eastern Reykjavík

Major links[edit]

Route 1 includes a number of bridges and a few tunnels. The most notable are:

List of cities and towns on Route 1[edit]

Travelling clockwise (initially northward) from Reykjavík, the following communities and settlements are located on Route 1.

In popular culture[edit]

During the 2016 summer solstice, the Icelandic band Sigur Rós filmed and broadcast a live Slow TV event tour of Iceland driving along the entire route. The event was broadcast live in 360-degree video with a soundtrack of constantly evolving music based around elements of their track Óveður.[7]



  1. ^ "Vegalengdir (Distances between places)" (in Icelandic). Icelandic Road Administration. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Iceland: Milestones in Icelandic History". Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  3. ^ The Road System - 2012. Icelandic Road Administration, ICERA.
  4. ^ a b Geir Finnsson (9 November 2017). "Changes To Ring Road This Weekend". Iceland Review. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Vegasjá". Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  6. ^ "Mokstursdagar" (in Icelandic). Icelandic Road Administration. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  7. ^ "sigur rós - route one". Sigur Rós official website. Retrieved 21 September 2016.

External links[edit]