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During my upcoming vacation to Iceland, I am planning to do a complete trip around the Hringvegur. Because the Eastern part of Iceland doesn't have very many landmarks, I am planning to drive from Mývatn to Höfn (a 360 km stretch) in one stretch. I am hoping for this to take around four hours, but considering the fact that there are some dirt roads, I get the feeling I may be underestimating this trip.

Can anybody tell me how many kilometers of dirt roads there are in these parts of the Hringvegur? Is it possible to get through these parts of the country in 4-6 hours? If this takes very much longer than that, I may have to revise my planning a bit.

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3 Answers 3

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4 hours is a bit optimistic, especially taking the ring road (highway 1). If you take the Öxi shortcut (road 939, not always open in winter) along the way, maybe 4.5 hours. More like 5 if you stay on the ring road. This assumes you obey the speed limit. I'd advise you to do so as the roads can be tricky, especially for drivers who aren't used to them.

This stretch of the ring road is the only one that still has a few gravel stretches. They keep surfacing more and more of it, so I'm unsure how much is left. Shouldn't be more than 40-60 km (not contiguous). The speed limit is 80 km/hr on gravel roads (90 on surfaced ones).

Personally, I'd choose a more scenic route and go via Fáskrúðsfjörður and take Suðurstrandavegur (road 96) along the coast. Quite stunning views. You just take road 92 at Egilsstaðir and then turn onto road 96 as you enter Fjarðarbyggð. It only adds about 70 km (an hour) over the shortest path via Öxi and is well worth it, especially if the weather is nice.

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The last suggestion seems like a very good idea, thank you. –  Lee White Jan 31 at 15:54

I'm pretty sure the entire number 1 is properly surfaced now. 5 - 6 hours sounds reasonable in good weather, bad weather/snow will slow you down a lot. Although I wouldn't rule out wanting to stop somewhere to admire the view.

I've not driven that stretch of the number 1, but I've driven Keflavik to about 50km west of Hofn more times than I care to count.

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I drove around the Hringvegur (the other direction, anticlockwise) in early April 2009. Weather is quite variable and you should be prepared for storms at any time of year. I don't actually know how much of it was gravel, because some of it looked like this:

(More pictures from that trip here.) I think there were gravel stretches, but even at that time of year the road was in good condition and I think up to about 80 km/h was reasonable. Based on my notes, I would allow at least 6 hours from Mývatn to Höfn (we stopped in Egilsstaðir for the night). If you want to leave the main road to see anything at all, you will need to allow more time.

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