Riding a Bicycle in Iceland
If you are a pro biker, a masochist, or a vagabond with a fierce independent streak and an incredibly small budget, bicycling is a great way to get around Iceland. Becoming more popular each year, bicycle enthusiasts are coming from all over the world to do the Ring Road circuit. Route 1 — or Ring Road — is the main (the only) long distance highway in Iceland. It goes for 1,300 km in a complete circuit right around the periphery of the country, and it is no wonder why it is attracting so many cyclists each year: the highway looks pretty much like the worlds longest race track.
But bicycling on Ring Road does not come without difficulties, as it is packed full of traffic, more often than not doesn’t have a shoulder, and exposes the bicyclist to extreme blasts of wind. That said, it may be wise to plan for jaunts through the countryside and mountains off of Ring Road.
The backroads of Iceland can be rough going, but most can definitely be cyceld. As I cycled through Iceland on a cheap, used mountain bike, I would try to avoid Ring Road as much as possible — opting for the backroads instead. I did not find using these roads to be much of a challenge, and although most are gravel or dirt they are navigatable with a bike with mountain bike tires.
Besides the traffic on Ring Road, the wind will be your biggest adversary while bicycling in Iceland. There is no way to prepare for this other than just wearing synthetic outer garments designed to “break” the wind and to keep a close watch on the local weather reports which generally always tell wind speed and direction. Battling the wind in Iceland on a bicycle for hours after hours is enough to make all but the most stalwart of bicyclists groan in misery. After being out in this wind for weeks on end, many bicycle travelers cave in and load their bikes onto buses.
That said, many of the buses in Iceland are able to carry bicycles. Many even have bicycle racks and toe trailers behind them that you can store your steed in. But this service does not come without its cost: expect to pay roughly $15 more on your bus far to transport your bike.
My experiences of bicycling in Iceland can be found at Wade Shepard’s Iceland Adventure or in the following travelogue entries.
More information on long distance bicycle travel
- Bicycle gear for long distance travel
- How to travel by bicycle cheaply
- Canadian bicyclist trades farmwork for accommodation
Read more about Iceland on the travelogue
- Travelogue entries about Iceland
Iceland Travel Guide
- Iceland Travel Guide