Is cycling in Iceland possible?



A co-founder of Local Adventures and guide, Arnar has a degree in physical education and is certified glacier guide. Along with his education he has worked in tourism for 20 years.

I’ll be honest with you, cycling in Iceland is possible, but people who have traveled with me before also know what I think about that!

Of course, it depends on what you want to do. Most people cycle the ring road number 1 in Iceland. Nearly 1,500 kilometers, most of which nowadays consists of asphalt.

However, this is not without danger. There are no cycle paths and the road is two lanes. When I was traveling with a group and it was rainy and foggy, I thought it was a dangerous hobby. I have also often been surprised by the fact that some cyclists had not prepared at all.

Poor or no lighting, not even reflectors on the bags on either side of the bike makes it very dangerous!

But some cyclists had mounted an orange flag on a long stick on the luggage carrier. With a light, and another bright lamp on the luggage carrier. Look, that is how you do it!

Cyclists at the beautiful Skogafoss

The ring road

If you want to do the entire ‘tour of Iceland’, like many tour operators and ourselves during our tour of Iceland, but by car, you will mainly have to use the ring road.

In recent years I have also encountered more cyclists, often with MTBs, in the interior.

That’s quite tough, bad gravel roads, river crossings, and like last summer, a lot of dust. But last summer was quite warm and dry.

But back to the ring road.

Most of the people I met were campers, so there is plenty of choice, after all, when you are done with it for the day, you can also pitch your tent somewhere away from the road (wild camping is not allowed).

Via hotels and guesthouses is not a problem until you have to get to Myvatn from Egilsstadir in the east. Then you have to cover a stretch of about 160 kilometers and skip the Dettifoss waterfall.

You will sometimes have some tough climbs, the south is fairly flat, after which you will have at least 1 steep col to cross. But the entire circuit is doable if you are in good shape and have a good bike.

There was even someone who did it on an antique bicycle, with such a huge wheel in the front! You don’t believe it?

Bicycles are also easy to rent in Iceland these days. There is even a cycling map of Iceland with many specialist companies along the way if you are unlucky. Curious? Download it here!

Something other than 1500 kilometers?

Very possible! You can rent bicycles in Reykjavik to explore the beautiful surroundings. For example, cycling the Golden Circle (busy!) and camping or sleeping in guesthouses. Count on that circuit to be about 250 kilometers. Nice to do in a midweek.

It is also possible to rent bicycles in other places. At the mosquito lake Myvatn, for example. The circuit around the lake is about 40 kilometers and, according to many people, the area is the most beautiful in Iceland! And then there are specialized companies that offer MTB tours, even inland.

We are now planning that MTB trip together with an Icelandic colleague for a group that wants to take a private trip with us and who wants to cycle purely.

We will cycle at various locations, of course in the most beautiful places.

You also often cycle on narrow paths, but mind you, the hiker always has priority in Iceland!

My conclusion?

Cycling in Iceland, yes! Provided you have good equipment and safety comes first. Make sure you have good lamps and reflectors and good waterproof bags. A mirror on the bicycle is also useful so that you can see what is happening behind you.

Do you want to do this, at least the ’round’ and have the time? Then it is nice and more leisurely cycling to follow the east coast from Egilsstadir via road number 85. An extra 300 kilometers during which you should definitely visit Asbyrgi – a beautiful gorge in the north with a very nice campsite.

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