where can I drive near Reykjavik
May 3, 2017 1:32 PM   Subscribe

As part of an upcoming trip, I'll have a 25 hour layover in Iceland. I land at Keflavík airport at 3:30pm and leave the next day at 4:50pm. I've reserved a room for the night in Reykjavik and have rented a car. Where should I drive? Is this enough time for the Golden Circle?

I've been to Iceland before but just stayed in Reykjavik for that time. I am not interested in visiting the Blue Lagoon again, so not doing that. I was thinking that maybe I could immediately drive the Golden Circle (from like 4-8pm) and then get back in to Reykjavik for dinner (planning to go here!) and drinks.

Then, I was hoping to, the next day, also drive...somewhere cool? And get back to the airport around 2/2:30. I just don't know where.

Is all of this too ambitious? I rented a tiny car (like a VW Polo) and will be alone, so trying to make sure I don't get lost in a village after dark and eaten by Icelandic elves or fluffy horses or miss my return flight or anything. Any advice would be great. Oh, and this is in mid-May.
posted by aaanastasia to Travel & Transportation around Iceland (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can do the Golden Circle drive in 4 hours, but that doesn't allow much time for exploration, shutterbugging or contemplation. I think the enjoyability of your plan may depend on how jet-lagged you'll be and, related, how much rest you get on the plane; if you're sleepy, it will seem like a slog. That said, the sun won't set until roughly 10:00 pm, so if the quality of light affects how sleepy you feel, you might be ok.

it might make more sense to do the Golden Circle the next morning, especially if you're an early riser.
posted by carmicha at 2:03 PM on May 3, 2017

Yeah, I don't think four hours is quite enough time for the Golden Circle. From KEF to Þingvellir is probably at least an hour and a half (maybe more), and Geysir and Gullfoss are probably an hour past that. I'd think about doing the Golden Circle on the next day.

I adore southern Iceland and would also recommend driving down there. Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are two waterfalls about an hour and a half and two hours from Reykjavík, respectively (a bit longer from the airport). The town of Vík is adorable but that may be getting too far.
posted by thrungva at 2:18 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you go down thrungva's suggested route (or even just as part of the trip through the Golden Circle) then you can visit Hveragerdi if you fancy trying an earthquake simulator, but just past Hveragerdi you can head north a little and visit the Kerid volcano crater.

The other thing to consider is not doing the overnight in Reykjavik. There are hostels in Hveragerdi and Laugarvatn amongst other places that might increase your range a bit. If you decide to do that make sure you check what facilities they have and whether you need to buy food on the way there.
posted by biffa at 2:37 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, you could easily do it in four hours, especially if you're alone and don't have anyone else to slow you up. +1 for considering foregoing staying in Reykjavik - it's quite an overrated city IMHO. Iceland's best is its nature - make the most of that.
posted by ryanbryan at 3:34 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I remember spending my first day from about 1pm to 6 pm and thinking "If Iceland ended here I would be happy". I see you'll be there mid-may? It's going to be light until 11!! That's exciting.

Why don't you drive to Vik, stay over, and then drive back? So many great places on the way.
Such a great drive.
posted by beccaj at 4:20 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, drive to Vik. Actually drive just a bit further to Jokulsarlon. Plenty of beautiful places along the way.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:12 PM on May 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Mrs. Intermod and I drove all around Iceland last year. It was June, so we basically had 24 hour daylight (dusk at worst) and in mid-May you will have nearly that. So that dramatically lengthens your travel day. You will basically have seven hours each day, assuming you sleep from midnight to 8am.

Jokulsarlon was utterly overrun with bus tours the day we were there, which was a real shock after driving around the back side of the country and not ever seeing more than a dozen human beings at one time. Hundreds of rude foreign tourists. No question that the place itself was awesome, but I just don't think it's worth it considering the distance and what else you could be doing with that time.

Which I think is Golden Circle. Ditch the Reyjavik room and stay somewhere along the GC route instead.

Another similar suggestion would be to drive out to Snaefellsjokul, around the whole peninsula, overnighting in one of the towns on the north coast. Get into town before the town pool closes.

You've been to Reyjavik. It's great. But go overnight somewhere else.
posted by intermod at 9:54 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, you have all convinced me to skip Reykjavik and be more adventurous! I will do it. Now to obsessively research cool places to stay in southern Iceland!
posted by aaanastasia at 7:50 AM on May 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had a GREAT time driving out to Snaefellsness a few years ago.
posted by entropone at 8:07 AM on May 4, 2017

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