How long does it take to drive to the Blue Lagoon, Vatnajökull National Park, or around the Golden Circle? Well, like many things in life, the answer is “it depends”. When driving in Iceland and seeing how long it takes to drive to Iceland’s most popular attractions, there are many more factors to consider than simply driving distances. Everything from inclement weather conditions to road closures to some friendly sheep blocking the road can cause delays. Not to mention that you’ll often be driving on single lane highways, so add other motorists into the equation and you can see how it’s hard to get a straight answer for this question. That being said, let’s look at driving times and distances while taking seasons and weather into account. As you can imagine, driving in Iceland in May is very different than driving in the middle of winter. The time displayed on Google Maps or your GPS can be different than how long it actually takes.
To orient ourselves, let’s take a quick glance at some of the more popular attractions and how far they are from Reykjavík. We’ve listed all distances as coming from the capital, as the interior part of the country and F-Roads are closed off during many months of the year. This means that there’s usually no “taking a shortcut” and that you will have to drive around the Ring Road just like everyone else. With the popularity of road trips and self-drive tours in Iceland, it’s extremely important to have a ballpark figure of just how long it will take you to drive to the top destinations for travelers. Many people plan a longer five-day or seven-day itinerary, and these estimates can be used for either day trips or as part of a longer vacation.
Driving around the Ring Road
- Distance: 1,332 km (828 mi)
- Driving Time: 13-17 hours round trip assuming you only stop for gas.
Of course, you’ll be doing more than just making pit stops to fill up the tank, but this should give you a good idea of the size and scope of driving around Iceland.
Driving from Reykjavík to the Blue Lagoon
- Distance: 49 km (30 mi)
- Driving Time: Approximately 40 minutes in the summer and 50 minutes in the winter.
Regardless of when you go, remember to pack those swimsuits!
Driving the Golden Circle Route from Reykjavík
- Distance: 300 km (190 mi)
- Driving Time: Approximately four hours in the summer and five hours in the winter.
Remember to add in time spent exploring Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall. When going between these attractions, Thingvellir is about an hour from Reykjavik, Geysir is another 40 minutes away. Once you’ve reached the geothermal area, you’ve got another 10-15 minutes to Gullfoss waterfall.
Driving from Reykjavík to Vík
- Distance: 179 km (111 mi)
- Driving Time: During the summer give yourself around two and a half to three hours. In the winter, allow for an additional hour (just in case).
Note: This route includes two stunning waterfalls along the way, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. The additional stops will add to your travel time but are definitely worth it. Seljalandsfoss is 121km (75mi) away from Reykjavik and takes 1.5 – 2 hours to arrive when heading toward Vík. Skógafoss is another 30 minutes (29 km or 18 mi) on the Ring Road in the direction of Vík.
Driving from Reykjavík to Vatnajökull National Park
- Distance: 322 km (200 mi) to the beginning of the park
- Driving Time: In the summer, allow yourself four to six hours. During the winter, travel time increases to five to seven hours.
This is a tricky one. Because Vatnajökull National Park is so large, and because it’s on the opposite southern end of the country, the estimated arrival time can vary widely. The route between Reykjavík and Vatnajökull is a long stretch of road with a lot of different weather conditions. It should also be noted that many popular attractions such as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach are also close to the park.
Skaftafell is also a part of Vatnajökull National Park, and it takes four hours (up to five in inclement weather) to drive the 326 km (200 mi) to the park’s entrance.
Driving from Reykjavík to Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Distance: 156 km (97 mi) to reach the peninsula
- Driving Time: Allow three hours in the summer and three and a half in the winter.
While the driving distance above measures how far it is to get to the peninsula itself, our time estimation takes into account the fact that you’ll have to continue driving in order to see major attractions like Kirkjufells mountain, Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and Snaefellsjökull National Park.
Times and Driving Distances To Iceland’s Most Popular Attractions from Reykjavík
A great tip for taking weather into account when estimating driving times for things like driving around the Ring Road for exploring the Golden Circle is to add 10-15 minutes per hour of driving when there is inclement weather. Keep in mind that you may have to stop driving entirely and wait until the winds die down if they reach high speeds or you find yourself caught in the middle of a storm. Always give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Iceland is meant to be enjoyed, so why risk your life by being in a rush to get somewhere?