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How Long Does it Take to Drive around Iceland?

Have you ever wondered, 'How long does it take to drive around Iceland?' Welcome to our comprehensive guide designed to answer precisely that! We are diving into the magic of Iceland, a land of fire and ice, where every turn of the road offers new breathtaking landscapes.

We'll cover everything from the length of the journey, navigating varied road conditions, to syncing your trip with the country's unique seasons. Buckle up and join us on this thrilling Icelandic adventure! But remember, in Iceland, the journey often outshines the destination. Are you ready to hit the road?

How long does it take to drive around Iceland?

Iceland's Geographical Overview

Iceland, the land of extreme contrasts, offers an array of breathtaking landscapes that will leave you mesmerized at every turn. With the circumference of Iceland being approximately 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles), the nation is known for its expansive and diverse natural beauty.

Iceland is not just about size or dimensions but the sheer variety of experiences it offers. You could drive around the island non-stop for about 15-17 hours. Still, we bet you'd be stopping every few minutes, captivated by cascading waterfalls, erupting geysers, and vast lava fields, or maybe to watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky!

The true joy of an Icelandic road trip lies in covering distance and embracing the journey itself. We highly recommend dedicating at least a week to ten days for a comprehensive, immersive, and genuinely unforgettable Icelandic adventure. That way, you can savor the journey and soak in the magic of Iceland at your own pace.

The Renowned Ring Road

The legendary Ring Road, or as the locals call it, 'Route 1', is Iceland's staple roadway, stretching approximately 1,322 kilometers (820 miles) and encircling the entire island. This major artery connects most of the inhabited parts of the country. It is the preferred route of travelers keen to sample the country's diverse landscapes.

From the striking icebergs of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in the southeast to the geothermal wonderland of Mývatn in the north, these are just some of the highlights of the Ring Road. While driving on the Ring Road, you'll traverse terrains from lush farmlands to stark lava fields, from towering fjords to black sand beaches, all in a single journey.

As you plan your trip, remember that your travel time will be heavily influenced by the time you spend at attractions along the Ring Road. So, keep your itinerary flexible to truly immerse yourself in the unique Icelandic scenes.

how long will it take to drive around iceland

Navigating Iceland's Varied Road Conditions

Driving in Iceland is an adventure in itself, presenting a unique challenge with its diverse road conditions. The smooth paved roads, predominantly found in urban areas and along the iconic Ring Road, offer a comfortable drive. They're well-maintained and a breeze for any traveler.

However, as you venture further, you'll also encounter gravel roads in Iceland, making up a significant portion of Iceland's road network. These demand a heightened sense of caution due to the ever-shifting gravel, especially around those sneaky bends. But the real thrill? The F-roads.

Leading you into the heart of the highlands, these paths are reserved for summer and demand you choose a sturdy 4x4. Expect them to be rough, occasionally steep, and sprinkled with adventurous river crossings.

With such varied terrain, it's essential to consult your rental agency. We'll guide you to the right vehicle and ensure the necessary insurance backs you. After all, isn't it better to be safe than sorry when exploring this Nordic wonderland?

4x4 vehicle in Iceland

Adhering to Iceland's Road Rules

Adhering to road rules in Iceland is not just a legal requirement. It's essential for ensuring your safety and that of others during your journey. The query, 'How long does it take to drive around Iceland?' is subjective, as it heavily depends on adhering to these regulations, particularly the speed limits.

In populated areas, the speed limit in Iceland is generally 50 km/h (31 mph), rising to 80 km/h (50 mph) on gravel roads and 90 km/h (56 mph) on paved roads in rural areas. The Ring Road, a key route for those circumnavigating the island, largely adheres to the 90 km/h (56 mph) limit. Remember, these are maximum limits, and actual speeds may need to be lower depending on conditions.

Iceland's weather can be unpredictable, leading to sudden road closures, while wildlife crossings pose another potential hazard. Always stay updated with the latest road conditions and forecasts, and maintain a respectful attitude towards the environment and wildlife. Drive responsibly and make your Icelandic journey memorable for the right reasons.

Seasonal Considerations for Driving in Iceland

Iceland's seasons greatly influence your road trip experience, making it crucial to plan accordingly. Driving in Iceland in March, for instance, paints the roads with a touch of spring but maintains the winter's chill, offering a unique blend of the two seasons.

One of our travel writers fondly recalls his journey through the northern stretch of the Ring Road during this time. The snow-kissed landscapes were mesmerizing, yet he recalls the necessity for extra caution due to sporadic snowstorms and icy roads. The colder months make driving, especially in the northern parts of the Ring Road, quite a challenge.

However, the winter season offers the enchanting spectacle of the Northern Lights, making it an attractive choice for many. Conversely, the summer months promise longer daylight hours, offering ample time to explore but often bringing flocks of tourists. The shoulder seasons - spring and autumn, strike a balance between the two, offering a unique and less crowded experience.

Winter driving in Iceland

Driving Etiquette and Precautions in Iceland

Embarking on an Icelandic road trip is a dream for many, but understanding the local driving etiquette is paramount for a safe journey. When driving in Iceland, always drive on the right and overtake on the left. A unique rule that often surprises visitors is the mandatory use of headlights, switched on at all times, day or night.

Roundabouts, especially the two-lane ones in Reykjavík, can be tricky; always prioritize vehicles in the inner lane. The pristine landscapes might occasionally feature wandering wildlife, like curious sheep, so stay alert. When faced with challenging conditions such as fog or torrential rain, extra caution, and slower speeds are advised.

Seatbelts aren't just a safety measure; they're a legal requirement for all passengers. And remember, flouting rules can result in hefty fines. Amidst the allure of the journey, prioritize regular breaks to stay refreshed. After all, Iceland's beauty is best enjoyed with clear, rested eyes.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

Ever wondered what hidden gems lie beyond the standard routes while pondering how long does it take to drive around Iceland? Dive into these Icelandic off-the-beaten-path destinations for a unique experience.

  • Landmannalaugar - Nestled in Iceland's highlands, this region is renowned for its multicolored rhyolite mountains, geothermal hot springs, and epic hiking trails.

  • Húsavík - Often overlooked for its more famous southern counterparts, this northern town is the whale-watching capital of Iceland. It also houses a quaint, picturesque church.

  • Flatey Island - Time seems to stand still on this serene, car-free island. Home to a host of bird species, it's a paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

  • Víðgelmir - Dive into the subterranean wonder of one of Iceland's most impressive lava tubes. The uniqueness of your experience here is unmatched.

  • Hvítserkur - A 15m-high (49 ft) sea stack, it's often called the 'Troll of Northwest Iceland' and promises a fairytale-like photo opportunity.

Remember, sometimes the most memorable experiences come from taking the road less traveled.

how long does it take to travel around iceland

A 7-Day Ring Road Itinerary Around Iceland

Embarking on a 7-day journey around Iceland's Ring Road promises a rich tapestry of unforgettable experiences. As St. Augustine (a famous philosopher and theologian) once said, 'The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.' On this journey, every day turns a new page in the book of Icelandic wonders:

  • Day 1: Reykjavík to Vik - Begin with the Golden Circle, marveling at Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss. Overnight in Vik.

  • Day 2: Vik to Höfn - Explore the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara and the mesmerizing Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Rest in Höfn.

  • Day 3: Höfn to Egilsstaðir - Traverse the scenic East Fjords, with a potential detour to Petra's Stone Collection.

  • Day 4: Egilsstaðir to Mývatn - Dive into the geothermal wonders of Mývatn and relax in its nature baths.

  • Day 5: Mývatn to Akureyri - Visit the mighty Dettifoss waterfall and end in the charming town of Akureyri.

  • Day 6: Akureyri to Snæfellsnes Peninsula - Explore the peninsula's diverse landscapes, from Kirkjufell mountain to Djúpalónssandur beach.

  • Day 7: Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Reykjavík - Conclude with a visit to the historic town of Borgarnes before returning to the capital.

Itinerary Around Iceland

The Ultimate Packing Guide For A Drive Around Iceland

Packing for a road trip around Iceland is like preparing for a journey through several different climates simultaneously. Each item you pack should be versatile yet specific enough to cater to the unpredictable Icelandic weather. Here is a handy checklist of essential items:

  • Warm Clothing: Pack insulating layers, waterproof jackets, gloves, and thermal socks. Remember, in Iceland, there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

  • First Aid Kit: Always carry a basic first aid kit containing bandages, antiseptic wipes, and necessary medication. In a place as remote as Iceland, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  • Extra Food and Water: Always have an additional supply of food and water if you get stranded due to sudden weather changes.

  • Road Map and Compass: Even in the age of GPS, a good old-fashioned map and compass can come in handy in remote areas.

  • Flashlight: A vital tool for emergencies, especially during the dark winter months.

Additionally, we recommend using the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration website for weather forecasts, road conditions, and bridge closures. The website is available in English and Icelandic and offers the latest updates on all things related to road safety in Iceland.

Packing Guide For A Drive Around Iceland

Accommodation and Camping Tips For An Iceland Road Trip

Iceland's Ring Road unfurls a tapestry of accommodation choices, from quaint guesthouses to upscale hotels. But for those truly looking to immerse themselves in Iceland's culture, camping is a revered tradition. Respectful use of designated campgrounds ensures the pristine beauty of the land remains untouched. One of our cherished customers, Clara, shared a heartwarming tale of her Icelandic journey.

She began her trip by staying in hotels, but soon switched to a campervan. 'Waking up to a different, breathtaking Icelandic vista every morning was transformative,' she reminisced.

While traditional turf houses offer a nostalgic dive into Iceland's past and eco-lodges cater to the green traveler, nothing quite matches the freedom and intimacy of a campervan or motorhome.

It's not just accommodation; it's a dynamic experience. As Clara fondly put it, 'My campervan wasn't just a vehicle; it was my mobile haven.' For the ultimate Icelandic road trip, make the open road your home. If you are ready to create your own transformative Icelandic journey, then book your campervan in Iceland with us today and embrace the adventure that awaits!

Camper rental Iceland

Understanding How Long Does It Take To Drive Around Iceland

Embarking on an Icelandic road trip is a journey of discovery, from understanding the island's geographical nuances to navigating the renowned Ring Road.

As you ponder, 'how long does it take to drive around Iceland,' remember that the adventure lies not just in the destination but in the varied road conditions, the ever-changing seasons, and the unique etiquette of Icelandic driving.

Along the way, you'll uncover off-the-beaten-path destinations, equip yourself with essential packing knowledge, and find the perfect accommodation, whether camping under the stars or cozying up in a campervan. With a sample 7-day itinerary as your guide, you're set to experience the best of Iceland.

how long would it take to drive around iceland


How long does it take to drive around Iceland?

It takes around 15-17 hours to drive around Iceland non-stop. However, depending on the route you take, your itinerary, and the amount of time you spend exploring each destination, it could take longer.

How long does it take to drive across Iceland?

Driving across Iceland, from the north (Akureyri) to the south (Vik) or vice versa, can take approximately 6-8 hours, depending on the route and conditions.

How long does it take to travel around Iceland?

Traveling around Iceland, including sightseeing stops and overnight rests, can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days for a comprehensive experience.

How long would it take to drive around Iceland?

A continuous drive around Iceland's Ring Road takes about 17 hours, but for a more relaxed and scenic experience, 10 days is recommended.

How many days does it take to drive around Iceland?

It takes approximately 7 to 10 days to drive around Iceland. This allows enough time for sightseeing and overnight rests.

How many hours does it take to drive around Iceland?

Driving the Ring Road continuously takes approximately 17 hours, but this doesn't account for sightseeing breaks or rest stops.

How long will it take to drive around Iceland?

While a non-stop drive around the Ring Road can be done in 15-17 hours for a complete experience with sightseeing, it's best to allocate 7 days or more for the journey.


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