Perfect Itinerary for the Drive from Reyjkavik to Vik

Why do the 2 Idiots Recommend the Drive from Reykjavik to Vik?

When you visit Iceland, it’s highly likely that you will be flying into Reykjavik, Iceland’s main city, which is located on the western side of the country.  It’s also highly probable that you will venture out of the city because there is so much to see, and we recommend that you head to Vik, located about two and a half hours as the crow flies on the southern coast. However, we do not believe that you should simply head in a straight shot to Vik—but rather follow a route that allows you to maximize the sites.  In Iceland, it’s not just about the destination, but the route you take to reach where you are going. With that being said, while the distance between the two cities isn’t significant, note that we left Reykjavik at 8:30 am and reached Vik around 7 pm.

Planning Your Drive

Since you will be spending a lot of time in your car with your child both ways, we encourage you to first check out what we wrote about how to effectively travel with your child while driving.  

Our Drive to Vik

Map of drive from Reykjavik to Vik (Day 1)

Tentative schedule for the day

Destination Est. Arrival Time Est. Time to Spend Est. Departure Time
Depart Reykjavik N/A N/A 8:30 a.m.
Gluggafoss 10:15 a.m. 2 hours 12:15 p.m.
Skogafoss 1 p.m. 1 hour 2 p.m.
Sólheimajökull glacier 2:30 p.m. 2 hours 4:30 p.m.
Dyrholaey lighthouse 5 p.m. 1 ½ hours 6:30 p.m.
Arrive at hotel/Airbnb in Vik 7 p.m.

Gluggafoss and Eyjafjallajokull

The first stop we made after leaving Reykjavik was Gluggafoss, featuring a beautiful waterfall. It took us around an hour and 45 minutes to get there.   It was an amazingly beautiful spot and was very non-touristy and quiet. One of the coolest things about this spot was that you could walk up and go behind the falls—make sure you do this.  We actually took turns doing this because it seemed a little risky to do with Aarav in tow. There was a small picnic area, but no bathroom or visitor center—keep that in mind. We packed lunch for ourselves and spent about an hour and a half there.

Natasha goes behind Gluggafoss falls! Conquering her fears once again
View from behind Gluggafoss falls! WOW!

Next, we viewed Eyjafjallajokull, an active volcano. This is the volcano that famously erupted in 2010, resulting in the grounding of all flights across Europe. We were able to see this from Gluggafoss.  You are actually able to see it as you drive, but some of the best vantage points were from Gluggafoss.

Skogafoss

Getting back on the road for about 45 minutes, we went to the Skógafoss waterfall next. This was an amazing experience for us because when we saw the falls, there was a vivid double rainbow over it.  We simply stopped on the side of the road and took pictures—now, we can’t guarantee rainbows, but you are sure to be impressed regardless. We spent about an hour there.

The majestic Skogafoss falls

Sólheimajökull glacier

As we got back underway, our next step was the Sólheimajökull glacier 20 minutes later.  Know that when you first get there, you won’t see anything. You will have to walk a couple of kilometers to the glacier.  Now, this was early on in our trip, so we weren’t savvy about how to manage Aarav here. As such, we took turns staying with Aarav, who was asleep in the car, and went individually to see the glacier.  This took about an hour for each of us. In retrospect, we should have taken Aarav out of the car and put him in his stroller—we probably could have pushed it with little problem along the path to the glacier and enjoyed the views together.  The glacier itself is very cool to look at, even though it is sadly receding, and there is an opportunity to walk on the glacier if you are interested in doing so. We didn’t simply because of Aarav. We would recommend giving yourself two hours to explore while at this stop.

Sólheimajökull glacier – beautiful shades of black and white
Sólheimajökull glacier – another amazing view

Dyrholaey lighthouse

Our travels then led us to Dyrholaey lighthouse.  This lighthouse is located all the way up on a hill, and you reach it by going up a gravel-type road (our SUV came in handy as did our data plan because we had no idea where we were going).  When you reach the top, you will find ample parking, but be prepared for some strong wind. It was some of the strongest and loudest wind we have ever encountered—make sure you have a hat, gloves, and windbreaker. It is cold too!  However, there is an amazing view of a rock formation out in the ocean and you are also able to explore the inside of the lighthouse.

Amazing rock formation coming out of the ocean by Dyrholaey lighthouse
Super windy on top of Dyrholaey lighthouse

After leaving the lighthouse, we went to the Dyrholeay puffin viewpoint. Puffins are really cute little birds that are native to territories near the Arctic Circle. At this viewpoint, you will literally see hundreds and hundreds of them.  By the time we left here, it was about 7pm.

See 100s of puffins from the Dyrholaey lookout point

Now, a recommendation that we would make here is to eat dinner at this point.  We did not, and it was a mistake because we discovered that people in Iceland eat dinner early.  We ended up going on to our Airbnb in Vik, which was near the Black Sand Beach. It was only after this point that we decided to get dinner—and unfortunately found the restaurants had already stopped serving.  Thankfully, we had some snacks on hand.

Our Airbnb right by the Black sand beach!

Our Drive Back to Reyjkavik

Map of drive back from Vik to Reykjavik (Day 2)

Tentative schedule for the day

Destination Est. Arrival Time Est. Time to Spend Est. Departure Time
Depart Vik N/A N/A 9 a.m.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach 9:30 a.m. 2 hours 11:30 a.m.
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck (optional) Noon 3 hours 3 p.m.
Seljalandsfoss 3:30 p.m. 1 ½ hours 5 p.m.
Arrive in Reyjkavik 6:45 p.m.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

The next morning, we would recommend that you head to the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.  Keep in mind that it is very windy, so dress accordingly. Plus, because it is so blustery, we recommend keeping your hood up and possibly wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes against blowing sand. We held Aarav and put his back against the wind for this reason. Even in light of this, the beach has amazing postcard-worthy views.  There are also some naturally formed basalt columns that you can climb on and take pictures.

Post card view of the black sand beach
Rocks coming out of the ocean at the black sand beach
AJ doing a bollywood pose on the Basalt columns in the Black Sand Beach

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

We didn’t get the chance to do this be but would have attempted to do it if we didn’t have a flight to catch.  In 1973, a US Navy plane crashed on a black beach in Iceland right by Vik. Fortunately, nobody lost their life and now it makes for an amazing sight to visit. The parking lot comes on your left driving back from Vik. You have to park your car in the parking lot and then walk for almost an hour each way to see the plane wreck.

We also think you should consider the pros and cons of this activity especially if you have little ones (that’s why we’ve marked it optional above). See below for a Kid-friendly tip if you do decide to do this.

Seljalandsfoss

Once you are done at the beach, we would recommend getting back on the road to head back to Reykjavik or wherever your next destination is (we personally were headed to the airport).  There is a place we recommend checking out though, about 30 minutes from Vik, called Seljalandsfoss, another waterfall. Unlike Glugafoss, this one is a bit touristy and it was very crowded. It was much bigger than the first waterfall as well.  If you go here, take a raincoat because you can go behind the falls as well and it’s really spectacular. However, be prepared to get wet! From here, you can expect an hour and 40-minute drive back to Reykjavik.

The majestic Seljalandsfoss falls

Kid-Friendly Tips

  • We didn’t take the stroller when we went to the Dyrholaey lighthouse just because we were afraid that it might blow away in the wind.
  • We made the mistake of going to the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach at night.  Don’t do this. It’s colder, windier, and much more difficult to traverse with a child. Go in the morning.
  • If you go to the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, be aware of how long the walk is and a beachy/gravel like terrain. This means you likely can’t use a stroller and have to carry or walk with your little one for a long amount of time. Also, it will be windy so make sure you dress up appropriately. Make sure to also carry snacks and water.

Other Tips

  • Rent an SUV if you can – while normal cars could work fine, there is a lot of gravel in this drive and an SUV will make it a whole lot easier.
  • Make sure you fill up your vehicle with gas before you leave Reykjavik because it is harder to find gas stations along this route way and fill up gas whenever you are half tank or below.
  • We have noted this on other posts about Iceland, but it’s wise to ensure you have a data plan while visiting.  While there were many signs visible when we visited The Golden Circle, this is not necessarily true in other areas of the country.  You are going to want to be able to access Google Maps on your phone.
  • When we got to Sólheimajökull glacier around 2-3pm, we found the visitor center and restroom completely closed.  We aren’t sure of the hours here, so if you are planning to make this stop, you may want to plan accordingly.

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