If you only have a day to drive around the countryside in Iceland and are interested in some of the spectacular sites and natural wonders Iceland has to offer, the Reykjanes Peninsula Drive is a great option. This is especially true if you are staying in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, or near the International airport at Reykjanesbær or the small fishing town of Grindavík. The Reykjanes Peninsula Drive is also a great option for stopover passengers and people attending conferences, seminars, or meetings who have limited time on their hands. The Reykjanes Peninsula is a geological phenomenon with many exciting places to visit.
What you will see
The Reykjanes Peninsula Drive offers a variety of natural wonders and fascinating places to visit. Spectacular hot spring sites, vast fields of lava, wonderful lakes with stunning surroundings, magnificent cliffs by the shoreline, some of the most remarkable lighthouses in Iceland, and last but not least the most famous landmark in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon. Thus, you will not only see great sites end enjoy an enjoyable scenic drive but also enjoy a swim in the colorful, warm geothermal water by the Blue Lagoon.
How are the roads at Reykjanes Peninsula, the best time to visit, and the best kind of car?
The roads are all asphalt roads, except for a small part on Krýsuvíkurvegur Road Nr. 42 just before you arrive at Kleyfarvatn. All roads are suitable for any car, small or large, all year round. Even though the secondary roads leading to natural wonders are challenging, most of them are quite good for small cars. In winter, from October through the end of April, it is wise to check the weather forecast before starting your trip. Sometimes, the roads are icy, and under such circumstances, you need to drive extra carefully. All vehicles and rental cars should have winter tires on during the winter.
How long is the Reykjanes Peninsula drive?
The whole drive, with all secondary roads included, is around 190 to 210 kilometers long. Start the drive in Reykjavík and drive along Sæbraut by the coastline, which takes you to Reykjanesbraut Road Nr. 41, which crosses the towns of Kópavogur, Garðabær, and Hafnarfjörður. That same road takes you to the International Airport in Keflavík. Just before you come pass an aluminum plant, take a turn south to Road Nr. 42 where you see a sign to Krýsuvík. This road will take you to your first stop, Kleyfarvatn Lake, which is about 16 kilometers away from the intersection. There is a parking lot around the middle of the lake with an excellent view. It is also a great spot to stop and walk down to the sandy shore by the lake. There, you can see interesting lava stacks and cliff formations around the lake. Take a short hike up to the slope on the west side of the lake for a spectacular view of the lake Kleyfarvatn and the surrounding area.
This road will take you to your first stop, Kleyfarvatn Lake
Hot springs at Seltún and the green lake Grænavatn
From Kleifarvatn, continuing on Road Nr. 42, Seltún is just five kilometers south of the parking lot. Seltún is a great small hot springs area with boiling water rising to the surface of the ground through mud and clay of many colors. It is a spectacular sight with good paths for viewing, photographing, and enjoying. There is an excellent path you can follow to see all the interesting geological phenomena the site has to offer. Walking through a hot springs area like Seltún for the first time is an unforgettable experience that gives you a load of photo opportunities. From Seltún you only drive a few kilometers to a small lake called Grænavatn (Green Lake). The parking lot is just by the main road. It is an excellent idea to walk around the lake, which takes approximately 20 minutes. It gives you a great view and photo opportunities that you won't have if you stay in the parking lot. From Grænavatn Lake, continue south for four kilometers on Road Nr. 42 until you come across Suðurstrandavegur Road Nr. 427, and here, turn right to the west.
Seltún is a great small hot springs area with boiling water rising to the surface of the ground through mud and clay of many colors
After doing four kilometers on Suðurstrandavegur Road Nr. 427, look out for a sign that reads "Krýsuvíkurberg." When you find it, turn to the left and drive on a rough gravel road to a parking lot three kilometers away from the sign. You are now on the border of the captivating Krísuvíkurberg Cliff. The cliff is stunning, and it is quite rewarding to take a short hike by the border one kilometer to the east to get a better view of the cliff. Once you are back on Suðurstrandarvegur Road Nr. 427, your next stop, Selatangar, is about six kilometers west of Krísuvíkurberg Cliff. Take a short, rough gravel road to a parking lot. Selatangar is an old fishing station from the 19th century that represents the hardship and harshness Icelanders endured at that time. From the parking lot, it is a rather tough walk to the impressive “houses” on a path of sand and lava. So put on some good shoes.
You are now on the border of the captivating Krísuvíkurberg Cliff.
The Blue Lagoon and some fine Restaurants in Grindavík
After Selatangar, it is time for some relaxation and food. You should stop by the town of Grindavík and visit some of the excellent fish restaurants the radiant fishing town has to offer. Once you have enjoyed the cod or a seafood soup, you should exit Grindavík on Road Nr. 43 to the Blue Lagoon. It is probably a good idea to book in advance if you want to swim in the Blue Lagoon, which we strongly recommend. After the bath, you can continue on the Northern Light Road Nr. 426 to the west through a lava until you come to the Road Nr. 425, and there you turn right and continue to the west. A few kilometers outside the village on the south shore, you continue west to another boiling and angry hot spring area, Gunnuhver.
The ghost in the Hot Spring and the Lighthouse
You will see a sign after driving approximately 13 kilometers pointing to the parking lot at Gunnuhver, or the Gunnu Hot Spring. Somewhere in this boiling and disturbed Hot Spring lives the ghost of a very troubled woman named Gunna. The area is quite fascinating, and the colors bright and magnificent. From Gunnuhver parking lot driving on Rod Nr. 425, take a left and turn to the south again on Road Nr. 443 all the way to the end. Here, you have a spectacular landscape and scenery by the shore on the heel of the Reykjanes Peninsula and a view to the island rock Eldey, and don't forget to walk up to the Reykjanes Lighthouse. This whole area with its geothermal activity, blue geothermal lakes, hot springs, cliffs, and power plants is an ideal place to forget oneself with the camera.
The Reykjanes Lighthouse
Standing on a bridge between two continents
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the longest mountain ridge on the planet, stretching from the Arctic to Antarctica and mostly placed in the Atlantic Ocean. A small part of that ridge is visible on the Reykjanes Peninsula. When you continue on Road Nr. 425 from the heel of Reykjanes Peninsula, you come to a bridge that, at first glance, doesn't seem to bridge anything, but here is a bridge connecting two tectonic plates. It is a rare opportunity to walk between two continents on a small bridge.
Bridge between two continents
Another famous lighthouse and a pop culture museum
As you continue on Road Nr. 425, you arrive at an intersection 15 kilometers from the bridge and about 3 kilometers after you pass the tiny village Hafnir. Here, you turn to Road Nr. 45 Stafnesvegur at a sign Hvalsnes, and you are taking the direction to Garðskagi where you will see two spectacular lighthouses. But before you take the drive, you will notice the wonderful small church Hvalsneskirkja which is one of those beautiful old wooden churches in Iceland. It is worth to stop at the parking lot to have a good look at this church. On your way to the lighthouses, you drive through the small fishing village of Sandgerði, and you need to continue on Road Nr. 45 to go to the Lighthouses in the small village of Garður.
The old Garðskagaviti lighthouse
Get an insight into the Icelandic pop culture
As the small village of Garður and the town, Reykjanesbær are sometimes referred to as the birthplace of the megaband Of Monsters and Men, it is interesting to visit the Icelandic Museum of Rock and Roll in town of Reykjanesbær. Keflavík, the northern part of Reykjanesbær, is the birthplace of popular music in Iceland. You will pass the museum on your way from the lighthouses and drive through the town of Reykjanesbær which is also an ideal place to find a restaurant after your drive and visit the museum before you drive back to Reykjavík on Road Nr. 41 Reykjanesbraut.
Of Monsters and Men