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Clockwise or counterclockwise

This might sound silly, but it looks like Rick's advice is to go clockwise around the island, but does it matter which way you begin?

Arriving early morning (6 a.m.) in July, also, so does it make sense to take a couple days to get caught up on sleep (maybe a stop at the Blue Lagoon) before we start around the island. I think we have about 12 days.

Posted by
7571 posts

We went a few years ago, before Rick even had an Iceland guidebook. Also, it was early April, so going all the way up north wasn’t in the cards. But we spent a few days touring along the southern part, as far as the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, then doubled back. I can’t say that going east (counterclockwise) or west (returning clockwise) made for better traffic or views. Turning off the highway to a sight or parking might actually require more left turns if going counter-clockwise, thereby turning across the road, rather than exiting with a quick right, but that wouldn’t seem to be a big deal. Does Rick provide any rationale?

Our flight from Denver also arrived really early, but it was so much shorter than a flight to continental Europe. We stayed up all day in Reykjavik after landing, and did a whale watching boat tour in the early afternoon, and attended a performance that evening. Body clocks didn’t require that much adjustment, and sleeping on the plane maybe helped make a difference there. But I might not hop in a rental car right at the Keflavik airport immediately upon landing, and begin a big driving tour.

We went to the wonderful Fontana springs/sauna/steam/buffet restaurant on Day 2, and did not go to the Blue Lagoon that trip.

Posted by
2460 posts

Our first day in Iceland (arrival day) we took the time to get over jet lag. We walked around Reykjavik, had lunch and dinner and then got some shuteye. The next day we picked up the car and did the Golden Circle. We then proceeded to drive clockwise around the island for the next ten days.

Posted by
6622 posts

Clockwise means that on coastal stretches you're on the opposite side of the road from the water and shoreline, which might be a slight scenic disadvantage, but I don't think it's worth worrying about. I read Rick's driving tour description but I don't recall him recommending one direction over the other. He had to pick one. But maybe there was a reason for him to go clockwise.