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After I went to Iceland for the primary time (approach again in 2012, earlier than the nation grew to become an Instagram darling), I arrived with only a few plans – principally as a result of I hadn’t performed a ton of analysis earlier than reserving a winter trip to Iceland.

However my lack of plans lasted for about 5 minutes after boarding the Flybus from Keflavik Worldwide Airport.

There, within the bus’ seat-back pocket, was a brochure outlining all of the superior excursions and excursions you can do in Iceland. The Golden Circle, horseback driving, snorkeling in between tectonic plates… However one tour specifically caught my eye: the South Shore Journey on Iceland’s South Coast.

Admiring Jokulsarlon
Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss waterfall
Múlagljúfur Canyon
Múlagljúfur Canyon

The South Coast ended up being the primary a part of Iceland I actually skilled (after the Blue Lagoon). And it is the one a part of Iceland that I’ve visited on all FOUR of my journeys to Iceland.

If in case you have a rental automobile in Iceland, you may discover the South Coast over the course of a pair days. If you do not have a automobile, there are a number of tour corporations that do day journeys and even in a single day excursions to this a part of Iceland. Both approach, it is part of the nation you will not wish to miss!

An introduction to Iceland’s South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland has no official “begin” and “finish,” however most individuals would agree that it begins across the city of Selfoss, stretches by the village of Vík í Mýrdal and Vatnajökull Nationwide Park, and ends roughly across the city of Höfn.

(Höfn is in fact technically in East Iceland, however we’ll simply name that space the southeast coast; it is nonetheless unbelievable.)

The gap between Selfoss and Höfn is 400 kilometers (about 250 miles), and the best way to journey is by way of Route 1 AKA the Ring Highway AKA Þjóðvegur 1. All of the websites I will embody listed here are both alongside the Ring Highway, or simply reachable from it.

Ring Road in South Iceland
Ring Highway views in South Iceland in summer time

The South Shore has a few of Iceland’s most iconic landscapes, from thundering waterfalls to black sand seashores to glaciers and ice caves. And since I have been there a number of instances in nearly each type of climate you may think about, I will share my ideas on which spots are must-sees and which of them you may perhaps skip for those who’re quick on time.

When to go to the South Coast

Iceland’s South Coast is a well-liked space for vacationers to go to year-round. The Ring Highway doesn’t shut besides in essentially the most inclement climate (which might technically occur any time of yr, however is extra seemingly within the fall and winter).

The preferred time to go to Iceland is in the course of the summer time – primarily July and August. Anytime from June-September is an efficient wager although when it comes to with the ability to entry the whole lot. That is additionally the time of yr when the best variety of excursions are working.

Amanda behind Kvernufoss waterfall
Summer season is an efficient time to stroll behind waterfalls like Kvernufoss

Listed below are some examples of fine instances to go to the South Coast when it comes to what you wish to see:

  • Mid-Could by mid-August – Expertise the Midnight Solar, when the solar barely units, or units very very late.
  • Mid-Could by mid-August – Your finest likelihood to see puffins nesting.
  • Mid-June by early July – See fields of purple lupins blooming alongside the South Coast.
  • September/October – The times begin to get quick sufficient to probably see the Northern Lights.

I final visited all 25 of the spots listed beneath throughout an August journey to Iceland, however I’ve additionally visited in November.

25 epic issues to do on Iceland’s South Coast

To make this listing simpler to navigate, we’ll “journey” alongside the South Coast so as from west to east.

I will listing all the most well-liked sights, and offer you my opinion on whether or not I feel every one is value stopping for or not.

1. City of Selfoss

Sort of sight: City

We’ll begin within the city of Selfoss, which is lower than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik on the Ring Highway. The city is the most important in South Iceland – however with a inhabitants of below 7,000, it on no account appears like a giant metropolis.

Konungs Kaffi in Selfoss
Konungs Kaffi
The Old Dairy food hall in Selfoss
The Outdated Dairy (which is now a meals corridor)

Most individuals drive proper on by Selfoss on their option to different sights on the South Coast, but it surely’s value making a fast cease.

The city sits on the Ölfusá River, and is dwelling to the Bobby Fischer Middle, which is a small museum devoted to the well-known chess participant. An previous milk manufacturing unit within the heart of city has lately been remodeled right into a meals corridor and assortment of outlets; on the very least, cease in for a espresso on the very cute Konungs Kaffi.

Price it? Sure, for a espresso break or lunch.

Good to know: A lot of the eating places within the meals corridor are solely open till 9 p.m.

2. Seljalandsfoss

Sort of sight: Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Chances are high you have already seen pictures of this waterfall, because it’s one of many most-photographed waterfalls in Iceland. And it isn’t obscure why.

Seljalandsfoss cascades 200 toes over cliff right into a rounded pool surrounded by inexperienced moss. Due to the best way the cliff face is fashioned, you may truly stroll all the best way across the again of this waterfall, which you may positively wish to do!

The path is pretty quick (you may see it from the parking space), but it surely’s moist and could be slippery in spots. Know that if you wish to stroll the loop all the best way round behind the falls, there’s some rock scrambling concerned on the far left aspect for those who’re going counter-clockwise.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Folks strolling behind Seljalandsfoss
The view from behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall
The view from behind Seljalandsfoss

Price it? Sure, it is a very fairly waterfall and strolling behind it’s enjoyable.

Good to know: This can be a very fashionable spot, and you must pay to park within the devoted car parking zone (there is a pay station). Since it is so common, although, there are providers right here – together with restrooms.

3. Gljúfrabúi

Sort of sight: Waterfall

Gljúfrabúi waterfall inside a small canyon
A glimpse of the “Canyon Dweller”

If you happen to go to Seljalandsfoss, you may discover that the path continues on previous the primary well-known waterfall. Not as many individuals make the 10-minute stroll, however those that do can go to Gljúfrabúi, or the “Canyon Dweller.”

This 130-foot-tall waterfall cascades down right into a small gorge, virtually utterly hidden from view. Those that do not thoughts getting moist can stroll/wade into the canyon and see this spectacular waterfall.

Gljufrabui waterfall
Gljúfrabúi in summer time
Amanda at Gljufrabui waterfall
Put together to get VERY WET right here

Price it? Sure, however you’ll get VERY WET, so I extremely suggest totally mackintosh, pants, and boots to go to this one.

Good to know: It’s a must to stroll/wade by a shallow river to get contained in the canyon, however when you’re inside there are giant rock slabs to face on. Clearly do all of this at your individual danger!

4. Gluggafoss

Sort of sight: Waterfall

Gluggafoss waterfall
Gluggafoss on a really wet day

Often known as Merkjárfoss because it’s on the river Merkjá, Gluggafoss is one other waterfall value visiting on this space. It is positioned only a 25 minute drive north of Seljalandsfoss, and is usually a lot much less crowded since most individuals do not appear to learn about it.

This waterfall is definitely a collection of falls which have carved out fascinating holes within the rock that resemble home windows (and the Icelandic phrase for home windows is “gluggar,” therefore the Gluggafoss title). The highest part of the waterfall plunges 145 toes, whereas the underside part is about 27 toes tall.

A flat path goes proper as much as the falls from the parking space, and you’ll stroll behind the decrease part of the falls right here, too.

Amanda behind Gluggafoss
Simply hanging out behind one other waterfall

Price it? If in case you have the time to make this detour, sure! It is a good waterfall and normally not crowded.

Good to know: Gluggafoss is positioned off Highway 261, which is a paved highway that meets up with Route 1 in Hvolsvöllur. IF you wish to journey from Seljalandsfoss to Gluggafoss (or vice versa), the shortest route might be by way of Highway 250, however know that Highway 250 is a gravel highway (although one that’s normally satisfactory in a small automobile).

5. Eyjafjallajökull

Sort of sight: Volcano

The volcano well-known for snarling hundreds of flights again in 2011 appears to be like pretty unassuming rising out of the panorama simply north of the Ring Highway.

There is not any option to stand up near it, however there’s a “Eyjafjallajökull Data Level” marked on Google Maps that could be a great spot to cease for pictures. There are some data boards to learn right here, too.

Iceland landscape near Eyjafjallajökull
Panorama close to Eyjafjallajökull

Remember to ask an area correctly say “Eyjafjallajökull.” After working within the information media in the course of the 2011 eruption and listening to a whole bunch of mispronunciations of the volcano’s title for months, it is at all times cool to me to listen to it roll simply off Icelandic tongues.

Price it? If you would like a photograph of the well-known mountain, certain, this can be a fast cease.

Good to know: You may get the identical view on the close by Gamla fjósið restaurant, which makes for an honest meal cease.

6. Skógafoss

Sort of sight: Waterfall

Skogafoss waterfall with a slight rainbow
Skogafoss with a slight rainbow

Not far-off, one among Iceland’s greatest waterfalls tumbles over one other cliff that marks the nation’s former shoreline.

Skogafoss is likely one of the bigger waterfalls in Iceland (and the most important on the South Coast), with a peak of round 200 toes and a width of simply over 80 toes. This waterfall actually thunders!

Legend has it {that a} Viking settler within the space buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall, and folks have been looking out it for hundreds of years. It is mentioned that somebody discovered the chest at one level and grabbed one of many rings on the aspect, solely to have the ring pop off and the chest to vanish once more. The alleged ring can now be discovered on show on the close by Skógar Museum.

Amanda at Skogafoss
Up shut at Skogafoss – sure, you may get moist

You may get pretty near the bottom of the falls right here (put on the rain gear!), and there is additionally a set of stairs that can take you as much as the highest of the waterfall.

The steps (and know that there are over 400 of them) are steep, although, and until you wish to hike a part of the Waterfall Manner (extra on that within the subsequent part), I DON’T suppose climbing the steps only for the Skogafoss view is value it.

View at the top of Skogafoss
The “view” of Skogafoss from the highest viewing platform

Price it? Stopping to see Skogafoss is certainly value it! Climbing to the viewing platform? Possibly much less so.

Good to know: There’s a big parking space right here, and there is not any charge to park! There are restrooms, too, however you’ll have to pay a small charge to make use of these.

7. Waterfall Manner path

Sort of sight: Climbing path and waterfalls

Have a while and wish to go on an epic-yet-not-super-popular hike? Then the Waterfall Manner is likely to be for you. The path truly begins at Skogafoss, and requires you to climb these a whole bunch of stairs subsequent to the large waterfall.

When you’re on the prime, the Waterfall Manner path follows the Skógá River for 8 kilometers (about 5 miles), passing 26 completely different waterfalls alongside the best way. The Waterfall Manner hike is a part of the longer Fimmvörðuháls trail, which fits all the best way to Thórsmörk.

Hestavaðsfoss on the Waterfall Way trail
Hestavaðsfoss on the Waterfall Manner path

That is an out-and-back path, so you may hike as a lot or as little as you would like alongside the Waterfall Manner.

Price it? Climbing a part of this path is the one motive I would suggest climbing the Skogafoss steps! You possibly can hike as a lot of the Waterfall Manner path as you might have time for.

Good to know: From Skogafoss, the Waterfall Manner path is a gradual uphill stroll. Which implies it is all downhill when you determine to show round.

8. Skógar Museum

Sort of sight: Museum

Turf houses at the Skogar Museum
Turf homes on the Skogar Museum

Proper subsequent to Skógafoss is the Skógar Museum, a regional folks museum that really contains three completely different small museums and 6 historic buildings, together with a duplicate turf home village. It is an fascinating look into the historic lifestyle on this a part of Iceland.

The three completely different museums embody a folks museum, a technical museum, and an open-air museum (the place you may discover the turf homes).

Contained in the technical museum there’s additionally a beautiful little cafe that is a wonderful place to seize lunch.

Cafe at the Skogar Museum
Cafe contained in the Skogar Museum

Price it? If you happen to take pleasure in small folks museums, then sure that is an fascinating cease! (And it is cool as a result of you may go contained in the turf homes.) If you happen to’re quick on time although, I would not name this a must-do.

Good to know: There’s a charge to park close to the transport museum constructing of the Skógar Museum – however this may additionally function parking for the subsequent sight on this listing! When the museum is open, you may go inside to pay; if it isn’t open, you might have to pay by way of an app like Parka, or on-line at Parka.is.

9. Kvernufoss

Sort of sight: Waterfall

Kvernufoss waterfall
Approaching Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss might be my favourite waterfall on the South Coast – and perhaps my favourite waterfall in all of Iceland!

It is very near the Skógar Museum and Skogafoss, and but most vacationers do not appear to learn about it. It is the one main waterfall on the South Coast that you just might need all to your self even for those who’re visiting in the course of the summer time.

Kvernufoss is a skinny 100-foot waterfall half tucked-away in a small gorge. It requires a brief (quarter-hour or so) hike throughout a comparatively flat discipline, and when you attain it you might have the choice to stroll down into the gorge and behind the waterfall.

Amanda behind Kvernufoss waterfall
Liked going behind Kvernufoss!

Despite the fact that Seljalandsfoss is taller, I felt like being behind Kvernufoss was much more spectacular as a result of you may see mainly all the waterfall because it cascades down.

Price it? Completely sure! That is such a cool waterfall, and never practically as busy as among the others on this listing.

Good to know: The path to get to Kvernufoss begins on the car parking zone on the Skógar Museum’s transport museum (which, keep in mind you want to pay to park at; you may pay upfront here). The path is generally flat, however you do should climb over a farm fence as soon as, which requires you to make use of a ladder-like set of steps.

10. Sólheimajökull

Sort of sight: Glacier

Blue glacier ice with ash on top in Iceland
Glacier ice in Iceland

If you wish to stand up near a glacier in Iceland, Sólheimajökull is likely one of the most straightforward to entry. So although it isn’t precisely on the coast in South Iceland, I am nonetheless together with it right here.

Sólheimajökull is a part of the bigger Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is the fourth-largest ice cap in Iceland. It sits atop the (nonetheless very lively) Katla volcano, making it an excellent distinctive place to go to.

You possibly can drive up actually near Sólheimajökull arm of the glacier for pictures, and also can ebook quite a lot of excursions right here together with glacier walks, ice climbing, and snowmobiling. (Simply please by no means try and stroll onto ANY glacier by yourself with out a information – ice could be very harmful!)

Price it? If you wish to ebook a glacier hike, this can be a nice choice that is priced fairly nicely!

Good to know: That is one other spot the place you want to pay to park. You possibly can pay online in advance, or through the use of the Parka app.

11. Sólheimasandur airplane wreck

Sort of sight: Seaside/desert

Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland
Sólheimasandur airplane wreck

You’ve got seemingly seen pictures of this website, too – the wreckage of a DC-3 airplane on a black sand seaside.

The airplane was a US Navy Douglas Tremendous DC-3 (the US used to have a navy base in Iceland), and it crashed on this huge black sandy plain in 1973 throughout a brief provide mission. Nobody was harm in the course of the crash, and for no matter motive nobody ever moved the wreckage.

You used to have the ability to drive proper as much as the airplane wreck (I did again in 2015), however you not can. The airplane is on personal land, and the land homeowners acquired more and more pissed off by thoughtless vacationers as the location’s reputation grew. They did not utterly shut the location down or take away the airplane, although. Now you simply should park in a chosen lot and hike to the airplane.

Sólheimasandur black sand plain
What you must hike by to achieve the airplane

The draw back is that the hike to the airplane wreck is 2 miles every approach by very flat (and fairly boring) volcanic desert terrain, and on the finish it is actually simply the partial skeleton of an previous airplane to see.

There’s a shuttle that runs folks out to the airplane each half-hour beginning at 10 a.m. every day (so long as climate permits), but it surely prices $20 per particular person along with what you must pay to park, and I actually do not suppose it is value that.

Sólheimasandur plane wreck up close
That is all there may be to see on the website

Price it? Actually, no, I do not suppose this can be a cease value making any longer until you are spending a whole lot of time on the South Coast and have 2+ hours to kill in an effort to do the hike. I positively do not suppose taking the $20 shuttle is value it.

Good to know: Regarless of the way you get to the wreck website, you may should pay to park within the lot simply off the Ring Highway. You are able to do this online in advance, or utilizing the Parka app.

12. Dyrhólaey Viewpoint

Sort of sight: Scenic spot

Dyrhólaey Viewpoint over a long black sand beach
View of the Limitless Black Seaside at Dyrhólaey Viewpoint

Positioned excessive above what’s often called “The Limitless Black Seaside,” the Dyrhólaey Viewpoint is certainly a cease value making on the South Coast. There are literally two areas you may go to on the small Dyrhólaey Peninsula, with essentially the most notable one being the perspective on the prime of a hill.

The point of view has a big parking space with entry to a brief path that loops across the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse. Nearest to the cliff edge, you get nice views of the Dyrhólaey rock formation, which is a big arch. Simply beware that it may be VERY windy up right here, so do not get too near the sting!

Dyrhólaey rock arch
Dyrhólaey rock arch

Price it? Undoubtedly value it for an epic photograph cease.

Good to know: The point of view is up on prime of a hill, and requires you to drive up a reasonably steep highway. It might probably additionally get VERY windy up there. There’s one other viewpoint nearer to seaside stage, which is marked on Google Maps as “Dyrhólaey View Parking Lot.” There are restrooms at this decrease viewing space.

13. Reynisfjara Seaside

Sort of sight: Seaside

Reynisfjara Beach
View of the seaside from the parking space

Iceland is legendary for its black sand seashores, and Reynisfjara Seaside is probably essentially the most well-known of these. Wind-swept with large Atlantic waves, Reynisfjara is the epitome of of what you in all probability image if you consider an Icelandic Seaside.

It is recognized for its tall basalt columns proper on the seaside (which kind the Hálsanefshellir Cave), in addition to the Reynisdrangar rock formations proper offshore (legend has it they’re truly trolls who acquired caught and frozen within the daylight). Puffins additionally nest on the cliffs right here in the course of the summer time months.

Puffins at Reynisfjara Beach
Puffins seen in August 2022
Amanda on basalt columns at Reynisfjara Beach
The basalt columns are fairly cool

Reynishfjara is certainly a powerful seaside, but it surely’s additionally one of many extra harmful seashores in Iceland. Massive “sneaker waves” are widespread right here, and sadly have swept unsuspecting vacationers to their deaths earlier than. There are indicators warning folks about how harmful this seaside could be, however most individuals ignore them.

Price it? Actually I am on the fence about this one. Sure, it is “well-known” in Iceland, but it surely’s additionally normally crowded and people sneaker waves are critically no joke and so scary. Ten years in the past I might have mentioned it was a must-see, however now I type of really feel like you can skip it.

Reynisdrangar rock formations in Iceland; photo is black and white
This seaside is critically so harmful; I took this photograph in 2012, and was in all probability too near the water!

Good to know: There’s a pretty big parking space right here that is free to make use of (for now, no less than). There’s additionally a new-ish cafe referred to as the Black Seaside Restaurant proper subsequent to the parking space.

14. Vík í Mýrdal

Type of sight: Town

Not far from the famous black beach is the small town of Vík í Mýrdal, or just simply Vik. Vik is not really what I’d call a charming town (not like Husavik or Siglufjörður or Seydisfjordur), but it surely’s used as a base for a number of journey tour corporations and makes a great stopping level.

Small white church with a red roof with tall mountains behind it
Vík i Myrdal Church

Together with having its personal black sand seaside (that’s a lot much less crowded than close by Reynisfjara), the red-roofed Vík i Myrdal Church can also be a preferred spot for pictures. If the climate is dangerous, you may take a look at the Icelandic Lava Present or the small Skaftfellingur Museum, which facilities round shipwrecks.

And for those who’re searching for meals in Vik, I can extremely suggest Black Crust Pizzeria, which does certainly make pizza with black crust.

Pepperoni pizza with a black crust
Black Crust Pizzeria makes use of charcoal of their crust, and their pizza is delicous.

Price it? You may in all probability have to cease right here anyway, even when it is only for a meal or to gasoline up your automobile. You could as nicely see the few sights, too.

Good to know: The Ring Highway goes proper by the middle of city.

15. Katla ice cave

Sort of sight: Glacier

I debated together with this one or not, as a result of the “ice cave” you may go to on Myrdalsjokull Glacier (normally simply referred to as the “Katla ice cave”) generally is a bit underwhelming for some folks. It isn’t an enormous, blue-ice cave like those you may see in Iceland within the winter.

BUT, the Katla ice cave is accessible year-round, making this the one ice cave you may see in the course of the summer time months.

Ice formation on Myrdalsjokull Glacier
Notice: that is NOT the Katla ice cave, however one other random ice formation on the Myrdalsjokull Glacier.

You do should book a tour in an effort to go to the Katla cave, which features a Tremendous Jeep experience and a stroll throughout the glacier. (Book the tour here)

Price it? If you happen to do not suppose you may ever go to Iceland within the winter and also you go in with lifelike expectations, then I feel this generally is a enjoyable tour. (If you happen to’re doing one other correct glacier hike, although, then I would in all probability skip this one.)

Good to know: Glaciers are continually altering and shifting, so there is not any assure the cave will stay a cave endlessly. It is also fairly small from the pictures I’ve seen.

16. Eldhraun lava discipline

Sort of sight: Lava discipline

You are going to see a lot of lava fields in Iceland. However the Eldhraun lava discipline is exclusive.

Moss atop a large lava field in Iceland
The moss is tempting to pet – however no sensitive!

Eldhraun is the most important lava circulate of its sort anyplace on this planet, and was the results of a cataclysmic eruption of a volcano referred to as Laki from 1783 to 1784. This volcanic eruption brought on plague-like illness and famine in Iceland, and the ash and haze from it altered the local weather in all the Northern Hemisphere. Crop failures brought on by this eruption are even partially blamed for sparking the French Revolution.

At the moment, the large lava discipline (it covers greater than 215 sq. miles!) is roofed in a thick layer of spongy green-gray moss. This moss appears to be like tremendous inviting to pat or lay on, however please chorus from touching or strolling on it! The moss may be very fragile, and as soon as broken might by no means develop again.

There are a number of locations to cease and see this lava discipline; I would suggest “Gönguleið um Eldhraun” on Google Maps, the place you’ll find some data boards and a few established trails you may safely stroll on.

Price it? Undoubtedly value it for a fast photograph cease.

Good to know: Keep in mind, do not stroll on or squish the moss!

17. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Sort of sight: Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon view
Fjaðrárgljúfur

It appears to be like like a mouthful, I do know. However simply know that “gljúfur” in Icelandic means “canyon.” And this is likely one of the extra accessible canyons you may go to alongside the South Coast of Iceland since it isn’t far off the Ring Highway.

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon by which the Fjaðrá river has carved out a hanging panorama that appears prefer it belongs in Lord of the Rings. The canyon is greater than 320 toes deep and stretches for over a mile.

A path from the parking space will take you up alongside the highest a part of the canyon, which is fairly gorgeous! You may get good views by simply strolling for about 10 minutes, or you may stroll the entire size of the canyon in case you have extra time. (On the finish there is a waterfall referred to as Mögáfoss to see.)

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
We visited late within the day so opted to not hike far; however the views are nonetheless good!

Simply be aware that this canyon has been liked a bit of an excessive amount of in recent times (thanks partly to Justin Bieber filming a part of a music video right here). After I visited in 2022, a chosen strolling path and cord boundaries had been put in alongside the primary half mile or so of the path to maintain folks from trampling all of the vegetation. The ropes make it unimaginable to get too near the canyon edge.

Price it? Sure, I do suppose it is value visiting!

Good to know: It’s a must to drive down a gravel highway to get right here, but it surely’s nicely maintained and satisfactory in a daily automobile exterior of the winter months. Parking is free, and there are restrooms close to the car parking zone. Keep in mind to respect the marked path.

18. Skaftafell / Svartifoss

Sort of sight: Climbing path and waterfall

Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss waterfall

Skaftafell is a protected pure space that is a part of Vatnajökull Nationwide Park, which is dwelling to the most important ice cap in Iceland. Skaftafell was once a nationwide park itself, and has a customer heart, campsite, and several other climbing trails.

There are a number of hiking trails in Skaftafell (all beginning close to the customer heart), however the most well-liked are the path to see Skaftafellsjökull (a glacier tongue of the bigger Vatnajökull glacier), and the hike to the well-known Svartifoss waterfall (pictured above).

You’ve got in all probability seen pictures of Svartifoss; the 65-foot-tall waterfall tumbles down from the highest of tall, black basalt columns (which provides the waterfall its title since “svarti” refers back to the coloration black).

Svartifoss waterfall
The primary glimpse of Svartifoss from the highest of the path (you must hike right down to the waterfall).

The waterfall is certainly memorable, however the hike to get to it’s much less thrilling. It is a bit of below a mile one-way to achieve the waterfall, however the All Trails evaluations that label this hike “straightforward” are barely deceptive. It is straightforward within the sense that the path is extensive and smooth-surfaced and straightforward to observe. However it’s fully uphill for about 40 minutes, with some steep sections at first.

When you get near the waterfall, you must hike down into the small canyon it flows into the place there is a viewing platform. This entire space was fairly crowded on the August afternoon after I went.

Price it? Actually… perhaps, however perhaps not. If you happen to actually wish to see Svartifoss and do not thoughts the mile of uphill climbing, then certain, go for it. However the hike itself is fairly boring (there aren’t actually any views till you get nearer to the waterfall), and until you may go early or late within the day in the summertime, you positively will not have the view to your self. I am glad I noticed it as soon as, however seemingly would not do that one once more.

Hike to Svartifoss in Skaftafell
The hike to Svartifoss is one among my least favourite (you hike up from that flat decrease space you may see right here).

Good to know: If you happen to’re searching for an extended hike, you may join the Svartifoss path to the path to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint. Additionally, there’s a lot of parking close to the customer heart, however you do have to pay to park at a pay station within the car parking zone.

(Notice that it is also attainable to ebook Vatnajökull glacier climbing excursions *close to* Skaftafell. Like this short one, or this longer one.)

19. Hofskirkja

Sort of sight: Turf church

There are solely 6 turf church buildings left in Iceland, and Hofskirkja is one among them. This makes for a straightforward cease alongside the Ring Highway that is value it for a photograph.

Hofskirkja turf church
Hofskirkja

Hofskirkja was initially constructed within the Eighties, and was utterly restored within the Nineteen Fifties. Hofskirkja remains to be a training parish, however the church inside will not be open to vacationers. You possibly can nonetheless go to the surface and the connected cemetery, although, which is stuffed with burial mounds that make the bottom appear to be it has waves.

Price it? Sure, it is a cool photograph cease that is completely different from virtually the whole lot else you may see on the South Coast.

Good to know: The constructing is maintained by the Nationwide Museum of Iceland. Please respect the truth that vacationers aren’t allowed inside.

20. Múlagljúfur Canyon

Sort of sight: Canyon

Múlagljúfur Canyon
Múlagljúfur Canyon

If you wish to know my private favourite spot on the South Coast… it is this one! Múlagljúfur is a canyon not removed from the Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon that hasn’t but been found by the vacationer plenty.

The canyon will not be tremendous straightforward to entry, requiring a drive down a bumpy and pitted gravel highway (I technically did it in a daily automobile, however a 4WD might be advisable). When you make it there, you then have a reasonably strenuous uphill hike for 45 minutes or so on a path that is not likely nicely marked.

However the views when you make it to the highest of the canyon? SO WORTH IT.

Múlagljúfur Canyon
Magical views at Múlagljúfur

You possibly can see a number of waterfalls cascading down into the moss-covered canyon. And, for those who get fortunate sufficient to have the clouds half on the head of the canyon, you may additionally see a bit of peek of glacier. (However I feel this spot is much more magical with a bit of fog and mist.)

Price it? If you happen to’re in comparatively respectable form and have a pair hours to dedicate to the entire hike (between climbing and taking pictures, this took us a bit of over 2 hours in good climate), then YES, that is so value it. I might fortunately do that hike once more.

Good to know: The path is not tremendous straightforward to observe, however simply know that you want to go UP till you get to the canyon’s edge. There’s additionally a river crossing concerned, so waterproof boots are a good suggestion for those who’re not assured rock-hopping.

21. Fjallsárlón

Sort of sight: Glacier and glacier lagoon

Amanda at Fjallsárlón with two glaciers
Fjallsjökull viewpoint all to myself

Jökulsárlón beneath is essentially the most well-known glacier lagoon in Iceland – but it surely’s not the one one! Fjallsárlón is smaller, however usually so much much less crowded.

The official spot to go to is marked as “Fjallsárlón Glacier Parking” on Google Maps. There is a cafe right here and a few providers, and that is additionally the place boat excursions on this glacier lagoon start.

If you happen to do not thoughts tackling a bumpy gravel highway, you too can go to the spot marked as “Viewpoint of Fjallsjökull,” which is an ever quieter spot to view the glacier lagoon and varied glacier tongues. Kate and I visited this space, and had the entire viewpoint to ourselves.

Fjallsárlón
Glacier view

Price it? If in case you have time to go to each glacier lagoons, do it! We truly most popular this one as a result of it was a lot extra peaceable.

Good to know: A zodiac tour on Fjallsarlon is extra reasonably priced than an analogous boat tour at Jökulsárlón!

22. Jökulsárlón

Sort of sight: Glacier lagoon

Icebergs at Jokulsarlon
Jokulsarlon in summer time 2022

That is Iceland’s well-known glacier lagoon, the place giant chunks of ice break off the glaciers in Vatnajökull Nationwide Park and slowly make their approach out to sea. Getting out into the lagoon on a boat is common right here and pretty straightforward; you are able to do a fast 35-minute tour in an amphibious boat for those who’re quick on time, or ebook an hour-long zodiac tour that can get you up nearer to the ice.

You can even simply cease right here for some pictures, as you may stroll proper as much as the sting of the lagoon.

Additionally, know that the quantity of ice within the lagoon varies from season to season, and generally even from week to week or daily.

Lots of icebergs in Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon
Jokulsarlon in winter 2015

Price it? Undoubtedly, whether or not you are simply stopping for pictures or to take a ship tour on the lagoon. (However do ebook any boat excursions upfront!)

Good to know: Boat and zodiac excursions solely run right here Could-October. (Through the winter, although, the ice caves are accessible.) Parking is free, and there are restrooms and normally meals vans right here. Simply know that this can be a very busy place, and the car parking zone usually fills up quick in the course of the summer time months.

23. Diamond Seaside

Sort of sight: Seaside

Ice chunks on the black sand of Diamond Beach
Blue ice and black sand

Simply throughout the Ring Highway from Jokulsarlon is a spot often called Diamond Seaside, the place sea-polished chunks of glacier ice wash up on a black sand seaside. It is makes for a cool photograph cease.

Amanda licking a chunk of ice at Diamond Beach
Diamond Seaside is an efficient place for foolish pictures – and it is secure to get near the water right here.

Price it? Sure, it is an exquisite spot the place you may see black sand AND glacier ice collectively.

Good to know: There are two parking areas for Diamond Seaside, one on either side of the bridge that spans the outlet of Jokulsarlon. Parking is free, and it is a quick stroll from the parking space to the seaside over rocky floor.

24. Vatnajökull Glacier

Sort of sight: Glacier

You’ve got been seeing arms and tongues of this nice glacier all alongside the South Coast – however you may stand up nearer if you’d like!

Blue ice cave under Vatnajokull glacier in winter
Vatnajokull ice cave (in winter)

As a reminder, Vatnajökull is the most important ice cap in Iceland, protecting roughly 8% of the nation. Beneath it sit a number of lively volcanoes, in addition to Hvannadalshnjukur, the tallest mountain in Iceland.

Through the winter months (normally November-March), you are able to do glacier hikes on elements of the glacier to visit winter ice caves. In the summertime, although, the most well-liked tour to take here’s a snowmobiling tour on prime of the glacier like this one.

Price it? You are going to see varied bits and items of this glacier all alongside the South Coast. If you happen to’re visiting in winter, doing an ice cave tour right here is certainly value it. In summer time although? You in all probability needn’t make an additional journey.

Good to know: Vatnajokull Nationwide Park encompasses all the glacier and lots of areas round it (the park presently protects 5,460 sq. miles!).

25. Stokksnes

Sort of sight: Seaside and scenic spot

Amanda at Stokksnes
Me loving the quiet sand dunes at Stokksnes

Okay, so this one technically belongs in East Iceland because it’s barely previous Höfn. BUT, because it’s one among my favourite locations in Iceland, I’ll embody it right here anyway.

Stokksnes is a small peninsula with dramatic mountains and a black sand seaside. You’ve got seemingly seen pictures of the double-peaked Vestrahorn mountain earlier than – I did, and it is what made me wish to go to!

The black sand seaside beneath Vestrahorn with its gently rolling dunes is certainly the star right here, however you too can go to a “Viking village” that was constructed as a film set, in addition to hike out to a lighthouse and probably see some seals.

Wide angle of Stokksnes
A wider view of Vestrahorn
Viking Village at Stokksnes
Viking village film set you may go to

Price it? Sure, I positively suppose so. Even in August (AKA excessive season), this spot was comparatively quiet and we fell in love with the views.

Good to know: The Stokksnes peninsula is personal land, so that you do have to pay an entry charge in an effort to go to. Pay your charge on the Viking Cafe (which additionally serves espresso and meals, and has public restrooms).


Spots not on this listing that perhaps ought to be:

  • Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool – Solely reachable by a hike of roughly 1 mile every approach, this can be a geothermally heated swimming pool. No providers besides a primary altering space.
  • LAVA Centre in Hvolsvöllur – Interactive museum about volcanoes.
  • Gígjagjá (“Yoda Cave”) – A enjoyable photograph cease and spot to discover, reachable by way of a gravel highway.
  • Hoffell Sizzling Tubs – 5 small sizzling tubs out in nature. Evaluations usually say the water is just too sizzling.

(These aren’t on my listing just because I have never visited them and due to this fact cannot speak about them! On my subsequent journey, I will attempt to go to a few of these.)


What number of days do you want on the South Coast

If you happen to wished to see each single factor listed above (and to perhaps do the hikes, glacier walks, boat excursions, and many others.), you want AT LEAST 3 days on the South Coast.

You possibly can simply fill 4-5 days although, or you can whittle it right down to 2 full days for those who skipped among the longer hikes and solely went as far east as Jokulsarlon.

Iceland South Coast excursions

Need to discover Iceland’s South Coast on a tour as an alternative of driving your self? That is what I did on my earlier journeys to Iceland. Listed below are some common excursions to take a look at:

(Notice that the majority of those excursions begin in Reykjavik, so these are nice for those who’re basing your self there and never renting a automobile.)

The place to remain on the South Coast

There are 3 most important lodging varieties you may discover in Iceland:

  1. Motels – The usual that you just’re used to, with entrance desks and facilities like wifi, resort eating places, and many others. Resort rooms in Iceland are normally pretty Scandinavian in model, which generally means fairly minimalistic. There are only a few resort chains or large accommodations in Iceland exterior of Reykjavik.
  2. Guesthouses – These are normally smaller than accommodations. Rooms are primary, and you may usually be utilizing shared loos, kitchens, lounge areas, and many others. In smaller cities, guesthouses are extra widespread than accommodations.
  3. Residences – There are condominium leases throughout Iceland, that are good for longer stays or for those who’re touring with household or just a few associates.

Because you’re in all probability going to spend a pair nights on the South Coast, listed here are some good lodging choices.

  • 360 Hotel & Thermal BathsThe highest-rated resort in Selfoss, this family-run luxurious resort presents up snug rooms with gorgeous views. There’s an on-site restaurant, plus a thermal pool for visitors to take pleasure in.
  • Ásahraun GuesthouseSimply exterior of Selfoss, you may lease a comfy barrel cabin right here. They’re SO cute and comfortable, although they don’t seem to be made for greater than 2 folks. Numerous considerate small touches, and a pleasant shared bathe.
  • UMI HotelLook out on the sea in a single route, and in direction of Eyjafjallajokull within the different. This resort is in a quiet spot, and has an on-site restaurant.
  • The Garage ApartmentsIf you would like a complete studio to your self, The Storage is a favourite on the South Coast. Residences have sea, mountain, and waterfall views, and each unit has a kitchenette.
  • Solheimahjaleiga GuesthousePositioned on a household farm, this guesthouse presents quite a lot of rooms varieties, in addition to a nightly meal that is extremely advisable.
  • Hotel Vik i MyrdalThe highest-rated resort in Vik, Resort Vik is inside strolling distance to the city’s black sand seaside. There’s an on-site restaurant, and household rooms out there.
  • Hotel KriaOne other of the highest-rated accommodations in Vik, Resort Kria has an on-site bar and restaurant.
  • Fosshotel Glacier LagoonPositioned comparatively near each glacier lagoons, this Fosshotel is an expensive choice alongside the South Coast. It has a restaurant and bar.
  • Nypugardar GuesthouseA highly-rated choice near Hofn, this guesthouse on a farm presents comfortable rooms with good views.
Barrel cabin at Asahraun Guesthouse
Staying at Ásahraun Guesthouse

(Notice: If you happen to’re touring in the course of the summer time months, you may wish to ebook your South Coast lodging as early as attainable! It does refill, and costs do get excessive.)

What to put on in Iceland

I’ve one main packing tip for Iceland: heat, waterproof layers!

It doesn’t matter what time of yr you are visiting, you are going to desire a rain coat (and possibly rain pants), waterproof boots/footwear of some kind, and a hat in Iceland. Add as many layers beneath as you want to keep heat. (The wind and rain are virtually at all times chilly, and the excessive temperatures hardly ever get above 55 F even in July and August.)

Some must-haves for me embody:

Take a look at my whole Iceland packing list here.

READ NEXT: 19 Epic Things to Do and See on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland


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Things to see on Iceland's South Coast

 



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