Most people who venture forth to Iceland know that there is quite a lot of adventure to be had. However, nowhere is the adventure so exciting and the natural beauty so captivating as in the South in Iceland. Glaciers, waterfalls, beaches, and more await you when you visit. While the south in Iceland has only a few, sparsely populated towns, you’ll find plenty of comfortable and cozy lodging, delicious, world-class food, and adventures to fill each of your days. Many of the sights you’ll want to see will involve the massive glacier ice caps that cover still-active volcanoes, as well as the harsh and beautiful beaches covered in black sand along the coast.
Since Iceland is a bigger country than you might think, and most flights into the country go through the Keflavik airport, you will want to hire a car to travel the Ring Road and further East along the south coast. Make plans for tours and guided trips up the glaciers ahead of time, so that you can travel on your own schedule. Here are just some of the most impressive sights you can see in the south in Iceland.
The 2010 eruption brought world fame to Eyjafjallajökull volcano, causing so much smoke that flights were canceled all over Europe. Now, hikers attempt to scale the enormous glacier around the volcano to get close to the eruption site. Given that the hike itself will be a one or two-day affair with challenging terrain, it is always best to attempt this with a guide.
One of the most popular waterfalls, this impressive towering column of water has carved the landscape such that people can walk behind the waterfall, an experience that is at once awe-inspiring and quite loud! Definitely wear your poncho for this experience. The paths by Seljalandsfoss are beautiful to walk during a pretty spring or summer day, and these paths lead to other areas for exploring and other, smaller waterfalls along the cliff edge.
Seljavallalaug Natural Pool
One of the most charming aspects of the south in Iceland is that there are pristine places that seem untouched by tourism. One such spot is the Seljavallalaug natural pool. Decades back, a man created this pool, fed by a natural hot spring, and it remained warm enough for swimming. The pool is cleaned once a year, and there is a simple building for changing into one’s swimsuit, but otherwise, you wouldn’t know that it was there at all!
Arriving there requires following directions carefully and parking your rental car quite a ways back from the pool itself. After a rocky hike, you’ll round a corner to find the beautiful valley with the green, algae-filled pool. While odd indeed, a swim in this pool feels like a step back in time, especially if you arrive in the early morning and are the only ones there.
This high waterfall isn’t far from Seljalandfoss. While it isn’t possible to walk behind it, you can go up to the top of the waterfall to look down below. The waterfall is incredibly impressive, set back into a cliff-side, and hiking in and around the waterfall is exciting. During the winter, the going can get tough, but this spot remains open even in the cold months. Just keep an eye out for the slippery ice. In fact, if you are planning to explore extensively in the winter, look into renting a sturdy pair of crampons and winter gear.
This site has gained some interesting fame among tourists, despite not technically being a natural wonder. A few visitors saw this crash site of an American plane from 1973 and it became popular to hike the long, windy black sand beach to see it. While a bit of a desolate location, if you bundle up well, you can spend 45-60 minutes walking the beach, seeing the crashing waves, and admiring the view of nearby sites while journeying to the crash site. As usual, even a fairly ordinary beach in Iceland becomes extraordinary; you’ll tell the story of walking the path for years to come!
Very close to Reynisfjara is this iconic geological site, a beautiful
natural arch that looks impressive from the beach, but also allows you to drive up to the top at certain parts of the year. This rock formation has been shaped by centuries of tides and waves. The well-known puffins of the south in Iceland like to roost in this area. Thus, if you come during summertime (after June) you will see them as you enjoy the gorgeous views.
Before heading to Vik, stop by the prized black sand beaches of Reyn
isfjara. Nearly the most southern point of Iceland, these beaches boast columns of basalt that impress visitors. It is also being the source of Icelandic folktales about trolls who turned to stone. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, these beaches were used as sites in the film, so you might recognize it.
The Town of Vik
While the beautiful views and hiking opportunities are great, you may want a little journey into civilization when you are visiting the South of Iceland, and the best spot to do that is definitely Vik. While certainly not a large place, there are places to stay, a few nice restaurants, and companies that will take you horseback riding. It certainly isn’t the bustling metropolis that Reykjavik has become. However, Vik offers some interaction after a few long days out on the wide-open glaciers or in the car. This can be a good resting point if you intend to continue a journey on the Ring Road to see even more of the south in Iceland.
The fourth largest glacier in Iceland is also covering the mouth of Katla, the active volcano that is 40 years overdue for an eruption if averages hold. Snowmobiling on the thick ice of this glacier creates an otherworldly experience that is hard to imagine. The wide open spaces atop a glacier offer some of the most magnificent vistas in all of Iceland.
Vatnajökull National Park
For beautiful scenery, you’ll be hard pressed to find somewhere more impressive than the national park. The untamed landscape contains unusual wild plants during the summer and gorgeous vistas all year long. Visit the visitor’s center to get a better understanding of the cultural heritage of the south in Iceland.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
The beautiful water with the many floating icebergs at this lagoon makes one feel truly present in the Arctic Circle. Taking a boat tour offers a chance to see the waters and the icebergs up close without the frigid temperatures. On your trip, you can learn how warming temperatures have created this lagoon and the unique ice crystals that form. It can be a little overwhelming to realize that the lagoon is the deepest lake in all of Iceland, measuring 250 meters deep at some points!
Iceland’s uncommon geological history creates many landscapes that cause wonder, but nowhere is the scenery as perplexing as the diamond beach. Not only is this black sand beach near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, it contains many natural wonders. This includes the ability to view seals and orcas. However, it also includes the namesake of the beach: the crystal-blue iceberg pieces that wash up on the beach. Stay safe when spending time around these icebergs by wearing sturdy shoes, but definitely take some photographs. All kinds of light create amazing pictures at this spot.
Learn More About the South in Iceland
Are you ready to explorethe south in Iceland with the freedom of hiring a car to drive wherever? Learn more about the North of Iceland, The Golden Circle, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and the Westfjords as you plan your epic adventure in the land of fire and ice. When you have a sturdy rental car, you can see many impressive sites. You can cover a lot of ground in one day, but move at the pace that makes you happiest. We’ve compiled some of the best sites so that you can start planning a trip today!Back