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The Ultimate Guide to the Most Beautiful Places in South Iceland

The Most Picturesque Places in South Iceland

Whether you are a photographer, blogger, videographer or Instagrammer, Iceland must be on your bucket list. As anyone who has come here to shoot will tell you, their photographs and videos become incredibly popular instantly. You don’t need to be a professional. These dreamy locations simply sell anything whenever they appear. Let us show you around the most picturesque places in south Iceland!

Posted by: Viktória Komjáti


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The most curious-looking sea stacks, hair-raising rock cliffs, dramatic black sand beaches, columnar basalt formations, breathtaking landscapes and eye-catching mountains can be found in this tiny, remote country.

Snorkeling between tectonic plates? Walking on steaming lava fields? Touching a giant blue iceberg? Myriads of sparkling ice-diamonds laying on the black sand? No problem, Iceland has all of these wonders and more! Follow our guide and watch your Instagram profile blowing up!

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, South Iceland

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, South Iceland

The Most Picturesque Places in South Iceland

Starting from Reykjavík and heading south, you will feel the urge to stop every few kilometers for sure. The southern part of the country is, without doubt, the most visited area of Iceland, and for a very good reason - the most impressive sights are to be found here!

Rauðhólar, the Red Volcanic Hills Just Outside of Reykjavík

As you drive out of the city southbound, a few oddly shaped, red hills with green moss-patches immediately catch your attention. Do not drive by without stopping here!

This mystical place is called Rauðhólar, which translates to Red Hills. These hills are located in a nature reserve that is home to some incredibly attractive lava formations and caves. The Red Hills are a popular location for shooting wedding photos, but you can also go on a horseback riding tour across this martian terrain. Go ahead!

Volcanic red hills in Heiðmörk, just outside of Reykjavík

Volcanic red hills in Heiðmörk, just outside of Reykjavík

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Valley

Reykjadalur, the "smoky valley", is a thrilling place not only for your eyes but for your body and soul to enjoy! It takes an hour to drive here from Reykjavík and another hour of hiking to get to the hot river, but the prize is just priceless.

A small river with ribbons of warm water threading through it in a steamy geothermal valley, surrounded by green hills. Bathing in a naturally warm river in the middle of the wilderness - isn’t this potentially the best photo you ever get to shoot?

On the trail to the hot river

On the trail to the hot river

Landmannalaugar, the Colorful Geothermal Oasis

Landmannalaugar is a fascinating geological wonder. Rhyolite, iron, ash and other rare geological elements paint the surrounding mountains with shades of red, brown, black, pink, green and golden yellow.

This is an epic paradise made up of colorful mountains, steaming hot springs, rough lava fields and a natural geothermal pool where you can even take a relaxing bath! Don’t expect very strong network coverage here - no live videos - but who cares? Your mind-blowing videos are bound to go viral a few days later anyway.

Landmannalaugar, the colorful geothermal oazis

Landmannalaugar, the colorful geothermal oazis

Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, the Best Waterfalls in Iceland

Along the Ring Road on the South Coast, the next remarkable stop is Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall that you can walk behind. Visit it during the midnight sun in summer and you will see the tumbling falls turn gold!

The beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall

The beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Walk 300 meters from Seljalandsfoss to the west and you will find the breathtaking Gljúfrabúi waterfall hidden within the crack of the rock-face. It is a truly wondrous shooting location! This one is not for the faint-hearted, be prepared to get soaked!

Gljúfrabúi waterfall near Seljalandsfoss

Gljúfrabúi waterfall near Seljalandsfoss. Photo: Andrés Nieto Porras on Flickr

Thórsmörk, the Home to the Cutest Creatures on Earth

Arctic foxes! They are cute, friendly and very rare. Your followers are sure to go wild on seeing them. Of course, you’ll need just a little luck to see them long enough to snap a photo, but the Arctic fox family that lives in Thórsmörk, close to the campsite, is famous for being super-friendly and curious.

Arctic fox in Thórsmörk

Arctic fox in Thórsmörk

Don’t worry if you don’t catch a glimpse of them, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the most thrilling natural surroundings in Thórsmörk (Þórsmörk). Far from the paved roads, hidden between glaciers and volcanoes, Thórsmörk is a lush valley, a true oasis in the Icelandic highlands.

Thórsmörk valley

Thórsmörk valley

Skógafoss, Iceland’s Most Famous Waterfall

This waterfall is nothing short of legendary. Literally! As legend has it, there are amazing treasures hidden behind these falls, treasures that no one has found yet! You can climb to the 60-meter-high top and admire the fantastic panorama from there. There is a campsite at the bottom of Skógafoss, where you can shoot your best "room with a view" picture!

Beautiful Skógafoss waterfall

Beautiful Skógafoss waterfall

Follow the river up toward the mountains for a few more kilometers and you will find yourself unable to count the slew of beautiful waterfalls in this impressive, wild canyon. If you like hiking, walking the Fimmvörðuháls trail is something that you don't want to skip! This walk is definitely worth the effort!

The upper section of the Skógá river

The upper section of the Skógá river. Photo: Roma Ryabchenko on Wikimedia

Seljavallalaug, a Geothermal Pool in the Middle of the Wilderness

To find this ancient warm-water pool, you have to leave the ring road and hike for a bit. You’re guaranteed to enjoy it, as the landscape is just breathtaking! Naturally warm water flows into a man-made pool, the oldest one in Iceland. Rustic, unique and endlessly romantic!

Seljavallalaug pool in South Iceland

Seljavallalaug pool in South Iceland. Photo: Chris Johnston on Flickr

Sólheimasandur, Where a Plane Wreck Lays in the Black Desert

Continuing along the South Coast, you’ll soon see a large parking lot on the right side of the road, probably with many cars parked there, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Leave your car there and follow the path leading onto the black desert.

After walking for about an hour, you’ll see an old plane wreck resting on the black sand. Fortunately, no one got hurt in the accident when the crash happened, so you can admire this extraordinary installation totally guilt-free!

Plane wreck in the black desert in South Iceland

Plane wreck in the black desert in South Iceland. Photo: Giuseppe Milo on Flickr

Dyrhólaey, the Stunning Rock Formations Where Puffins Nest

These incredible rock cliffs and sea stacks always look amazing regardless of the weather and the light conditions. This is the image you can take over and over again, never taking the same photo twice. A 360-degree panorama awaits you here with breathtaking beauty in every direction.

View from the top of Dyrhólaey

View from the top of Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey is more than just a fantastic viewpoint. Thousands of cute puffins and other arctic seabirds nestle in these cliffs during summer. The birds can be approached at fairly close range, however, approaching them too closely around the edges of cliffs is very dangerous.

Puffins at Dyrhólaey

Puffins at Dyrhólaey

The grassy turf slopes hide a network of tunnels where the birds have dug burrows for their eggs. These holes can easily collapse if they are stepped on them, so take care and keep a fair distance from the cliff-edges and the birds.

Coastal rock cliffs at Dyrhólaey

Coastal rock cliffs at Dyrhólaey

Reynisfjara, One of the World’s Top Ten Non-Tropical Beaches

Of course, it is! Pitch black fine sand, giant columnar basalt formations, a huge coastal cave, a stunning mountain, and thrilling sea stacks in the background.

Sea stacks at Reynisfjara

Sea stacks at Reynisfjara

It is simply impossible to take a bad photo at Reynisfjara. Would it surprise you to know that this is the most popular wedding photography location in Iceland?

Columnar basalt formations at Reynisfjara

Columnar basalt formations at Reynisfjara

Vík, the Quaint Village with a Black Sand Beach

Vík is a tiny but adorable village with a beautiful black sandy beach. The mountain next to the village is probably one of the most sensational paragliding locations on the planet!

Puffins also nest here and there is a charming small church sitting on the hilltop. In summer, purple lupin field cover the hillside. Can you imagine a more idyllic photo location than this?

Vík village in South Iceland

Vík village in South Iceland

Fjaðrárgljúfur, One of the Most Beautiful Canyons in the World

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a massive, 100 meters deep and about two kilometres long canyon in South Iceland, near the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The Fjaðrá (river) runs in between the steep, moss-covered walls of the canyon.

Dramatic photos of this incredibly picturesque canyon went viral on Instagram and Pinterest. This mind-blowing place is ideal for drone photography!

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon Photo: VillageHero on Flickr

Eldhraun, the Fire Lava Field Where the Elves Hide

Eldhraun, ‘the Fire Lava’, is a huge and solid lava field close to the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The lava field is covered with a thick layer of vibrantly green moss, a sight which is extraordinary and unearthly. It looks like an endless field of fluffy, green pillows.

This area is also believed to be the home of dwarves and elves, something that only exists in Iceland! But please, do not step onto the moss! When damaged, it takes centuries for it to recover.

Eldhraun lava field in South Iceland

Eldhraun lava field in South Iceland

Hofskirkja, Iceland’s Famous Turf Church

Hofskirkja is a beautiful turf church in South-East Iceland. Turf roofs helped to shield the residents from the harsh Icelandic climate. These roofs were placed on houses of both the poor and the wealthy, and on all types of buildings - homes, stables, and churches. There are only six traditional turf churches left in Iceland, and Hofskirkja is probably the most beautiful one.

There is a cute country hotel next to the church where you can stay for the cheapest price available in this area.

Hofskirkja turf church in South Iceland

Hofskirkja turf church in South Iceland

Skaftafell Nature Reserve, the Glacier Paradise

With only one stop in the beautiful Nature Reserve of Skaftafell, you will able to see some outstanding beauties and capture a variety of Iceland’s most picturesque places.

Some wonderfully scenic glacier tongues are visible from the road that leads to Skaftafell. These are outlet glaciers from Europe largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. If you happen to carry a wide-angle lens, you will be able to capture all of them in one frame!

Glacier in Skatafell Nature Reserve

Glacier in Skatafell Nature Reserve

Svínafellsjökull, the Hollywood Glacier

As you approach the Nature Reserve, you will be able to walk quite close to any of the glaciers. You do, though, in your enthusiasm, need to remember stepping onto the glacier without a trained guide is not allowed! But there are plenty of amazing glacier tours that you can purchase both at the location and online.

You might want to see the famous Hollywood glacier, Svínafellsjökull, that has been a filming location for plenty of blockbuster movies and television shows, from Game of Thrones to Star Wars and Batman, to name just a few.

Svínafellsjökull, the Hollywood glacier

Svínafellsjökull, the Hollywood glacier

Svartifoss, Iceland’s Elegant Black Waterfall

A marked trail from Skaftafell Visitor Centre leads to Svartifoss, one of Iceland’s most unique waterfalls. It is an easy 5.5-kilometer-long (3.4 mi) circular walk to the ‘black waterfall’, which is what its name literally translates to.

The falls drop 12 meters (39tf), cascading from the surrounding black columnar jointing formations. These hexagonal columns provided inspiration to the architect of the famous church, Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík.

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Jökulsárlón, Probably the Most Beautiful Place in Iceland

Many of those who have visited it would agree that Jökulsarlón is probably the most unique and arguably the most beautiful place in Iceland. Massive pieces of ice break away from a glacier tongue of Europe’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. These blue icebergs float through a vast lagoon towards the sea.

Jökulsarlón glacier lagoon filled with blue icebergs

Jökulsarlón glacier lagoon filled with blue icebergs

The lagoon, filled with giant glacial icebergs, is constantly changing, it never looks the same twice. With the majestic Vatnajökull in the background, the sight is just so inspirational!

Huge icebergs at the Diamond Beach, 1 kilometre from Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Huge icebergs at the Diamond Beach, 1 kilometre from Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Diamond Beach, the Crown Jewel of Iceland

Only a kilometer from Jökulsarlón you will come to the beautiful Diamond Beach. The giant icebergs that float out from the lagoon arrive at the sea here. As they make it to the sea, the waves keep pushing them back onto the coast, so they finish up on the black volcanic sand. Broken into a million pieces, they resemble a multitude of sparkling diamonds. The sight and the feelings which greet you when you walk along the Diamond Beach are incredible!

Most Beautiful Places in South Iceland

 

 

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