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South Coast of Iceland - Tours - Excursions

Volcanoes, glaciers, lagoons and much more...

The South Coast is an increasingly popular touring destination and it's not hard to see why. The region plays host to many gorgeous waterfalls and the road leads onward to Vík's stunning coastline.

South Coast Day Tours

Minibus day tours departing from Reykjavik

Multi-Day South Coast Tours

Explore the South Coast over multiple days

South Coast Package Tours

Tour packages where our most popular tours are combined for an amazing travel experience - At a lower price! Note that the multi-day combo packages do not include accommodation (and they are only available from Reykjavik).

South Iceland Travel Guide

South Iceland is deservedly the most famous area in Iceland. It features the most curious-looking sea stacks, hair-raising rock cliffs, dramatic black sand beaches, columnar basalt formations, stunning waterfalls, breathtaking glaciers, and the largest natural parks in the country.

If you are looking for an adventure not so far from Reykjavík, the South Coast is the way to go! Read our travel guide for more information on the must-visit places in South Iceland. Find out where the most photogenic stops are located and what are the most bucket list-worthy activities along the way. If you want to get the most out of your stay in Iceland, hit the road and travel the South Coast!

Must-Visit Places in South Iceland

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Valley

Just a 40-minute drive and an hour hike from Reykjavík is a stunning valley filled with countless steaming hot springs and a warm river which people love to bathe in all year round. Reykjadalur, the "smoky valley," is a geothermal valley surrounded by vibrantly green hills which are, of course, covered by snow in winter. Bathing in a naturally warm river in the middle of the wilderness is something you should definitely put on your bucket list.

Chilling in the hot river in Reykjadalur

Chilling in the hot river in Reykjadalur

Landmannalaugar - A Geothermal Oasis in the Highlands

Landmannalaugar is located in the southern part of the Icelandic Highlands. This fascinating geological wonder is famous for its colorful mountains. Rhyolite, iron, ash, and moss along with other elements paint the surrounding mountains red, brown, black, pink, green, and golden yellow.

Steaming hot water rises up from under the lava field and forms a natural geothermal pool where you can take a pampering dip. An amazing hiking trail network awaits you. Landmannalaugar is the ultimate base for Iceland’s most famous multi-day trek, the epic Laugavegur. Do not skip visiting this phenomenal place while you are in Iceland.

The colorful Landmannalaugar valley

The colorful Landmannalaugar valley

Thórsmörk - A Valley Between the Glaciers

Thórsmörk is another lush oasis in the Highlands filled with birch forests and rare examples of the arctic flora. The valley is hidden between glaciers and volcanoes which gives it a milder microclimate and makes Thorsmörk one of the locals’ favorite hiking areas.

The valley is filled with well-mapped, beautiful hikes. It connects the famous Laugavegur trek with the majestic Fimmvörðuháls trail. Combining these two epic hikes results in an unforgettable four to six-day long adventure!

The vibrant valley of Thórsmörk

The vibrant valley of Thórsmörk

Views of the Westman Islands

A small group of islands off the south coast of Iceland is visible from the Ring Road. Together, they are called the Westman islands, ‘Vestmannaeyjar.’ With a total of 14 islands, the largest is Heimaey, the ‘home island.’ This is the only one that is inhabited year round, though several islands have small summer cabins as well.

In good weather, the islands are visible from the Ring Road near Seljalandsfoss. It is possible to take a ferry and visit Heimaey if you are open to a nice detour on your trip. The Westman Islands offer amazing natural attractions. They are home to the largest puffin colony in the world and allow you to walk on lava covered houses, to name a few.

Views of the Westman Islands

Photo: Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA

Must-Visit Places on the South Coast of Iceland

Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls

Along the Ring Road on the South Coast, one of the most remarkable stops is Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This is the famous one that you can walk behind in summer. The origin of the water is the infamous volcano glacier, Eyjafjallajökull. The cascade falls from over 60 meters (197 feet) high.

Walk a few minutes from Seljalandsfoss westward and you will find another breathtaking waterfall called Gljúfrabúi. Hiding within the crack of the rock-face, it is extremely stunning. You have to walk into a stream to get to the crack, so be sure that your shoes are waterproof and be prepared to get soaked!

Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Views of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano

Eyjafjallajökull is a 1651-meter (5416 feet) tall glacier-volcano that made itself famous in 2010 when it erupted violently. No one was actually hurt in this volcanic eruption which threw a huge amount of ash into the air.

These dark clouds then traveled with the wind towards Europe, shutting down the air traffic in many countries over six days. Today, Eyjafjallajökull is calm and peaceful. In good weather, the epic volcano can be seen from the Ring Road. It is definitely worth a photo stop!

Eyjafjallajökull volcano in the background

Eyjafjallajökull volcano in the background

The Skógafoss Waterfall

Only a 25-minute drive from Seljalandsfoss is Skógafoss, one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Iceland. Skógafoss is 60 meters (197 feet) tall and 25 meters (80 feet) wide. You cannot walk behind this one, but legend has it that there are amazing treasures hidden behind its cascade. No one has found them yet!

Once you are there, do not skip climbing the 572 stairs to the top of the waterfall. Admiring the fantastic panorama from the top is an absolute must do.

Skógafoss waterfall

Skógafoss waterfall

Sólheimasandur - A Plane Wreck in the Black Desert

There is an age-old plane wreck resting on the black sand in South Iceland. The United States Navy DC plane has been there since 1973. The pilot switched over to the wrong fuel tank while flying over Iceland which resulted in a forced landing on the black sand. Fortunately, no one got hurt in the accident so you can visit this extraordinary installation totally guilt free!

Plane wreck in the black desert

Photo: Giuseppe Milo on Flickr

Sólheimajökull Glacier

When you visit Iceland, you have to explore at least one glacier. Approximately 11% of the country’s total land area is covered with glaciers. Mýrdalsjökull glacier is one of the closest to Reykjavík. Its stunning outlet glacier is called Sólheimajökull, the ‘glacier of the sun’s home.’ It is easily accessible and therefore a popular place to go on a glacier hike tour.

Glacier hikes are suitable for everyone over the age of ten who is comfortable with walking on uneven surfaces. Explore a world of ice. See thrilling glacial crevasses and the blue cracks inside the body of the dense ice. Admire natural ice-sculptures. But, do these things safely, accompanied by an expert glacier guide. Never attempt to walk on a glacier without a guide.

Glacier hike in South Iceland

Glacier hike in South Iceland

Dyrhólaey - The Stunning Rock Cliffs and Arches

Dyrhólaey translates as ‘The Hill Island with the Door Hole.’ It is an extraordinary place that is famous for its naturally shaped arches and rock formations, thrilling cliffs, and sea stacks. From the top, you will see a 360-degree panorama with breathtaking beauty in every direction you look. There are especially wonderful views of the black sand beach that stretches for many kilometers around the cliffs.

There is also a century-old lighthouse at Dyrhólaey. It is no longer just a regular lighthouse, though. The interior has been renovated and converted into a quaint luxury hotel.

View from Dyrholaey

View from Dyrholaey

The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

This amazing volcanic beach has insanely picturesque basalt columns, black sea stacks, towering cliffs, and a coastal basalt cave. It is no question why the American Journal Magazine ranked it as one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. Additionally, the cliffs and sea stacks at Reynisfjara are home to arctic seabirds including the cute puffins.

If you visit this place, never turn your back on the waves. They are extremely powerful and very unpredictable, sometimes crashing much higher up the beach than you would expect.

Reynisfjara black beach

Reynisfjara black beach

Vík Village

The lovely seaside village of Vík is surrounded by an extremely varied landscape of black beaches, high cliffs, stunning sea stacks, idyllic flowery meadows, and green hills. The sea cliffs are filled with puffins and other seabirds in summer. The sensational paragliding and zipline locations in the area attract adrenaline junkies from all over the world.

Apart from its unmatched natural attractions, Vík is also an important service center in the area. Ice cave tours departure from here and lovely cafés, restaurants, guest houses, and shops await travelers.

Village if Vík

Village if Vík

Eldhraun - The Fire Lava Field

Iceland has the largest continuous lava flow on Earth formed after the end of the Ice Age. This 565 square kilometer (351 square mile) solid lava field is located close to the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The Ring Road crosses the lava field so you will be able to enjoy the extraordinary view for many kilometers along the way. The whole lava field is covered with a thick layer of soft moss which makes it look completely unearthly. There are plenty of rest areas where you can pull over and see for yourself.

Eldhraun lava field

Eldhraun lava field

Hofskirkja Turf Church

Turf roofs were great insulators for houses in the past. These roofs were used by both the poor and the wealthy on all types of buildings including homes, stables, and churches. Hofskirkja Church is one of the very few turf churches of its kind left in Iceland and probably the most beautiful one. There is a cute country hotel next to the Hofskirkja Church where you can stay for the lowest rates available in this area.

Hofskirkja turf church

Hofskirkja turf church

Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park

The majestic Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland and Europe’s largest national park. It was named after the glacier that covers 8% of Iceland’s total land area. Its wonderfully scenic glacier tongues are visible from the road and continue to dominate the landscape for 60 kilometers (37 miles) along the South Coast.

These spectacular outlet glaciers are very easy to access. That is why the most popular glacier walking tours operate on these glacier tongues.

Skaftafell was once a nature reserve on its own but was recently made the part of Vatnajökull National Park.

The area features wonderfully diverse scenery. Black rocky plateaus, terrific viewpoints overlooking the glacier, stunning wild rivers, and one of Iceland’s most known waterfalls, Svartifoss. Lush birch forests and impressive mountain peaks - including Iceland’s highest peak at 2,110 meters (6,922 feet) - make Skaftafell especially favored by locals. An extensive network of well-mapped hiking trails guides hikers through the area while a spacious campsite accommodates travelers.

Svínafellsjökull - The Hollywood Glacier

Iceland has been a popular shooting location for many Hollywood movies and TV shows. The Svínafellsjökull glacier is especially beloved by famous directors. You might want to see the scenery that was used in the famous Star Wars and Batman movies as well as the series Game of Thrones, just to name a few.

Svínafellsjökull glacier

Svínafellsjökull glacier

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach

Many of those who have visited Iceland would agree that Jökulsarlón is probably the most impressive place in the whole country. This stunning glacier lagoon is situated in southeast Iceland at the feet of the Vatnajökull glacier right beside the Ring Road.

Massive ice chunks break away from a glacier tongue as part of the normal life cycle of a glacier. Glaciers are constantly growing at the top and retreating at the edges. Sometimes the melting ice creates a lake or a lagoon. Then icebergs fall into the water and fill the lagoon, making it absolutely breathtaking.

What makes Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon even more unique is that the lagoon is connected to the ocean. So the newly fallen icebergs start to drift across the lagoon towards the ocean. When they finally make it to the sea, the waves keep pushing them back and breaking them into smaller pieces.

The icebergs end being washed up on the seashore, decorating the black sand over hundreds of meters. The place where they are washed ashore is called the Diamond Beach. The black sand contrasts with the crystal blue color of the small icebergs and makes this place truly magical and photogenic. This is, in fact, Iceland’s most photographed natural attraction.

South Iceland Tour Map

Click here for the detailed the map of Iceland
Map of South Iceland - attractions

Map of South Iceland - attractions

Iceland’s South Coast - Self-Drive

Driving along Iceland’s south coast is very easy. There is only one road, the Ring Road, which runs along the coast. Most of the natural attractions are located alongside the road within a few minutes of walking distance.

However, some of the attractions in South Iceland that are located in the inland areas can be tricky to access. Thórsmörk and Landmannalaugar are the most difficult areas in South Iceland to access. Driving there requires an experienced driver and a 4X4 with large tires. Purchasing full insurance is highly recommended as well.

The road conditions in the highlands are challenging even in summer. In fact, you will drive on unpaved mountain roads and will need to cross unbridged rivers. Please note that river crossings are not insured.

These highland roads are only open to the public during summer (mid-September to mid-June). Outside of that, they are only accessible by using specialized vehicles that we call Superjeeps. Driving Superjeeps requires a specialized driving license. Therefore, the only way to get to Tórsmörk or Landmannalaugar in winter is to go on a guided tour or a private Superjeep tour.

View of Seljalandsfoss from the car park

View of Seljalandsfoss from the car park

Weather and Road Conditions in South Iceland

The climate in South Iceland is somewhat milder than other regions in the country. In fact, the weather in Iceland, in general, is much warmer than you would expect from its Arctic location. This is because part of the warm Gulf Stream flows along the southern coast of the island and makes the weather in the area considerably milder.

The climate of South Iceland is mild subarctic near the southern coastal area and tundra inland in the highlands. Thórsmörk and Landmannalaugar are sheltered valleys. They, therefore, have their own microclimate which is somewhat warmer than the other regions in the tundra of the highland.

Winter in South Iceland - What To Wear

The average temperature on the southern coast and in the lowlands is around 0°C (32°F) in winter. The tundra areas, however, can expect an average temperature of around -10°C (14°F).

The ocean currents bring plenty of wind and precipitation, both of which peak in winter, from October to March. The average wind speed in winter ranges between 22-26 km/h (13-16 mph). Wind can easily be twice as strong in the highlands.

The road conditions may be challenging in winter. While the Ring Road is well maintained, road closures can occur at any time. It is advised to keep your plans flexible at this time of the year.

Do not forget that daylight periods are very short in winter. In South Iceland, the sun is out for only for 4 - 7 hours per day with only 4.5 hours of daylight in December.

For non-experienced drivers, we highly recommend choosing a guided tour instead of driving yourself. The local driver guides are highly experienced and specially trained for Icelandic conditions.

When visiting South Iceland in winter, dress in layers. Wear warm, long-sleeved undergarments. Make sure you are well-insulated in a fleece or wool sweater and a down jacket. Wear windproof and waterproof outer layers.

Bring warm, sturdy, waterproof boots. Waterfalls and their surrounding areas may be covered with ice in winter. The path behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall may be closed in winter for that reason. We recommend spikes that you can attach to your boots near the waterfalls and on icy surfaces. This will give you a safer grasp on the icy ground.

Warm, windproof hats, gloves, and a cozy scarf are necessary. It is a good idea to carry some reusable pocket warmers with you as well.

Average temperatures in Iceland

Average temperatures in Iceland

Summer in South Iceland - What To Wear

The average temperatures in summer range between 10 and 15°C (50 to 59°F). The driest months in Iceland are May, June, and July. Showers and windstorms can still occur at any time especially in the mountains and highland areas, but they occur less often in summer than in winter. The average wind speed ranges between 13-15 km/h (8-9 mph).

Road conditions are the best in summer. Violent wind gusts are not rare around the lowland valleys, though. On windy days, sand storms can occur in Southeast Iceland. It is therefore advisable to have full insurance on your rental car.

Dressing in layers is necessary for the summer season as well. For your outer layer, choose windproof softshell clothing. Fleece, wool, or a polar sweater are good for insulation and, if you are not used to the chilly summer temperatures, you might need a pair of warm long johns or long-sleeved underwear. For visiting waterfalls or taking long walks, make sure that you have waterproof rain gear with you.

Good, sturdy boots are important. Avoid wearing high-heeled boots or bright sneakers. The ground can be sandy, rocky, bumpy, or muddy.

The weather in Iceland can be notoriously variable, not only in winter. The best thing you can do is to expect every type of weather at all times.

Average precipitation in Iceland

Average precipitation in Iceland

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