A Complete Guide to The South Coast of Iceland

The South Coast of Iceland is an extremely special and beautiful place. The South Coast of Iceland has it all – waterfalls, glaciers, beaches, glacier lagoons, mountains, volcanoes, nature reserves, and small villages. If you are looking for an adventure not far from Reykjavik, the South Coast is a great place to go! We have compiled a list of amazing places and activities for you to explore on the South Coast of Iceland.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is one of the most popular sites in Iceland. The waterfall cascades from ancient sea cliffs, over 60 meters (197 ft.) down with intense power into a pool at your feet. The water from the waterfall comes from Seljalandsa River, that has its origin in the infamous volcano glacier Eyjafjallajokull.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is unique because it is possible to walk behind the waterfall, where you can see the world through the watery fall. The view and the sound from behind the waterfall are astonishing!

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Experience going behind a waterfall

Solheimajokull/Svinafellsjokull – Glacier Hike

When you visit Iceland, the land of fire and ice, it is a must to explore at least one glacier. Glaciers are made up of fallen snow (they are not frozen water as some might think). The glaciers come to existence by compression due to the weight of the snow as is keeps accumulating. It’s just like taking a handful of fluffy snow and squeezing it into a hard snowball, and then keep doing so for hundreds of years. The ice eventually gets so compressed hat most of the air is forced out of it, making the glacial ice appear crystal blue.

A glacier hike is usually around one hour, and should be suitable for all over the age of ten, that are comfortable walking on uneven surfaces. You need to wear good hiking shoes in order to go glacier hiking, since you will get crampons to wear on your feet. An expert glacier guide will guide you safely among crevasses and glacier sculptures. Make sure to check out either Solheimajokull Glacier or Svinafellsjokull Glacier.

Solheimajokull Glacier is a part of Myrdalsjokull, Iceland’s fourth largest glacier. This glacier covers the infamous volcano Katla. Svinafellsjokull is an outlet in the massive Vatnajokull Glacier. The ice in this glacier is over 1000 years old.

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The Majestic Glacier

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon is a stunning and dreamlike glacier lagoon situated at the south end of the glacier Vatnajokull. The glacier lake first appeared in 1934, and the lake has grown from 7,9km2 in 1975 to at least 18km2 today, because of heavy melting of the Icelandic glaciers. Jokulsarlon is the deepest lake in Iceland and the largest glacier lake in Iceland.

There are icebergs in all shapes and sizes floating around in Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The icebergs break off from the glacier and float into the lagoon. This thrilling environment is constantly changing as the massive glacier tongue retreats further.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon has also been the filming location of many Hollywood movies such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and the James Bond film: Die Another Day. Click here to read about films and tv shows that were filmed in Iceland

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Beautiful Sunset at Jokulsarlon

The Diamond Beach / The Crystal Beach

The Diamond Beach or The Crystal Beach is a beach by Jokuslarlon Glacier Lagoon. If you go to the glacier lagoon, you should make sure to visit this stunning beach. Here you can see chunks of decades old glacier ice that have washed up on shore.

Icebergs from the glacier lagoon are washed ashore on the beach after being polished and played with for a while in the surf. The black sandy beach sometimes sticks to the glassy surface of the icebergs, which only adds to their beauty as they lie upon the shore. This place is truly magical!

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Amazing Northern Lights Over the Diamond Beach

Skogafoss

Skogafoss Waterfall is one of Iceland’s most well-known waterfalls. The waterfall is 60m tall (197 ft.) and 25m (80 ft.) wide, and it is one of the largest waterfalls in all of Iceland. Skogafoss waterfall is a very powerful waterfall, and due to the amount of spray it produces, rainbows and double rainbows can often be observed on sunny days.

It is possible to hike to the top of the waterfall to view its majestic beauty from above. You have to walk up quite a lot of steps to get to the top of the waterfall, but the hike is well worth the view. Seeing the waterfall from above is an amazing experience.

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Double Rainbow at Skogafoss

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Reynisfjara is a dramatic black sand beach at the village Vik. Reynisfjara is known to be the most impressive black sand beach in Iceland, and it has been ranked as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world.

At Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach you can get up close and personal with the Atlantic Ocean. Please be careful here as the waves are extremely powerful. Don’t go too close to the waves, and never turn your back to the water.

The beach is only a short two-hour drive from Reykjavik. Reynisfjara features stacks of basalt columns that wall off surrounding cliffs scattered with caves. Offshore you will also see Reynisdrangar Pillars, basalt rock stacks that rise from the sea. According to Icelandic legend, the pillars used to be trolls that turned into rock by the rising sun when they came home late from a fishing trip.

Reynisfjara is a long and stark beach that reaches to the 120 m (400ft) high Dyrholaey Promontory, the southernmost tip of Iceland. The cliffs in this area are home to a rich variety of birdlife. If you are travelling during the summertime, you might see a large puffin colony.

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The Famous Black Sand Beach

Vik Village

The village of Vik is the southernmost village in Iceland. It is located on the ring road and it is about a two-hour drive from Reykjavik. Vik is surrounded by beautiful valleys, beaches, cliffs, and mountains, and it is the home to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Vik is a typical Icelandic village, very small and beautiful. It has around 300 inhabitants and it is 180 km from Reykjavik. Go visit the local church and take a walk in the neighborhood, before or after visiting Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

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Vik has only about 300 inhabitants

Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

Eyjafjallajokull is a volcano that is completely covered by a massive 100km2 ice cap. This volcano has erupted quite frequently, most recently in the spring of 2010. Eyjafjallajokull is not only known for the volcanic eruption in 2010, but also for its unpronounceable name!

If you want to learn about the 2010 eruption we suggest that you visit Thorvaldeyri, a family farm that has Eyjafjallljokull in their back yard. At Thorvaldseyri, you can watch a short documentary about the 2010 eruption that stopped all air traffic, causing great chaos. We highly recommend this if you want to learn more about Iceland, the land of fire and ice!

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The volcano no one can pronounce

Thorsmork Nature Reserve

Thorsmork is a nature reserve that is shielded by mountains and glaciers. Thorsmork is a true raw nature paradise offering boundless opportunities for adventure on every level. This wide valley is named after Thor, The Viking God of Thunder. Directly translated, Thorsmork means Thor’s Woodlands.

Thorsmork is situated between the glaciers Tindfjallajokull and Eyjafjallajokull. Here you can explore the aftermath of the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption. The eruption caused an immense fast flowing flood which destroyed a lagoon and left a blackened area. Due to Thorsmork’s location, it also offers a great view to this massive volcano.

Thorsmork is one of the most popular hiking areas in Iceland. The rugged and rocky ridges provide great views of the valleys and rivers beneath. Thorsmork is a paradise for nature lovers, as there are so many possibilities for hikes and such varied scenery. Visitors cannot fail to be in awe of the raw power of nature and the beauty of this place.

There are plenty of options for short hikes, such as the narrow and spectacular river bed of Stakkholtsgja Canyon as well as the summit of surrounding peaks with rewarding views. Exploring Stakkholtsgja is a great adventure where you can see a lava cave and waterfall. It is also possible to do longer hikes, such as Fimmvorduhals, one of Iceland’s most popular hiking trails in Thorsmork. At Fimmvorduhals, you can truly see how Iceland is still being constructed by the forces of raw nature.

If you want to visit Thorsmork in a more extreme way, we suggest that you travel by super jeep. Traveling by super jeeps allows us to cross raging rivers and gentle streams. Traveling in a super jeep just adds on to this magnificent experience!

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A trip you won't forget

Foss A Sidu Waterfall

The waterfall Foss A Sidu is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland. It is located around 10 km from Kirkjubaejarklaustur Village, and it should catch your eye as you are traveling on the Ring Road of Iceland. Because of its proximity to the ring road, people will feel compelled to stop and take photographs as they are driving by.

Foss A Sidu is a relatively thin waterfall but it is extremely beautiful. Because of the small amount of water flowing down, the Icelandic wind will sometimes make the stream flow in every direction, even upwards. The spectacular surroundings of the waterfall are sure to catch your attention as this is a unique and stunning place to explore.

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One of the most photographed waterfall in Iceland

Dverghamrar

Close by the waterfall Foss A Sidu are Dverghamrar. Dverghamrar are two large peculiar columnar basalt rock formations. Dverghamrar was created by the surging sea when the status of the ocean was much higher, around the last ice age.

Dverghamrar directly translated into English means “Dwarf Rocks”. According to Icelandic folklore, dwarfs live in these rocks. The Dwarf Rocks are a protected natural monument that are now on a conservation list. This area is perfect for walking around and enjoying the Icelandic nature.

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The Dwarf Rocks

Here is a map with all the locations marked in. Click the image to open it in Google Maps.

Contributed: Birta