South Coast of Iceland is a majestic destination with several natural and unique wonders including waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, and black sandy beaches.
When you think of exploring Iceland, what is the first visual that comes to your mind? Is it the black sand beaches or the natural ice caves? Well, what if we told you South Coast in Iceland is everything you'd picture and more? The South Coast of Iceland is indisputably one of the popular locations in the region that is most visited.
We have created a list of places that must be included while exploring South Iceland. From waterfalls to glacier lagoons, we have covered it all. If you are traveling from Reykjavík, it's easy to get to one of the most loved sites on Iceland's south coast, the ice and lava-shaped landscapes.
Exploring the Best of South Iceland
We have curated this exclusive list of the best of the South Coast. The list includes stunning natural sights, popular attractions of the South Coast, and some hidden gems too. Get ready to uncover the best of everything the South Coast of Iceland has to offer. As one of the country's popular destinations, the South Coast attracts a large number of tourists, especially during the months of June, July, and August.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland
Have you ever had the experience of walking behind a waterfall? At Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you'll have the opportunity to do just that. As one of the most favorite experiences, while exploring the South Coast of Iceland, you get to walk behind an impressive 40-meter (131-foot) waterfall. If you have some more time on hand, take some time out to get a quick dip in the Seljavallalaug, an old swimming pool that was built in 1923 with naturally warmed waters.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in South Coast of Iceland
The next location on our list of best places to visit on the South Coast is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Located within the premises of Vatnajökull National Park, this natural wonder is your opportunity to witness floating icebergs from the water’s edge. During the summer season, explore the glacier lagoon by taking a boat tour and seeing this natural wonder up close.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Arnardrangur "Eagle rock" at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland
Originating from the volcanoes, the black sand beach here is an unusual beach experience that no travelers would want to miss. Located near Vík í Mýrdal, these beaches offer dramatic views adorned by the Garðar cliff with its basalt columns. As a must-visit location in South Iceland, you could also spot the Reynisdrangar rock pillars at a distance.
Diamond Beach in South Coast of Iceland
Also known as Breiðamerkursandur, Diamond beach is well known for the sparkling black sand and the chunks of solid ice that can be spotted on the shore. Your trip to explore Southern Iceland is incomplete without visiting one of the black sandy beaches here.
Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland
Located a short drive away from Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss waterfall has an impressive drop height of 60 meters. Legends have it that there is a hidden treasure chest behind Skógafoss waterfall. As one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, this natural attraction is definitely the best sight to see.
Svartifoss Waterfall surrounded by basalt columns, Iceland
Another hidden gem located within the premises of the Vatnajökull National Park, this waterfall is surrounded by dark lava columns. The fantastic trails would let you hike up to the waterfalls within 45 minutes. Also known as the black waterfall, Svartifoss is truly incredible and glorious.
Sólheimajökull Glacier outlet of Mýrdalsjökull Glacier in Iceland
This glacier covers one of Iceland's most explosive volcanoes, Katla, which is believed to erupt every 40 to 80 years. Sólheimajökull is one of its outlets where glacier hikes are considered to be a popular activity. This unique Icelandic experience also gives you an opportunity to go above and beyond to discover the stunning ice caves at Katla.
Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Skaftafell Nature Reserve, Iceland
Do you enjoy hiking? Make sure Skaftafell nature reserve is on your list of places to explore. The magnificent landscapes including the hanging valleys, canyons, and rivers will leave you awestruck.
One of the most essential accessories to capture the moment and your travel memory is a good camera. While no pictures would do justice to the natural beauty of this destination, it is always fun to browse through the pictures for more travel inspiration in the future.
In all honesty, the South Coast of Iceland is a wonder in itself. Every traveler has their own way to explore Iceland's South Coast. What would yours be?
Sólheimajökull glacier in south of Iceland
The southernmost glacier in Iceland, Sólheimajökull glacier, is situated between Skógafoss waterfall and Vík village. The glacier's location is one of the things that make it distinct from other glaciers, as it's found near the Ring Road. The mountains surrounding the glacier also provide an excellent opportunity to admire the south coast of Iceland from above. Sólheimajökull is actually a glacier tongue of Mýrdalsjökull ice cap that's known to be the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. Because of this, Sólheimajökull is a pretty popular place to go on a glacier hike. You should consider that the glacier changes with each passing day as it tends to retrieve because of the changing climate conditions. As entertaining as this activity might seem, it's also very risky, so the best way to get the full experience and stay safe is by booking a tour with a guide.
DC-3 Plane Wreck
The DC-3 Plane Wreck occurred in 1973 on the south coast, Iceland
One of the attractions in the south of Iceland has quite a story that might even remind you of a scene from an action movie. The DC-3 Plane Wreck occurred in 1973 on the south coast, on the shores of the black sand beach in Solheimasandur. What makes this incident interesting is that it is still unknown what caused the plane to crash. There are a few versions of what could've happened to the aircraft. On that date, the Douglas DC 117 airplane was used to transport necessities to an American Army station. While some believe that the crash happened because of the fuel shortage, others believe that the incident occurred because of difficult weather conditions. What's terrific about this story is that everyone on that aircraft survived the crash. Now the plane, or what remained of it, is often visited by curious travelers who can find it along the famous Ring Road.
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon located in south Iceland
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon that's located in south Iceland, near Kirkjubæjarklaustur village. What makes the canyon so spectacular is its size – 100 meters deep and two kilometers long, it tends to change its appearance according to the season. If you decide to visit it during the summer, you'll see green and brown colors dominating the landscape. Fjaðrárgljúfur changes its face in winter, and everything you see becomes white and blue. One of the best ways to explore this area is by going on a hike. But despite the beautiful scenery, consider the risk along the way. During winter, the path becomes slippery, so it's best to have crampons and stay away from the river, usually covered in a thin layer of ice. While summer might seem a more comfortable time to travel as it rewards brave hikers with astonishing views, you should remain aware of the path and the extremely cold and unpredictable river.
Dyrhólaey peninsula near Vik town in south Iceland
Another stunning attraction in South Iceland is the Dyrhólaey peninsula, not far from the village of Vik. What's this peninsula known for? First, it's easily recognizable because of its huge rock arch. This formation was caused by severe erosion that created two eye-catching arches. A peninsula is also perfect for bird-watching, especially the Atlantic puffins. They are here from May to September. While trying to spot these funny little birds, remember to keep your distance and not spook them. Attractions on the south coast near the peninsula include Loftsalahellir cave, from which you can admire the Dyrholaey in all its glory as well as Reynisfjara black sand beach. You also shouldn't miss the Dyrhólaey lighthouse, which was established back in 1910. This tall white building still operates, shining its light to show the way for the ships.
Vík í Mýrdal
Vik town in the summer
One of the important things to do in South Iceland is to visit the village of Vík í Mýrdal (or just Vik). This place is famous for its remoteness as it's located in the middle of southern Iceland's coast, the only town you can find within a 50-kilometer radius. Because of this, it holds great importance and is seen as a "connector" between the east and west of Iceland. But this isn't the only matter that makes the town significant. Besides all the main infrastructural facilities the town needs, Vik is also famous for its heavenly beautiful church called Víkurkirkja, dating back to 1931. Vík í Mýrdal is rich in nature as in its south there is Reynisfjara black sand beach and the stunning Katla volcano in the north. It's also a convenient place for all travelers getting ready for their travel to the south coast as here they can fully prepare for their journey by buying all the needed supplies.
Eldhraun lava field
Eldhraun lava field in south Iceland
The south coast of Iceland is where the world's biggest lava field is situated. The volcanic eruption of Skaftáreldar in 1783 lasted the whole year and had an impact not only on Iceland but also on the entire of Europe, bringing it famine and disease. What was once a significant natural catastrophe that is said to have even caused the French Revolution now remains one of the most visited natural sites. The size of the lava field is 565 km², and it's all covered in green moss that is quite fragile, so walking here is prohibited. The nature here is so unique that this is where the Apollo 11 crew was trained before making their first steps on the moon back in 1969. Where else can you find a place which surface would remind you of the moon if not Iceland?
Vestmannaeyjar (Western Islands)
Vestmannaeyjar (Western Islands) - famous location for puffin watching in Iceland
Vestmannaeyjar (also referred to as Western Islands) is an archipelago of 15 islands off the south coast of Iceland. The whole area of the islands is just 17 km² but is full of important historical sites and natural wonders. Vestmannaeyjar is extremely rich in history, from its origin story to a volcanic eruption that occurred at the end of the 20th century. For this reason, you'll find plenty of different ways to learn about the islands. Those who enjoy interactive museums, the halls of Eldheimar and Sagnheimar Folk Museum wait for you to hear about the life of Vestmannaeyjar. If you're more of a nature lover, you'll enjoy the hike to the Eldfell volcano mountain or Heimaklettur, a journey to Great Cape, and time spent watching the famous puffins.
How to Explore South Iceland
No matter which part of Iceland you might be traveling from, the South Coast of Iceland is easily accessible by road. From the international airport, we recommend you hire a car rental to get to see Iceland's south coast attractions. From Keflavik and Reykjanesbær, Route 41 towards the Ring Road will get you to Iceland's south coast in less than an hour. It takes about the same time if you are planning to travel from Reykjavik. Ideally, you'll need at least 4 days to explore South Iceland to its fullest. But, if you have a packed itinerary, we recommend you spend 2 days discovering the highlights of the destination.
Drive way to South Coast of Iceland
FAQ - Iceland's South Coast
How much time do you need for Iceland's South Coast?
Having in mind that the south coast of Iceland is one of the most popular destinations to visit when traveling around the country as it has numerous beautiful and intriguing attractions, you'll need at least a few days to see the best of this part of Iceland. If the south coast isn't the only area on your list during your stay, it's best to have at least four or five days to admire the land of fire and ice.
What's the best time to visit the South Coast of Iceland?
Whether we like it or not, the weather seems to significantly impact how successful the trip will be, especially in Iceland. It's safe to say that every season here is suitable for traveling, depending on what you want to see and what kind of activities interest you the most. What you should keep in mind is that many gems of the south coast and in Iceland, in general, are outside. So for this, you might want warmer weather and to plan your visit to the south coast from May to September. This is when the weather is relatively dry, allowing true hiking lovers to explore the magnificent Icelandic nature and try out its hot springs. But coming here in late fall or winter will let you see the Icelandic winter wonderland with icy glaciers and gorgeous Northern Lights.