Iceland’s South Coast

Complete Guide to the South Coast of Iceland

The South Coast is a spellbinding region of the scenic country of Iceland. Stacked with volcanoes, geysers, valleys, glaciers, mountains and biodiversity, this Icelandic region seems like a dream no one would want to wake up from! A major heartthrob, Iceland has stepped into the game of Europe’s most attractive countries. If you wish to traverse the region conveniently, check out our day and overnight tours of the South Coast of Iceland. Must-see South Coast Iceland Sights.

two people taking a picture in iceland
Practical Information near a road
reynisfjara black sand beach in the south
woman in a pink coat by a waterfall

Guided day tours visiting Iceland’s South Coast

Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls

happy father and son posing near skogafoss

The cascading fall of 60 meters has made Skógafoss a must-visit attraction of the South Coast of Iceland. The magical scenery is bedecked with a rainbow whenever the sun sets. Taking the staircase is the best way to bask in the mesmerizing beauty of the waterfalls.

snowy seljalandsfoss waterfall in iceland

Seljalandsfoss breathtaking appeal has given it the title of the most photographed attraction in all of Iceland. The waterfall is a part of Seljalandsá River and springs from Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. The waterfalls drop from a tall cliff and allow tourists to take a walk around the fall while looking behind the curtain of the fall.

woman with red raincoat sightseeing gljufrabui waterfall

Another waterfall cascading from a giant 40-meter cliff is the Gljúfrabúi (or Canyon Dweller). Unlike others, Gljúfrabú is a highly underrated and under-explored attraction of the South Coast of Iceland. Hence, making it an ideal spot for peace seekers and photographers.

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Valley

Reykjadalur geothermal river in summer

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Valley is a geothermal wonder with hot springs and a bubbling river. Summers bring out the best of the place when lupins pop up. The landscape gets painted into pastel hues, making it difficult for eyes to believe. The nearest town to the valley is Hveragerði and tourists can reach the place while delighting in an awe-inspiring hiking journey covering majestic views of the landscape.

Dyrhólaey Rock Cliffs and Arches

dyrholaey arch in the cliff

If you’re looking for a stunning backdrop for a few clicks, Dyrhólaey Peninsula offers a perfect one! Rising up to a height of 120 meters, the peninsula is the hub of rock formations and an idyllic display of Icelandic beauty. The main highlight of the place is its giant rock arch. If you are a nature lover, you are definitely going to love the exotic species of birds, including the Atlantic puffin.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

reynisfjara black sand beach

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is a testimony to the unique geographical wonders of Iceland. While the black sand is already a surprise, the ethereal sea stacks, basalt columns and cliffs are nothing less than magic. Ranked among the Top 10 Non-Tropical Beaches on the planet, the beach is named after Reynisfjall Mountain, which serves as its backdrop. Reynisfjall isn’t without its charms! It has a naturally formed cave, which is a lifesaver during unexpected pours or family picnics. Reynisfjara is approximately two and a half hours from Reykjavik by car and almost every South Coast tour features it on their itinerary.

Vík Village

foggy vik i myrdal town

Vik Village is a coastal area where you can see more than scenic perspectives and attractions. Witness Icelandic culture and everyday life at its very best while being in close proximity to the hub of attractions and spine-tingling adventures. Vik is especially a great choice for adventure junkies because of the availability of world-class paragliding and ziplining spots.  

For others, peace seekers especiality, there are ample quaint cafes, restaurants and shops to keep them hooked. And the Northern Lights are worth dropping everything for!

Eldhraun Lava Field

eldhraun lava field in a moss

The largest lava field in the world, Eldhraun came into existence after the biggest eruption between the years of 1783 to 1784. Even though Iceland is known for its chilly environs, Eldhraun is an iconic attraction of south Iceland. It is draped in green moss and enjoys incredible views along the Ring Road. A nearby attraction to the spot is Lake Laufbalavatn, which is located near a lava tube system housing 200+ caves. When in Iceland, gear up for geological marvels coming your way!

Skaftafell In Vatnajökull National Park

a view of vatnajokull in iceland

Snuggled in the Vatnajokull National Park, the Skaftafell Nature Reserve is the most sought-after attraction on the South Coast of Iceland. Its location on the Ring Road has added to its popularity and attracted more admirers than ever. While the alliance of Skaftafell Nature Reserve with Vatnajökull National Park started in 2008, it surely has its own set of charms. A treasure trove of landscapes, it is a hiker’s paradise. Taking you through lush forests, stunning mountain vistas and sky-reaching trees, travelers who set foot in the region mostly spend a good 2-3 days camping in the region. All of the information is available at the Skaftafell Visitor’s Center.

Svínafellsjökull – The Hollywood Glacier

 svinafellsjokull glacier in iceland

The outlet of Vatnajokull Glacier, Svínafellsjökull Glacier is one of the most prized possessions of the South Coast of Iceland. It is the best place for a hiker and nature lover, as the surreal and captivating panoramas are too tranquilizing to miss out. Just like other spots, the glacier has been cast in popular TV shows and films like Star Wars, Batman and Game of Thrones.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – Diamond Beach

icebergs at jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is an incredible natural marvel of the Icelandic terrain. It is essentially a lake with the meltwater of proximal glaciers. The lagoon finds its source in Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier, which is an outlet of Vatnajökul and the largest ice cap of Europe. Holding the title of the deepest lake in Iceland (248 meters), Jökulsárlón is major eye candy when adorned with gleaming ice floes on the surface.

Diamond Beach is a recent formation created by the glacial sediments that were earlier under Breiðamerkurjökull, being forced up. The place has had a large cinematic presence, including appearances in films like the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, and 2005’s Batman Begins. All of this can be credited to its black sand and giant icebergs that have developed eye-catching colors of electric blue and black streaks on a white background.

Sólheimasandur Dc3 Plane Wreck

airplane wreck at black sand beach

An age-old plane lying on the shore of Sólheimasandur Beach seems like a dreamed-up perspective. It has featured in an Indian film song, “Gerua,” which almost made the masses believe in its non-existence in the real world. Nevertheless, it exists and there lies your chance to explore and capture it in your cameras.

The Dc3 Plane Wreck was a former US Navy aircraft that had a safe yet urgent landing in 1973. It is easily accessible via a horse ride, ATV or walk. No matter what you do on this Icelandic vacation, you’ve got to see this historical edifice! Well, nothing less than an edifice.

Best Things to Do

Glacier Hiking Sólheimajökull and Mýrdalsjökull Glacier 

group of people with red coats

Settled 158 kilometers from Reykjavik, Sólheimajökull is one of the most commutable glaciers on the South Coast of Iceland. The captivating views at the end of the glacier hike are the main USP of this sport. 

Yet another stunt to try here is ice climbing. For adventure junkies, climbing ice walls is a must-try offbeat experience. You just need gear and guidance from a professional and you are all set for a safe and fun-filled ice climbing spree.

Sólheimajökull is an outlet glacier of the gigantic Mýrdalsjökull ice cap. Apart from being the fourth-largest ice cap in Iceland, the glacier shelters the region’s Katla Volcano.

Ice Caving 

crystal ice cave in iceland

Glaciers aren’t the only gems of Iceland. Down below lies the unearthed marvels of nature, the ice caves of Iceland. Iceland is a land of unbeatable and unreal adventures, no doubt, and an Ice Caving tour is an opportunity to check one of them off your to-do list!

Every step you take takes you a step closer to ancient Iceland. Listen to the guide's informative speech about the cave as the next time you come, you might not find it at the same place. The cave tours are only held during winters, so that’s one more reason for you to enjoy the cold season here!

Horseback Riding 

horse riding in filed of lupines

The species of horse found in Iceland is believed to be brought in during the Viking age. And they are a noteworthy feature of the country given the purity of their breed has been maintained for almost 1,000 years now! The experience of traversing the Icelandic landscape is just classic. Live out your Viking fantasies while riding a tolt and exploring the South Coast of Iceland!

Trekking Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork 

female hiker at laugavegur trail

Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork are famous hiking spots in the southern part of the Icelandic Highlands. The beauty of these regions are their starkly different topographies. Mostly, two-day tours allow visitors to trek in the two valleys. 

Landmannalaugar means “People’s Pools” and is made up of a multi-hued topography. Wrapped in rhyolite mountains, it is a geothermal beauty receiving thousands of visitors and hikers during summers. The center of the region consists of lava fields and the surrounding area commands psychedelic views of the mountains.

Thorsmork is brimming with greenery and biodiversity. There are rich forests, mosses, Arctic flowers, multiple bird species and Arctic foxes to treat your eyes.

Hvannadalshnúkur Summit 

Hvannadalshnukur peak in iceland

The sky-reaching Hvannadalshnúkur, or Hvannadalshnjúkur, with a height of 2,109.6 meters (6,952 feet), is the highest peak in Iceland and Öræfajökull volcanic glacier inside the Vatnajökull National Park. The paradisical views of the peaks can be witnessed from the southern towns of Höfn and Vík on the Ring Road.

While the views at the end of this adventurous caper are exceedingly rewarding but it definitely requires more than just high will-power and drive. You need good stamina to reach the summit and the company of a professional mountain guide.

Golden Circle 

group of people sightseeing geothermal area

The Golden Circle is a famed tour route in Iceland. The 300-kilometer journey is nothing less than a trip to paradise as the three famous attractions: Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Þingvellir National Park have already garnered an unmatched reputation for the South Coast of Iceland. So, happy exploring!

The Geysir Geothermal Area is a phenomenally beautiful hot spring oasis in Haukadalur Valley. It’s divided into three subparts, the famous Great Geysir, the active Strokkur and the smaller ones, Smiður and Litlí-Strokkur geysers. It is outlined with fumaroles, mud-pits and hot springs.

snowy gullfoss waterfall in winter

Take a 10-minute ride from Geysir and reach the outlying spot of the Golden CircleGullfoss. Also called the Golden Waterfall, it is the most picture-perfect and dreamy 32-meter natural wonder that you will ever lay your eyes on. Awe-struck already? There’s more to come!

The  Þingvellir National Park is the largest attraction on the Golden Circle. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the cradle for the Icelandic Parliament. But the highlight is the divide between the North American tectonic plates, where tourists can stand rather than swim between two continents.

Snorkeling Silfra Fissure 

one person snorkeling between two continental plates

The Silfra Fissure is the only place where you can swim in the waters, which lie between two different continents. Located in Þingvellir National Park, the fissure is a world-renowned natural splendor, which has gained popularity in recent years.  With the fascinating view of the North American and Eurasian plates meeting it puts up, tourists have gone gaga over the place.  

The freshwater fissure has a temperature of 2-3 degrees Celsius and invites tourists for underwater tours all year long. Undoubtedly, snorkeling at Silfra Fissure is the best indulgence!

The Blue Lagoon 

people at blue lagoon spa

Blessed with rich minerals, silica mud, green algae and neon blue waters, the Blue Lagoon is one look away from rejuvenation. Quite literally too! It is no secret that Blue Lagoon is revered as a healing spot and is, in fact, the best treatment for psoriasis in Iceland. It is also a much-preferred ingredient in skincare products.

Nestled on the volcanic Reyjanes Peninsula, The Blue Lagoon is just a 30-minute ride from Reykjavik. It is also included as an extra perk in many trips. So, make sure to bask in the sublime waters of the lagoon!

Kayaking oJokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon 

man in a red kayak at jokulsarlon

Kayaking in the South Coast of Iceland is an extremely electrifying exploit. The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Kayaking is the best one so far. As you sweep through the pearl white ice floes and lake, be ready to be filled in with some intriguing facts about the nature, history and biodiversity of the lagoon. First-timers, don’t be worried – you’ll be taken care of!

A mesmerizing perspective awaits you on your ride when you come face to face with Vatnajökull National Park. Adding the final touches to the experience are the cute seals that can be sighted in their natural frozen habitat.

South Coast Self-Drive Tours 

woman smiling with a white hat

If you like to do things at your own pace, the self-drive in the South Coast of Iceland is just for you! The self-drives follow the Ring Road, thereby allowing travelers to have a sight of most of the popular attractions lined along the way. This drive can surely be regarded as a life-changing experience as it passes through breathtaking landscapes, waterfalls and glaciers. Deserving enough for the title of the most popular road trips in the world!

The Ring Road self-drive tours bring out the spontaneous and enthusiastic spirit in travelers. The Ring Route Road is supplied with ample gas stations, hence making solo travel extremely carefree. But don’t forget to keep a few things in mind before you hit the trail.  

South Iceland isn’t an accessible location entirely. Some of the good attractions are also sheltered in the isolated and remote areas of the region. Thórsmörk and Landmannalaugar, specifically, lie in two of the most difficult routes, requiring an experienced driver and a 4x4 vehicle with big tires. It is also recommended that the driver get full insurance.

snowy dalvik road in iceland

Another precautionary measure to take is to keep a check on the forecast. Weather conditions can turn out to be extremely unsafe, given how tricky the landscape and roads of Iceland can get. Driving through the narrow passes, curves and hills is not everybody’s cup of tea, but should be avoided at all costs, even by professional drivers during extreme weather conditions.

Highland roads are more testing, even during summers. Most probably, you’re going to be passing through unpaved roads and unbridged rivers. Good thing that these roads are only open during summers (mid-September to mid-June). If you wish to travel during any other season, hiring a Super Jeep with a practiced driver with a specialized driver’s license is the best solution.

One of the best winter tours to experience the spectacular attractions of the highlands during the colder months is the Thorsmork or Landmannalaugar tour.

Staying On Iceland’s South Coast 

white houses with a red roof by the mountains

The South Coast of the island has a combination of both luxurious and budget-friendly accommodation options to suit the requirements of every type of traveler. Whether travelers need a shot of extravagance or want to get lost in the lap of nature, the South Coast of Iceland welcomes every type of visitor with open arms and provides them with their most preferred type. You can choose to stay in mountain huts or camp in the hills, or any other hotel of your choice. Most of them offer luscious meals, while others include restaurants with buffets and bars. The accommodation staff can arrange hassle-free multi-day and self-drive tours for you, given you make a prior booking.

Hotels, Guesthouses, and Hostels

  1. Adventure Hotel Geirland 

  2. Adventure Hotel Hof 

  3. Hotel Ranga 

  4. Hotel Laki 

  5. Hali Country Hotel 

  6. Frumskogar Guesthouse 

  7. Hot Springs Hotel 

  8. Minniborgir Cottages and Restaurant 

  9. Ice Blue Lodge 

  10. Kerlingarfjöll Highland Resort 

  11. Volcano Huts Þórsmörk 


Camping is a soulful escape from everyday mundane life. To bring out the explorer in you,Skaftafellis undoubtedly the best amongall campsites in South Iceland. However, it would be a good idea to make advance bookings, as there is heavy competition for the campsite. Post arrival, tourists can access details about the hiking trails from the Skaftafell Visitors Centre. To make camping easy, convenient and fun-filled, the campsites are furnished with bathrooms, showers, running water (both hot and cold), cafeterias, outdoor grills, and washing machines. As campgrounds are open all around the year, campers can pick their most preferred season and make bookings accordingly.

cars and tents at the campsite

Þakgil is another boast-worthy campsite of South Iceland. The campground is perched in a valley 20 km away from Wik and enveloped in a blanket of misty mountains and fresh air. The higher altitude of Þakgil ensures that the temperatures remain fairly mild. Apart from the scenic snowscape, the campsite’s dining facility is set up in a cave giving tourists a taste of Icelandic cuisine in its most authentic and primitive form. A fire-lit cave and piping hot meal is provided for adventure-hungry campers. Hikers are also served with great enthusiasm by the valley. There are several routes of different difficulty levels around the campgrounds, including the one that leads to Myrdalsjokull Glacier. Hence, Þakgil is both a cozy and thrilling caper.