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South Coast Iceland | How To Explore This Amazing Attraction


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Fifi Schuster



Welcome to South Coast Iceland, an enchanting region known for its breathtaking natural beauty. Located on the southern part of the island, the South Coast is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking awe-inspiring landscapes, charming villages, and unforgettable adventures.


Accessible and easy to explore, the South Coast offers a diverse range of attractions that will leave you mesmerized. From dramatic black sand beaches to powerful waterfalls and mesmerizing glaciers, this area showcases the best of Iceland’s natural wonders.


One of the advantages of visiting the South Coast is its proximity to Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. It’s just a short drive away, making it a popular choice for day trips or longer excursions. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a photography enthusiast, the South Coast has something for everyone.


As you embark on your journey along the South Coast, be prepared to be captivated by its rugged landscapes, pristine wilderness, and unique geological formations. The diversity of this region is truly unparalleled, offering travelers an opportunity to witness the power and beauty of nature up close.


In this guide, we will explore the best ways to experience the magic of South Coast Iceland. From tips on getting there to the top attractions you must visit, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your trip.


So get ready to embark on a remarkable adventure as we delve into the wonders of the South Coast Iceland!


How to get to South Coast Iceland

Getting to the South Coast of Iceland is relatively straightforward, with a few different transportation options available. Here are the most common ways to reach this stunning region:

  • By Car: Renting a car and driving is one of the most convenient ways to explore the South Coast at your own pace. From Reykjavik, simply take Route 1 (also known as the Ring Road) eastbound, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of the South Coast.
  • By Bus: If you prefer not to drive, there are several bus companies that offer guided tours to the South Coast. These tours typically start from Reykjavik and include stops at major attractions along the way.
  • By Tour: Another popular option is to book a guided tour that includes transportation. This can be a great way to sit back, relax, and let someone else take care of all the logistics while you enjoy the stunning scenery.

No matter which mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to plan ahead and check the road conditions, especially during the winter months. Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you have the necessary equipment and take precautions if traveling during the colder seasons.


It’s also worth noting that the South Coast is a popular tourist route, so during peak season, it’s recommended to book your transportation in advance to secure your spot.


Once you’ve arrived in the South Coast, having a car will give you the freedom to explore the area at your own pace. There are plenty of parking areas available at popular attractions, making it easy for you to stop and marvel at the beauty around you.


So whether you choose to drive, take a bus, or join a guided tour, getting to the South Coast of Iceland is a memorable journey filled with stunning landscapes and incredible adventures.


Best time to visit South Coast Iceland

The best time to visit the South Coast of Iceland largely depends on your preferences and what you wish to experience. Each season offers unique advantages and highlights. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons and what you can expect:

  • Summer (June to August): The summer months bring long days, with almost 24 hours of daylight. This is the ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the glaciers. The weather is relatively mild, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). The countryside is alive with vibrant green landscapes, blooming wildflowers, and the opportunity to witness puffins nesting.
  • Fall (September to October): Autumn in the South Coast is a time of stunning colors as the leaves change to golden hues. The crowds begin to dissipate, making it a quieter time to visit. The temperatures start to drop, ranging from 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F), but the weather remains relatively mild. This is a great time for photographers to capture the magical landscapes in a different light.
  • Winter (November to February): Winter in the South Coast is a truly magical time, with the chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights dancing across the dark skies. The temperatures can be cold, ranging from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F), but the snowy landscapes create a picturesque scene. This is also the time for winter activities like ice caving and glacier hiking.
  • Spring (March to May): As the days get longer and the temperatures gradually rise, spring brings a sense of renewal to the South Coast. The snow starts to melt, revealing roaring waterfalls and blooming flowers. The weather can be unpredictable, with temperatures ranging from 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F), but this is a great time to witness the awakening of nature.

It’s important to note that weather conditions in Iceland can be unpredictable, and it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before your trip. Regardless of the season, be prepared for changeable weather, and bring layers of clothing to adjust accordingly.


Ultimately, the best time to visit the South Coast of Iceland depends on your personal preferences and what you want to experience. Each season has its own unique charm and offers different opportunities for exploration and adventure. Whether you’re chasing the Midnight Sun or seeking the enchantment of the Northern Lights, the South Coast of Iceland provides a remarkable experience year-round.


Top attractions along the South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland is renowned for its stunning natural attractions that will leave you in awe. From majestic waterfalls to picturesque beaches and impressive glaciers, this region is a treasure trove of beauty. Here are some of the top attractions you should not miss:

  • Reynisfjara: Located near the charming village of Vik, Reynisfjara is a black sand beach with dramatic basalt columns and towering cliffs. Take a walk along the shore, listen to the crashing waves, and marvel at the unique rock formations. Just be cautious of the powerful waves and follow the safety instructions.
  • Skogafoss: Prepare to be amazed by the magnificent Skogafoss waterfall, one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. With a drop of 60 meters, it’s a sight to behold. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the stairs to the top for a breathtaking view or take a hike to explore more hidden waterfalls in the area.
  • Skaftafell National Park: As a part of Vatnajokull National Park, Skaftafell offers incredible hiking opportunities amidst glaciers and stunning landscapes. Explore the Svartifoss waterfall, hike to the peak of Kristinartindar for panoramic views, or embark on a glacier hike to experience the icy wonders up close.
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon: Prepare to be captivated by the ethereal beauty of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Witness floating icebergs, tranquil water, and the nearby Diamond Beach, where ice chunks glisten like diamonds on the black sand.
  • Vik: This charming village is not to be missed. Explore iconic landmarks like the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, visit the quaint church, and soak in the picturesque surroundings. Vik also serves as a great base for exploring the nearby attractions.

These are just a few highlights of the many attractions along the South Coast of Iceland. While these landmarks are undoubtedly breathtaking, remember that the journey itself is part of the experience. Keep an eye out for hidden gems and take the time to immerse yourself in the natural wonders that surround you.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a sense of adventure, the South Coast of Iceland will leave an indelible mark on your heart.


Exploring the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

One of the most captivating destinations along the South Coast of Iceland is Reynisfjara, a black sand beach renowned for its dramatic beauty and unique geology. Located near the picturesque village of Vik, this incredible beach offers a mesmerizing experience for visitors.


As you step onto the black sand, you’ll be greeted by towering basalt columns that rise like ancient pillars along the coastline. These impressive formations were created by the cooling and cracking of lava, resulting in hexagonal structures that add a sense of mystery to the landscape.


While walking along the beach, be enthralled by the crashing waves of the North Atlantic Ocean. The powerful swells and currents make Reynisfjara notorious for its strong waves, so it’s important to be cautious and adhere to the safety guidelines provided on site.


One of the highlights of the beach is the famous Reynisdrangar sea stacks that rise from the ocean. Legend has it that these stacks were trolls who were turned to stone by the rising sun. These towering formations create a dramatic backdrop against the black sand beach and provide a fantastic photo opportunity.


Visiting Reynisfjara during different times of the day offers contrasting experiences. Seeing the beach at sunrise or sunset adds an ethereal quality to the landscape as the colors of the sky blend with the black sand and basalt formations. It’s a truly magical sight that should not be missed.


When exploring Reynisfjara, take the time to appreciate the unique birdlife that inhabits the cliffs. Puffins and other seabirds can often be spotted nesting along the coast, providing a fascinating sight for bird enthusiasts.


Facilities at Reynisfjara include a parking lot, restrooms, and a small café where you can warm up with a hot drink and indulge in Icelandic treats. Ensure you dress warmly, especially during colder months, as the weather can be quite chilly near the sea. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the mesmerizing beauty of the surroundings.


Reynisfjara black sand beach is a must-visit destination that truly showcases the raw and awe-inspiring nature of South Coast Iceland. Its unique geological features, crashing waves, and mystical atmosphere make it a place you will never forget.


Discovering the Stunning Skogafoss Waterfall

Prepare to be amazed by the majestic beauty of Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls located along the South Coast. With its awe-inspiring size and mesmerizing cascade, Skogafoss is a sight that will leave you in awe.


Standing at an impressive height of 60 meters (197 feet) and stretching over 25 meters (82 feet) wide, Skogafoss is a powerful and breathtaking natural wonder. As you approach the waterfall, you’ll be captivated by the deafening roar of the cascading water and the sheer force of nature that it represents.


What sets Skogafoss apart is its accessibility, as it’s located just a short walk from the main road. As you make your way closer, you may get misted by the spray of the waterfall, adding a touch of enchantment to your experience.


For the adventurous souls, climbing the stairs that flank the waterfall is a must. By ascending the 527 steps, you’ll be rewarded with impressive views of the surrounding landscape and a closer look at the waterfall’s powerful torrents. This vantage point offers a breathtaking panoramic view, allowing you to fully appreciate the grandeur of Skogafoss.


Another hidden gem awaits those who choose to explore further. Skogafoss is part of the Skoga River, and a short hike upstream will reveal more smaller waterfalls and secluded spots. It’s a serene and picturesque area, perfect for a peaceful escape into nature.


Photography enthusiasts will find Skogafoss to be a dream location, with its picturesque setting and the possibility of capturing rainbows in the mist of the waterfall. The ever-changing weather conditions create different atmospheres, making each visit a unique experience.


Adjacent to Skogafoss is a visitor center that provides information about the waterfall and the surrounding area’s rich history and folklore. You can learn about the legend of the hidden treasure chest behind the waterfall, said to contain great riches for those courageous enough to find it.


Facilities near Skogafoss include a parking lot, restrooms, and a small café where you can enjoy a warm beverage or a snack. The waterfall is accessible throughout the year, making it a popular attraction in all seasons.


Skogafoss waterfall is a must-see destination along the South Coast of Iceland, offering an unforgettable experience and a chance to witness the power and beauty of nature. Prepare to be awe-inspired by the magnificent Skogafoss as it leaves an indelible mark on your journey through South Coast Iceland.


Hiking the Skaftafell National Park

Nestled in the magnificent Vatnajokull National Park, Skaftafell is a hiking paradise and a must-visit destination along the South Coast of Iceland. This breathtaking area offers awe-inspiring landscapes, glacier views, and unforgettable hiking experiences.


As you enter Skaftafell National Park, you’ll immediately be greeted by the vastness of the surrounding glaciers. The park is known for its diverse range of hiking trails, catering to both beginners and experienced hikers.


If you’re new to hiking or prefer shorter trails, you can embark on the easy and accessible walks within the park. The Svartifoss trail, for example, will lead you to the mesmerizing Svartifoss waterfall, surrounded by striking basalt columns. The trail showcases the unique rock formations and provides a glimpse into the volcanic history of the area.


For those seeking a more challenging adventure, Skaftafell offers several longer and more strenuous hiking trails. One of the most popular routes is the hike to the summit of Kristinartindar. This hike rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding glaciers, mountains, and vast stretches of wilderness. It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience.


For a truly unique hiking adventure, consider exploring the glaciers. Guided glacier hikes are available, allowing you to strap on crampons and venture onto the icy terrain. Trained guides will lead you through crevasses, ice formations, and icy blue moulins, providing an unforgettable and thrilling experience.


When planning a hike in Skaftafell, it’s important to come prepared. Wear sturdy hiking boots, dress in layers, and bring essential gear such as a waterproof jacket, hat, and gloves. It’s also advisable to carry plenty of water, snacks, a map, and a compass, as some trails can be challenging and require navigation.


Before setting off on any hike, stop by the visitor center in Skaftafell for information about current trail conditions, weather updates, and safety precautions. The knowledgeable staff can provide guidance and recommend the most suitable routes based on your fitness level and hiking experience.


Skaftafell is accessible throughout the year, but the hiking opportunities may vary depending on the season. During the winter months, some trails may be impassable due to snow and ice, while spring and summer offer the best conditions for glacier hikes and longer hikes in the park.


Embarking on a hiking adventure in Skaftafell National Park allows you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the Icelandic wilderness. From stunning waterfalls to glaciers that stretch as far as the eye can see, this national park offers an extraordinary experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers of all levels.


Visiting the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Prepare to be awestruck by the otherworldly beauty of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, a breathtaking natural wonder located along the South Coast of Iceland. This stunning lagoon is a must-visit destination that will leave you mesmerized.


Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is formed by the melting ice from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, creating a serene lagoon filled with brilliant blue icebergs. As you approach the lagoon, you’ll be greeted by a surreal sight: floating icebergs of various shapes and sizes, sparkling under the sun’s rays.


One of the best ways to experience the lagoon is by taking a boat tour. Hop aboard an amphibious boat or a zodiac boat and cruise through the icy waters, getting up close to the majestic icebergs. As you navigate the lagoon, you’ll marvel at the stunning hues of blue, the intricate patterns in the ice, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of playful seals that call this lagoon home.


Another mesmerizing sight at Jokulsarlon is the nearby Diamond Beach. As the icebergs from the lagoon make their way to the ocean, they wash up on the black sand beach, glistening like diamonds against the dark backdrop. It’s a truly magical sight and a photographer’s paradise.


For a different perspective, you can also take a walk along the lagoon’s shore. As you wander, you’ll be surrounded by the tranquility of the lagoon and the captivating beauty of the glaciers. Keep in mind that the area can be slippery, so exercise caution and follow the designated paths.


Visiting Jokulsarlon during different times of the day offers unique experiences. While the lagoon is undeniably magical at any time, witnessing the sunrise or sunset casts a warm, golden glow on the icebergs, transforming the scene into something even more ethereal. It’s a sight that will stay with you forever.


Facilities at Jokulsarlon include a parking area, restrooms, and a café where you can warm up with a hot drink and indulge in Icelandic delicacies while taking in the spectacular views. It’s recommended to dress warmly, especially during colder months, as the coastal winds can be chilly.


Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is an extraordinary destination that showcases the beauty and power of nature. Whether you choose to take a boat tour, explore the Diamond Beach, or simply sit along the shore and admire the stunning surroundings, this lagoon promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of the South Coast of Iceland.


Exploring the Charming Village of Vik

Located along the South Coast of Iceland, the small village of Vik is a hidden gem and a delight to explore. With its stunning natural surroundings, fascinating folklore, and warm community atmosphere, Vik offers a unique experience for visitors.


As you approach Vik, you’ll be greeted by the impressive sight of Reynisfjara, the famous black sand beach. Take a stroll along the shore and marvel at the towering basalt columns and the Reynisdrangar sea stacks rising from the waves. The beauty of this beach is simply mesmerizing.


Vik village itself is a charming and picturesque place, nestled between dramatic cliffs and rolling hills. Take a walk through the village and admire the colorful houses, the quaint church of Vik, and the vibrant community atmosphere that permeates the town.


Learn about the rich folklore and legends that surround the area. According to local tales, the Reynisdrangar sea stacks were once trolls who were caught in the light of the rising sun and turned to stone. The legends add an enchanting touch to the already magical surroundings.


Another notable landmark in Vik is the iconic Reyniskirkja church. This small, white church sits atop a hill, offering panoramic views of the village and the surrounding countryside. It’s a peaceful place to take a moment of reflection and soak in the beauty of the area.


For nature lovers, Vik is a perfect base for exploring nearby natural attractions. From here, you can embark on hikes to nearby waterfalls, such as the stunning Skogafoss and the hidden gem of Kvernufoss. The rugged cliffs and stunning viewpoints of Dyrholaey are also within reach.


When it comes to dining, Vik offers a range of options to satisfy your taste buds. From cozy cafés serving Icelandic specialties to restaurants featuring fresh seafood, you’ll find a variety of delicious meals to enjoy after a day of exploration.


Accommodation options in Vik range from cozy guesthouses to comfortable hotels, ensuring a pleasant stay in this charming village. Wake up to breathtaking views, enjoy warm hospitality, and experience the tranquility of this peaceful corner of Iceland.


Vik is not just a place to pass through but a destination worth exploring. Whether you spend a few hours or a few days, the village’s natural beauty, fascinating folklore, and welcoming atmosphere make it a truly special place along the South Coast of Iceland.


Trying Out Adventure Activities in South Coast Iceland

For adrenaline junkies and adventure enthusiasts, the South Coast of Iceland offers a wide range of thrilling activities that will get your heart racing and leave you with unforgettable memories. From glacier hikes to thrilling ATV tours, here are some of the top adventure activities you can experience in this breathtaking region:


1. Glacier Hiking: Strap on your crampons, grab an ice axe, and embark on a thrilling glacier hike. Explore the icy wonderland of one of Iceland’s many glaciers, like Svínafellsjökull or Falljökull, while accompanied by experienced guides who will take you through stunning ice formations, crevasses, and awe-inspiring landscapes.


2. Ice Climbing: Take your adventure to new heights with ice climbing. Ascend vertical ice walls and frozen waterfalls while relying on your strength, technique, and trusty ice climbing equipment. It’s an exhilarating activity that offers a unique perspective of the frozen landscapes.


3. ATV/Quad Bike Tours: Jump on an ATV or quad bike and explore the rugged terrains of the South Coast. Ride across black sand beaches, navigate through lava fields, and conquer rough landscapes while enjoying the thrill of off-road adventure.


4. Snowmobiling: Experience the thrill of speeding across a glacier on a snowmobile. Journey across the pristine white snowfields, surrounded by breathtaking ice formations and snow-capped peaks. Guided snowmobile tours are available and offer an incredible way to explore the frozen landscapes.


5. Cave Exploration: Descend into the mysterious ice caves that form within the glaciers of the South Coast. Marvel at the captivating blue hues and intricate formations as you navigate through these natural ice marvels. Guided tours provide a safe and immersive experience.


6. Horseback Riding: Explore the South Coast’s natural beauty from atop a sturdy Icelandic horse. Ride through meadows, along black sand beaches, or even into the glacial highlands. Enjoy the unique gait of the Icelandic horse and take in the breathtaking scenery along the way.


Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just looking to add some excitement to your journey, these adventure activities in South Coast Iceland offer unforgettable experiences amidst the stunning and raw natural landscapes of the region. Remember to book in advance, dress appropriately for the weather conditions, and follow the guidance of experienced guides to ensure a safe and thrilling adventure.


Where to Eat and Stay in South Coast Iceland

The South Coast of Iceland offers a range of dining and accommodation options that cater to every taste and budget. Whether you’re seeking a cozy guesthouse or a luxurious hotel, or craving traditional Icelandic cuisine, you’ll find plenty of choices to make your stay in this region comfortable and memorable.


Where to Eat:


Vik: The charming village of Vik is home to several restaurants and cafes. Here, you can enjoy a variety of dining options, including local seafood, Icelandic lamb dishes, and international cuisines. Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional Icelandic delicacies like smoked lamb and skyr, a delicious Icelandic yogurt.


Kirkjubaejarklaustur: This small village is another great spot to grab a bite. Enjoy a cozy meal in one of the local restaurants or cafes, and sample Icelandic specialties prepared with locally sourced ingredients.


Hofn: Located further east, Hofn is famous for its seafood. Indulge in the catch of the day, including fresh fish and succulent langoustines. You can also find international cuisine options and delicious desserts in Hofn.


Where to Stay:


Vik: There are a variety of accommodation options in Vik, from guesthouses and hostels to hotels. Many options provide stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, including the black sand beach and the Reynisdrangar sea stacks.


Hofn: As a larger town, Hofn offers a wider range of accommodation choices. You’ll find comfortable hotels, guesthouses, and guest farms that provide a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Some accommodations even offer views of the glaciers and the ocean.


Klaustur: Kirkjubaejarklaustur offers a selection of guesthouses and hotels in a tranquil setting. It’s an ideal place to stay if you’re looking for a peaceful retreat amidst nature.


Skaftafell: If you want to be immersed in the stunning natural surroundings, consider staying at a campsite, guesthouse, or hotel in Skaftafell. Wake up to the sight of glaciers and embark on memorable hikes right from your doorstep.


When planning your stay, it’s advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This ensures that you secure your preferred choice and have a comfortable base from which to explore the South Coast.


From culinary delights to cozy accommodations, the South Coast of Iceland offers a range of options to enhance your travel experience. Enjoy the local cuisine, find a comfortable place to rest, and immerse yourself in the hospitality and warmth of the Icelandic culture.



The South Coast of Iceland is a captivating destination that offers a wealth of natural beauty, adventure, and cultural experiences. From the mesmerizing black sand beaches and majestic waterfalls to the awe-inspiring glaciers and charming villages, this region is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.


Whether you’re marveling at the basalt columns of Reynisfjara, hiking through the stunning landscapes of Skaftafell National Park, or cruising among the icebergs in Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, each attraction along the South Coast presents a unique and unforgettable experience.


The best time to visit the South Coast depends on your preferences, as each season brings its own charm. Summer offers long days and vibrant landscapes, while winter unveils the dazzling Northern Lights and a sense of enchantment. Spring and fall provide unique colors and more serene atmospheres.


Exploring the South Coast of Iceland also presents opportunities for adventure. Whether you’re ice climbing on a glacier, riding an ATV through lava fields, or embarking on a glacier hike, the adrenaline-inducing activities in this region will leave you with unforgettable memories.


When it comes to dining and accommodations, the South Coast offers a range of options to suit every taste and budget. From traditional Icelandic cuisine to international flavors, and from cozy guesthouses to luxurious hotels, you’ll find a comfortable place to rest and refuel for your adventures.


As you conclude your journey along the South Coast, you’ll carry with you the memories of captivating landscapes, thrilling experiences, and the warmth of Icelandic hospitality. The South Coast of Iceland is a place that will leave an indelible mark on your heart, beckoning you to return and discover even more of its wonders.


So, set off on your adventure, immerse yourself in the beauty of the South Coast, and let the enchantment of Iceland’s natural wonders sweep you away.