There is a lot to talk about when it comes to Iceland’s South Coast. However, I will try to keep it short and let the pictures speak for themselves.
We took a 2 day guided tour of the South Coast, with 99% of the drive-time on Route 1 (The Ring Road). We started in Reykjavik and drove all the way to Jökulsárlón (the iceberg lagoon). It’s a 5 hour drive in itself, but we stopped many places along the way.
There are countless waterfalls visible from the highway, and we stopped to see some of the more famous ones.
Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui
These two waterfalls are next door to one another. There are actually four waterfalls within a 15 minute walk. Seljalandsfoss is the first and Gljufrabui is the fourth, slightly hidden behind the rocks.
A little farther down the Ring Road is Skógafoss. A more singular waterfall, but more impressive, especially since there is a path to climb to the top of the falls and take in the view.
Our tour included a “glacier hike” of the Sólheimajökull Glacier, a glacial “tongue” of the Katla Volcano. When we arrived at the glacier, I realized that I had never actually seen a glacier in person. This was probably my favorite part of the South Coast.
Despite the wind and rain picking up during our hike, I enjoyed the unique nature of the hike (Plus I used crampons for the first time). I highly recommend hiking on a glacier if you haven’t.
Additionally, the glacier has receded significantly in recent years. Our guide informed us that the glacier used to end at the parking area. We walked roughly 1/2 mile from the parking lot to the base of the glacier. Over time the walk from the parking area to the base of the glacier is becoming longer due to the ice melting.
Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
On our second day along the South Coast we started heading back toward Reykjavik. Easier said than done as it is a 5 hour drive without stopping. The first stop was Jökulsárlón, the famous iceberg lagoon.
The lagoon is the result of glacial ice melting. Icebergs break away from the glacier, float around in the lagoon, and eventually make it through to the ocean (or melt into the lagoon).
After a boat tour around the lagoon, we stopped at the Diamond Beach (I think translated as Breiðamerkursandur). Here you can see the icebergs make their way to the sea.
We made a brief stop in Hof. Hof is a tiny place. Very quiet and great views all around. I liked their little church with a grass roof: Hofskirkja.
Vik and the Black Sand Beaches
It’s over a two hour drive from the iceberg lagoon to Vik. The landscape through most the the drive is barren due to volcanic activity. Not many signs of life outside of the moss growing on the lava fields. We did pass by where “The North Wall” was depicted in Game of Thrones.
Once we arrived at the Black Sand Beach (Reynisfjara Beach), I could see why the tours stop here. We stopped at the beach first where you can see Reynisdrangar (the sea rocks) and the Hálsanefshellir Cave. We then took about 15 minutes to drive to a high viewpoint with a lighthouse.
From Vik, we headed back to Reykjavik (another 2+ hour drive).
There is a lot more to see in this area as it is so vast (hence the name “Endless Black Beach”. There is a lot more to see along our entire route along the South Coast. But as bus tourists, we got to see some great highlights in just two days.