South Coast and Northern Lights | Audio guided in 10 languages
Jump aboard this modern and exciting bus tour, to see the incredible South Coast of Iceland and have your shot at finding the Northern Lights.
This tour comes with a ‘Smart in-Bus Audio Guide’, so you can enjoy the sights while learning about them in one of ten different languages. You will also have a tablet on your seat and free wifi. Of course, you will still have an expert guide on board to answer any queries you may have.
You will be picked up from your Reykjavík accommodation from 08:30 am, then head straight on your sightseeing adventure. The first site you will come to is the Hengill volcanic area, known for its otherworldly lava fields, craters, and hot springs.
If the weather is clear, you will be able to see Hekla volcano and the notorious Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010. Offshore, you may even be able to see the Westman Islands rising dramatically from the ocean.
The next stops will be at two iconic waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. The former is surrounded by verdant fields, making for a very pleasant stroll, and has a walkway that goes all the way around it, giving you a unique perspective of the water. The latter is powerful and dramatic and has a staircase that allows you marvel over the falls from multiple platforms.
You will next head to Sólheimajökull glacier and walk right up to its edge. The glaciers of Iceland are incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring, and their colouration is fascinating. The white snow contrasts beautifully with the striations of black ash and blue ice.
Following this, you will reach the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, considered one of Iceland’s most beautiful coastlines. There are some incredible geological features here, such as the massive rock arch Dyrhólaey and the towering basalt sea stacks of Reynisdrangar. The area is home to many birds, most notably puffins, throughout the summer.
You will head back towards Reykjavík as the sky darkens, allowing you to begin your hunt for the Northern Lights. Your guide is an expert on the auroras, knowing all the darkest, most remote viewing areas, and the best way to capture them on camera. They will be following the forecast and cloud cover as you search so that you have the best chances of spotting them.
If you underestimate the weather, this tour also has ‘Aurora Jackets’ available for rent. You are also welcome to use one of the tripods on board to get the best photo.
The Northern Lights are dependent on solar activity, cloud cover and atmospheric conditions, so there is a chance that you will not get to see them on this tour. If that is the case, however, you will have the opportunity to see them another evening, without charge.
The South Coast and Northern Lights are iconic Icelandic attractions. Hop on board, plug in your audio guide, and get ready to enjoy them. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Oct. - Apr.
- Duration: 13 hours
- Activities: Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean
The Westman Islands have the largest nest of Puffins in the world and you may see many whales around the island. Heimaey is the only one that is inhabited.
In 1973 the islands gained international attention with the eruption of Eldfell volcano in Heimaey, which destroyed many buildings, and forced a months-long evacuation of the entire population to the mainland. In an eruption at the seafloor in 1963 a new island was formed, Surtsey.
The ferry Herjolfur sails to the Westman Islands from the town of Thorlakshofn, on the south shore of Iceland and from Landeyjahofn harbour. The latter is located south of the small town of Hvolsvollur. The harbour was built in 2010 and remains at an experimental stage, its future useage as of yet unclear. Fares are lower on this route and the route itself is faster, as a one way trip from the harbour takes about 30 minutes, but this is entirely dependant on favourable weather- and harbour conditions. Otherwise the Thorlakshofn harbour will be used. There are also flights to the islands.
The stratovolcano Hekla in the south of Iceland is undoubtedly one of the island's most famous and active volcanoes, with over 20 eruptions since settlement.
Hekla is part of a 40 kilometers long volcanic ridge but the most active part is the fissure Heklugja, considered the volcano proper. Hekla has produced one of the largest amounts of lava of any volcano in the world. Last time Hekla erupted was in 2000.
In the Middle Ages Hekla was considered to be the gateway to Hell, and it continues to inspire. It’s referenced in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, poet and artist William Blake banishes Winter to Hekla in his poem Winter and Icelandic composer Jon Leifs, inspired by Hekla’s power, composed one of the loudest pieces of classical music ever, Hekla Op 52.
Travelers from all over seek out Hekla and it is a popular hiking place. In addition to hiking you can ski there in the spring, summer offers easy mountaineering routes and you can snowmobile to the top in winter.
The area of the impressive volcanic mountain Hengill is a geothermal site and a source of energy for the south of Iceland.
Two power stations derive its energy from Hengill, the nearby Hellisheidavirkjun power station and Nesjavellir, which provides energy for th Reykjavik area. Not far from Hengill is the town of Hveragerdi, unusual for being situated in an area of such geothermal activity.
The glacier volcano of Eyjafjallajokull (1651 m) is located at the borders of the South Icelandic highlands. It featured prominently in world news in 2010 when ash from its eruption halted air traffic in Europe.
An ice cap of about 100 km with several outlet glaciers covers the caldera of Eyjafjallajökull that stands at the height of 1651 meters. The diamaeter of its highest crater is around 3-4 km2 wide and the rim has several peaks.
Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano lies north of Skogar, and to the west of Myrdalsjokull glacier and the massive volcano there; Katla.
Eyjafjallajokull is thought to be related geologically to Katla in Myrdalsjokull and eruptions in the former have often been followed by eruptions in the latter.
The 2010 eruptions
The end of 2010 saw some small seismic activity that gradually increased and resulted in a small eruption in March of 2010, characterized by a flow of alkani-olivine basalt lava.
This first stage lasted until April 12th and created the volcanic craters Magni and Modi at the Fimmvorduhals trail. They are so far Iceland's newest vocanic craters, and still eminate steam with lava glowing under the surface.
However it was the second phase of the eruption that started on April 14th that created the huge ash cloud that rose about 9 km into the skies.
This eruption halted air traffic in Europe for days, and its estimated that as many as 107.000 flights may have been cancelled during the week it lasted.
The ejected tephra measured around 250 million cubic meters. This ash cloud lasted for six days and some more localized disruption continued into May. The eruption was officially declared to be over in October 2010, as the snow on the glacier had ceased to melt.
Future volcanic developments?
Eyjafjallajokull erupted in years 920, 1612 and again 1821-1823.
Its latest eruptions were the two that occurred in 2010.
Future volcanic developments remain unclear. The area is still highly active and can be quite unpredictable. It continues, however, to be closely monitored by The Icelandic Meterological Office.
Solheimajokull is a beautiful outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull icecap.
Solheimajokull is a rugged glacial tounge riddled with crevasses and spectacular ever-changing ice formations, jagged ridges and sinkholes and is popular for hiking and ice climbing.
The glacier river Jokulsa a Solheimasandur has its source at the glacier, flowing over the sand plain of Solheimasandur towards the sea.
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal.
With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. Driving to the beach is particularly easy, taking an approximate two and a half hours from the capital.
Upon visiting the beach, travellers will immediately observe rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls engaged in trying to pull ships from the ocean. However, as bad luck would have it, the dawn quickly arose, turning the trolls into solid stone.
Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.
The sea stacks themselves are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. Species that can be found here include Puffins, Fulmars and Guillemots, making it a must-see location for all birdwatchers out there.
Visitors to Reynisfjara must be made well aware of the potential dangers present at the beach. First of all, the rolling, roaring waves of Reynisfjara are particularly violent, often pushing far further up the beach than many would expect.
Visitors are advised to never turn their back on the waves, don't go chasing after them and keep a safe distance of 20-30 metres.
Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in tide (known as “sneaker waves”), the currents off the shore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017.
Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik.
Vik is important as a service centre for the inhabitants and visitors of the marvellous Reynisfjara beach.
Reynisfjara is widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches on earth (see for example Islands Magazine). This black pebble beach boasts an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns called Gardar, which resembles a rocky step pyramid and out in the sea are the spectaculary shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
Starting time : 08:30
Pick-up from your accommodation in Reykjavik
Expert English Speaking Guides
Admission to all the sites
Audio Guide in 10 different languages
What to bring:
Hat & Gloves
Clothing and outerwear suited to rainy or chilly weather (Waterproof clothing and non-denim pants are recommended)
Good to know:
The weather changes quickly in Iceland, so don't be caught unawares. It is always better to bring a sweater or dress in layers which you can remove if you are too warm. (Jeans are not recommended because denim, once wet, will spread moisture and take a long time to dry, leaving the wearer extremely cold!)