3-Day South Coast Adventure | Golden Circle, Jokulsarlon, Ice Cave & Waterfalls
Join this 3-day tour of the Golden Circle and South Coast, to discover the many unique wonders of Iceland. Prepare to behold a unique and natural ice cave, a continental rift valley, vast lava fields, bubbling hot springs, magical waterfalls and powerful geysers, on a journey tailor-made for anyone looking to pack as much of Iceland’s incredible sights into only three days as possible.
First on the agenda is the Golden Circle, a route that involves three of Iceland’s most popular attractions. You will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Þingvellir, before heading to the geothermal valley Haukadalur to awe at erupting geysers, and finally visit Gullfoss, the king of all waterfalls in the Land of Ice and Fire.
After a special visit to the volcanic crater lake Kerið, you will retreat to a local accommodation for the night. On the second day of the tour, you will traverse the South Coast to visit the famous waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, but also the more hidden gems of Gljúfrabúi, Kvernufoss and Írafoss. To complete this incredible day, you will be taken to the black pebble beach Reynisfjara and its amazing views, including the basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar.
On your third day, you will head on to the stunning nature reserve Skaftafell National Park. There, you will visit the one and only Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and walk along the Diamond Beach, where icebergs from the lagoon have gathered to glisten in the sun like gemstones.
Then it is time for the highlight of the tour, as you will board a super jeep and head for the entrance of a natural ice cave. These caves are a unique privilege to visit, as they are hunted down by experts each fall and will fill back up with meltwater come spring.
If you want to enjoy the Icelandic nature to its fullest and witness one of Iceland's most incredible natural phenomenons, then you should book this tour now. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Oct. - Mar.
- Duration: 3 days
- Activities: Sightseeing, Ice Caving
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 8 years old
- Languages: English
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls of the island with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters.
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland for travellers to visit. It is located in South Iceland, not far from Skogar, which itself features a highly interesting regional museum. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall often produces a single or double rainbow on sunny days.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Skaftafell is a nature preserve in Oraefasveit. It used to be a national park of its own but joined the larger Vatnajokull National Park in 2008.
Skaftafell is notable for its rich flora, growing between sands and glaciers, and overall for its amazing and contrasting scenery. You can take short and easy trails to the waterfalls Svartifoss and Hundafoss, as well as Skaftafell glacier, with the mountain Kristinartindar and Morsardalur valley further off.
Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those seeking to climb Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnukur.
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.
Kerið is a volcanic crater lake in Grímsnes in south Iceland. It is a popular stop when traveling the Golden Circle.
It is believed that Kerið was originally a cone volcano that erupted and and emptied its magma reserve. Once the magma was depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed into an empty magma chamber, later to be filled with water.
The Kerið caldera is composed of red volcanic rock and is around 55 m deep, 170 m wide and 270 m across. There is little vegetation in the steep-walled crater, save for one wall with a gentler slope which is covered with deep moss. This wall is fairly easy to descend.
The lake itself is fairly shallow and is striking in its beauty. Opaque and aquamarine, surrounded by the red crater walls, Kerið offers a great contrast of colours and a highly impressive scenery.
The acoustics of the crater are considered to be fairly good, and a number of concerts have been held inside Kerið. There is a small admission fee to visit Kerið, 400 ISK per person (as of 2017).
Reynisdrangar are rock formations situated near the shore of Reynisfjara beach by the coastal village Vík í Mýrdalur on the South Coast of Iceland.
The formations are large and impending sea cliffs, made up of the rock type basalt, that serve as a vital part of the area’s allure as they shoot dramatically out of the ocean under the looming cliffs of Mt. Reynisfjall.
- Visit Reynisfjara and Reynisdrangar on these South Coast Tours
The village of Vík only houses around 300 permanent inhabitants, but on a daily basis, travellers scouting the South Coast make their way there to visit what has been voted as one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. The beach of Reynisfjara, however, can be highly dangerous if proper caution is not taken. As is evident from how the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash upon Reynisdrangar, the currents here are strong, and sneak waves can easily carry anyone that’s standing too close out to sea. The beach is not for wading, but for admiring, and especially the mighty surf bursting on the base of these rocky cliffs.
There is an Icelandic folk tale that explains the origin of the pillars’ eerie appearance. According to legend, a couple of trolls were busy dragging a stranded three-masted ship to shore when the sunlight hit them and turned them into pillars of rock for all eternity. In fact, numerous rock formations in Iceland carry with them tales of trolls or elves, and one has only to look at them to fathom why.
Surroundings & Wildlife
An alternative view of the bewitching cliffs and their surrounding sea can be enjoyed by venturing up Mt. Reynisfjall, by a road to the west of the village. The mountain furthermore functions as a puffin colony every summer, from April to September, meaning guests can enjoy the view in good company. Other birds can be seen gliding around the cliffs such as Arctic terns, fulmars and seagulls.
- See also: Puffin Watching Tours
The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.
The famed South Coast shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area and is dotted with natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, volcanoes both active and dormant, black sand beaches and glacier lagoons.
Geography, Nature & Wildlife
Iceland is divided into eight geographical regions. Out of these, the Southern Region is the largest, as it spans over 24.000 square kilometres with its administrative centre in the municipality of Selfoss.
What is known as the South Coast embodies the shoreline of this particular region. The area consists of a lowland that is mostly composed of marshlands, bays and cultivated pastures that are met by a series of black beaches where the estuaries to the east and west of the district close off the coastal body.
Underneath the soil rests a vast lava field, known as Þjórsárhraun. Its edges reach several hundred metres offshore where the ocean waves crash upon them, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea. This results in the South Coast being unusually lacking in the deep fjords that so distinctly characterise the rest of Iceland's shore line.
The region boasts vibrant bird life during all seasons. It is not only rich with both marshland birds and seabirds but also migrating birds such as the North Atlantic puffin. Some species stay throughout the harsh Icelandic winter, including the northern diver, the loom and various species of gulls and ducks.
Highlights of the South Coast
The South Coast offers an unprecedented array of natural wonders that draw thousands of visitors each day. When driving the route from Reykjavík City, the highlights in their correct order are:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vestmannaeyjar; The Westman Islands
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
- Coastal Village Vík í Mýrdal
- Skeiðarársandur Glacial Sand Plain
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
These attractions count for but a fraction of what the South Coast has to offer. The vast sand plains of Sólheimasandur are home to a crashed DC-3 Plane Wreck, and close to Seljavellir by the Skógar Village there's Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
- Explore the many wonders of the area on these South Coast Tours
Starting time : 09:00
Accommodation for 2 nights in a double or a twin room with shared bathroom
Necessary safety equipment for the Ice Cave
Professional tour guide in English in a minibus
Pick up and drop off within Reykjavik
Entry to the Kerid Volcanic Crater
Free Wi-Fi on bus
Lunch and Dinner - we make scheduled stops so that guests can buy lunch and dinner during the tour
What to bring:
Warm, wind & waterproof clothes
Good hiking shoes are necessary for the Ice Cave. If you do not have appropriate footwear then we offer these for rent.
Good to know:
If you are a single traveller, then a Single Room Supplement of 12.000 ISK is mandatory.
Only small carry-on luggage such as backpacks are possible. Please check with your hotel if they can store your luggage during the tour if you are staying again at the same hotel after the tour.
We can also offer you to store your luggage for free at NiceTravel office, located in Fiskislóð 45, Space M.
To avoid any delays on departure luggage must be in storage before pick-up time.
IMPORTANT: It can happen that the ice caving tour is cancelled because of weather and/or safety reasons. Then we will find other activities when possible, and refund the price difference. We reserve the right to change the order of the activities and sightseeing of the itinerary.
Day 1 - The Golden Circle & Kerið Volcanic Crater
After getting picked up from decided locations in Reykjavík City, you will get acquainted with your friendly tour guides and the rest of your group, before embarking on exploring the wonders of the Golden Circle. First up is Þingvellir, a historic valley where Viking lords used to gather to declare laws and settle feuds.
The area is furthermore a natural wonder since it is located in the continental valley between the Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates. This creates gorgeous fissures of sparkling clear glacier water and moss-coated lava fields.
Afterwards, it is on to the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, where you’ll find the two famous geysers Strokkur and Geysir. The latter is the very namesake of the phenomenon, while the former is still highly active and treats visitors to a display of boiling eruptions every few minutes.
Up next is Gullfoss, the most popular sight in the entire country. This cascading display of raw, unharnessed power is fed by pure glacial runoff from Hvítá River, which tumbles down two tiers before plunging into a great canyon.
Finally, you will go see the volcanic crater Kerið, impressive on its own, but boasting a turquoise lake that contrasts the rocky lava walls of red and black. This crater is not included in many Golden Circle tours, so visiting it adds something unique to your already incredible adventure.
At the end of today, your accommodation awaits you in a lovely country guesthouse. And who knows, maybe the Northern Lights will light up the Arctic sky before you turn in for the night.
Day 2 - South Coast Waterfalls & Reynisfjara Black Volcanic Beach
Your first stop of day two will be the famous Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall located beneath the infamous Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. The waterfall has an impressive drop of 60 metres and is fed by the water from its imposing glacier. Close by is the hidden gem Gljúfrabúi, a pretty waterfall and a true treat to visit.
Next up is Skógafoss, a wide and powerful display of raw and natural power with a legendary hidden cave hidden behind it, said to keep a Viking treasure chest. To top of this day of chasing waterfalls, you will be led to the lesser known, but equally stunning falls of Kvernufoss and Írafoss.
Then it is on to the black beach Reynisfjara, renowned across the world for its volcanic landscape and unique sea stacks, Reynisdrangar. Basalt rock formations dot the shore and the stacks carry with them the myth of trolls dragging a three-masted ship to shore, before getting hit by the rays of the sun and transformed into stone structures for all eternity.
At the end of the day, you will head to your friendly accommodation. If conditions are favourable, you will be looking for the Northern Lights come nightfall. The highlight of the tour awaits you the following day, so get a good night’s rest and stock up on your sense for adventure.
Day 3 - Glacier Lagoon & The Incredible Blue Ice Cave
As you awake on your third day, you will drive through the charming coastal village Vík before reaching your next destination of Skaftafell National Park, home to countless sights and natural wonders that will take your breath away.
Within this incredible nature reserve, you’ll find one of Iceland’s most renowned attractions. The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is where icebergs from Breiðamerkurjökull gather to float in a deep lake of still, azure water. Seals live in the lagoon and are often seen lounging on the bergs, curiously watching visitors go by.
Some of the icebergs gather up on the nearby shore, called the Diamond Beach since the white ice glistens on a velvet strip of black sand. With all this ice around, you are sure to get in the mood for more, and this is where your ice cave adventure begins.
These ice caves form naturally each year, as the meltwater freezes over to create stunning displays of glistening white and blue ice formations, hidden inside the glacier itself. Before summer returns, the caves yet again fill up with water, so visiting one is a once in a lifetime experience.
A super jeep will pick you up from Jökulsárlón, drive you through Highland territory and bring you close to the entrance of the cave, deemed by glacial experts each year as safe and enjoyable to explore. You will have a full hour to explore the ice cave, so remember to pack your camera for all the unique and wonderful photo opportunities.
After emerging from the cave, you will head back to Jökulsárlón and board the bus back to Reykjavík City. On the way, you will stop at the village Vík for refreshments, all the while keeping an eye out for the Northern Lights if conditions prove favourable.
Don’t hesitate in booking your Iceland adventure now to enjoy all of which the island has to offer.
Great thanks to all the stuffs who have given me such a nice holiday in iceland! Hope to see you again!
The tour and the attractions were amazing especially on the third day that the sunshine weather and blue sky painted the beautiful color on the amazing mother nature of Iceland. Thanks to the tour guides (the guy of Nice Travel and the guy who brought us to the ice cave) were very nice and very helpful, we would be able to see the huge amazing crystal ice cave and the beautiful Northern light before we finished the tour in such wonderful country.
The trip was wonderful and amazing with a great guide. we even manage to visit some extra place which has not been mentioned in the itinerary. Highly recommended!! If I planned to visit Iceland one more time, I would choose nice travel again!
The trip is awesome and totally worth it as the schedule is very nice and we indeed visited all important attractions! Also our tour guide is very enthusiastic and willing to show us the best view, he bring us inside the hidden waterfall even his shoes is not waterproof as he just want to show us the best view!!! This is my best trip ever!!! Highly recommend
The trip was absolutely amazing! Steinar is our guide and driver for the first day trip to golden circle and Antonio is our guide for the rest two days to 5waterfalls, black beach, glacier lagoon and ice caves. They are both nice and caring people, not only tried to guide us to explore the fabulous places, but also introduced the history and economy of Iceland, which made the trip more interesting. The guest house was also nice and cozy, it's a pity about the bad weather, otherwise might have the chance to hunt for the green lights. Everything in Iceland is purely natural. It's definitely an unforgettable journey!
I came to Iceland for honeymoon with my hubby and we are amazed by the spectacular scenes of ice cave, glacier lagoon, black beach and the 5 waterfalls. The 12-day honeymoon trip didn't stop by the natural wonders but the professionalism and kindness of the tour guides. Have you ever enjoyed an opera in a local small chapel? I did! The tour guides are great opera singers performing a few Icelandic jingles I never forget. Thanks to the tours my hubby free from my mumbling haha every day we woke up, enjoyed a full breakfast and leave everything to the tour guides (They are especially good in time management and photography for guests =P). Over 2000 pictures and 20 videos were taken during the local tours!!! We enjoyed our time and highly recommend "Guide to Iceland" and this 3-day South coast tour to every Iceland goers.
This trip was really fun and I really learned a lot about the history and geography of Iceland. The tour guide Ivan was extremely nice, fun, and helpful when it came to reorganizing my itinerary since I missed the bus the first day. The Hotel was good, very homie and comfortable but sadly the service wasn't the best and think the girl working there could improve her attitude toward her guests. I think it was a fascinating trip and would recommend it to anyone.
Absolutely wonderful! Special thanks to my guide Mr Einar for guiding me on my birthday!