South Coast Volcanoes | Private, flexible day tour
The volcanos of the South of Iceland are the most active and powerful ones. In this tour, we drive over Mt. Hengill, one of Reykjanes volcanoes not far from the city over to the South coast.
On the way down at the other side of Mt. Hengill, we begin to see the South Coast volcanoes emerging in the distance. Hekla is probably Iceland's most active volcano, having erupted every 10 years for a long time. Now, Hekla (lovingly referred to as 'she', not 'it' in Icelandic) has been quiet for 17 years so the next one can happen any day. There is no need to worry though, she is a calm one and gives ample notice before an eruption. Quite considerate for a volcano.
Driving through the south we see the volcanoes on our left hand and the Atlantic black sand beach on our right.Eyjafjallajökull is one of our destinations but on our way to there we pass some stunning waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss. On the way to there we make a stop at the Volcano Center in Hvolsvöllur. It is a newly opened interactive volcano museum that brings the volcanoes to live.
The black sand beach Reynisfjara is our last stop before turning back. It is among the most stunning and most photographed places in Iceland. But be careful, every 10 minutes or so it sends us super waves that sometimes washes people out to the Atlantic. We will look after you, so don’t be discouraged.
In a private tour like this, we can also be flexible. We know about beautiful hidden places that are not famous tourist attractions. We only like to show them to small groups in a personal tour. Adding a snowmobile experience or a glacier hike is also possible. For us, to give you the best tour possible, always feel free to contact us after booking and we will do our best to create your dream holiday
- Available: Oct. - Dec.
- Duration: 10 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English
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.
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.
Reykjanes is a peninsula in Southwest Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and strong geothermal activity.
Volcanic & Geothermal Activity
The peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. Because of this geological setting, the whole peninsula is extremely volcanically active, covered with lava fields and volcanoes and small earthquakes are very common there.
During the middle ages, many eruptions occurred in Reykjanes, but no eruptions have been recorded there for the last 500 years.
The main geothermal areas of Reykjanes are Gunnuhver, Krýsuvik and Svartsengi. Various mud pools and fumaroles can be seen at Gunnuhver while Krýsuvik is characterised by hot springs and mud pots that bestow multicoloured hues upon the soil. The green crater lake Grænavatn is also an impressive sight.
Svartsengi is home to a geothermal power station that produces 76.5 MW of electricity from the 475 litres of 90° C warm water that gush from the earth per second. The mineral-rich surplus water fills up the Blue Lagoon spa.
Nature & Wildlife
Reykjanes' cliffs are teeming with birdlife. Its best-known bird colony resides in Krýsuvikurbjarg which is the nesting place of approximately 80 thousand seabirds. North of Krýsuvíkurbjarg is Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula and one of the deepest in Iceland.
Reykjanes is hammered by some of the most breathtaking breaker waves in the world. A short drive from Krýsuvík is Selvogur where one is able to witness some of the country's greatest waves. On Reykjanestá, the southwest tip of the peninsula, the waves are known to reach heights of 20-30 meters.
The peninsula's north side is dotted with fishing villages and towns, most notably Keflavík, Sandgerði, Garður and Vogar. Grindavík town is located on the south shore of the peninsula.
Near Keflavík is the Miðnesheiði heath, where the international airport, Leifsstöð (also known as Keflavíkurflugvöllur or ‘Keflavík Airport’) is located.
The World-Famous Spa
On the southern tip of the peninsula is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, an ideal place for relaxing and bathing.
Solheimasandur is a vast area of sand and gravel along the south coast of Iceland, between the cliffs of the interior and the modern shoreline. It was built up by immense glacier bursts sweeping from the mountains to the shore.
The glacier bursts would come via the glacier river Jokulsa a Solheimasandi which runs from the Solheimajokull outlet glacier and towards the sea.
The beach of Solheimasandur is astonishing. It is quite common as far as sands and pebbles go but the colour stands out, a dark greenish, sometimes reddish grey, turning pure black when it turns wet. Mixed with the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean it becomes an amazing sight.
Another impressive sight is the plain wreck of a DC-3 belonging to the US Navy that ran out of fuel and crashed on the sand in 1973, and is still located at the very same spot. It is also seen in Icelandic band Sigur Ros's film Heima.
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.
Skogar, in South Iceland, is a popular destination for travelers. It has a population of about 20 people, features a regional museum and and is close to the beautiful Skogafoss waterfall. The area had a region school until 1949, now run as a hotel.
The regional museum site
The museum features several buildings. The main building has many interesting artefacts but its main attraction is the eight-oar fishing ship Petursey, the best-known Icelandic ship of its kind.
There is an electicity station in the area, built in 1929. There’s also charming little schoolhouse there, built in 1901 and serving until 1907. Furthermore, there is a beautiful church there, Skogakirkja, built in the 19th century style, using material from decomissioned churches.
A transport museum at the site has a collection of vehicles, along with am exhibition on the history of transport and its development.
The timberhouse of Holt has its earliest origins in 1878 but has since been restored, with the latest restoration ocurring around 1950. The house has domestic artifacts ranging from 1870-1930. Another building, the reconstructed ‘Skalarbaer’ dates back to 1919-20 and last, but not least, is the old reconstructed turf farm of seven houses, dating back to the 19th century and with old artifacts, showcasing the farm life of the time.
There are several spectacular waterfalls in the area. The most famous, about 5 km from Skogar. is the Skogafoss waterfall, one of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. You can walk to the top of the waterfall and on sunny days it may produce a rainbow. You can also travel by jeep to Fimmvorduhals, one of Iceland’s most popular hiking routes. The volcanic glaciers Myrdalsjokull (home to Katla volcano) and Eyjafjallajokull are not far off, the latter famous for its 2010 eruption. Further north is Thorsmork, one of Iceland’s most popular sites.
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
Departure time : Flexible
Pickup at your hotel in Reykjavik
Drop off at your hotel in Reykjavik
A full day tour tailored to your wants and needs
A local guide that is fun, informative and personal
Pictures of you from the tour
What to bring:
Good (hiking) shoes – if you have them.
Outdoor clothing. The weather is changing all the time. Be prepared.
A camera. This is a tour to remember.