South Coast Tours | Guide to Iceland

South Coast Tours
Travel Iceland's South Coast and witness a wide array of waterfalls, glacier-capped volcanoes, Reynisfjara black sand beach and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

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What is the South Coast?

The South Coast of Iceland contains some of the country’s most beloved natural attraction, from Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls to Reynisfjara black sand beach and Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

The South Coast is also home to some of Iceland’s prettiest towns and villages. Directly beside Reynisfjara black sand beach is the village of Vík í Mýrdal, home to approximately 330 inhabitants. Vík is known for its reserved culture, as well as for it being the perfect spot to grab a bite a eat or do a little souvenir shopping.

Other towns along the South Coast worthy of a visit are Selfoss (the largest town in the region), Hveragerði, Flúðir, Hella and Hvolsvöllur.

While the South Coast boasts an untold number of major attractions, there are also great swaths of land that are hauntingly barren as a result of glacial flooding that has wreaked havoc on the area for centuries.

Sólheimasandur is one such area, a makeshift volcanic desert that sits between the South Coast’s ancient sea cliffs and today's shoreline. The DC plane wreck is, perhaps, what Sólheimasandur is most famous for, having crash-landed there in 1973.

In stark contrast, some of the areas are luscious and green, particularly its long stretches of farmland and Skaftafell Nature Reserve, found within the unique and awe-inspiring Vatnajökull National Park.

Those with an extended stay in Iceland have no reason not to explore this most majestic of regions, a stretch of shoreline as much characterised by its beautiful nature and settlements as it is by the breadth of opportunities available. Birdwatchers, culture fiends and photographers will find this area as special as glacier hikers, snowmobilers, cavers or even paragliders.

Frequently asked questions

What are the most popular attractions along the South Coast?

The South of Iceland is best known for: the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Vatnajökull, the black sand beach Reynisfjara, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Skaftafell Nature Reserve and numerous glacier ice caves.

When can I see the ice caves on the South Coast?

You can visit the majority of ice caves between October and April. However, there are a couple of ice caves that are open to visitors all year round.

How far do day tours along the South Coast take you?

Some tours will take you all the way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, whereas others will turn back at the town of Vík or Reynisfjara black sand beach. Private tours may have more flexibility, however, most small group tours operate on a stricter schedule.

How long does it take to travel to the South Coast?

To reach Jökulsárlón from Reykjavík takes four and a half hours. A return journey would thus require nine hours of driving. Although it is possible to make this journey in a day, it is advisable to break the journey up over two days; allowing you to take your time exploring the sights.Many people will start their trip by visiting the Golden Circle, before starting their journey to the South. Multi-day tours starting in Reykjavik may also follow this format.

Where can I stay along the South Coast?

There are many options available, particularly around Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Vík, Klaustur and Jökulsárlón.

Do I need a 4WD to drive along the South Coast?

No. Route 1 covers the South Coast, which is paved and well-maintained. It is highly recommended, however, that you rent a four-wheel-drive in winter as the roads can be snowy or icy, and the winds tend to be higher. The 4x4 will grant you better stability on the roads and allow you greater freedom.

Is the South Coast crowded?

In summer, the most popular sites, such as Seljalandsfoss waterfall, will undoubtedly have crowds. Crowds can be avoided by travelling outside of peak season or in summer, by taking advantage of the long days.

Are there any active volcanoes on the South Coast?

Yes, there are. The most notable of these are Katla and Eyjafjallajökull. Although both have erupted in the not so distant past, they are well monitored and the authorities deem that they pose virtually no risk to travellers.

Is the South Coast dangerous?

The most dangerous parts of the South Coast are Reynisfjara beach (due to its unpredictable sneaker waves) and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. In these areas, it is especially important to take note of all warnings, including to refrain from stepping on the icebergs and to keep your distance from the waves. Otherwise, the South Coast is a very safe region.