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The Vatnajokull glacier in Southeast Iceland.Southeast Iceland is a beautiful region of the land of ice and fire, home to the spectacular Vatnajokull National Park and other beautiful natural attractions. 

You can visit Southeast Iceland on a guided six-day tour of the highlights of South, East, and North Iceland. Alternatively, enjoy a thrilling glacier experience with an unforgettable ice-caving tour from the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Southeast Iceland.

With its imposing glaciers, mighty volcanoes, and enchanting coastline, Southeast Iceland is a fantastic place to explore. Whether you're passing through on a self-guided Ring Road tour or visiting as part of a guided excursion, you'll be perfectly placed to discover the jaw-dropping nature of Southeast Iceland.

Why Visit Southeast Iceland?

The icebergs of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the crown jewel of Iceland.Southeast Iceland is a beautiful region of Iceland with a wide variety of natural attractions and dazzling sights. Its isolation and rugged terrain have preserved its natural beauty, offering a pristine atmosphere and plenty to keep visitors busy. Here, you can witness the raw power of nature in its purest form.

Fire and ice meet in the region, as you'll find both icy glaciers and impressive volcanoes. Nature has shaped the land in unique ways.

Many people visit the region as part of a two-day tour of the South Coast, staying overnight near the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. However, if you want to stay longer, you'll find numerous off-the-beaten-path attractions too.

A tourist stands inside a sapphire ice cave in Vatnajokull National Park.The Vatnajokull glacier dominates the skyline. You'll also find glacial rivers, a gorgeous coastline, and dramatic canyons.

The Best Things to See in Southeast Iceland

There are many things to see and do in Southeast Iceland. From exploring national parks to visiting charming villages, there's something for everyone.

Vatnajokull National Park

Milky-blue icebergs floating in the waters of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Southeast Iceland.

Most people visiting the area want to visit Vatnajokull National Park, one of three national parks in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe. The park was formally established in 2008 when it merged smaller parks, including Skaftafell, which has since become a nature reserve.

Vatnajokull National Park covers around 14 percent of Iceland's land mass. Its enormous size means there are various attractions to please visitors.

The Vatnajokull National Park is home to one of the most incredible natural sights in the country: the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Often called the "crown jewel of Iceland," this glacial lake is a must-see when visiting Iceland.

Enormous chunks of ice break off from the tongue of the Breidamerkurjokull glacier and float in the lake as massive icebergs. The lagoon's crystal-clear waters create a surreal landscape, and playful seals swim and rest on the icebergs. It's a place of pure beauty and a photographer's paradise.

Icebergs have drifted ashore to form huge gem-like structures on the Diamond Beach.

Next to the lagoon is the magnificent Diamond Beach. As the icebergs in the Jokulsarlon lagoon float out to sea, many drift ashore on a nearby black-sand beach. These vast blocks of ice glitter in the daylight and look like gemstones, hence the name "Diamond Beach."

Another picturesque attraction within the national park is the Svartifoss waterfall. At about 66 feet (20 meters) tall, it's not one of Iceland's most powerful cascades. However, the surrounding basalt columns mean it's beautiful and an excellent place for a photo stop.

Besides these popular sightseeing spots, Vatnajokull National Park has a rich floral life and incredible scenery. Visitors can hike through the park and admire peaceful waterfalls and striking geological formations.

Hofn

The largest settlement in Southeast Iceland is the coastal village of Hofn. Hofn is known for its lobster. It holds a yearly festival celebrating this local delicacy. It also offers beautiful views of the Vatnajokull Glacier and the Atlantic Ocean.

The picturesque harbor in the fishing village of Hofn in Southeast Iceland, seen at sunset.

Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons, by Emmanuel Milou. No edits made.

Hofn is home to a couple of interesting art galleries, making it a great stopping point for Ring Road travelers who want a dose of culture. There are several hotels and guesthouses, meaning it's a popular place for guests traveling through the region to spend a night.

Given the village's coastal location, you can also take a guided kayaking tour in the Hornafjordur fjord. This excursion is a brilliant way to discover the magic of Southeast Iceland and its serene nature.

The Hornafjordur fjord is also a birdwatcher's paradise. Hundreds of Arctic terns make their nests in the Osland conservation area in the summer, so bring your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled.

Mulagljufur Canyon

The Mulagljufur canyon is another gorgeous place to visit in Southeast Iceland. It can be hard to find, as there's little signage pointing it out. However, this hidden gem boasts spectacular hiking routes and picturesque waterfalls.

The canyon is a perfect place to come if you want to escape the crowds. The main attractions in Southeast Iceland (including those in Vatnajokull National Park) can be busy. The canyon's remote location means you can explore at your own pace and enjoy the peace and serenity.

Eystrahorn Mountain

The Eystrahorn mountain, known as "East Horn" in English, is a prominent landmark in Southeast Iceland. It has two distinct peaks, or "horns," and jagged, reddish-brown peaks. It's one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, so you might recognize it when you arrive.

The twin peaks of the Eystrahorn mountain in Southeast Iceland, reflected in a calm body of water.The surrounding area is equally beautiful. There are fantastic hiking opportunities in the area, and you can immerse yourself in the wild beauty of Southeast Iceland.

Hot Springs

Relaxing in hot springs and geothermal pools is a favorite activity among Icelanders. Southeast Iceland doesn't have as many hot pools as other regions, but the Hoffell Hot Tubs is a lovely place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing or hiking.

Situated in the Hoffell farmland area, beautiful views surround the four hot tubs here and boast changing facilities, which isn't always the case in Iceland. Settle into a hot tub and enjoy the panorama.

Viking Village

Not far from the village of Hofn is the Viking Village movie set. It's a re-creation of an authentic Viking village with longhouses, weaponry, and costumes. It has been used as a filming location for various movies and TV shows and offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in Norse legends and history.

Spending an hour or two at this movie set is a fantastic way to learn more about Viking culture engagingly and interactively.

The Viking Village movie set in Southeast Iceland.

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Sergejf. No edits made.

Where Is Southeast Iceland?

Southeast Iceland is situated at the bottom of the eastern edge of the island nation. The region begins approximately 185 miles (roughly 300 kilometers) from Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, and stretches eastward along the coastline.

How to Reach Southeast Iceland

There are several ways to reach Southeast Iceland, depending on where you travel.

The northern lights shine in the sky above Diamond Beach near the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

Driving is the most straightforward way to arrive. The Ring Road goes around the edge of Iceland, meaning you can reach Southeast Iceland from Reykjavik, Akureyri, or anywhere else on Route 1.

It's also possible to fly into the region, as there's a domestic airport near the village of Hofn. Flights run pretty regularly in the summer between the Reykjavik Domestic Airport and the Hornafjordur Airport near Hofn. However, flights might be harder to find during winter, so plan and check the flight schedule before traveling.

Alternatively, you could discover the highlights of Southeast Iceland by joining an organized tour. Various tour companies offer guided tours to this region, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the scenery while experts lead the way. Try a two-day South Coast tour from Reykjavik that takes you into Vatnajokull National Park and lets you visit an ice cave under the Breidamerkurjokull glacier.

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