Iceland is a geologically young land, that's the reason why Iceland is full of stunning natural wonders.
Powerful and epic waterfalls, a scene of a flight accident immortalized in time and a unique beach are waiting for you when you visit the south coast. A self-driving roadtrip makes it possible to stop next to the highway at the viewpoint as well, in order to admire the landscape.
You can easily visit all the interesting places located in this region in a day driving through the Hringvegur road (Ring Road), the main Iceland highway that surrounds the whole country. But even though we came to this region from Reykjavik on the Ring Road, you can also depart from Flúðir or from other town in case you spent the night there.
TRAVEL TIP: We think it's easier to explore the south coast if you depart from Flúðir for example, and then end your day in Vík. You can spend one night in Flúðir and the next one in Vík. You can spare time and gas like that.
Now we present you our top 5 places to visit in the south coast of Iceland, we put them in the the same order as we visited them. This is how they're located on the Ring Road.
Here you can see one map of the whole route departing from Reykjavik:
Here is another map in case you start the route in Flúðir:
Time from Reykjavik by car: 1 hour 40 minutes
Time from Flúðir by car: 1 hour 10 minutes
Parking and entrance fee: no entrance fee, but the parking costs 5 euros that you have to pay in the machines right at the parking lot.
Facilities: there are bathrooms next to the parking lot, you can use them for free. There is also a small bakery where you can get sandwiches and drinks.
First we stopped at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. You can't miss it, the waterfall will appear in front of you when you drive on the highway. Trust us, you will get totally impressed by the powerful waterfall!
The water falls from a big canyon that runs along perpendicular to the ring road. But Seljalandsfoss is not alone, because all along the wall of rock you can find other little waterfalls.
You can observe and take pictures of the waterfall from far. If you are brave enough and you're not afraid to be wet, you can hike behind the waterfall as well and give a semicircle round.
Time from Seljalandsfoss by car: 26 minutes
Entrance and parking: there is no parking or entrance fee
Facilities: there are bathrooms but you have to pay 200 ISK (so make sure to have cash). There is no bakery or coffee, just some tables and chairs where you can eat your meal or just take a rest. 🙂
After our quick bath in Seljalandsfoss we decided to visit other very famous waterfall, Skógafoss. If the name sounds epic then it's because the place is indeed incredible. There is always a long line of photographers waiting for the perfect moment to take their photos.
Thanks to the shape of the rock and the diffusion of the falling water you can clearly see a complete rainbow if the sun is in good position. We have actually seen a double rainbow! You can also go up on the hill to watch the river and the waterfall from above. It's quite hard to hike up, but it's worth it!
Sólheimasandur plane wreckage
Time from Skógafoss by car: 12 minutes
Entrance and parking: both free of charge
Facilities: no bathrooms or stores
In November of 1973 a Douglas super DC3 airplane from the US army experienced some difficulties while flying above Sólheimasandur. This forced the pilots to make an emergency landing on the beach. Fortunately all the passengers aboard survived, but they left the pieces of the plane there.
Now you can visit this location and see it by yourself! You can even go on it and take some spectacular photos! Consider that to reach the plane you need to walk for half an hour. You can take a bus (10 euros one way/ person) as well. When you plant your journey, don't forget to plan the extra one hour of walking or the extra costs of the bus.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the plane by ourselves. We didn’t know that it takes so much time to reach it and we didn't have one extra hour. But next time for sure we will go, at night! Because it's possible to watch the Northern Lights here as well, due to the clear sky and the absence of other lights 🙂
Time from the Sólheimasandur plane by car: 20 minutes
Parking: you can park right next to the church on the hill, it's free.
The beautiful town of Vík í Mýrdal, or simplier known as Vík is the southest located town in whole Iceland. It's also the warmest! The average temperature is between 2 and 5 degrees (this is considered the warmest, so imagine how is the rest! 😀 )
You can arrive to Vík through the Ring Road. The highest point of the town is the church on the hill, from there you can get an amazing view of the city. The ocean and the black sand beach are visible, but also the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. As an interesting fact, you should know that under this glacier lies the Katla volcano that haven’t erupted since 1918. Scientists and geologists expect a new eruption very soon. This future eruption would be able to cover the whole town of Vik in ice and ashes! That's why the population is trained to run up to the church at the moment of an emergency.
Black sand beach (Reynisfjara)
Time from Vík by car: 3 minutes.
There're more parking lots next to the beach and all of them are free of charge.
The black sand beach is unique for the spectacular dark color of the sand. It's black because of the basalt lava that covers the area. Whole Iceland is a very “new” piece of land and the black sand shows evidence of the volcanic activity.
We didn't see a beach with black sand before Iceland (other place with black sand is for example Hawaii). It's not a place for swimming, but you can get amazing shots. The 5 rocks on the horizon make the view more spectacular. And old Icelandic folklore legend says that this rocks were trolls defeated by a very brave man. After they killed his woman, the brave man chased them until they reached the ocean. He made them swear that they won't hurt anybody again in the future.
There is a very nice coffee shop and restaurant (with vegan options) near the beach next to the gas station. As there are no public bathrooms next to the church or the beach, this place offers a great opportunity to get a coffee, dinner, or just to take a break after a long day of exploring. You can also admire the sunset from the window, if it gets cold outside next to the beach.
Where to stay in the south of Iceland?
Accomodation in Iceland can be very expensive, but it depends on the season as well. If you book in advance, you can also spare some money.
If you're travelling with a group and you want to share the costs of an apartment, this is the best option for you. On airbnb you can also find great options if you're travelling solo or as a couple, and you feel more comfortable in room or flat just for yourself. The rooms and flats are rented by private people. Click here and get a discount for your booking with airbnb!
Booking.com is the biggest collection of hostels and hotels all over the world. Click here to explore all the accomodations in Vik and book the best deal 🙂
But if you want to find other accomodation that fits more to your needs, click on our Booking.com deals finder for Vik: