- Best Time to Visit
- All year-round
- Distance from Reykjavík
- 120 - 380km (75 - 236mi)
- 63.41767, -18.99731
Enjoy a versatile, scenic hike by the volcano Katla that rewards you with a stunning panoramic glacier view of Eyjafjallajökull, Sólheimajökull and other unique landscapes of the scenic south coast. This guided day tour, which is moderately difficult, gives you a glimpse into the world of Iceland’s geological wonders and how glaciers have shaped the land for thousands of years. A specially modified glacier truck transports you approximately 750 metres to start the hike, which will generally continue downhill. Participants should be in good physical shape with some mountain climbing experience.
With its enormous white and blue icebergs breaking off from Vatnajökull glacier, the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a natural wonder of Iceland, a sight you absolutely cannot miss. This scenic day tour includes a thrilling boat ride on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the epic waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the glittering Diamond Beach and charming Vík. Explore some of south Iceland’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes!
Take your Iceland self-drive adventure to the next level with this combo tour on a beautiful outlet glacier and a boat ride along a stunning lagoon. Experience the beauty of Iceland’s mighty glaciers on foot and in water. Expect an easy tour with a 3.5-hour guided glacier walk and a 1.5-hour scenic boat ride on the Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
This South Shore Adventure is the ideal tour for nature lovers looking to explore some of the most unique and scenic sights in the South. Get ready for an action-packed day seeing epic waterfalls, charming towns, vast glaciers, and the most famous black sand beach in Iceland!
With its enormous white and blue icebergs breaking off from Vatnajökull glacier, the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a natural wonder of Iceland, a sight you absolutely cannot miss. The nearby Diamond Beach has a stunning display of chunks of ice glistening on stark black sands. This tour features some of southeast Iceland's most spectacular and iconic landscapes!
With its enormous white and blue icebergs breaking off from Sólheimajökull Glacier, join this leisurely kayak tour where you will sail along the Sólheimajökull Glacier Lagoon. This is an experience you absolutely cannot miss out on. Bask in the beautiful nature surrounding you as your expert guide leads you around this gorgeous outlet glacier.
Hop aboard the Plane Wreck shuttle for the 4 km (2.5 mi) to the DC-3 aeroplane wreckage on the hauntingly beautiful black sand beach of Sólheimasandur. The shuttle is available seven days a week between 10:00 and 17:00 and takes just 10-15 minutes to get to the plane!
Join this easy, short glacier walk and explore the beautiful, icy wonderland of Iceland’s Sólheimajökull Glacier. Enjoy the fresh air, interesting shapes and hues of the ice and marvel at the vast and remote slice of south Iceland. Led by an expert guide, get up close and personal with one of the country's most famous glaciers!
Ascending the highest peak in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m / 6900 ft) is a bucket-list worth climb to check off your list! The mountain is located on the northwestern rim of the Öræfajökull volcano and promises an unforgettable hike with breathtaking panoramic views. This is not a beginners’ hike; be prepared for a challenging climb befitting those with ample climbing experience and in fantastic physical shape. No special technical skills are required, but we recommend packing the items on our equipment list (see below). The climb will be mentally and physically gruelling, but it is worth it.
Join this thrilling snowmobile experience on the mighty Mýrdalsjökull Glacier! Spend 1-hour riding across the ice field, with breathtaking scenery and an experienced guide. This tour doesn’t require previous snowmobile riding experience, and anyone over the age of 17 with a valid driver’s licence can operate the snowmobile. But, if there are kids over 8 in the group or non-drivers, they can ride as a passenger. Get ready to glide on a glacier!
Join this thrilling snowmobile experience on the mighty Mýrdalsjökull Glacier! Spend 1-hour riding across the ice field, with breathtaking scenery and an experienced guide. This day tour doesn’t require previous snowmobile riding experience, and anyone over the age of 17 with a valid driver’s licence can operate the snowmobile. But, if there are kids over 8 in the group or non-drivers, they can ride as a passenger. Get ready to glide on a glacier! The tour also includes sightseeing stops at the epic waterfalls Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss!
Want to experience a slice of the highlands but don’t have the time for a multi-day hike? Book this guided day tour over the spectacular Fimmvörðuháls pass! A professionally trained guide will lead you on this trail, named one of the Best Hikes in the World by National Geographic. Expect a demanding 10-hour hike where you will see fantastic glacier views, volcanic craters, vast canyons and impressive waterfalls. The 22-kilometre hike is available July-August; participants must be at least 12 years old and up for a challenging hike.
Looking for a challenge with a fantastic reward? On this active day tour, you will experience a natural ice cave, one of the most iconic and picturesque features of the glacial landscape. As is often the case, the most beautiful places can be difficult to access, but it is absolutely worth it if you are physically up for it. Expect a challenging tour with about 4.5 hours spent on the ice.
Looking for an active tour in south Iceland? Get an adrenaline rush while riding an ATV on vast black sand beaches! This thrilling 2-hour guided tour includes breathtaking views of the surrounding area and a visit to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck.
Explore a stunning outlet glacier in Skaftafell during this easy glacier walk. Marvel at this icy giant, a breathtaking outlet glacier that extends from the vast Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest in Europe. Get ready for an adventure against a backdrop of glacial ice!
Enjoy a guided glacier walk, exploring the beautiful, icy wonderland of Iceland's Sólheimajökull Glacier. Enjoy the fresh air, interesting shapes and hues of the ice and marvel at the vast and remote slice of south Iceland. Get up close and personal with one of the country's most famous glaciers! Expect a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík, a 1.5-hour glacier hike, and some sightseeing along the south coast and back to Reykjavík.
Experience an easy glacier walk with an introduction to ice climbing on this small group day tour. You will explore the majestic landscapes of Sólheimajökull glacier, including water cauldrons, ridges, and deep crevasses, followed by a quick search for a suitable spot to rig up our gear for a short, moderately difficult introduction to ice climbing. You can expect about 3 hours on the ice with a professionally trained glacier guide.
Explore Iceland's legendary South Coast, where the thundering cascades of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss await. Amidst the shadow of the mighty Katla volcano, feel the thrill of an ATV ride across scenic valleys and black sand expanses, leading you to the iconic DC-3 plane wreck on Sólheimasandur beach. A harmonious blend of tranquil vistas and heart-pounding adventure!
Ice and Fire along the South Coast of Iceland
How to access Iceland’s south coast
The route of the south coast is a popular day trip from Reykjavík. The Route One main road that encircles the entire island of Iceland leads from the capital and runs all the way along the south coast, making it an easy place to explore by car. A south coast self-drive adventure is a popular way to see the sights along this route. Under your own steam, you can spend as long as you want at each waterfall, beach and glacier viewpoint, taking your time or speeding up whenever you feel like it. However, if you prefer to simply sit back, relax and take in the volcanoes, mountains and wild Atlantic shore from the car window, joining one of the many day trips or multi-day trips that run from Reykjavík to the south coast is the perfect option.
The natural wonders of the South Coast
One of the most popular sights is the south coast waterfalls. Iceland has hundreds of waterfalls that tumble from cliff tops and thunder over rocks and two of the most beautiful are on the south coast. Seljalandsfoss waterfall is the only place in Iceland where you can actually walk behind the cascade. At Skógafoss you can hike up to the top of the waterfall for a view over the mossy-green landscape all the way to the sea and count the rainbows that appear when the sun hits the spray at the cascade’s base. You can also spot some of the country’s huge ice caps from the roadside like the famous Eyjafjallajökull which caused the dramatic ash cloud of 2010.
Reynisfjara Black Beach
Most South Coast itineraries include a stop at Reynisfjara black-sanded beach, where a sweep of onyx sand stretches for miles and miles. The beach’s Hálsanefshellir cave, made from twisting basalt columns, looks like something from a legendary tale where fae folk might hang out, and two jagged sea stacks stand tall as skyscrapers out at sea. It makes for a striking picture.
Explore the Glaciers
Along the south shore, you'll find some of Iceland's most renowned glaciers. Adjacent to Eyjafjallajökull is the mighty Mýrdalsjökull with its outlet, Sólheimajökull. Further east lies the colossal Vatnajökull, Europe's largest ice cap. These glaciers provide not only breathtaking views for your day trip but also act as a haven for adventure enthusiasts. Glacier hikes, ice climbing, ice caving, and glacier lagoon kayaking tours are available.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
At the opposite end of the south coast from Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is considered the “jewel in Iceland’s crown”. Glowing blue icebergs float in the clear glacial water and you can take a boat out into the lagoon to touch the ice up close. Just across the road from the glacier lagoon, the Diamond Beach is another of Iceland’s black-sanded beaches, but this one is a little different. Huge shards of crystal-clear ice travel down from the glacier lagoon to the shore where it rests on the jet-black sand. When the light hits the ice, it looks like diamonds shimmering on the ground.
Adventure activities along the south coast
There is plenty for the outdoor enthusiast along the south coast of Iceland. One once-in-a-lifetime experience that can be ticked off your bucket list is hiking on a south coast glacier. Iceland isn’t short of ice caps, in fact, 11% of the country is covered in glacial ice. There are a few spots where you can embark on a glacier hike along the south coast, but the most popular are Sólheimajökull and Skaftafell. You can also explore glacial ice caves under the guidance of a professional guide and try your hand at ice climbing.
Eat, drink and sleep along the south coast
If you’re taking it slow and spending more than a day exploring the sights of the south coast, you’ll want to stop for food and accommodation. Cabins and rooms in guesthouses on remote farms can be found all along the Route One road for overnight stays, often including a home-cooked meal and breakfast in the morning. The pretty coastal villages of Vík and Höfn are home to a selection of hostels, hotels and B&Bs for all budgets, plus pubs and restaurants for a drink and meal at the end of the day. Most of the major sights have their own visitor’s centre with a café so you can try rustic Icelandic soups, stews and sandwiches for lunch as you sightsee. In some of the remote regions, especially around Skaftafell, you’ll find campsites with tent pitches and spots for campervans.
All About Iceland’s South Coast
There are plenty of accommodation options on the south coast of Iceland. The seaside village of Vík has several simple hotels, B&Bs and hostels to choose from. All along the south coast’s Route One main road, you’ll find isolated farm cabins that offer a night out in the Icelandic countryside, perhaps waking up to the view of a tumbling waterfall or a dramatic mountainscape. In the Skaftafell area, you’ve got guesthouses, hotels and plenty of campsites, and the peninsula town of Höfn has a decent selection of places to stay at the easterly end of the south coast.
To cover all of the south coast, including spending time exploring the beautiful scenery of Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, you should allow at least two days. Three days would allow you to spend time on the hiking trails of Skaftafell.
If chasing waterfalls is your thing, then stopping at Seljalandsfoss where you can walk behind the waterfall’s cascade is a must-see sight along with Skógafoss where rainbows dance in the waterfall’s spray. The ethereal basalt rock cave and jet-black sand of Reynisfjara Beach make this an essential spot for anyone into photography or those that simply want to bask in Iceland’s unique scenery. For many, a glacier hike is a bucket-list experience and you can tick this off your list at Sólheimajökull glacier on the south coast. But the south coast sight that is considered the “jewel in Iceland’s crown” is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – the iceberg-filled lake at the easterly end of the south coast.
The south coast of Iceland is full of adventurous activities for those that love the outdoors. ATV and buggy rides along the black-sanded beach end at the haunting wreck of an aircraft. Ziplining over the rivers and lava fields of Iceland’s unique landscape is on offer just outside Vík and here you’ll also find the informative lava experience and a couple of local museums. There are also opportunities to go hiking at Skaftafell, and even several places to embark on a glacier hike on the south coast.
With few significant towns and villages along the south coast, it’s the ideal place to spot the Northern Lights. There is very little light pollution in this part of the island so when the sky is clear enough, the Northern Lights seem to glow all the brighter out here. One of the most popular places to spot the Northern Lights on the south coast is at the Diamond Beach where the sea and shards of ice on the sand reflect the glowing green light.
The south coast is home to some of Iceland’s most magnificent natural wonders. Along this route, you’ll find the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, the black-sanded beach of Reynisfjara and you can spot the famous Eyjafjallajökull ice cap from the roadside. You can experience the sight of a typical wood-clad church on a hill at the coastal village of Vík, and further along the south coast lies the unique sight of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon where icebergs float in the serene waters. Just across the road, the Diamond Beach is scattered with shards of ice on black sand – it’s a photographer’s dream.
In terms of sightseeing, Iceland’s south coast is generally considered to be the southern section of the island that runs along the Atlantic from Þorlákshöfn to Höfn. It roughly follows the southern route of the Route One ring road that loops around the entire island. From Reykjavík, you follow Route One towards Selfoss and can stop at the myriad waterfalls, beaches and glaciers along the way.
It is possible to hit the highlights of the south coast – Reynisfjara black-sanded beach, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls and even a glacier hike on Sólheimajökull – in a single day from Reykjavík. In fact, many organised tours cover this and similar itineraries on day tours from the capital. While it is possible to also see the very easterly sights of the south coast (like Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach) in a single day from Reykjavík, it would be a very long day and you would inevitably miss some of the key sights along the way. It’s a good idea to spend the night somewhere around Skaftafell or Höfn if you want to see the very easterly part of the south coast.
You’ll find that most major sights along the south coast of Iceland have a visitor’s centre and café to refuel as you go. Most of these cafés will serve hearty lunches of hot soups, stews and big sandwiches. In the village of Vík, there are several gastropubs and a couple of restaurants. Guesthouses and farm cabin accommodations often come with a home-cooked meal and breakfast served by farmers and their families. Of course, this is Iceland, so the ubiquitous hot dog counters you’ll find at nearly every petrol station are an option for a quick, satisfying bite.
From Reykjavík, it is around 400 kilometres to the end of the south coast route, so you could drive the entire thing in four to five hours without stopping. Of course, there are loads of sights and wonders to distract you along the way. To experience the entire route in-depth with stops at waterfalls, glaciers and black-sand beaches, you’ll want to allow a full day if not two days.