ICELAND SOUTH COAST: TOP LOCAL THINGS TO SEE & DO!
For anyone that is visiting Iceland, the South Coast should definitely be on top of your “Must do Things in Iceland” list.
The South Coast is one of the absolute most beautiful regions in Iceland, with natural wonders, Waterfalls, Black Sand beach, Vik coastal town, Puffins, Icelandic Glaciers and more.
Have you started packing your bags yet?
In this blog post I will show you my best local tips for an unforgettable South Coast adventure!
3 Best Ways to Explore the South Coast of Iceland
You can explore the beautiful South Coast of Iceland in three absolutely awesome ways.
This is my #1 recommendation for most people. This is the highest rated South Coast adventure day tour from Reykjavik. In one day you will be able to explore the full South Coast, see incredible sights, have a great time and most importantly, make the most of your time as this tour will be lead by an excellent local guide that knows the land like the back of his hand!
If you are only visiting Iceland for a few days. This is definitely the best option.
Get more information and find your South Coast tour here.
2. Rent your own car and do a self-drive tour!
Renting a car in Iceland definitely allows more freedom and if you plan to go further up the South/East coast or travel the whole ring road and spend a couple of nights you will need a good car.
If you are travelling with a group of 8+ we might be able to create a private group experience for you. This would allow us to mix the pros of both option 1 & 2, with a great local guide but still more freedom to create the itinerary depending on what you are most interested in :)
Get in touch with us for a private tour of the South Coast.
south coast iceland attractions map
Icelandic nature is at it’s best on the South Coast and you will see many of Iceland best faces. The sights will include powerful waterfalls, glaciers, incredible coastlines, brutal cliffs, old volcanoes, lava fields, moss, black sand, animals and more! It’s speciality definitely being the two huge waterfalls.
The South Coast is very beautiful and (usually) accessible all year round.
One of the most famous waterfalls in all Iceland. And for a very good reason. It’s huge, it’s powerful and wait for it … you can walk behind it! Make sure to dress in waterproof raincoat (or similar) as you definitely want to walk the circle. Also grab your camera, when are you ever going to have a photo-op like this?
Seljalandsfoss is approx. 1,5 hours drive from Reykjavik.
Another of the top South Coast attractions, Skogafoss Waterfall.
Are you starting to see a pattern? “Foss” means a waterfall in Icelandic. This is definitely one of the more powerful waterfalls in the country and when walking up to it you will feel the vibration as the water hit’s the bottom of the waterfall.
You can walk all the way up to it and that is my favourite experience (you can also catch incredible photos there …) AND you can walk up a staircase next to the waterfall for a view from the top!
THE BLACK SAND BEACH ICELAND
People from all over the world (and locals alike) travel to the Black Sand Beach next to Vík to soak in the incredible views, see the ruthless Atlantic waves, the black sand and the unique lava formations.
Actually, almost every single beach around Iceland has black sand! A lot of travellers don’t know this as they visit the Black Sand beach to experience this. However, this beach is famous for a very good reason – it is exceptionally beautiful with it’s basalt lava rock formations, the large lava cave and the “Reynisdrangar” cliffs standing out in the ocean.
The name for this beach in Icelandic is Reynisfjara.
VIK: SMALL COASTAL TOWN
Vik is a tiny cute town with small houses, incredible views, a few good restaurants, hotels, camp site and it’s very own black sand beach. For most one day South Coast adventures, here is when people start driving back to Reykjavik.
the town of Vik is located centrally in South Iceland and as many beautiful attractions can be found further away – it is too much driving for most people in one day. So, if you plan to rent a car – drive yourself – and camp along the way. Vik or any nearby camp site is perfect.
But for those planning to drive back to Reykjavik – or if you are joining the South Coast Small Group tour, the adventure continues as you will be driving back but stopping at more fun and unique places on the way to Reykjavik.
There are a few other nice towns you will drive through on your South Coast adventure such as Hveragerði geothermal town, Selfoss, Hella, Hvolsvöllur and more. I personally really like Hveragerði as it offers beautiful walking trails and natural hot springs but Selfoss also has a decent restaurant scene.
WHERE TO SEE THE PUFFINS ON THE SOUTH COAST?
It is well worth mentioning that between April – September there are huge flocks of Puffins and other unique Atlantic sea-birds that nest in the cliffs near Reynisfjara – The Black Sand Beach.
Sometimes you can travel up the cliffs of Dyrhólaey for amazing views of the black sand beach and get an overview of the Puffins.
However, most times when I have visited the Black Sand Beach in the summers, you can spot flocks of the birds flying above you or swimming in the sea.
Iceland has more than 250 glaciers scattered all across the island which in total covers approx. 11% of Iceland. Many of those are in and around the South Coast.
One of the most beautiful views is of Svinafellsjokull Glacier. There are two photos above of that exact glacier, stunning right?
It is possible to walk to the roots of the glacier when you travel yourself by car but do not enter or hike on the ice without a licensed guide as the glaciers can be very dangerous.
In the South Coast tour, you will visit the Svinafellsjokull Glacier.
GOOD THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE EXPLORING THE SOUTH COAST
Just a couple of things to keep in mind …
The South Coast is a beautiful long stretch and it takes a little time to explore. Don’t let it stop you but just be prepared for a long day. To give you an idea, the fantastic South Coast tour I have been raving about is usually 10-11 hours. With this in mind you might want to buy a few delicious snacks in Reykjavik before heading out to keep you energetic! However, there are of course lots of good restaurants on the road.
Don’t be afraid of driving or doing a tour in Iceland because of the weather or the roads. Actually, driving in Iceland is incredibly beautiful, fun and as far as I know, safe. The roads are forever swinging between the beach and mountains which makes it fun as the scenery is always changing but the speed limit is not high (90 km/h or 55 mph) so the traffic is not so scary.
If you are driving yourself, it is a good idea to check out the conditions on the road beforehand.
NATURAL HOT SPRINGS IN SOUTH ICELAND
Just like glaciers, the natural hot springs are scattered all across our beautiful country. And just as I like to explore glacier caps, the hot springs are my favourites!
There are a few in South Iceland. Gamla Laugin or the Secret Lagoon is absolutely wonderful, then there is Hrunalaug, Seljavallalaug and the hike to Reykjadalur (steamy valley).
There is one amazing tour that we do offer that can take you to the wonders of the Golden Circle and then dip into the wonderful Secret Lagoon natural Hot spring. I highly recommend it – and here is a direct link to the hot spring tour.
But unfortunately I don’t know of any other tours that can take you to the hot springs.
Here however is a blog to a better guide of Hot Springs in Iceland.
NORTHERN LIGHTS ON THE SOUTH COAST
If you are travelling in Iceland from September – April, you might just have a fantastic chance to witness the dancing aurora borealis (the Northern Lights) during your stay!
And your chance to see the Northern Lights is great on the South Coast, just like everywhere else in Iceland. With Reykjavik city maybe being the only exception as the light pollution might dramatically affect your chances. Bottom line, seeing the Northern Lights in the country-side is a great idea!
If you are doing a South Coast tour during peak winter, you might just end your tour by driving back to Reykjavik in darkness. And if so – and the Northern Lights are active during that particular night – your driver will of course let you know and stop the car!
Doing the special Northern Lights tour maximises your chances of seeing the infamous aurora borealis as you will be guided by a Northern Lights expert – that has carefully examined the aurora forecast for your particular night and together you will go out on a Northern Lights hunting mission!
You can find more information about our best recommended Northern Lights tour here.
I hope from the bottom of my heart that this blog about the South Coast in Iceland has been helpful and that you have learned something new – and that it will make your Iceland adventure even more fun. See you soon in Iceland!
Learn More: the Best South Coast tour in Iceland