After an amazing road trip itinerary in the new Arctic Coast Way was time for knowing the South Coast of Iceland. The country is not so big. You can easily go around it. The Ring road nr. 1 will help with that.
But keep in mind there is so much to see. You have to be careful not to take much time in some places. The South Coast of Iceland is more touristic than the north. It’s another Iceland to see. So, we can’t leave without the chance to see at least a little bit.
You can see our South Coast of Iceland road trip itinerary below.
Day 1 – Leaving for the South Coast of Iceland
We didn’t plan much aside from the Arctic Coast Way itinerary. Planning, yes but, never over plan. It’s nice to leave some space. Our trip itinerary for sure will pass by the south coast of Iceland. Because we must be back at the capital for taking the plane back home.
We wake up in Egilsstadir without a plan but, we knew we must get back to a canyon that on the preview day we didn’t have the chance to visit. We had to drove back before continue to the south coast of Iceland. But totally worth it included in the road trip itinerary.
It is located in the Jokuldalur valley. One curiosity is that it was a recent discovery. For a long time, it was hidden underwater until the hydroelectric plant Kárahnjúkavirkjun was built, the water flow was reduced revelling the canyon.
There is two way to access the canyon on a road trip itinerary:
-from the west side of the Ring road nr. 1 turn to road nr. 923. Drive to the farm Grund where there is a parking space. 5 minutes walking path will help you to reach the canyon. Although there are ropes keep in mind partly is steep.
-from the east side, you can get into the canyon and down to the river. Just need to drive to the bridge by the Klaustursel farm, on the road nr. 923. On the north side of the bridge, there is a parking lot where you have to leave your vehicle. You have to cross the bridge by foot and hike almost 5 km to reach the canyon.
After Studlagil canyon we drive back to Egilsstadir but our goal was the mountain village of Seydifjordur. Backing on the road trip itinerary before heading to South Coast of Iceland we drove until seeing Seydifjordur.
The village is very famous because of the blue church and the rainbow street. Lovely place, but more tourists than we expected. Located in the narrow fjord, the little village is marvellous. Nearby there is a waterfall: Gufufoss. It worth to stop by.
Leaving Seydifjordur we went south coast of Iceland, driving on the Ring road nr. 1 and stopping where we want. A few villages after with incredible views we were at Vestrahorn. One of the most famous places in the country. We didn’t want to pay to enter so we just took advantage of the nearby places to take photos.
There is also a little Viking village named Stokksnes. As it is private land you have to pay.
The surrounded environment it’s quite a show. So, just enjoy. Don’t need to pay a fee to embrace nature around. To be honest, we loved the view to Vestrahorn at the distance, it makes it so imponent.
We were in Hofn late but, as we didn’t want to stay there, we just went around then took the road again.
Ending up passing the night on the place near the roadside. It was dark but, we could hear the birds and swans not far. We used the app park4night to find this place. It for sure make the difference if you are going on a road trip.
Day 2 – Tales of ice lovers
We wanted an easy-going day so didn’t put many things to do on our road trip itinerary. Waking up near Hofn with the most amazing view we wanted to be at Vík í Múrdal at night. South Coast of Iceland has been a lovely surprise.
It was raining. But we were still very excited as the day will be promising. On the agenda we wanted to visit:
- Jokulsárlón Glacier Lagoon;
- Diamond beach;
- Fjadrárgljúfur canyon
Jokulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach
It was our first stop. Never in our life, we saw a glacier lagoon so, we were mind-blowing.
Nature is just so incredible. Jokulsárlón border with Vatnajokull National Park, where the large Vatnajokull glacier is located. The icebergs we saw on Jokulsárlón came from Breidamerkurjokull glacier.
Seals can be seen here, due to the among to fish they can eat. We saw a couple of them. Many species of birds make them away here too. You can get boat tours to operate between April and October. Or for the more adventurous an ice cave tours, between mid-October until march
The glacier lagoon unique blue colour is due to the composition of the sea and freshwater. This happens because the lagoon is connected to the sea.
With the increased temperature places like glacier are vulnerable. The warming was consequences like the melting of sea ice and glaciers, sea-level rise, increased vegetation growth and changes in migratory routes of animals.
It isn’t different in this part of Iceland. There is an information sign to raise awareness. Please be conscious of this.
The beautiful black sandy beach in the South Coast of Iceland is right next to Jokulsárlón lagoon. The pieces of sparking ice that you see there came in fact from the glacier lagoon. Since the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean are connected, the icebergs are pushed until the ocean.
The waves polished them and push back to the shore, ending up at the beach. Every time you visit Diamond beach will be different. The beach is a very popular spot. So, it must be included in any road trip itinerary. When we visit there was, in fact, many people.
Nether less to say it is dangerous to try step on the icebergs. Could even be fatal! It is an inexplicably foolish behaviour to do this. Please don’t be stupid.
After two mind-blowing places, we continue driving in Ring road nr. 1 and stopping by in some viewpoint to see more ice dreamy places. Three of them were:
- Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon where you can see floating icebergs or take a boat tour;
- Svínafellsjokull with stunning shape and form. It is possible to hike. Game of Thrones and Interstellar were filmed there;
- Falljokull easy to access and also possible to hike. Ice cave tour in this glacier is some of the best.
Another highlight of our day was the Fjadrárgljúfur canyon. We have been dreaming about this canyon. Guess what? Not disappoint.
Here are some facts about it:
-the canyon is massive, about 100 meters deep and two kilometres long;
-the bedrock is mostly palagonite from Ice Age period;
-river Fjadrá pass by the canyon make its way into Skaftá river;
-deep in the canyon, there are waterfalls;
-there is a walking path up on the canyon’s edge;-you can walk inside the canyon most of the time;
-Fjadrárgljúfur canyon was temporarily closed until June 2019 due to the among of tourists.
In Fjadrárgljúfur we found a park ranger so any questions just ask. We did ask if it was possible to fly the drone as I didn’t saw any sign. The nice lady gives us a good location to make the most of the canyon without bothering other people. She was really happy that we asked, and we even spend a little time talking about Iceland.
As for the rest of the day, we just went down until Vík í Mýrdal. Before exploring the village, we make it to Reynisfjara beach. The place was full of tourists. Maybe it’s always like this, almost at any time of the day.
No wonder why, it is beautiful. The enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas make it one of the most attractive beaches in Iceland.
Once on the beach, you can observe rocky sea stacks known as Reynisdrangar. The stacks are very popular is Icelandic folklore with different histories about it.
Please be aware of the waves at Reynisfjara, they are violent. It’s called sneaker-waves because they appear when least expected. The dramatic shifts in the tide, the rip currents offshore are strong and with the ability to drag careless people.
Fatal accidents have occurred so be careful, keep a safe distance and try not to turn your back on the waves.
On our way back to Vík í Mýrdal, we stopped by Reyniskirkja. The little church with the gigantic mountains in the back is for us one of the most pretty we saw in the country.
Back at Vík í Mýrdal, we spend the night at the campsite. The facilities are great. For example, you can even cook inside the common space. It was very windy outside. Weather can change quickly in Iceland therefore, always be alert.
Day 3 – Chasing Waterfalls
In the morning the wind was slowly being not so strong but, some dark clouds insist on the rain. Begining the road trip itinerary for the day, we went to three well-known waterfalls in the South Coast of Iceland:
This is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country. When it is sun and due to the among of spray produced it is possible to see a rainbow.
You can see the waterfall from the above, only have to climb the stairs on the right. If you feel like hiking, on the eastern side the trail leads up to the pass Fimmvorduháls.
For us, Skógafoss is one of the most dazzling waterfalls in the country.
Skógafoss legend of the treasure chest…
According to local beliefs, Prasi Pórólfsson, was the first Viking to settle in this place. At the time he buried a treasure chest behind the waterfall in a cave. Local people eventually found the chest but, only were able to grasp the ring on the side.
Then the chest disappeared. The ring was offered to the local church. Nowadays, the chest ring is displayed at Skógar museum. The old church, Skógakirkja was deconsecrated in 1980 and the current church belongs to the museum.
Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabui
Driving again on the Ring road nr. 1 we passed by Ásólfsskálakirkja. Another Icelandic church surrounded by nice landscaping.
At Seljalandsfoss there is a parking lot that you have to pay to access the waterfall.
Don’t park at Seljalandsfoss. Just continue a few meters on the road 249 until reach a sign that indicates the ‘Hamragardar campsite’. There is a place you can park there for free.
After parking there, Gljufrabui is just nearby. The waterfall was once one of the most of Iceland’s hidden gems. Well, it isn’t anymore. Gljufrabui is hidden inside a gorge, although you can see it from the outside.
If you want to go inside just remember you will get soaked. Bring waterproof shoes and raincoat. We didn’t go inside as there were too many people waiting to get there.
From this South Coast of Iceland waterfall, you can easily go to Seljalandsfoss passing a green valley. The view is so pleasant, it worth every second.
Seljalandsfoss is fully encircled, meaning that you can walk behind the waterfall. How cool is this? Well, if it wasn’t for the very long line to do it we also would try it. Anyway, Seljalandsfoss still a mesmerising waterfall and it’s almost obligatory to visit.
On our penultimate day and tired of the frenetic Iceland road trip we want to experience something different. So far, we have been skipping the geothermal baths so, this was the time.
Blue lagoon is the most known and the price is high. Therefore, we went for an alternative and ended up at Flúdir in Secret Lagoon. A good choice. The geothermal area near Flúdir was made in 1891 and is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland.
We booked online just 1 hour before we arriving. It is advisable to do it. It wasn’t too crowded. Close to nature, only one pool but, feels very authentic and the price was reasonable.
The changing rooms were clean and the floor is heated. You have a locker included in the admission where you can put your values. They have a little café inside where you can eat or drink something. In addition, there is a geyser near the pool. Just use the pathway to observe it. You can walk around; you are free to do it even if you do want to use the hot spring pool.
We spend the rest of the afternoon there, just relaxing.
After leaving and a few meters away we parked the van at a roadside. There was a fence and Icelandic horses inside. For our surprise they came straight to the fence, they are super friendly.
The night was spent at Hveragerdi campsite. Meanwhile, we didn’t have much time to explore the surrounding. However, as far as we know there is a hot spring area near, Reykjadalur hot spring thermal river.
You can enjoy it for free, only have to hike. Keep in mind there aren’t changing rooms there. Maybe it is better in the summer.
Day 4 – Saying goodbye to the land of ice & fire
Our last day in Iceland we didn’t have many things to do. It was raining a lot and windy too. A few flights were cancelled in the morning. So, our road trip itinerary got to be easy going and according to the weather.
We took the Ring road nr. 1 to Reykjavik, stopping at a few viewpoints on the roadside when it was possible. South Coast of Iceland was been fantastic. But, with less time to explore. We did have time to pass by Hallgrímskirkja before heading to Happy Campers office.
They took us to the airport on the bus shuttle. After that, we spend the afternoon there before getting our flight back with Wizz Air. As it was night when we took the flight a magical thing happens.
We saw the northern lights from the plane! This is insane! People were getting crazy. The Wizz Air cabin crew were very patient about it and even our pilot took some time to talk over the speaker to us passengers enjoy the nice view. What a memorable moment!
Feel free to book with Wizz Air you night flight and enjoy the northern lights as we did it.
Couldn’t end up better our Iceland road trip. We really were surprised by the country. It was beyond our expectation. Iceland is a true paradise and we even have some difficulty to put in words our feelings towards what we saw. From Arctic Coast Way to the South Coast of Iceland, any part of the country must be included in a road trip itinerary.
When to visit Iceland?
The true answer to this question is all year. All year is good to visit Iceland and every season you will see a different country.
This is so cool; you not only will be at one of the most diversified countries in the world but also can enjoy different experiences at every season.
- More ice and snow
- Lacking daylight
- Minor road closed
- Cheapest prices for renting a van and for accommodation
- Northern lights can be seen
- Less crowded
- Ice cave tours and glaciers.
- Warm weather
- Experience midnight sun
- A chance to see puffins
- Hugh probability to encounter whales from different species
- The highlands are open
- Summer festivals
- Possibility of camping.
How to move around?
Moving around Iceland is not the most difficult thing. It is a relatively small country. Although some isolated parts of the country it is more difficult to reach. But here is all you need to know about it:
Rent a vehicle
Could be a car, a van, an RV or a 4×4 vehicle. This is the best way to move around. It only depends on you and the time you have. You can go almost everywhere.
We rented out a van with our friends from Happy Campers. They were a reliable source of information and help us with everything we needed. First, there are some rules you must follow. No matter what, off-road driving is not permitted.
To fill our van, we just stop by a gas station and had three option:
- pay with cash, only available at some gas station. Just ask the staff there;
- pay with a credit card. It is the best way, and even available at self-service stations;
- buy a pre-paid card that can be used at multiple locations.
Please check always safe travel.is before hitting the road. Also, any problem there is an app called 112 that can be used to contact authorities in case of emergency.
Our van was super cool, if he had a major problem, we just contact our Happy Campers friends and they immediately assisted us. The van got a GPS track system, they could see where we had. Please feel free to book with them as they got good promotions all year round.
Flying (Domestic flight)
This is possible but, only for a few small towns. Like Akureyri in the north or Egilsstadir in the east or even Isafjordur in the Westfjords.
Normally tourist doesn’t use domestic flights. They aren’t cheap and the purpose to visit Iceland is a road trip.
To reach Iceland we loved flying with Wizz Air from the United Kingdom. The main goal of the company is value-oriented, focus on innovation so, everyone can fly affordably.
Wizz Air started its UK flights over 12 years ago and now operates 80 routes at 9 UK airports. The airline offers several flights, schedule at Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, from Reykjavik to London Luton, with the lowest fare starting at £39,99.
(one way, including all taxes, non-optional charges and one small cabin bag). For more information about Wizz Air’s routes or to book, visit wizzair.com.
Main cities and towns in Iceland are served by bus companies. Buses are a good option in the summertime but, in other seasons can be quick a hell.
There are bus passports that grant you access to a route of your choice in a specified length of time. Again, this is a good option for major towns like Akureyri, Mývatn, Hofn, Vík or the Highlands.
Buy the tickets online, at the main BSI bus terminal in the capital or most tourist offices. Here are some of the bus companies:
Not for everyone but, just for you to know there are ferries between Denmark and Iceland from late march until late october. Some stopping at the Faroe Islands.
We did saw a lot of vehicles with Denmark plate. The ferry company is Smyril Line.
There are also numerous ferries connecting to the nearby island, For this, you will need to check the local tourism office.
Some tips for planning:
-Icelandic road trips make you want to stop every 5 minutes. So always plan more time to go from one point to another.
-It’s important to check the daylight and try to be at your final destination in the daylight. Some people just can’t drive in the dark, don’t get in trouble.
-Always but always check road conditions. No off-road driving is permitted and some roads like F-roads are only opened a short period (June to September), is only for 4×4 vehicles.
– Another mandatory tip is to check every day the weather. This can be unpredictable in the country. We even check the weather along the day, just to be sure we were able to drive the route we planned.
– Respect the sign and barriers, it is rule number one for your safety.
– If you are going to major tourist sites go early.
– For well-known activities book before you go, otherwise they may not be available.
– Pack wisely for Iceland, the key is layers.
– Water is available in any tap so don’t by bottled water.
Iceland was one of the most incredible countries we visit so far. We travel around the country, doing Arctic Coast Way route first and them South Coast of Iceland. Although we covered a big part of the country for sure we will be back soon.
Did you visit Iceland? We would love to know everything. Any questions about our itinerary or anything we can help please leaves us a message below