Last June, we flew out to Iceland and took an adventurous road trip around the Golden Circle and the Ring Road, their most popular route. We dedicated two days to exploring just the south coast of Iceland. The wonders of the south coast were hands down the best part of our 1 1/2 week expenditure around the country! You’ll see why in our photos!
For starters, nothing in Iceland was fenced or roped off. That being said, you could get really close to nature. On the south coast, we were able to climb on rock formations, get sprayed by waterfalls, lick some glacier ice (because why not?) and explore the interior of a crashed plane from the 1970s.
Where else can you experience all that in the span of two days?!
During our stay, we rented a 2WD Toyota Aygo from Blue Car Rentals, which was perfect for the Golden Circle. However, past that, we started seeing some disadvantages, beginning at the south coast. Therefore, do as we say and not as we do.
We’d recommend renting a larger 4WD car if you’re taking the Ring Road, especially during the wintertime or in case you find yourself in situations like driving up the cliff to Dyrholaey (foreshadowing…) or taking a wrong turn along the east fjords.
You never know what surprises Iceland will throw at you!
Our first stop along the south coast was Seljalandsfoss! This beautiful waterfall can be seen from close up, but what’s even more extraordinary about this spot is that you can walk behind the rushing water!
This is our “before” shot. Notice how dry we look.
We brought our Sony Action Cam (similar to a GoPro) with a water-proof diving case and wore our raincoats since we knew we could get drenched!
Unfortunately, my pictures did not do this waterfall justice. To be fair, the mist was constantly spraying at my face, so I took my photos quickly then moved on. However, a quick google search of this waterfall will present you with amazing pictures.
As expected, the pathway was slippery, so we had to be careful. Dan climbed even further down to the base of Seljalandsfoss to take a sip of the pure water. Although we probably shouldn’t have started that trend because several young children followed us!
Here’s our “after” shot. We came out the other side feeling… refreshed… as if we just came out of a shower!
Like Seljalandsfoss, you were able to walk right up to Skógafoss, although you couldn’t walk behind. Instead, there were stairs along the side of Skógafoss that guided you to the top. About 370 steps later and you could be one of those tiny people next to the falls! See them to the right?
Word of Advice: Take it slow up the stairs!
With the immense 360 views and open air (read: strong winds), I had a minor case of vertigo on my way up the stairs. Only a shaky handrail would prevent you from tumbling down the giant hill and into some sheep herds, so I’d advise everyone to take it slow! To those with vertigo, don’t look around at the views (I know, it’s tempting!) until you’ve reach the top where there’s steadier ground.
I’d say this view was worth the slight dizziness I encountered on the way up.
Sólheimasandur plane wreck
Our next stop was something especially unique to the South coast of Iceland. In 1973, a U.S. Navy DC-3 plane came crashing on the beach at Sólheimasandur. The fuselage still lies here today.
This site was quite different and requires a bit of preparation to visit. Be sure to check out our in-depth photos of the plane wreck as well as our directions and tips to visiting the U.S. Navy DC-3 plane wreck on your own!
The cliffs of Dyrhólaey offered beautiful, expansive views of the land below. However, we recommend a 4WD car for those who wish to visit. Regrettably, we drove our dinky little Toyota Aygo up the steep cliff to see Dyrhólaey. Honestly, we didn’t know any better. But I’m warning you now! While the Aygo didn’t necessarily fail us, we would have been 1000x more comfortable driving something more robust.
After a long day, we reached the quaint village of Vik around 10PM to settle into our guesthouse, across from a sheep farm. The timing was no problem due to the midnight sun!
Word of advice — Book your stay for Vik as early as possible. Living accommodations are few and far between (meaning scarce). And it’s a longgg way to the next habitable town.
Black Sand Beach
We started the next day by exploring the neighboring and world famous Reynisfjara shore, known as Black Sand Beach.
You don’t have to know anything about geology or rocks to be able to appreciate the fine art in this nature!
These perfectly shaped basalt columns that I’m standing on occurred by erosion!
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
A trip up north to Iceland wouldn’t feel complete without seeing some glaciers! From afar and in photos, these glaciers may look small, but the family of seals playing from a distance (unfortunately not photographed) really put the vast size of these glaciers into perspective for me.
Across from the glacier lagoon was another black sand beach, nicknamed Diamond Beach after all the ice that washes up on shore. Here’s where you get to lick as much of the ice as you want! Because why not?
As you can see from the variety in our photos, the south coast of Iceland offers so many differing aspects of nature for visitors to experience! Everything we did and saw on the southern coast of Iceland was unique and made for a really memorable trip. While we loved every aspect of Iceland, the south coast was definitely our favorite.
Even if you had just a few days to visit Iceland, we highly recommend checking this region out. All this sightseeing can be done in a day trip from Reykjavik, although we always suggest more time to explore.
With over 1000+ photos taken on our trip, it was hard to narrow our trip down in one post. Therefore, the rest of our Iceland adventures are divided by region. Read more from our Iceland adventure!