South Iceland is the most popular region of Iceland when it comes to tourism. After the Golden Circle, South Iceland attractions come 2nd in terms of popularity.
South Iceland is rich in terms of natural wonders. There are mountains, waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, national parks, and many more things! Let’s have a look at these wonderful spots one by one. 😉
1. Vestrahorn & the Viking Village
Vestrahorn is located near the town of Hofn. From the ring road, drive for about 5 km on an unpaved road to Vestrahorn. This is one of the only 2 attractions in Iceland where you will have to pay an entry fee of ISK 700 to access.
Vestrahorn is is a formidable mountain range. It looks beautiful & mystical from the viewpoint. The black sand beach, blue waves, green plants & white mist make Vestrahorn one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Some of the popular films of Hollywood & the song ‘Gerua’ from Shah Rukh Khan & Kajol’s Dilwale was also shot here. There is a NATO base further ahead (where you can’t go, obviously)!
In the same fee, you can explore a Viking village which is near the parking area. This was an actual set made by a Hollywood studio for an unnamed Viking film/series. The project was never finished & the person on whose land the set was made, he maintained it & eventually made it a tourist attraction.
However, it is a nice introduction to the lifestyle of Vikings.
2. Jökulsárlón, South Iceland
The most famous attraction of South Iceland is Jökulsárlón. If you don’t know the name, you can see the picture & you will instantly connect it to Iceland.
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon which is located right on the ring road. Park your car in the parking & get ready go WOW! It indeed an amazing sight to see those pieces but it is also sad when you know the real story behind it.
Thanks to the stupidity of humans, global warming is a real thing. Because of it, glaciers are melting & the biggest glacier of Iceland – Vatnajökull is not an exception. The glacial pieces that you see in Jökulsárlón is because of the global warming. They are breaking apart from the main glacier, they are melting in the lagoon & meeting the Atlantic Ocean.
Remember to be a better person for this planet after visiting Jökulsárlón.
3. Diamond Beach
On the other side of Jökulsárlón you will find the most famous Diamond Beach of South Iceland.
On this black sand beach, you will find many small to large pieces of ice. Due to the contrast between colours, the ice pieces look like diamonds, especially when you see it on a gloomy day!
Sometimes, you will also see glacial pieces large enough on the shore on which you can stand. You can click unique pictures there but be very careful before doing something memorable yet stupid like that.
Fjallsárlón is Jökulsárlón’s younger sibling. You will find fewer people at Fjallsárlón. At Jökulsárlón, the icebergs melt & meet the ocean. At Fjallsárlón, the icebergs stay in the glacier lake itself. You can also take a boat tour in the lake.
Very close to the town of Vik, you will find a small peninsula called Dyrhólaey. This attraction is a very well developed tourist spot. The road to Dyrhólaey is well paved & about 6 km from the ring road.
Don’t forget to take pictures of the black sand beach, the ark & of course, the unending ocean!
Reynisfjara is about 10km away from Dyrholaey & is an amazing place. Located in the South Iceland’s coastal region, Reynisfjara is one of the most popular black sand beaches in the world.
That’s not all about Reynisfjara though. Check out the Basalt stacks on the beach. The natural & unique design of these rocks is something you will not find anywhere else in the world. If you have seen the song ‘Gerua’ from Dilwale, you will realise that a portion of the song was shot there as well.
Another interesting thing that you can see from the beach is Reynisdrangar. There is a geographical explanation & a folklore for this rock formation. Obviously, the folklore version is a lot more interesting. For Game of Thrones fans, this location was also shown in Season 7’s North of the Wall episode. 😉
Warning: Do not wander near the waves. This is not the beach where you can put your feet in water. Beware of Sneaker waves in this particular location. Sneaker waves are dangerous in nature. They can come closer (and really fast) to you within seconds. These waves are infamous for dragging people with their strong currents.
Do. Not. Go. In. The. Water. At. Reynisfjara.
Skógafoss was not there in my itinerary but I got to know about it because the hostel in which I staying was only 200m away from this wonderful waterfall.
Skógafoss looks legendary. You can spot rainbows near the waterfall easily. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can also spot double rainbows. The flow of Skógafoss is very high, hence, I recommend you to wear a waterproof jacket when you go near the fall.
Around the waterfall, the water isn’t deep or dangerous so it is definitely possible to go near it (highly recommended as well). You can also climb the steps next to the waterfall to get a bird’s eye view. If you have any sort of health concern, do not climb those stairs. It looks easy but after 30% steps are done, your breathing will get heavier. If you are fit, go for it!
I was waiting for Seljalandsfoss from the beginning of my Iceland trip. This particular waterfall was the reason why I was so eagerly waiting to visit the South Iceland region. Iceland is full of waterfalls, but Seljalandsfoss is unique because you can go BEHIND THE WATERFALL!
Yes, you read that right. You can follow the marked trail & go behind the waterfall. It is a spectacular scene from that angle. The water falling from the mountain & you seeing it fall from the behind & staring translucently at nature in abundance in front of you is something you need to experience.
Word of warning: You will get drenched when you follow the trail to go behind Seljalandsfoss. The trail hardly 200m but I recommend that you take more than enough waterproof protection for your gadgets & obviously, yourself.
In Vatnajokull National Park, you can visit Svartifoss waterfall. This particular location of South Iceland was there on my list but I couldn’t visit it due to bad weather.
The best thing about Svartifoss is that IT IS BEAUTIFUL! The bad thing about it is that it can’t be seen from the road. You have to take a long hike (return hike will be about 90 mins + whatever time you spend admiring Svartifoss).
The visitor centre of Skaftafell is very good. I didn’t get to visit Svartifoss because it was raining heavily & I didn’t have enough waterproof stuff for my gadgets & myself. Hopefully, I shall see it again in future. <3
10. Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
The South Iceland is famous for a plane wreck as well. In 1973, a US Navy plane crashed on the beach of Sólheimasandur because it ran out of fuel. From then, the wreck is still lying here.
Since this site has become such a popular tourist attraction, driving till the plane wreck is forbidden. Now, you have to walk for 2 hours (one way) to reach the plane wreck. I parked my car here, started walking as well. I walked for about 40 mins & then lost patience.
It is not advisable to take this hike in Winter, in bad weather, during strong winds etc. If you planning to visit the plane wreck, make sure you have something to eat, drink during the trip. Enough battery & sufficient clothing for snow and rain is also recommended.
However, there are few things that you need to keep in mind before planning a trip to this region.
- There are many tourists visiting South Iceland, hence, you will always find the following attractions packed with people, especially in Summer.
- The weather in South Iceland is completely unpredictable. There is a possibility of sandstorms, rain & flash floods in some parts of this region. It is recommended that you check Iceland’s official website on road conditions & South Iceland tourism’s website.
- If you are traveling by car, always make sure that you have Sand & Gravel insurance for it.
- If you are visiting South Iceland in Winter, it is recommended that you stay in the region for 2 nights at least. If you are visiting South Iceland in Summer, 1 night’s stay is fine considering there will be more sunlight.
- Rent a car (I had rented it from the best – Blue Car Rental, explore the region on your own rather than joining any group tours.