What to see in South Iceland
Again, a lot of things to do! Do you want to do everything on this plan? Then you should probably allow two or three days for this.
Photo by: Moyan Brenn
1. Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrafoss waterfalls
The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is situated on the river Seljalandsá. The waterfall is 60 metres high and falls straight down onto the former shoreline, which has formed a small lake in the middle of the green pasture. You can walk along a path behind the waterfall, where you will find a cave that lets you look through the waterfall: a very special view.
The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is lit up at night, which creates a special spectacle. You can also visit the falls freely in the evening and at night.
A few hundred metres beyond the Seljalandsfoss waterfall is the Gljúfrafoss Waterfall. You can go here on foot. This waterfall is unique because it is situated in a completely mossy, cylindrical chamber inside a rock. It can be reached only through a narrow passage.
2. Þórsmörk national park
Þórsmörk got its name by the Vikings who settled here and was named after their god, Thor. You can walk to the waterfall in the Stakkholtsgjá canyon. This spectacular green canyon is about 2 km long and 100 metres deep. The waterfall looks like it is falling from the sky. During the walk you have to cross a few streams by jumping from stone to stone.
3. Eyjafjallajökull Erupts museum
At the foot of the volcano, a local farmer opened the Eyjafjallajökull Erupts museum. You can see a short film of the eruption and get more general information about the volcanic activity in Iceland.
4. Seljavallalaug swimmingpool
In a narrow valley of the Eyjafjallajökull, you can visit Iceland’s oldest swimming pool: Seljavallalaug pool. The Seljavallalaug pool was built in 1923 to teach locals how to swim.
You can enjoy outdoor swimming while enjoying the spectacular surroundings. The pool is built next to a cliff and filled with water from a natural hot spring. It measures 25 metres by 10 metres and features (primitive) changing rooms.
5. Skógafoss waterfall and Skógar museum
Skógafoss waterfall is 60 metres high and 25 metres wide. It is located in the town of Skogar, situated on the Skoga river, hence the name. Just like other waterfalls in this area, the water falls down on what was once the coastline. This line retreated during the last ice age because the soils in the region were pushed up. It can now be found 5 km inland. The former cliffs form a distinct barrier between the lowland and highland.
The Skógar museum is located on the right side of the road that leads to the waterfall. It was founded in 1949 and consists of three parts and six historic buildings. You can view more than 15,000 local (historical) artefacts. The replica turf houses let you experience how the Icelanders lived throughout the centuries, dating back to the time of the Vikings. There is also a souvenir shop and a cafeteria.
6. Plane wreck of solheimasandur
In 1973, a US Navy DC-3 crashed down on the black beach of Solheimasandur because it ran out of fuel. There is no road that leads directly to the wreck and no signposts, either. The wreck lies on private land, and since March 2016 it is forbidden to drive there with a vehicle. However, you can still access it on foot.
Dyrhólaey (“island with a keyhole”) is a cliff of 120 metres high and has a big hole in the shape of a keyhole, which enables the seawater to flow freely through it. From the cliff you will have a spectacular view of the area.
8. Reynisfjara: The Black Beach
Reynishverfi is a long pebble beach on the western side of the cliff and is characterized by many rows of basalt columns. These columns give the beach a breath-taking view. About halfway to the coast lies the cave of Hálsanefeshellir.
On the black beach you will also find the Reynisdrangar: three rock pillars sticking out 66 metres above the sea shore.
The small village of Vík is situated at the foot of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier (located at the Katla volcano). Definitely stop at the church and enjoy the beautiful view over the cliffs and surrounding area.
10. Eldhraun lava fields
The lava fields of Eldhraun are the result of what is probably the largest volcanic eruption in history: the eruption of the Lakagígar volcano, which lasted from 8 June 1783 to 7 February 1784. It is known as Skaftareldar, which means “river fires of Skafta”. It was truly an apocalyptic event with far-reaching consequences.
Many lava fields are covered with moss. Make sure to at least feel it once. In the summer there are daily tours from Kirkjubæjarklaustur.