3 days South Coast of Iceland and Landmannalaugar - Itinerary
The month of July delivered beautiful weather here in Iceland. A couple of friends and I took the opportunity to explore the country in the nice weather.
Our three-day itinerary is perfect for those who are visiting Iceland in the summer, and who would like a good balance between hiking and sightseeing. It is great for those who want to go to both Landmannalaugar and visit the South Coast.
Day 1 Reykjavik – Landmannalaugar
- Hekla Volcano
- Sigoldufoss Waterfall
- Frostastadavatn Lake
- Ljótipollur Lake
- Natural Hot Spring
We started our journey from Reykjavik heading to Landmannalaugar. The drive took us about 5 hours, with some stops on the way. Our first stop was the crossing of route 26 and Landmannaleið. On a clear day, the view of Hekla Volcano is stunning. On route F208, there are some beautiful stops you can make. No big detours at all, they are basically on the road. In the beginning of the road, you have the Sigoldufoss Waterfall.
A little bit further down the road, you have the Frostastadavatn Lake, and a small detour from there you will find the Ljótipollur Lake, which translates into “Ugly Puddle” in English. The name couldn’t be more wrong, this crater lake is beyond stunning, with red stones contrasting the blue color of the water.
Arriving in Landmannalaugar, we took all necessary camping gear and started our short walk to Landmannalaugar campsite to buy our tickets. We found a nice spot to put up our tents, and then we had dinner, preparing ourselves for an evening hike.
In Landmannalaugar there are various hiking trails of different length and difficulty level, we decided on Bláhnúkur which is a 5.7 km long trail up and over the Blue Mountain. The path is easy to follow, but it’s rated ⅔ in difficulty because some parts of the trail are very steep. We were hiking under really good circumstances, no rain and no wind, which made it possible for us to start our hike that late. The view from the summit is incredible, the midnight sun made this view even better!
The view from Bláhnúkur mountain is breathtaking, all the surrounding mountains and valleys are so colorful that they almost look like a painting.
Variations to the day: Laugahraun – Brennisteinsalda – Grænagil is a slightly shorter and easier hike to do during the evening. Otherwise a good idea, if the weather isn’t on your side, is to stay at the campsite and enjoy the evening in the natural hot pool. It is free to use if you are staying at the campsite. The next morning you have all the possibility to go on any hikes.
Day 2 Landmannalaugar – Vik
- Haifoss Waterfall
- LAVA Center – Hbollsvöllur
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Hjörleifshöfði Cave
- Þakgil Campsite / Vik
After breakfast and after packing our tents we started our journey to Vik. Now after our trip, I realized we could have been going on a morning hike on the Laugahraun – Brennisteinsalda – Grænagil, which is only about 2 hours hike. If you would like some more hiking I would recommend that one.
Instead of hiking, our first stop was Haifoss Waterfall, a 122 m high waterfall from Fossa River. Next to it you find a smaller waterfall called Granni, which translates into Neighbour, which make sense since they are located next to each other. I will let the photo speak for these two waterfalls.
Our second stop was in the small town of Hvollsvöllur, where we visited the LAVA Center. The center is a great museum for those who are interested to know more about lava, volcanoes, and eruptions in Iceland. Hvollsvöllur is also a good stop for some fuel to both the car and your stomach.
We continued our day driving to Dyrholaey, in hope to spot some puffins and enjoy the beautiful sea view. Not too far from Dyrholae,y you will find Reynisfjara the famous black sand beach with its basalt columns.
Our last stop before going to our campsite for the night was Hjörleifshöfði Cave “The Yoda Cave”, a natural cave all Star Wars fans will love. I say one thing “The force is strong with this one”.
The campsite we decided to visit was þakgil, with a 4×4 car, you can get there from Vik. The campsite is located in a beautiful canyon and got all the camping facilities you need.
Variations to the day: Instead of camping in þakgil you can stay at the campsite in Vik, that is a more accessible campsite, closer to civilization. For those who are interested in Glaciers, there is a possibility to switch out the sightseeing to a guided glacier hike on Solheimajokull glacier.
Day 3 Vik – Reykjavik
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Gljúfrabúi – Hidden waterfall
- Gluggafoss Waterfall
On the third and last day, we start our trip back to Reykjavik. We decided to visit all the waterfalls along the way, that we drove by the other days. We visited Skogafoss and Seljandsfoss which are the two most famous ones. Close to Skogafoss, we also found this beautiful purple Lupin field that we decided to dive into.
Next to Seljalandsfoss you will find the “hidden” waterfall Gljufrabui, which is worth a visit when in the area. A short drive from there you also have Gluggafoss, which is a personal favorite of mine. If you look closely you will notice that some of the water is coming from inside the stone wall.
Variations to the day: Since the road leads you back passing Hvollsvöllur, you could check out the Lava center during day three. Other stops that might be worth considering is the old swimming pool Seljavallalaug located at the foot of Eyjafjallajokull, the plane wreck on Solheimasandur, or Reykjadalur hot spring.
Thorsmork vs. Landmannalaugar – How we decided where to go
When it comes to the South Coast of Iceland, there are so many beautiful places to visit and stops you can do along the way. Going all the way to Skaftafell National park and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon requires a lot of driving, and one thing my friends and I all agreed on was that we didn’t want to spend the whole day in a car. We decided to do a shorter more intense south coast tour and to add some hiking to it, and there is no greater way to hike than to do it in the highlands. Our choice was between Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork. We were driving a small 4×4 jeep, that could drive on F roads but crossing rivers would have been a problem, and we didn’t want to risk it. Going to Thorsmork you need to cross multiple rivers, but driving to Landmannalaugar, on the other hand, requires no river crossing. Though there is one river you can cross if you would like to park your car closer to the camping, that one is optional. The other parking lot, which was the one we ended up using, is within walking distance from the campsite, and highly recommended if you are uncomfortable driving over rivers.
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