Iceland South Coast Tours
Small Group Guided Tours in the South Coast of Iceland
The South Coast is one of the gems of Iceland. On an Iceland South Coast tour you can expect to encounter many of the country’s best features including black sand beaches, vast lava fields, majestic waterfalls, glaciers and much more. We offer day tours and overnight tours that guide you through this beautiful region. Check out our selection of South Coast tours below.
The South Coast is home to some of the country’s most famous attractions. Three of the best-known glaciers, Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, can all be found in this region. Known for its varying landscapes, the South is also home to majestic waterfalls. The most famous cascades are the striking Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. Both picturesque points of interest make for great photo ops.
Soak up some culture at one of the numerous small villages in the area. Around every bend there is a story, folklore or a saga that our guides are excited to share with you. Browse the numerous tour options to add the perfect South Coast adventure to your itinerary!
Popular Day Tours of the South Coast of Iceland
Discover the beauty and the diverse natural features of Iceland’s south coast. Join us for a guided tour. We guarantee you a truly unforgettable day.
Popular Multi-Day Tours of the South Coast of Iceland
Why not explore Iceland’s southern coastline over multiple days? Choose from out wide selection of guided small group adventures.
Popular Activities on the South Coast of Iceland
From glacier hiking, ice-caving, kayaking snowmobiling, just to name a few, Iceland’s south has a lot to offer. Check out our array of activities to find the right adventure for you.
Must-See South Coast Iceland Sights
Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls
Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s most visually astounding waterfalls. This remarkable natural attraction has a drop of 60 meters (197 feet) and stretches 25 meters (82 feet) wide, making it one of the biggest in the country. Because of the amount of spray produced from the cascade, visitors can spot at least one rainbow any time the sun is out.
For the best view of Skógafoss, take the steep staircase that leads to the observation deck. Nesting seabirds often line the path to the top.
Seljalandsfoss shares first place as one of the most majestic waterfalls in the country and is one of the most photographed attractions in all of Iceland. Part of the river Seljalandsá, the 60 meter (200 foot) falls originate from beneath Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The narrow cascade of the falls descends from a tall cliff, once a former coastline. Visitors can walk the path that circles all the way around the cascade and peek beneath the curtain of the waterfall. The sea is also visible from the sight across the lowlands.
Less than a kilometer from Seljalandsfoss lies a hidden gem. Gljúfrabúi (or Canyon Dweller) is a stunning waterfall located at Hamragarðar. The lesser-known falls is the perfect spot for photographers and nature lovers looking for peace.
The 40 meter (131 foot) high Gljúfrabúi hides behind a giant, outward-facing cliff. Because of this sneaky “hiding spot,” this waterfall is often overlooked by the thousands of travelers visiting Seljalandsfoss.
Reykjadalur Hot Spring Valley
Just an hour’s drive from Reykjavík lives a hot spring oasis. Reykjadalur, the Valley of Steam, is a magnificent geothermal area filled with endless hot springs and a bubbling river.
In summer the surrounding green hills come alive with flora, especially lupins. Chemicals in the soil dye the earth pink, yellow, red and blue and provide a whimsical atmosphere.
Reaching the valley requires a 40-minute hike featuring lovely views along the way. The closest town is Hveragerði. Travelers can find a variety of service stations, an information center, cafes and restaurants.
Dyrhólaey Rock Cliffs and Arches
Dyrhólaey Peninsula is a 120-meter seacliff known for its extraordinary panoramic views of Iceland’s South Coast. Famous for breathtaking vistas and staggering rock formations, this is the perfect spot to take in Iceland’s natural beauty. The main feature of the promenade is its giant rock arch formed by centuries of erosion. Dyrhólaey translates to Door Hill Island, a direct reference to the famous archway.
In addition to landscape views, the peninsula is the perfect spot to watch wildlife. There are a multitude of bird species including the popular Atlantic Puffin.
At the top of Dyrhólaey you’ll notice an old white lighthouse. Built in 1919 and completed in 1927, Dyrhólaeyjarviti was the first lighthouse in the area. The interior has since been renovated and transformed into a charming luxury hotel.
Located on the southernmost part of the mainland, Dyrhólaey is a popular stop for sightseers traveling the Ring Road route.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions. The volcanic black shoreline is surrounded by picturesque sea stacks, basalt columns and cliffs. In fact, National Geographic ranked Reynisfjara among the Top 10 Non-Tropical Beaches on the planet.
The nearby cliffs and sea stacks are home to arctic seabirds, including the popular puffin, attractive to wildlife lovers. Reynisfjall is the name of the mountain that towers above the beach. Inside the mountain wall you’ll discover a naturally formed cave, perfect for a picnic shelter! Reynisfjara is approximately two and a half hours from Reykjavik by car. Many South Coast tours include this attraction on their itinerary.
The charming coastal village of Vík is the southernmost town on the Icelandic mainland. The area is surrounded by a variety of scenic landscapes and popular points of interest. As the last stop on travelers’ Iceland South Coast trip, the village is still within reach of natural attractions and activities. The terrific paragliding and zipline spots in the region attract thrill-seekers the world over.
In addition to the nearby natural attractions, Vík is the area’s main service center. Though the village is only home to about 300 residents, it offers multiple restaurants, cafes, shops and gas stations. Tourists staying overnight in Vík might even have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights!
Eldhraun Lava Field
The impressive Eldhraun lava field (“Fire Lava“) is the largest of its type in the world. It was formed during the biggest eruption in history, which lasted from 1783 to 1784. Today the 565 square kilometer (351 square mile) field is one of South Iceland’s most magnificent attractions.
Thick green moss covers the vast area, with the Ring Road crossing over for spectacular views. Along the way, there are several rest stops where you can pull over and snap some photos. North of nearby Lake Laufbalavatn lies an intricate lava tube system featuring more than 200 caves. Tours offer the chance to explore these geological wonders.
Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park
Tucked away in Europe’s largest national park, Vatnajökull, is Skaftafell Nature Reserve. The reserve was once its own park but joined with Vatnajökull National Park in 2008. Located just off the Ring Road, it has become one of the most popular sightseeing routes on the South Coast.
A hiker’s oasis, the region offers trails through diverse landscapes, including lush forests, towering trees and impressive mountain views. The Skaftafell Visitor’s Center has trail maps, guides and information about the region. Travelers who wish to extend their stay can choose between hotel accommodations or campsites.
Svínafellsjökull – The Hollywood Glacier
Svínafellsjökull glacier is renowned for its unusual features and scenic views. The glacier is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe. It is one of Iceland’s most popular glacier hiking sites due to its raw beauty and formations.
Not just beloved by hikers and photographers, it has also become a popular Hollywood shooting location. Visitors may recognize the rugged landscape from Star Wars, Batman and Game of Thrones.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – Diamond Beach
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is an iconic Iceland attraction. Glittering ice floes float on the water like giant diamonds. Glacier lagoons are lakes filled with meltwater from nearby glaciers. At 248 meters (814 feet) deep, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in Iceland.
Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier feeds the lagoon and is an outlet of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap. Volcanic activity in the area pushed up the glacial sediments under Breiðamerkurjökull, creating a shoreline. Nicknamed “Diamond Beach,” the black sand strip is covered in giant icebergs that have washed ashore.
The icebergs of Jökulsárlón are notable not just for their size but also for their color. While many are solid white, most also glow electric blue with black ash streaks from volcanic eruptions.
The famed lagoon has appeared onscreen in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
Sólheimasandur DC3 Plane Wreck
Banked on the shore of Sólheimasandur Beach sits the shell of an age-old plane. The DC Plane Wreck is a popular attraction in South Iceland. Visitors come to explore and photograph the giant former plane surrounded by wild landscapes.
The former US Navy aircraft has lain on the beach since 1973. Multiple theories have circulated on what caused the forced landing, but fortunately, no one was hurt. The easiest way to reach the plane is on a horse riding, ATV or walking tour. Discover a piece of aviation history!
Must-Do: Most Popular Activities
Glacier Hiking Sólheimajökull and Mýrdalsjökull Glacier
Sólheimajökull is one of the most easily accessible Iceland glaciers on the South Coast. Just 158 kilometers (98 miles) away from Reykjavik, it is a popular place to go glacier hiking. Unlike glaciers surrounded by giant mountains, Sólheimajökull offers clear views for those who reach the top.
Thrill-seekers who want to try ice climbing have their choice of many different ice walls. Tour guides provide all necessary equipment for safe and fun glacier adventures.
Sólheimajökull is an outlet glacier of the giant Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, the fourth largest ice cap in Iceland. The mighty glacier is home to the infamous Katla Volcano.
Explore the hidden treasures beneath the glacier. Deep beneath the ice caps lie the glittering natural ice caves of Iceland. During this unmissable experience, learn the secrets of the caves on an ice caving tour. Your guide will share fascinating facts about the history and formation of the caves.
Step inside and travel back in time through ancient ice. Each cave is unique and changes every year, so you will never see the same one twice. For safety reasons, these tours are only offered during the winter months. This is the perfect seasonal activity that everyone should add to their bucket list.
Explore the magical South Coast landscapes on horseback. The Icelandic horse was first brought to the country during the Viking age. Because of their popularity, laws were put in place to prevent the breed from being mixed with other horses, which means they have remained the same for almost 1000 years!
The most distinctive feature of this breed is their unique gait, called the “tolt.” Channel your inner Viking as you explore the beautiful sights of this region.
Trekking Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork
Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork are popular hiking regions in the southern part of the Icelandic Highlands. About 55 km (34 mi) apart, these areas have vastly different landscapes. Two-day tours offer the opportunity to trek between the two valleys.
Landmannalaugar is a multicolored, geothermal valley enclosed by rhyolite mountains. During the summer it is one of Iceland’s most popular hiking spots. Landmannalaugar translates to “People’s Pools” as it is filled with natural geothermal baths where hikers can take a dip.
In the center of the area, an inky lava field stretches out over several kilometers. The surrounding mountains feature hues of green, yellow, purple, red, blue, white and black, providing surreal visuals.
Thorsmork is a completely different world from the bare, smoky valley of Landmannalaugar. This lush green valley is rich with birch forests, various mosses and Arctic flowers. The flora and fauna of the area offer the perfect habitat for multiple bird species and Arctic foxes.
Hvannadalshnúkur, or Hvannadalshnjúkur, is the tallest mountain in Iceland. Towering 2,109.6 meters (6952 feet) tall, it is the highest peak of Öræfajökull volcanic glacier inside Vatnajökull National Park. The pyramid-shaped peak is best seen from the southern towns of Höfn and Vík on the Ring Road.
Those brave enough to summit this beast should be warned that it requires a good fitness level. While you don’t need to be an expert, you should only hike the mountain in the company of an experienced mountain guide. The route involves icy grounds, steep inclines and crevasses. Adventurers who do embark on this adventure will be rewarded with outstanding views.
The Golden Circle is the best-known tour route in Iceland. The 300 kilometer (186 mile) tour guides you to three popular natural attractions: Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Þingvellir National Park. Get a taste of the country’s fascinating landscapes.
The Geysir Geothermal Area is a hot spring oasis in the Haukadalur Valley. It features the famous Great Geysir, the active Strokkur and smaller Smiður and Litlí-Strokkur geysers. The area is decorated with fumaroles, mud-pits and hot springs.
A ten minute drive from Geysir and the furthest point on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss, the “Golden Waterfall.” One of the most marvelous and powerful waterfalls in Iceland, it cascades 32 meters (105 feet) down. This two-tiered waterfall is truly a sight to behold.
The biggest attraction on the Golden Circle is Þingvellir National Park. The park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its geological and historical importance. It is the birthplace of the Icelandic parliament, founded in 930 CE, the world’s longest ongoing parliament. Between the park marks the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Visitors can stand between two continents at once!
Snorkeling Silfra Fissure
People come from all over the world to snorkel the waters of Silfra. Located in Þingvellir National Park, this freshwater fissure is one of Iceland’s most beloved natural wonders. This underwater marvel is situated between the North American and Eurasian plates and is the only place in the world you can swim between continents.
In addition to its unique geology, the azure waters of Silfra have visibility over 100 meters. The water maintains a temperature of two to three degrees celsius, so underwater tours are offered year-round. No wonder snorkeling at Silfra Fissure has been rated one of the Top 5 activities in the world by Trip Advisor!
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is easily the most famous geothermal spa in Iceland. People come from all over the world to soak in its steamy neon blue waters. The lagoon is filled with rich minerals, silica mud and green algae, all famous for their healing properties. In fact, the Blue Lagoon is the number one treatment for psoriasis in Iceland and skincare products are made from its contents.
Located on the volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland it is only a 30 minute drive from Reykjavík. Many tours include a trip to the lagoon as an optional extra. Enjoy a soak in these magic waters!
Kayaking On Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Kayaking across Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a hands-on adventure across the lake. Paddle through giant, glittering ice floes as you weave across the lake. Your knowledgeable guide will share interesting facts about the nature, history and wildlife around the lagoon. Tours are open to both first time and experienced kayakers.
On your adventure, you’ll witness and explore Vatnajökull National Park, the largest glacier in Europe, from a unique angle. Lucky kayakers might spot seals playing between the icebergs.
South Coast Iceland Map
South Coast Self-Drive Tours
Driving through the south of Iceland is easy. Self-drives on Iceland’s South Coast follow the Ring Road, the primary road in the region. Most of the popular attractions are scattered along the road and can be reached on foot. During this unforgettable experience you’ll witness incredible landscapes, waterfalls and glaciers. No wonder it’s one of the most popular road trips in the world!
There are many perks to self-drive tours, such as the freedom to travel at your own pace, spontaneous pit stops and good value. There are numerous gas stations and villages throughout the Ring Road route, so solo travel in this area is safe and easy. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you hit the road.
Not all attractions in South Iceland are easy to access and are instead located inland. Thórsmörk and Landmannalaugar are the two most difficult areas in South Iceland to reach. While most attractions can be reached by normal car, these sites require an experienced driver and a 4X4 vehicle with big tires. It is highly recommended that drivers purchase full insurance.
Icelandic roads can be difficult to navigate, with narrow passes, curves and hills. Driving the South of Coast Iceland in winter can be hazardous. Extreme weather conditions turn already tricky roads into a safety hazard, so checking the forecast is a must.
Roads in the highlands are challenging even in summer. In some cases, you will drive on unpaved roads and cross unbridged rivers. River crossings are not insured.
Highland roads are only open to the public during summer (mid-September to mid-June). Beyond that, they are only accessible by Superjeeps. Only drivers with specialized drivers licenses may operate Superjeeps.
If you want to enjoy the scenic attractions of the highlands in the winter join a Thórsmörk or Landmannalaugar tour.
Where to Stay on Iceland’s South Coast
The South Coast of Iceland offers accommodations for all types of travelers. From luxurious hotels to guesthouses to campsites, there is no shortage of options. Adventurers exploring the mountains needn’t worry about finding a place to lay their head. Enjoy a traditional hotel or try traditional mountain huts. Several accommodation options include restaurants with buffets as well as bars. For no-hassle travel, many multi-day and self-drive tours include pre-arranged accommodation.
Hotels, Guesthouses, Hostels
- Adventure Hotel Geirland
- Adventure Hotel Hof
- Hotel Ranga
- Hotel Laki
- Hali Country Hotel
- Frumskogar Guesthouse
- Hot Springs Hotel
- Minniborgir Cottages and Restaurant
- IceBlue Lodge
- Kerlingarfjöll Highland Resort
- Volcano Huts Þórsmörk
Camping is a cheap, fun accommodation option for the rugged adventurer. Skaftafell is arguably the most popular campsite location in South Iceland. Visitors must book in advance. Upon arrival, visitors can find information about the nearby hiking trails at the Skaftafell Visitors Centre. Campsites include bathrooms, showers, running water (hot and cold), cafeterias, outdoor grills and washing machines. Campgrounds are open all year round.
Þakgil is another scenic campground in the region. The grounds are located in a valley 20 km from Vík and are surrounded by mountains. Thanks to the mountain cover, the weather in Þakgil is quite mild. The common dining room on the grounds is housed in a cave. Campers can enjoy a unique and cozy dining experience in front of the fireplace.
Hikers will find several routes with varying levels of difficulty all around the campgrounds, including one to Mýrdalsjökull Glacier.
Which cities and towns are located on the South Coast of Iceland?
Multiple towns and villages are dotted throughout South Iceland. Selfoss is the largest town in the region, offering various shops and restaurants. Another popular town is Hveragerði, popularly known as “flowertown” due to its geothermal cultivation and greenhouses.
Hveragerði is home to the horticultural department of Iceland’s Agricultural University and is open to visitors in the summer. On the seaside, you’ll find Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki, charming villages with rustic wooden houses. Vik is perhaps the most famous seaside town, offering scenic ocean views and black sand beaches.
Are tours along the South Coast of Iceland also available from Reykjavik?
Yes. There are multiple small-group tours that depart from the capital, providing transportation there and back. Check the departure points on your tour to find which excursions leave from Reykjavik.
How long does it take to travel the whole South Coast of Iceland?
The total drive time from Reykjavik to Vik, without stopping, is 2h 30 minutes. Day tours along the South Coast, which take you to popular points of interest, range from about 10-12 hours. Travelers who wish to spend their time at each attraction may opt for a self-drive tour and spend the night in Vik.
What’s the best time to visit the South Coast of Iceland?
Every season has something special to offer. Summer is the high season for tourism in Iceland. Visitors can enjoy activities such as kayaking, hiking and horseback riding. For self-drivers, the roads are safer to navigate in summer.
Winter is just as special. The popular ice caving tours are only offered during this season and are an unmissable activity. As a bonus, travelers spending the night in Vik have the chance to spot the famous Northern Lights.
Is it dangerous to travel the South Coast of Iceland by yourself?
No. Self-drive tours are a lovely way to explore all the region has to offer at your own pace. The Ring Road is easy to navigate when the weather is nice. Iceland’s South Coast in winter, however, is trickier to maneuver and traveling with a group or private tour is recommended.
Where are the best places to eat along the South Coast of Iceland?
You’ll have no problem finding a place to grab a bite on your Iceland South Coast drive. The region offers a range of restaurants, bistros and cafes ranging from classy to casual. Check out our full food guide on Where to Eat on the South Coast for a list of recommendations.
Popular Attractions on the South Coast of Iceland
Whether you’re looking for stunning waterfalls, magical black sand beaches or majestic glaciers, Iceland’s south coast has it all.