Iceland Travel Guide: Our Favourite Things To Do In The South Of Iceland
The south is one of the most popular regions of Iceland for travellers to visit. Within easy reach of Keflavik airport and of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, the south of Iceland is an area most travellers will visit during their time in this stunning country. So whether you're basing your trip in the south, or you're passing through on your journey around the ring road, here's our list of 8 things not to be missed in the south of Iceland.
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08. The Blue Lagoon
We're kicking off this list with a controversial one. The Blue Lagoon is a love it or hate it entry on our list, but we love it. Yes, it's touristy. Yes, it's busy. And, yes, it's pricey. But it's a relaxing experience we feel you have to do whilst you're here in Iceland. It's close proximity to the airport makes this an ideal way to start or to end your trip. For us, taking a dip in those warm, milky blue waters, with a refreshing drink in hand, was the perfect way to end our Iceland adventure and one we would highly recommend.
07. Kerid Crater
We've gone from the most tourist-heavy entry to probably one of the least. Kerid is a volcanic crater lake, located on the Golden Circle. But whilst it is a stop along the popular tourist route, it's often overlooked by travellers. That may be due to having to pay a 400 ISK (approx £2.50) entry fee. Even though Iceland is full of free to visit locations, we would say it's worth paying the small entry fee to have the chance of experiencing a bit of natural beauty with very few tourists.
We visited during winter, so the crater was covered in a beautiful layer of snow and the lake was frozen over. But when the snow melts, the crater reveals red slopes down to it's milky aquamarine waters - making this a perfect stop all-year round. You can walk around the top of the crater, or take the steps down to the lake for a better view. It's a fantastic stop to get away from the tourists, stretch your legs and take some Instagram worthy pictures.
The first of 4 waterfalls on our list, Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, is also located on the popular Golden Circle. And whilst you'll have to share this site with plenty of other tourists, it's definitely worth it. Gullfoss is separated into two levels, the second being a powerful drop into a deep gorge, making this one of the most dramatic entries on our list. There are a number of different viewing areas, some up high and when the paths aren't slippy, there is a walkway down to get a closer look. Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, get here early! On our winter 2019 trip, we made Gullfoss our first stop of the day. We arrived just as it was getting light and there was only one other couple there. As we headed back to the car park, there were crowds of tourists arriving. So if you're able, make Gullfoss your first stop of the day.
Our January 2019 trip to Iceland was full of first-time experiences for us and stepping foot onto a black sand beach was one of them. With it's basalt columns, sea stacks and powerful waves, Reynisfjara is one of the world's most dramatic and beautiful beaches, making it a popular stop along the south coast of Iceland.
There are warning signs on route from the car park down to the beach, but many visitors walk right past them. Whilst this beach is beautiful, all visitors need to be aware of it's potential dangers, mainly the deadly sneaker waves. These waves are very powerful and come further up the beach than you'd expect. So be careful, keep your distance and never turn your back to the sea.
04. Strokkur Geyser
Watching a geyser erupt is a unique sight. If you haven't experienced it yet, you must add it to your list. Strokkur is the most active geyser in Iceland, erupting approximately every 4-10 minutes and is a popular stop on the Golden Circle. Located in the Geysir geothermal area, surrounded by bubbling mud pits and hot springs, visiting Strokkur is otherworldly and something not to be missed. We enjoyed this area so much, it was the only entry on our list that we visited twice during our trip.
Located on the Skoga river, the mighty Skogafoss is another popular stop along the south coast. Skogafoss can be seen from the Ring Road, but it's definitely worth making a stop and taking a closer look.
The flat land at the base of the falls means you can easily get up close to the great wall of water. The closer you get, the more drenched in spray you'll become, so bring some waterproof clothing. But with the spray, comes the rainbows, so get your cameras ready.
Skogafoss can also be viewed from above via a staircase up to a viewing platform. This was a great place to catch the sunrise, which covered this beautiful waterfall in a golden glow.
Only a short drive from the previous entry on our list is Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland's most stunning but crowded waterfalls. We had experienced relatively low crowd levels on our winter trip to Iceland, so we were surprised by the number of people at Seljalandsfoss. But you realise why this waterfall is so popular once you've experienced it. Getting to walk behind a waterfall was one of our absolute favourite things we did during our short time in Iceland. The icy path was worth traversing, as was the thorough soaking we received, for the experience and the brilliant pictures we got. If visiting in winter, pack practical boots for the ice and be prepared to come down the steps on your bum! We've read that the path can be closed during winter - if it is, obey the signs and stay safe. Also note there is a parking charge of 700 ISK (approx £4.20) per car.
Number 1 on our list had to be Gljúfrabúi, a true hidden gem in the south of Iceland. Even though it's only an easy 10 minute walk from the very popular Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi is often overlooked by so many tourists. Hidden in a gorge and obscured by a large rock, Gljúfrabúi is only accessible by wading through the river (about mid-calf height) into the dark cave, but oh boy is it worth it! Once there, you won't want to leave. The waterfall is about 40 meters high and drops down into a small pool. There is a rock near the falls which is perfect for standing on and getting some pictures. The powerful spray means you will get wet, so a good waterproof coat and a pretty pair of wellies (rain-boots) are essential to enjoy this breathtaking piece of natural beauty. So do yourself a favour and put Gljúfrabúi at the top of your bucket list for your next trip to Iceland.
Let us know what your favourite things are to do in the south of Iceland and give us some inspiration for our next trip.