Iceland is stunning, but the south has captured my heart with it’s spectacular views and drastically changing landscapes. Within a couple hours of driving you could see waterfalls, lava fields and glaciers. If southern iceland wasn’t on your must see list, it should be now.
One of the coolest waterfalls we visited simply because you are able to walk behind the falls! With a wide angle lens, you’ll get the coolest photo from the back of these falls. Be warned, the mist will have you completely drenched once you leave the waterfall!
The powerful and most well known waterfall in Iceland – Skogafoss. This waterfall is only a short drive away from Seljalandsfoss and will be completely packed with tourists. Want to get as close as possible? even from my own photo, being as close as that to the falls ensured I left looking like I just stepped out of a shower. The falls are strong and will have you drenched even from a distance.
Be sure to climb to the top of the stairs and get a view of the river flowing down, create the great Skogafoss. I would recommend going up the stairs first before moving closer to the falls. The wind really chills you to the bone when you’re wet and cold. Do the stairs while you’re dry and then get a closer view of the falls after!
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
So you’ve seen the amazing photos of an abandoned airplane that you can explore? Yup, this is that plane wreck. The walk to get to this plane wreck is an hour on a flat gravel road. If you have the right group of people, the walk isn’t so bad. You can also opt to pay for a bus to drive you there quicker! However, we decided against paying and walked along the path – which we didn’t find too horrible as it was a sunny warm day. When we did get to the crash, there were hordes of tourists all around the plane taking photos. If you time it right, you can get a photo with no one in it! We also had some fun doing group photos from a distance.
To think.. we were totally going to skip this canyon! This place was a highlight on our overall Icelandic adventures and when you see it in person, you’ll understand why. No photo does this place justice, it’s just breathtaking.
Fun Fact – Justin Bieber made this canyon even more popular as he featured the location in his music video “I’ll Show You.” Due to the increased tourism at the canyon, there are now restrictions on where you’re able to walk. Before, you were able to roam the land, you can still see where some of the walking spots were.
Can you imagine? only when we got to the furthest southern tip of Iceland did we finally see ice! The glacier lagoon is such a spectacular spot with the massive chunks of icebergs breaking off and floating all within the lagoon. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll notice seals playing near by. As the sun was setting we were able to witness 4 seals playing near the icebergs!
Remember those massive icebergs from the lagoon? They eventually make their way and end up on the black sand beaches of Diamond Beach. The Glacier lagoon is right across the highway from Diamond beach so it makes sense why these large pieces eventually wind up on shore. We got the tail end of the icebergs as when we went the icebergs were rather small – typically they are massive! None the less, it’s quite a site to see the contracts of clear bright icebergs on the black sandy beach.
Warning: we were informed that it is very common to rescue tourists from this location as you’ll notice majority of us will take the opportunity to stand on these icebergs. However, watch your surroundings as the waves are strong and can wash the iceberg back out to shore.
Vik Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Vik is a small village in the south of Iceland and is the perfect spot to rest before continuing towards Vestrahorn. Vik is also home to the famous Reynisfjara beach where an episode of Game of Thrones was filmed! The beach is best known for the black sand and natural basalt columns.
Warning: On rainy days when there is strong wind, take caution as the waves are SNEAKY. Many times we witnessed people get soaked by the waves as the waves don’t look like they would come as close to shore as it does. Be careful, these waves are strong and if you’re too close to the edge without realizing, the waves CAN take you.
Clear shallow puddles reflecting the magnificent vestrahorn mountain at dawn, this is going to be a memory I will forever hold dear. To enter Vestrahorn area, you will be required to pay per vehicle (~$10CAD) and will have access to not only the best views of Vestrahorn but also the Viking village. Although some have deemed this place as a tourist trap, we really enjoyed our time here and spent a couple hours taking amazing photos!
Tip: Go early in the morning as the sun rises – you’ll get amazing photo opportunities and there will be less people!
Of all the waterfalls we saw while exploring this country, Svarti was by far one that stood out. Svarti translates to “The Black Waterfall” and you’ll understand why when you see the gorgeous dark columns that Svarti flows down. The hike to Svarti will take you ~45 mins one way and while we were there early October, the larches were turning orange. The contrast between the bright orange/yellow leaves and the dark basalt columns is truly striking.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs
It’s crazy how much has changed in only a couple years. This hot spring was highly recommended by a coworker who went in 2015. She had described how the higher upstream you go, the hotter the water gets. This was a hike that was off the grid and she described it as “they were the only ones there.” The hot springs are now more popularized as heaps of people were with us while we hiked up the mountain. There has also been construction in the area as before there were no walkways and changing stations. There is also now a sign that indicates you can’t go further up – this wasn’t the case in 2015 as you were able to roam the land and go as far up the river as you’d like. We did see others hiking further up the mountain, so I believe this restriction is just for those that solely came for the hot river.
The hike itself took ~1 hour each way and was mostly uphill to get to the river. From the parking lot you can smell the sulfur and the shallow stream of water at ground level was already very warm! I believe you can also ride horses up halfway; however, we didn’t see any horses but saw the stables that they would have kept them in. When you’re nearly at the hot spring, you’ll see active geysers and thick mists with a strong sulfur smell.