Along the southern portion of Iceland's famed Ring Road
is the humble coastal town of Vík
, an excellent starting point for exploring some of the country's canyons and glaciers. Enjoy a mini road trip cruising along this stretch, passing several different sites, so you can pick and choose what you want to see!
From Vik, a great first stop is Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
, whose rock formations look like they're from another world! A short trail from the parking lot takes you along the canyon ridge, where you'll find some amazing viewpoints as the river curves around the cliffs.
Next, stop to admire the dramatic wilderness of Skaftafell
, where you'll find a hiking trail leading to Svartifoss
, a particularly scenic waterfall surrounded by columns of basalt. The hike is around 3 miles (5 km) long, offering great views alongside the river and out toward the ocean.
Your next stop can be the quaint town of Hof
to view the country's famous Hof Turf church
. Covering roofs with turf was a Medieval tactic practiced throughout Europe to protect structures from harsh weather.
Lastly, visit either the Fjallsárlón
and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoons
, depending on how much time you have. Fjallsárlón is just a 10-minute walk from its parking lot, and you can get up close with the glacier's cracks and crevices. Although Jokulsarlon requires a slightly longer trek, it's famous for Diamond Beach
, where you can see icebergs floating out to sea. You'll also see many pieces of ice scattered along the black sand—when the sunlight hits, the ice sparkles like diamonds!
For the best view of the area, you can climb up to the top of the nearby hill. And if you're lucky, you may even spot seals, porpoises, or smaller whale species!
Discover other unique experiences along the Ring Road
and more glacier experiences in Iceland