Iceland's most visited region attracts more than a million visitors a year with its dramatic landscape. Get inspired to plan your own trip with these itinerary-planning tips and top recommendations for South Coast lodging and dining.
Best of the South Coast
You’ll find many ways to immerse yourself in Iceland’s extraordinary scenery. You can paddle a kayak amid boulder-sized ice sculptures floating in the Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon or strap on crampons for a hike near Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Thundering Skogafoss is one of the south coast’s most impressive waterfalls, and the start for a trek along the aptly named Waterfall Way.
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
South Coast Essentials
The South Shore between Vik and Selfoss is full of many popular sights and destinations, quickly becoming one of the most popular areas of Iceland. Below are many of the highlights in order as you would approach them driving west from Vik towards Reykjavik. You start with several black sand beaches--each different in their own way and deserving of a stop--and end with a few breathtaking waterfalls.
The Drive from Egilsstaðir (east) to Vik (south) offers some incredible scenery past calm fjords, thundering waterfalls, beaches with interesting formations, cool cliffs, and spectacular canyons. While it’s possible to drive this stretch in a single (long) day, you would miss some of the best places that Iceland has to offer. Slow down, enjoy the journey, and spend your time exploring the unique places below.
Iceland's hot springs are world-famous, as many travelers flock to the country to soak in the hot and healing geothermal pools. You'll find hot springs in every corner of the country, including popular baths like The Blue Lagoon and Fontana near Reykjavík. Or, you can venture out of the west and visit unique pools like Vök Baths and GeoSea. If you want a true adventure, you'll also find baths that require hikes, like the scenic Seljavallalaug pool.
Winter in Iceland offers many unique activities that you can't always experience in other seasons. Make the most out of the limited daylight with wintry adventures, such as kayaking amongst icebergs, exploring electric-blue ice caves, dogsledding with a pack of Huskies, snowmobiling atop glaciers, hiking in the snow, or tracking the country's wild reindeer population during their annual migration.
Many travelers visit Iceland for its unique terrain, volcanic activity, and geologic history. Known as the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland has many volcanoes, with some covered in ice caps. You can hike atop an active volcano, walk across lava fields and steamy valleys, or visit lava tunnels and museums. Learn about the inner workings of Iceland's volcanoes and discover how they connect to the glaciers and mountains that surround them.
With over 250 glaciers, Iceland's famed ice caps draw the crowds. You can enjoy various activities, including hiking across glaciers, exploring ice caves, snowmobiling atop volcanoes covered in ice, kayaking in glacial lagoons with icebergs, and boat tours. You can also visit the non-icy products of Iceland's glaciers, including its river canyons carved out by the receding ice long ago.
Iceland's famed Golden Circle features some of the country's most beloved natural attractions, including Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area (with the Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir), and the one-and-only Gullfoss Waterfall. Opt for a day trip or spend more time in the region, snorkeling between tectonic plates, hiking through geothermal valleys, rafting along white-capped rivers, soaking in hot springs, and more.
Although Iceland offers a diverse range of activities to enjoy, its natural environment is one of its main draws—and with that comes a nearly endless assortment of active outdoor excursions. Experience kayaking through a glacial lagoon or hiking to the country's many waterfalls. Go ice climbing up one of the glaciers or ride horses along the coast. Snorkel between tectonic plates and zip line over river canyons. You can do all this and more in beautiful Iceland.
Iceland's scenic waterfalls are a huge draw to the country, as many are easily accessible and tower from impossible heights into scenic river canyons. The country's famed cascades are diverse, from Kirkjufellsfoss with its magnificent mountain backdrop to Seljalandsfoss with its impressive spray within a cave. You'll find waterfalls in every corner of the country, though some of the most popular include Skogafoss in the south and Godafoss in the north.
Iceland's famed South Coast hosts some of the country's most popular natural sites, including glaciers, waterfalls, black-sand beaches, sea stacks, volcanoes, and more. Some memorable experiences include walking behind the scenic Seljalandsfoss waterfall, getting up close with icebergs on Jökulsárlón and Sólheimajökulll Glacier lagoons, snowmobiling atop the icy abyss, observing the Reynisfjara rock formations, and exploring the country's geologic history at the interactive LAVA center.
As cliche as it sounds, Iceland is truly a hiker's paradise. Large swaths of the country (like Thórsmörk Valley and Landmannalaugar) are simply devoted to hiking. You can enjoy everything from multi-day hut-to-hut treks to short and scenic day hikes to colorful mountains, waterfalls, or glaciers. You can even hike atop active volcanic areas, such as Reykjadalur Valley and Geldingadalir Volcano.
Route 1—known as Iceland's famed Ring Road—loops around the entire country, allowing you to see all the sights, east to west, north to south. A road trip along the Ring Road features some of Iceland's most popular destinations, like the Blue Lagoon, the canyons and glaciers of the South Coast, the famous Gulfoss waterfall, black-sand beaches, and geothermal areas. In addition, the route is packed with excursions like glacier hikes, river rafting, hiking, and (of course) soaking in hot springs.
South Coast Itineraries
Short on time? This jam-packed 4-day adventure tour was designed with you in mind! Experience Iceland's famed, awe-inspiring landscapes, ice walk on a glacier, and off-road in Þórsmörk, the Valley of the Thunder God, Thor. The summer's long hours of sunlight make it easy to pack even more adventure into your stay.
This winter tour through Iceland's south coast explores some of the country's most beautiful scenery, stopping at the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Gullfoss, as well as the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara to observe the Dyrhólaey sea stacks. You'll hike along glaciers in Vatnajökull National Park and stop to admire the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, all while hoping to catch the northern lights in the evening. Finally, explore the capital city of Reykjavik and the popular village of Vík, ending the trip with a soak in the milky waters of the Blue Lagoon.
Explore some of the most popular highlights of Iceland on this five-day, self-drive trip. Visit Geysir, the meeting of the tectonic plates, and Gulfoss in the Golden Circle. Then, drive the South Coast to explore the waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and cliffs all around. Next, discover a few glaciers, including Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón. On the way back to Reykjavik, stop at a hot springs river and an ancient pool, along with another waterfall and a crater. Take in the highlights of the Reykjanes Peninsula on your way out, along with a comforting soak in the Blue Lagoon.
Starting in Reykjavik, this 6-day Icelandic road trip lets you visit classic highlights along the country's south coast including waterfalls, black sand beaches, basalt columns, massive glaciers, and icebergs at your own pace. You'll then join the popular Golden Circle route where you can see Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal area of Geysir (watch Strokkur erupt like clockwork), and Thingvellir National Park where tectonic plates meet. Finish the adventure with a soak in the Blue Lagoon before your return flight home.
If you have 4 days in Iceland you can enjoy Reykjavik's city life and then leave the masses behind by heading north to explore beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula with its waterfalls and volcanoes. This way you'll get a great sampling of all Iceland has to offer.
In less than a week, this classic self-drive tour allows you to visit the best highlights along Iceland's south coast including waterfalls, black sand beaches, basalt columns, cliffs, canyons, glaciers, and icebergs at your own pace. Start and end the trip in Reykjavik for two nights in Europe's most northerly capital—a growing city known for buzzing restaurants and nightlife.
Looking for an eventful winter vacation? The South Coast of Iceland is chock-full of fun winter activities, from glacier hiking to snowboarding, snowmobiling and more. If you're lucky, you'll have the chance to witness the unparalleled beauty of the Northern Lights that often grace the crisp Arctic sky. Here's our recommended way to spend the winter on Iceland's South Coast.
Explore the highlights of West and South Iceland on this quick, five-day tour. Head to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to visit basalt cliffs, black-sand beaches, lava fields and formations, craters, and cliffside paths in fishing towns. Then, head south toward Vik to visit a handful of impressive waterfalls, from Seljalandsfoss to Skogafoss. Stop at a hot springs river, an ancient pool, another waterfall, and a crater on the road back to Reykjavik, and spend time exploring the funky street art and historical culture in the capital city. Tour the Reykjanes Peninsula's highlights and soak in the Blue Lagoon to close out the jam-packed trip.
Explore the best of the west and south with this 7-9 day itinerary. Hike through lava fields, along cliffs, and up volcanoes in Snaefellsnes. Walk behind waterfalls, on black sand beaches, and on glaciers in the south, and finish with a tour of the famous Golden Circle with tips to avoid the big crowds.
Drive Iceland's south coast for a memorable family adventure in just under a week. After getting to know Reykjavik, you'll check off blockbuster natural sites in the Golden Circle like Thingvellir, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. Finish the self-guided tour with two nights among glaciers and black sand beaches in Vik and the Skaftafell area.
Explore the Golden Circle on this well-balanced, self-drive itinerary featuring both popular stops and hidden gems. First, drive to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall, followed by a relaxing soak in the Secret Lagoon. Next, head to the South Coast to stunning waterfalls—Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss—and visits to Reynisfjara Beach, Vík, and the otherworldly Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Then, explore the glacial areas of Skaftafell, Svartifoss, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, followed by a day to discover the lesser-known Westman Islands. Return to Reykjavík for some sightseeing and tour the Reykjanes Peninsula—plus a stop for a final soak in the Blue Lagoon—before your departure flight home.
Experience an entirely different side of Iceland on a winter road trip to explore all the highlights. Grab your coat and head to downtown Reykjavík, which offers incredible views this time of year. Then, head to the Golden Circle to visit the white-washed version of Gullfoss, followed by an action-packed snowmobiling adventure to Langjökull Glacier. Next, discover Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls—complete with frozen fields—and embark on glacier hikes, ice cave tours, and ice climbing excursions at Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. On the way back to Reykjavík, enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot springs of Rekjadalur, followed by a stop at the Blue Lagoon to close out the trip.
This chilly, scenic self-drive tour is perfect for nature lovers and adventure fiends alike. Visit the famous Golden Circle, explore vibrant Reykjavik, and get off the beaten path for tours of ice caves and craters, snorkel trips between tectonic plates, and walks behind ice-covered waterfalls.
Make the most of your limited time by driving one way from Egilsstaðir to Vík to Reykjavík—without retracing your steps. On this six-day road trip, take in the dramatic landscapes of the Eastern Fjords, from Seyðisfjörður to Vatnajökull National Park, and enjoy more time seeing new places along the South Coast (Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skógafoss, and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls) and Golden Circle (Gullfoss, Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park), rather than doubling back. You can embark on this route in either direction, but a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir at the beginning of your trip is more efficient, without large crowds, to explore remote areas on your own terms.
This self-drive tour takes you along Iceland's south and west coasts for those in search of unique family adventure. After a day exploring the capital city, Reykjavik, you'll head west to the volcanic Snaefellsnes Peninsula, known as "Iceland in miniature" with a bit of everything (and a fraction of the crowds). You'll then continue to the more popular Golden Circle (Thingvellir, Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall), and finish with two nights along the south coast discovering glaciers and black sand beaches.
In one week, enjoy three of Iceland’s most beautiful regions. Explore the black-sand beaches, cliffs, and fishing towns along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the geothermal geological highlights in the Golden Circle, and the stunning waterfalls and glaciers along the South Coast. The trip closes out with a visit to Reykjavik and a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula highlights, including several opportunities to soak in natural hot springs and lagoons.
This five-day, self-drive trip is a great way to experience the best of Iceland without driving too far from Reykjavík. Begin in Snæfellsnes Peninsula to tour the Djúpalónssandur black-sand beach, Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, and more. Then, visit the Golden Circle's Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, along with Þingvellir National Park. Next, stop at the South Shore's Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls and Reynisfjara Beach, before reaching Vik. The trip concludes with sightseeing in Reykjavík and a taste of the dining and nightlife scenes.
Enjoy the snowier side of Iceland on this seven-day winter adventure. On arrival, head "Into the Glacier" at Langjökull, on the way to discover the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, filled with basalt columns, black-sand beaches, and beautiful cliffs. Then, go on a snowmobiling excursion out of the Golden Circle, and wind down with a warm lagoon soak. Next, visit the spectacular frozen falls along the South Coast, including Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, and go on glacier walks at Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón. Wind down with some exploration of snow-topped Reykjavik before heading home.
Visit several scenic areas on this weeklong trip to Iceland. Encounter stunning waterfalls, geothermal areas, black-sand beaches, glaciers and more in the Golden Circle and South Coast. Venture to local gem, the Westman Islands, to enjoy the historic beach tours (there’s an active puffin colony in the summer months). Then, embark on an incredible hiking journey through the valleys and peaks of Thorsmork, before returning to Reykjavik for some enjoyment in the capital city.
With just a few days to explore Iceland, make the most of your time by driving one way from Egilsstaðir to Vik to Reykjavik—without retracing your steps. Relish the chance to see the dramatic landscapes of the Eastern Fjords and more time in new places (rather than doubling back). While you can embark on this route in either direction, taking a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir at the beginning of the trip is recommended, so you can leave the larger crowds behind and explore remote areas on your own terms.
This fast-paced Icelandic trip spans three regions—the Golden Circle, South Coast, and Thorsmork—and offers plenty to see over the course of five days. Explore Þingvellir National Park and snorkel in the Silfra Fissure in the Golden Circle. Then, view beautiful waterfalls, like Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, along with black-sand beaches in the South Coast. Next, take a bus to Thorsmork to embark on a day of hiking trails through the valley, and end in Reykjavik to discover the best of the capital city.
This fun self-drive itinerary provides a mix of popular highlights (south coast, Golden Circle) with off-the-beaten-path gems (Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Reykjanes Peninsula) for a real Icelandic adventure. After a day in Reykjavik, you'll head west for hiking, lava fields and small fishing towns along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (called "Iceland in miniature"). You'll then hit the blockbuster sights of the Golden Circle before finishing on the south coast with black sand beaches, waterfalls, and massive glaciers.
Spend eight days unlocking the beautiful highlights of Iceland in the wintertime. First, enjoy snow-capped views throughout Reykjavík while exploring the best of downtown. Then, take a tour inside a glacier, and view frozen waterfalls en route to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Continue discovering the lava formations, black-sand beaches, and craters, before heading to the Golden Circle for a snowmobiling tour around Langjökull Glacier. Follow more waterfalls, arches, and cliffs toward Vík, and spend time in the ice caves of Skaftafell and at stunning Diamond Beach at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. On the drive back to Reykjavík, make a few more stops along the South Coast, and indulge in relaxing soak in the Blue Lagoon on Departure Day.
Enjoy four, scenic regions of Iceland in just over one week. Upon arrival, head to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to take in your first glimpses of the lava formations, black-sand beaches, and waterfalls that make this region famous. Travel the Golden Circle to discover the tectonic plates meeting, geothermal wonders, and a warm lagoon soak. Ferry to the lesser-known-yet-stunning Westman Islands to visit the sea caves, cliffs, a decorated puffin colony, and more—by boat and foot—followed by additional waterfalls, beaches, and incredible arches and cliffs along the South Coast. Venture into the heart of several glaciers and their accompanying lagoons. Tour Reykjavík and make a few final stops in the Reykjanes Peninsula to close out the trip.
If you are short on time, or perhaps you are looking for an extended layover on your way from Europe to North America or vice versa, your options in Iceland are limited to closer to Reykjavik. Here is a 3-day itinerary that will still let you experience some of the spectacular beauty of Iceland.
If you want to see Iceland's top natural highlights, a self-drive tour is by far the most popular option. Travel at your own pace with plenty of changes to head off the main road in search of your own adventures. This tour also includes the Snaefellsnes peninsula which many call "mini-Iceland" as almost every natural phenomenon in Iceland can be found there, albeit on a smaller scale than elsewhere.
This Icelandic self-drive itinerary covers territory on both horizontal coastlines, from Snaefellsnes to Seydisfjordur, with fun detours along the southern portion of the Ring Road. With a bit more than a week, you'll experience volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs, black sand beaches, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers in protected national parks. Start and end the trip in Reykjavík for culture and nightlife in Europe's most northerly capital.
Explore the wintry side of Iceland on this nine-day, snow-filled adventure. Take in the spectacular frozen waterfalls en route to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Explore several glaciers—go snowmobiling around Langjökull, ice walking in Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and hiking in Sólheimajökull. Stay in the countryside, where there’s minimal light pollution, and enjoy great views of the Northern Lights, while setting aside some time for illuminated, warming soaks in hot springs and lagoons along the way.
This 5-day tour of Iceland's South Coast hits the top natural sights. Visit Thingvellir National Park and Gullfoss Waterfall, see the Reynisfjara black sand beach, and drop by the small village of Vik for coffee and local history. Stop and see the Jokulsarlon lagoon and Skaftafell National Park's many glaciers. Enjoy viewing the Northern Lights in comfort.
Embark on a quick and eventful winter road trip through some of Iceland’s most popular destinations on this five-day itinerary. Go sightseeing in downtown Reykjavik, and enjoy the snowy views all around. Head out on glacier adventures at different destinations, from snowmobiling to hiking, and relish the frozen falls, including Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skogafoss, during wintertime. Along the way, take in the Northern Lights, which are especially amazing while soaking in geothermal areas and lagoons.
Discover two sides of Iceland on this 10-day trip. Begin in the Golden Circle, home to Þingvellir National Park, where the tectonic plates meet and go snorkeling in a fissure. Then, explore the waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and cliffs along the South Coast, followed by a day surrounded by stunning glaciers. Next, visit a few notable sites on the way back to Reykjavik, before hopping a bus to embark on the Laugavegur Trek for the next few days. Hike around the landscapes rich with volcanoes, mountains, scenic lakes, and deserts before reaching the iconic Thorsmork Valley. Return to the capital for one last night, and soak in the Blue Lagoon before departure.
This 6-day itinerary includes three key areas of Iceland for a spectacular, fast-paced road trip. Spend your first day getting a taste of downtown Reykjavik before you head to the volcanic Snaefellsnes Peninsula with a bit of everything (and a fraction of the crowds). You'll then spend a night in one of Iceland's most-popular regions, the Golden Circle, and visit the best sites after the bus tours are long gone. Wrap it up with a day along the south coast exploring massive waterfalls and black sand beaches.
In 10 days, discover the highlights of five areas in Iceland. Prepare for minimal driving, thanks to the close proximity of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, a ferry trip to the beautiful islands, and on-foot exploration in Thorsmork. Embark on a number of great hikes—from breathtaking coasts and cliffs to lava fields, and through lush valleys and scenic glaciers. This trip is a great way to balance out visiting popular areas (including the Golden Circle) with lesser-known destinations (like the Westman Islands).
Drive Iceland's famous Ring Road on this quick, seven-day trip designed for warmer travel (so there are no slowdowns due to weather and lack of daylight in the winter). Head south to the most-visited highlights—massive waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and glaciers. Enjoy the scenic route through the East Fjords, before arriving at Lake Myvatn, surrounded by geothermal and volcanic wonders. Join a whale-watching trip from Husavik, the whale watching capital, and spend time in Reykjavik exploring the best of the city, along with enjoying a soak in the Blue Lagoon.
This itinerary packs a lot into 8 days, but if you have limited time and have your heart set on driving the entire Ring Road, then this guide will be your best friend for the journey.
Drive Iceland's famous Ring Road on this quick, eight-day trip, which includes a detour to the volcanic Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Head south to the most visited highlights, including massive waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and glaciers. Enjoy the scenic route through the East Fjords before arriving at Lake Mývatn, surrounded by geothermal and volcanic wonders. Visit the whale-watching capital of Husavik and venture west into the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, with its small fishing towns, easy cliffside walks, and lava fields, and end by exploring the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavík.
For road trip enthusiasts, it doesn't get much better than encircling Iceland along its infamous Route 1 (Ring Road). This quick-paced, self-drive itinerary will take you to the best spots along the 828-mile (1,332 km) route with plenty of detours to work the leg muscles and camera batteries. With a bit more than a week, you'll experience a variety of landscapes, like geysers, hot springs, black sand beaches, volcanoes, lava fields, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers in protected national parks.
With 10 days on the road, you can discover a variety of regions and landscapes as you loop around Iceland's famous Route 1 (Ring Road). This moderately paced self-drive itinerary will take you to the best spots along the 828-mile (1,332 km) route with stops in its two biggest cities, as well as volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers, as well as major attractions in the Golden Circle. This is going to be one gorgeous ride!
On this spectacular self-drive itinerary, you'll hit the four cardinal points of Iceland as you loop clockwise around the famous Ring Road. Stop to explore volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, and glaciers from Reykjavik to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and beyond. Finish the adventure with a rewarding soak in the Blue Lagoon before you depart.
This epic 12-day road trip is a perfect way to absorb Iceland as you traverse all four corners of the country. You'll visit popular spots along the famous 828-mile Ring Road, and head off the beaten path to detour through the Westfjords (great for mountain biking and kayaking). The self-drive loop also includes stops in Iceland's two biggest cities, and numerous natural sites like volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, glaciers, and more.
With 2 weeks in Iceland, you can complete the entire ring road and add some great detours. This grand tour will take you to all the best places giving you plenty of time to hike, explore, and soak it all in. This 14-day itinerary covers all the major regions except the highlands, which you can see with a couple more days or by spending less time in some of the areas below.
Check the spectacular Northern Lights off your bucket list with this quick-hit trip to southern Iceland. In addition to nighttime expeditions in search of the Aurora Borealis, you'll tour some of the country's most dramatic natural wonders and unforgettable landscapes. Visit impressive waterfalls, vast glaciers, volcanic beaches, and more on this exciting winter adventure.