Small Group South Iceland Glacier Hike, Waterfalls & Black Sand Beach Tour
Do not miss this exploration of the South Coast, with an included glacier hike. This tour is perfect for anyone who seeks to see Iceland’s most iconic and beautiful sites without missing out on a minute of adventure.
You will be picked up from Reykjavík in the morning, and the sightseeing component of this tour will begin immediately. Your experienced guide will whisk you to the South Coast, along which are many iconic attractions. The first of these that you will stop at is Seljalandsfoss waterfall, a beautiful feature that tumbles off of a concave cliff, allowing you to encircle it for some incredibly unique perspectives.
After enjoying this scenic and unusual site, you will continue along the road towards the glacier you will be hiking. As you travel, if the weather is clear enough, you should be able to see the notorious Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano which erupted in 2010 and caused widespread problems with air travel. You may also be able to see the Westman Islands, rising in the distance from the ocean to your right.
The glacier you are heading to is called Sólheimajökull, a tongue of the greater ice cap Mýrdalsjökull. Once you arrive, you will be provided with the necessary equipment (namely, a helmet and pair of crampons), receive basic safety instructions, then begin your ascent.
No experience is necessary for this incredible experience. All you need to be able to do is walk comfortably across uneven ground. The hike promises to be mesmerising; the ancient ice twists into fascinating and unusual shapes, is coloured with veins of black ash and dashes of electric blue, and the views from atop it, across the verdant South Coast, are otherworldly.
Once your easy yet exhilarating glacier hike is complete, you will continue along the South Coast to Reynisfjara beach. This stunning stretch of coastline is renowned for its black sands and fascinating geology. The two most notable features here are the Reynisdrangar sea-stacks, which rise from the surface of the ocean, and the Dyrhólaey rock-arch, the scale of which is magnificent.
After enjoying the coastal scenery, you will return to the van and start to head back to Reykjavík. You will make one more stop, however, at the waterfall Skógafoss. Falling from over 60 metres high, and up to 20 metres wide, this falls is mesmerising. There is a staircase beside it that will allow you to observe it from several unique angles.
Immerse yourself in the South Coast of Iceland, with this day of sightseeing and adventure. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 11 hours
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 10 years.
- Languages: English
- Highlights: Skógafoss,
Skógafoss is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls with an astounding width of 25 meters (82 ft) and a drop of 60 meters (197 ft). Due to the amount of spray the cascade produces, a rainbow is present any time the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
Located on the Skógá river, this mighty cascade is clearly visible from Route 1 and is an excellent place to stop and stretch the legs while travelling Iceland’s South Coast. The river below Skógafoss holds a large char and salmon population and is thus a favourite spot for fishermen in the summer.
The land underneath the waterfall is very flat, allowing visitors to walk right up to the wall of water. Keep in mind, however, that this will get you drenched. Skógafoss can also be viewed from the top as a steep staircase leads to an observational platform above the cascade.
Skógafoss is located near the small village of Skógar, south of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. There you’ll find the Skógasafn folk museum, an open-air museum with both old wooden houses and turf houses, as well as a regional museum with various artefacts from this area.
A part of the Skógasafn Regional Museum is the Museum of Transportation, which showcases the history and evolution of transportation, communication and technologies in Iceland. There, you can see how this nation evolved from the age of the working horse to the digital communications of the 21st century.
The Skógasafn museum also includes a café and a museum shop, and in the village of Skógar, you will find both a hotel and a restaurant.
At the eastern side of Skógafoss, you will find one of Iceland’s most famed hiking routes; the Fimmvörðuháls pass. The 22 km (14 mi) trail takes you along Skógá river, between two glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, before ending in the beautiful Þórsmörk valley.
A gold ring is on display at the Skógasafn museum. According to legend, the ring is from a chest that was owned by Þrasi Þórólfsson, one of the first Viking settlers in the area. Folklore states that before his death in 900 AD, Þrasi buried a chest filled with gold in a cave behind Skógafoss waterfall.
Many attempts were made to retrieve the chest after Þrasi’s death, and years later, locals managed to grasp a ring on the side of the chest. As they pulled, the ring broke off, and the treasure was lost forever. The ring was then given to the local church before it made its way to the museum.Seljalandsfoss,
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.Hekla,
The stratovolcano Hekla in the south of Iceland is undoubtedly one of the island's most famous and active volcanoes, with over 20 eruptions since settlement.
Hekla is part of a 40 kilometers long volcanic ridge but the most active part is the fissure Heklugja, considered the volcano proper. Hekla has produced one of the largest amounts of lava of any volcano in the world. Last time Hekla erupted was in 2000.
In the Middle Ages Hekla was considered to be the gateway to Hell, and it continues to inspire. It’s referenced in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, poet and artist William Blake banishes Winter to Hekla in his poem Winter and Icelandic composer Jon Leifs, inspired by Hekla’s power, composed one of the loudest pieces of classical music ever, Hekla Op 52.
Travelers from all over seek out Hekla and it is a popular hiking place. In addition to hiking you can ski there in the spring, summer offers easy mountaineering routes and you can snowmobile to the top in winter.Eyjafjallajökull,
The glacier volcano of Eyjafjallajokull (1651 m) is located at the borders of the South Icelandic highlands. It featured prominently in world news in 2010 when ash from its eruption halted air traffic in Europe.
An ice cap of about 100 km with several outlet glaciers covers the caldera of Eyjafjallajökull that stands at the height of 1651 meters. The diamaeter of its highest crater is around 3-4 km2 wide and the rim has several peaks.
Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano lies north of Skogar, and to the west of Myrdalsjokull glacier and the massive volcano there; Katla.
Eyjafjallajokull is thought to be related geologically to Katla in Myrdalsjokull and eruptions in the former have often been followed by eruptions in the latter.
The 2010 eruptions
The end of 2010 saw some small seismic activity that gradually increased and resulted in a small eruption in March of 2010, characterized by a flow of alkani-olivine basalt lava.
This first stage lasted until April 12th and created the volcanic craters Magni and Modi at the Fimmvorduhals trail. They are so far Iceland's newest vocanic craters, and still eminate steam with lava glowing under the surface.
However it was the second phase of the eruption that started on April 14th that created the huge ash cloud that rose about 9 km into the skies.
This eruption halted air traffic in Europe for days, and its estimated that as many as 107.000 flights may have been cancelled during the week it lasted.
The ejected tephra measured around 250 million cubic meters. This ash cloud lasted for six days and some more localized disruption continued into May. The eruption was officially declared to be over in October 2010, as the snow on the glacier had ceased to melt.
Future volcanic developments?
Eyjafjallajokull erupted in years 920, 1612 and again 1821-1823.
Its latest eruptions were the two that occurred in 2010.
Future volcanic developments remain unclear. The area is still highly active and can be quite unpredictable. It continues, however, to be closely monitored by The Icelandic Meterological Office.Katla,
Katla is an active volcano situated under the glacier Myrdalsjokull in South Iceland. It is one of Iceland's most well known volcanoes.
Katla's eruptions have produced many massive glacier bursts, with enormous amounts of water flowing, as the fire melts the ice. Its latest eruption was 1918. That eruption created the spit Kötlutangi, which is the mainland's southernmost tip.Sólheimajökull,
Solheimajokull is a beautiful outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull icecap.
Solheimajokull is a rugged glacial tounge riddled with crevasses and spectacular ever-changing ice formations, jagged ridges and sinkholes and is popular for hiking and ice climbing.
The glacier river Jokulsa a Solheimasandur has its source at the glacier, flowing over the sand plain of Solheimasandur towards the sea.Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach,
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal.
With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. Driving to the beach is particularly easy, taking an approximate two and a half hours from the capital.
Upon visiting the beach, travellers will immediately observe rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls engaged in trying to pull ships from the ocean. However, as bad luck would have it, the dawn quickly arose, turning the trolls into solid stone.
Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.
The sea stacks themselves are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. Species that can be found here include Puffins, Fulmars and Guillemots, making it a must-see location for all birdwatchers out there.
Visitors to Reynisfjara must be made well aware of the potential dangers present at the beach. First of all, the rolling, roaring waves of Reynisfjara are particularly violent, often pushing far further up the beach than many would expect.
Visitors are advised to never turn their back on the waves, don't go chasing after them and keep a safe distance of 20-30 metres.
Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in tide (known as “sneaker waves”), the currents off the shore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017.Hvolsvöllur,
Hvolsvöllur is a small town of 950 people in south Iceland, conveniently located by the ring road. The local airport has flights to the Westman Islands.
Economy and transport
Hvolsvöllur’s main economy is services to the surrounding agricultural area, which has an additional 600 people, meat processing and tourism.
The area features prominently in one of the most famous Icelandic sagas, Njál’s saga. There is indeed an excellent Icelandic Saga Centre in the town that we recommend checking out. It has two exhibitions, ‘The exhibition of Njála, introducing guests to the characters of the sagas along with the Viking cosmology and the literary art and one on the history of trade, commerce and the cooperative movement in the 20th century. You can also view a model of Alþingi, Iceland’s parliament, founded at Þingvellir in 930. There is also a nice gallery there and a good restaurant in the Saga Hall, a replica of a medieval longhouse.
Hvolsvöllur has a number of interesting hiking routes in its vicinity. Among interesting sights is the large and peculiar rock Drangurinn by the farm Drangshlíð, under the Eyjafjöll mountains. Hvolsvöllur is also a short drive from many other interesting attractions, among them some of Iceland’s top ones. One of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools, Seljavallalaug, is about 44 km from the town. At a 14 km distance is the rural area of Fljótshlíð and the farm Hlíðarendi. According to Njal's Saga, its hero, Gunnar, lived there.
There is good trout and salmon fishing in the nearby rivers. Several interesting caves, both natural and man-made are in driving distance from Hvolsvöllur, 18-40 km. There is also a number of beautiful waterfalls not far off, the most well known being Seljalandsfoss, which you can walk behind, and Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s highest and most beautiful falls. Forests and groves can be found no further than 9-18 km from Hvolsvöllur.Katla volcano,
Katla (meaning “Kettle”) is one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanos. Situated in south Iceland, Katla is partially buried underneath Mýrdalsjökull glacier and has a summit of 1512 metres.
The volcano sits within Katla Geopark, a nature reserve covering 9542 square kilometres (roughly 9% of the country), stretching east from Hvolsvöllur to the black desert sands of Skeiðarársandur, and south from Vatnajökull to Reynisfjara beach. The area contains such natural attractions as the neighbouring ice-cap and volcano, Eyjafjallajökull and the Craters of Laki, in Vatnajokull National Park.
Of all the volcanoes in Iceland, Katla is of the greatest concern to the Icelandic people, having erupted roughly twice per century since 930 AD. As of the present day, Katla’s eruption is long overdue. Over recent years, scientists have measured an increase in seismicity and an inflation of the volcano’s caldera—clear warning signs that an eruption is on its way. The last eruption to break the glacier ice was in 1918, unleashing five times the amount that Eyjafjallajökull—its closest volcanic neighbour—did in 2010.
Local residents receive routine evacuation training for the day Katla erupts. All mobile phones within the scope of a broadcast tower will receive an electronic warning alerting them to the present danger. Afterwards, farmers must shut down their electric fences, allow their cattle to escape to higher ground and, finally, hang a notice on their door stating that they have moved to an evacuation centre in Hella, Hvolsvöllur or Skógar.
When Katla finally erupts again, days of ashfall, tephra clouds, lightning and glacial flash floods are expected to impact the environment immediately. Past eruptions have even caused tidal waves, a concern for the residents of Vik who live in the potential fallout zone. Given the wind direction, it is also a high possibility that Katla’s ash cloud might affect European air travel, as Eyjafjallajökull did at the beginning of the decade. National TV station, RUV, constantly updates Katla’s activity at www.ruv.is/katla.South Coast
The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.
The famed South Coast shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area and is dotted with natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, volcanoes both active and dormant, black sand beaches and glacier lagoons.
Geography, Nature & Wildlife
Iceland is divided into eight geographical regions. Out of these, the Southern Region is the largest, as it spans over 24.000 square kilometres with its administrative centre in the municipality of Selfoss.
What is known as the South Coast embodies the shoreline of this particular region. The area consists of a lowland that is mostly composed of marshlands, bays and cultivated pastures that are met by a series of black beaches where the estuaries to the east and west of the district close off the coastal body.
Underneath the soil rests a vast lava field, known as Þjórsárhraun. Its edges reach several hundred metres offshore where the ocean waves crash upon them, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea. This results in the South Coast being unusually lacking in the deep fjords that so distinctly characterise the rest of Iceland's shore line.
The region boasts vibrant bird life during all seasons. It is not only rich with both marshland birds and seabirds but also migrating birds such as the North Atlantic puffin. Some species stay throughout the harsh Icelandic winter, including the northern diver, the loom and various species of gulls and ducks.
Highlights of the South Coast
The South Coast offers an unprecedented array of natural wonders that draw thousands of visitors each day. When driving the route from Reykjavík City, the highlights in their correct order are:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vestmannaeyjar; The Westman Islands
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
- Coastal Village Vík í Mýrdal
- Skeiðarársandur Glacial Sand Plain
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
These attractions count for but a fraction of what the South Coast has to offer. The vast sand plains of Sólheimasandur are home to a crashed DC-3 Plane Wreck, and close to Seljavellir by the Skógar Village there's Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
- Explore the many wonders of the area on these South Coast Tours
Pickup time : 08:00
Small group guarantee
Reykjavik pick up & return service
Guided visit to Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Solheimajokull & Reynisfjara Beach
Glacier walking with a certified glacier guide on Solheimajokull Glacier
All necessary glacier gear
Hiking shoes, waterproof jacket & waterproof pants (Can be rented directly from the operator for a small fee)
Food & drinks
What to bring:
Warm outdoor clothing
Waterproof jacket and pants
Head-wear & Gloves
Good hiking shoes are essential for the glacier walking and can be rented for a small fee from the operator
Good to know:
This tour has a small group guarantee, meaning that the tour is always operated in a minibus giving you a more personal experience.