South Coast Elements | Glacier Hike, Lava Caving, DC-3 Plane Wreck & Hot Springs
Explore the wonders of Iceland’s incredible south coast on this comprehensive day tour; see famous and unique locations, hike a glacier, bathe in a hot spring, and explore a lava cave.
You will be picked up from your Reykjavík accommodation in the morning and begin your journey southeast. This stretch of coastline is famed for its wealth of landmarks and diverse scenery, all visible from the main road. Before you even reach any attraction, for example, you will be able to see Eyjafjallajökull, the sub-glacial volcano that erupted in 2010, and perhaps even the Westman Islands in the seas to the south.
The first stops, however, will be at two famous waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is unique in the sense that it is possible to fully encircle the plunging water for some incredible views. Skógafoss, meanwhile, is much more classic, with a powerful, dramatic cascade.
You will reach the glacier tongue Sólheimajökull next, where you will partake in your glacier hike. The landscapes atop an ice-cap are ethereal and the hiking itself is an adventure of a lifetime. Your guide will fascinate you with stories about the history and natural laws behind this incredible natural phenomenon and all the necessary equipment will be provided, just do not forget to bring some sturdy boots.
After this excursion, you will head into the black sand desert of Sólheimsandur, where the wreckage of a crashed aircraft lays alone in the desolate landscape. This is an excellent spot for photography, and you will learn all about what happened to this plane from your guide. For those who love even more adventure we have added the option of Fat-Bike ride down to the airplane wreck.
After this, you will unwind a little by basking in a geothermal pool. Seljavallalaug is one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools and located in a beautiful natural setting.
Once you have recharged, you will go on one caving adventure before heading home. There is a fascinating, beautiful world beneath the surface of Iceland’s lava fields, formed by volcanic forces, and few are lucky enough to get the chance to explore it. Again, all the equipment needed for caving will be provided.
Enjoy glacier hiking, lava caving, hot-spring bathing and classic sightseeing all within a day on this immersive tour. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 14 hours
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Caving, Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Minimum age: 12 years.
- Languages: English, Icelandic
- 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.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.Sólheimasandur,
Solheimasandur is a vast area of sand and gravel along the south coast of Iceland, between the cliffs of the interior and the modern shoreline. It was built up by immense glacier bursts sweeping from the mountains to the shore.
The glacier bursts would come via the glacier river Jokulsa a Solheimasandi which runs from the Solheimajokull outlet glacier and towards the sea.
The beach of Solheimasandur is astonishing. It is quite common as far as sands and pebbles go but the colour stands out, a dark greenish, sometimes reddish grey, turning pure black when it turns wet. Mixed with the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean it becomes an amazing sight.
Another impressive sight is the plain wreck of a DC-3 belonging to the US Navy that ran out of fuel and crashed on the sand in 1973, and is still located at the very same spot. It is also seen in Icelandic band Sigur Ros's film Heima.
Gljúfrabúi ("Canyon Dweller“) is a beautiful waterfall located at Hamragarðar in South Iceland, close to its better known counterpart, Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
The 40 metre high Gljúfrabúi can be considered somewhat of a hidden gem. It is indeed partially hidden behind a huge cliff that lends much atmosphere to the scenery.
To enjoy a view of the fall you need to wade the Gljúfurá river into a narrow opening in the cliff or follow a steep path up the cliff. Both endeavours are demanding so utmost caution is advised.
As mentioned, this waterfall is less known than its neighbour but as a result may provide for all the greater serenity, in addition to excellent scenery.Seljavallalaug,
Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons, photo by Johannes Martin.
Seljavallalaug is an outdoor swimming pool in South Iceland, roughly 10 km east of Ásólfsskáli.
The pool was built in 1923, making it one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. Seljavallalaug is 10 m in width and 25 m in length. This made it the largest swimming pool in Iceland until 1936.
Swimming in the pool is free of charge, though swimmers are advised that doing so is at their own risk.
The water is known to sometimes turn a strange green colour, in large part due to the algae that grows on the sides of the pool. The pool is cleaned once a year every summer.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
Pick-up & drop-off in Reykjavik.
Professional and fun English speaking guide.
Glacier hiking, glacier gear is provided
Small group in a minibus
WiFi in the minibus
Fat-Bike ride of a lifetime
Meals and snacks
What to bring:
Swim suit and towel
Good shoes for hiking
Good to know:
1. We will stop in a number of places where you can buy food and snacks.
2. In case of extreme weather we will make extra stops instead of the DC-3 plain wreck and Seljavallalaug.
3. During the winter months (okt-april) we will not be visiting Seljavallalaug Geothermal Pool because of the short days and the cold weather.