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On this South Coast adventure, we set out to explore the most visited attractions in the land of fire and ice. For starters, we’ll drive through farmlands and a few cozy little towns to Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland’s most well-known waterfalls. If the weather allows, you can walk behind the graceful cascade that drops 60 m (197 ft) and peek through the crystal wall of water. Next up is Skogafoss Waterfall, which can be marveled both from below and from the top of the falls, after a climb of about 500 steps.
Carrying on with our journey, we’ll head to Reynisfjara, a world-famous black sand beach with dramatic Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks—formed by Iceland’s fascinating volcanic activity—rising up from the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll stop for lunch at the town of Vik, soaking in the view of its picturesque church perched high on a hill.
Back on our minibus, we’ll drive through moss-covered lava landscapes to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a village wrapped in legends. Our accommodation for the night will be in the area around Skaftafell. If the forecast is favorable, your guide will show where you can see the Northern Lights in all their glory. We can’t guarantee you’ll definitely see the Aurora, but hopefully, multicolored swirls of light will ripple across the night sky.
The following part of the tour is centered on Vatnajökull National Park, the largest in Europe. After breakfast, we’ll head to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, one of the most surreal sights in the world, let alone Iceland. Floating icebergs dot the enormous lagoon as they slowly make their way towards the open sea. Some blue icebergs run ashore on the famous Diamond Beach, where they glitter like diamond jewels on the black volcanic sand.
The highlight of the trip is stepping into the blueish natural ice cave in Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap. Led by our expert glacier guide, you’ll be able to safely observe the wondrous ice formations. To satisfy your curiosity, the guide will tell you some intriguing facts about ice cave formation.
Heading back to Reykjavik, we’ll make a stop at Skaftafell National Park, a preservation area with ample hiking trails, fabulous views of ragged-toothed mountains and imposing glaciers. On our way back, we’ll keep a close eye on the Northern Lights and make a short stop if conditions allow for it.
Arrival in Reykjavík is expected around 21:00 (9:00 p.m.). Fluctuating weather in winter can sometimes influence the schedule a little, but don’t worry, our expert travel planners always have a back-up plan – it’s all part of the exciting Iceland experience.
Your 3-Day Golden Circle and South Coast tour begins with the famous Golden Circle: Þingvellir (Thingvellir), Geysir and Gullfoss. Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the historic location of the Icelandic Parliament, the Alþingi. Established in 930 c.e., this is the oldest continuously operated Parliament in the world, situated in one of the most geologically fascinating places on the planet.
Thingvellir is home to a rift valley between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Stand atop the Law Rock where the Law Speaker, the Parliament’s orator, would make speeches. The cliffs look out over Þingvallavatn, a very beautiful lake set within this incredible landscape.
Next, you’ll visit the geothermal wonder Geysir Geothermal Area. Geysir was once a magnificent geyser that lent its name to the English word geyser. Though now dormant, its neighbor Strokkur always delights. You won’t have to wait more than a few minutes to see Strokkur burst forth scalding water skywards, jumping up to 25 meters high.
Finally, we stop at Gullfoss (the Golden Falls), the most-visited waterfall in Iceland. Witness the powerful Hvita (“White”) River roar down the two-tiered cliffs into the rugged canyon below. The force of the falls and the beauty of the surrounding golden mist are a sight to behold.
After the Golden Circle, we drive southward. On a clear day, we’ll get great views of Mount Hekla on the way to Seljalandsfoss, one of the most unusual waterfalls in the world. You can walk behind these graceful falls to enjoy the view from both sides.
In the morning, we head east towards the magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and nearby Diamond Beach. The lagoon is filled with icebergs of all shapes and sizes, as they glide in a dreamlike procession towards the salty waves of the Atlantic. The multifaceted colors are caused by a combination of factors, including ice compression.
Many of them are washed ashore at the Diamond Beach, where they glitter like diamonds on the black sand. There’s nothing quite like walking on the beach as sunlight illuminates the beach with bright blue tones of the icebergs. Ocean birds are abundant and, if you’re lucky, you might spot a playful seal. Your hotel for the night will be in the Skaftafell area, another great base to test your Northern Lights luck if you are traveling during September – April months!
From Jokulsarlon, we head to Skaftafell Nature Reserve for a new adventure. From October to April, we join our certified glacier guide and step into the mesmerizing world of the Vatnajokull Glacier.
After taking a beautiful glacier hike, we’ll enter a natural ice cave where you’ll have some time to explore and take photos. Photographers will get the rare chance to capture mysterious blue light passing through glacial ice. During your adventure, an expert guide will explain the process of how these glacial ice formations came to be. From May to September, we go to the only natural ice cave you can visit all year – the Katla Ice Cave tour near Vik.
The ice cave we visit will be chosen based on current conditions. Including both ice cave and glacier hike exploration, we’ll spend roughly 2 hours on the ice. This tour is suitable for people who are able to comfortably walk around 2 hours across easy outdoor terrain.
Ice cave temperatures hover well below freezing, so don’t forget to dress warmly.
After a nourishing breakfast, we’ll start our day slowly driving towards Reykjavik and making plenty of stops along the way. If the roads are clear, we’ll start the day off with a quick detour to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon.
Next, we’ll have the chance to visit the iconic Eldhraun lava field before heading to Reynisfjara black beach. The powerful waves of the Atlantic Ocean really show their force here. Watch as these roaring, white-tipped beauties crash onto the black beach. A word of warning – the waves here can be unpredictable! Always follow the advice of your tour guide.
You should pop into the black basalt cave before you leave the beach. Reynisfjara is famous for its basalt columns just off the shore, called the Reynisdrangar. Gazing up at these dramatic black pillars, you’ll get a good idea of where the legends of Icelandic troll folklore sprang from!
After Reynisfjara, our next stop will be a visit to Skógafoss, an impressive waterfall that drops 60 m into a tranquil pool below. There are 527 steps leading to the top, yet the steep climb is worth it for the panorama alone. The famous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, lurks high above the waterfall, so if visibility is good you’ll get a glimpse of this magnificent mountain glacier.
After enjoying our final stop at Skógafoss, your 3-Day Iceland’s South Coast tour comes to an end. We’ll return to Reykjavík between 16:00 and 19:00, depending on the weather conditions.
Return time: We will return to Reykjavík between 16:00 – 19:00 (4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.), depending on the conditions.
Pick-up Information: Pick up is at 9:00 a.m. from your hotel or a nearby meeting point in Reykjavík. Picking everyone up can take up to 30 minutes, your patience is much appreciated.
Remember to bring: Warm outdoor clothing including layers, thermal underwear (top and bottom), a waterproof jacket and pants, headwear, scarves, and gloves. Sturdy hiking boots are essential for glacier hiking since they are the only kind of footwear that fit ice crampons. Hiking boots for the glacier hike can be rented in the booking process or at the Glacier Guides Booking Center in Skaftafell. We recommend renting in advance.
What if I don’t own all of these clothing items? Don’t worry, you can always rent sturdy hiking shoes, waterproof jacket, and pants in the booking process. Hiking boots, waterproof jacket, and waterproof pants can be rented on location, at the Glacier Guides Booking Center, for the glacier hike. However, if you wish to rent extras for the whole duration of the tour then this must be added to your booking at least 48 hours before your tour starts.