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22 February, 2014

The fairytale South Coast of Iceland

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Iceland

Most people stay around Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle area while visiting Iceland during wintertime. However Iceland's fairytale South Coast is definitely worth a visit all year round and offers many stunning sightseeing opportunities. Besides Ice hiking and Ice climbing on the Sólheimajökull glacier close to Vik, we also visited the natural wonders along Iceland's South Coast and took a day trip to the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon located in the south-east.


Ring Road, Iceland
Driving on Iceland's South Coast
You pass the South Coast and the glacier lagoon when touring around the island following the ring road. During the winter it is a bit more difficult to tour the complete island but there's usually no problem to drive till the Glacier Lagoon (check the weather forecast). We decided to stay in Vik for a couple of nights and took Vik as our base to visit the natural attractions on the South Coast, our Glacier Hike and Ice wall climbing adventure, and took as well a day trip from Vik to the glacier lagoon.


The beautiful Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
We started by visiting the graceful Seljalandsfoss waterfall. What makes this a fun excursion is that you can hike completely around its cascade; just be careful so your camera doesn't get wet. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a very photogenic waterfall, it's difficult to stop taking pictures here. The food truck on the parking area sold traditional Icelandic meat soup, we for sure did not regret buying the soup. A real treat on a cold day and it tasted delicious. 


Gljúfrabúi waterfall, Iceland
Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
We hiked from the Seljalandsfoss waterfall to the Gljúfrabúi waterfallThis waterfall is hidden behind a large cliff and you have to climb the steep path up the cliff to actually see the cascade. It was a nice little expedition that offered us the opportunity to stretch our legs a bit. 


Visiting Eyjafjallajökull Erupts Visitor Centre, Iceland
Eyjafjallajökull Erupts Visitor Centre
Once back on the road, the next highlight was a fabulous view on the notorious Eyjafjallajökull volcano. On the other site of the road, there's also a little visitor centre. The Eyjafjallajökull Erupts Visitor Centre is a family-run exhibition showing visitors an emotional personal film about their battle with the lava during the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010. Of course I knew that the volcano erupted in 2010 leaving millions of people stranded in airports, but I never stopped to think about how this eruption impacted the life of the people living at the foot of the volcano. It was a very touching movie. The visitor centre is only open in the winter for tour groups that made an appointment. Luckily we arrived together with a tour group and were allowed to join in.


Skógafoss waterfall, Iceland
Skógafoss Waterfall
Our next stop was the impressive Skógafoss waterfall. When we arrived, there were 2 tour busses so it was quite crowded but after about 10 minutes they all left and we had this fairytale waterfall nearly to ourselves. We hiked up the steep hill following the trail till we reached a viewpoint above the cascade. Once on top, we were awarded with stunning views over the cascade and surroundings.


Black Sand Beach Iceland
Black Sand Beach with view on rock formations
South of Vik, we also visited the famous black sand beach and enjoyed dramatic views on the Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations. I was really amazed about the beauty of this place. It's not common to visit a beach when it's that cold but the sights and atmosphere here was truly amazing. 


Elf Cliffs” of Dverghamrar, Iceland
Elf Cliffs of Dverghamrar
To visit one of Iceland's most famous attractions - the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon - you need at least a day. We drove from Vik - through the scenic Skaftafell area in the Vatnajökul National Park - to the lagoon. En route - near Skaftárhreppur - we visited the Fjaðrarárgljúfur canyon and the “Elf Cliffs” of Dverghamrar formed of basalt columns and according to folk tales the place where dwarves and elves live. People in Iceland have a close relationship with nature and the majority of the people in Iceland believe in dwarves, trolls and elves. Recently this even delayed a major roadwork project, as people believed it would disturb an elf-nesting site. Nothing is impossible, especially not in the mysterious fairytale surroundings of Iceland.


Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Iceland
Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
A bit before lunchtime, we arrived at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. There are no words to describe the beauty of this place, absolutely stunning! It's a natural glacier lake with huge ice blocks floating on the lagoon. This amazing natural wonder was also the setting for movies like Die Another Day, Tomb Raider ... It's not possible to take a boat tour on the lagoon during wintertime but you can hike alongside the lake and enjoy the stunning views. We even saw one or two curious seals along the lake on our hike. It was a truly magnificent day and definitely a highly recommended trip. Before dinner we were back in our hotel in Vik. 


by Freya Renders - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog


68 comments:

  1. I want to visit Iceland so badly. I really shouldn't be reading posts like this! It makes me jealous :-)

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    1. Hi Bram a beautiful place indeed, definitely worth a visit one day.

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  2. Beautiful photos! We almost booked a trip to Iceland for our March school holiday but decided we didn't have enough days to see it properly - now I wish we would have gone ahead! Did you see the Northern Lights while you were there?

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    1. Hi Lisa, yes we did. After searching for the entire week, we saw the northern lights on our last night :-)

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  3. This was sooooo awesome, Freya! So, you didn't get to see any of the dwarves, trolls and elves, huh? Bummer because that would have been so cool. I'm not a cold weather person anymore but would suck it up to visit this beautiful icey oasis! A great post as always, our friend! :)

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    1. No didn't get to see any of those but who knows ;-)

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  4. A beautiful place, especially the waterfall.

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  5. What an amazing experience. People tend to forget that Iceland is close to both mainland Europe and even North America.

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    1. It indeed is very close both to Europe & North America

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  6. I'll share this post with my son and his fiance. They are going to spend part of their honeymoon in Iceland!

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  7. Black Sand Beach looks stunning. I definitely want to go to Iceland, but I'm thinking that I'd rather go during warm weather and take a road trip around the island. No matter what time of year, I'm sure that it's just as beautiful in person as it is in pictures!

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    1. I think you're right, it's beautiful any time of the year

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  8. What a gorgeous part of Iceland. We didn't make it to this part of the country but now I want to go back and explore this area. Beautiful photos, Freya. The Skógafoss waterfall and Glacier Lagoon look amazing.

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    1. The Glacier Lagoon is absolutely stunning, it's a beautiful country overall.

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  9. Absolutely stunning tour of this wonderful land --- a geologist's paradise and I should now having co-majored in it centuries ago. ; ) I totally remember the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the clouds it left in its wake. What memories. You photos are exquisite my friend! Thank you!

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  10. The name Iceland is totally misguiding the beauty, greenery and scenery this beautiful country offers. Love the place.

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    1. It's indeed a very beautiful country

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  11. Beautiful post, I have never been to Iceland yet but your pictures so tempt me, I want to visit this paradise on earth someday!

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    1. It's definitely worth a visit Arti

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  12. Glorious Destination! Sounds, haven to visit..
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us..
    beautiful photos..

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  13. Skogafoss water is so wonderful! You're lucky having it for yourselves for a while!

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    1. we were lucky indeed, thanks for stopping by

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  14. Ahh the land of Bjork, such a gorgeous place, one I need to visit soon.

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  15. ah i miss iceland!! i didn't make it to that glacier lagoon so i'm quite jealous!!

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    1. A good reason to go back one day

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  16. I've mostly been in Iceland for meetings and haven't really seen much outside the Golden Circle and Reykjavik. About time to have a closer look, I think. Beautiful photos.

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    1. The country has a lot more to offer than the Golden Circle although that's a wonderful area as well

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  17. You look like an Icelandic Mermaid in the first photo :-)

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  18. Great pictures of a great scenery!
    Did you see the FACE above Skogafoss? One of the rocks looks like a face from aside :D
    Enjoy the rest of your time over there ;)

    Claudi

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  19. Fantastic scenery, especially the waterfalls ... and the glacier lagoon.

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  20. The south coast is absolutely stunning. I love the Elf Cliffs of Dverghamrar - they look so dramatic. Hoping to get to Iceland sometime and follow in your footsteps.

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  21. Breathtaking shots Freya - You have opened my eyes to so many beautiful places and this is no exception :-D

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    1. Thanks Maria, it's an amazing country

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  22. Iceland is by far my favourite raw scenic country to visit! We made it as far a Hofn but chickened out with the icy roads...

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    1. Yes the roads can be very icy but when we were there it was still OK

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  23. Iceland has long been on my bucket list and your photos truly make me want to go. The lagoon with the icebergs looks absolutely stunning. Lucky you.
    Sounds like even in winter Iceland is worth the trip.

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    1. It's sure worth the trip Leigh any time of the year

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  24. Gorgeous! I have wanted to go to Iceland for quite a while, and this post is giving me more inspiration.

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    1. Glad you found some inspiration here Jenna

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  25. Freya, Thanks for giving some practical advice about the drive as well as some photographic inspiration. Jim and I are going this summer and I just can't wait. Do you have any idea how long the tour groups usually stay at a place?

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    1. Hi Corinne, that really depends. There are lots of different tours. Some tours try to put it all in one day and other tours take a few days.

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  26. Breathtaking photography! Keep up the great work!

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  27. Interesting article, thankyou. Your photo of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is awesome! What amazing colours!

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  28. That has been an amazing experience to hike there! I've heard so many great stories about Iceland and hope to make it there this year. You're so brave, girl! Keep going!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Agness, it's a great country indeed

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  29. It turns out Iceland is not only special in terms of politics and Sigur Ros but also a magical destination for nature lovers.

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  30. Fantastic photos! Iceland is our favorite country and I'm excited to be heading back again for my third visit in September.

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    1. It for sure is an amazing country. Enjoy your trip.

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  31. Awesome fun ideas to make a stress-free holiday!

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  32. Great photos! We have also been to Iceland this year and loved the amazing nature!

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    1. It is indeed an incredible beautiful country Katharina, I would love to go back one day

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  33. I must visit Iceland one day too... and while there´s plenty of ice I can´t help mentioning (again) that it's rather green, certainly greener than Greenland. So, this should be called "Greenland"! :)

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Freya - Holiday Nomad