Exploring Iceland’s South Coast

After spending four weeks in Denmark for a study abroad program and over a week exploring Hamburg, Lüneburg, Berlin, and Amsterdam, my group and I finally made it to our final destination—Iceland!

For this part of the trip, we basically followed an itinerary that I found on Guide to Iceland a few months back and made a few tweaks.

Read on for an overview of what we did on our five-day road trip along Iceland’s South Coast!

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavik and stay in Reykjavik (30 miles)

After we arrived and got our bags, we took a shuttle from Keflavik International Airport to the Reykjavik City hostel. The six-person mixed-gender room I stayed in was bright, relatively clean, and definitely spacious enough for the amount of people.

During that time, thousands of Boy Scouts from all across the globe were in Iceland for the World Scout Moot, and I was able to witness a large group of them camping outside the hostel from my window during my stay.

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The Open-air Folk Museum
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The exterior of Hallgrimskirkja church was inspired by basalt columns
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View of Reykjavík from the church window
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Iconic view of downtown Reykjavík from the top observation room
Soaking in the Blue Lagoon

Day 2: Explore Reykjavík

The next morning, our car rental company came to our hostel and took us to the nearby rental lot. We then stocked up on groceries, eat lunch, and visited the Open-air Folk Museum. After this we headed to the city for our free CityWalk Reykjavík walking tour (we were able to book it earlier that same day). At the end of the tour,  I paid $9 to visit the top of the Hallgrimskirkja church tower (so worth it!).

Finally, we ended our day by relaxing at Blue Lagoon– a large geothermal spa about 49 km outside of Reykjavík. It took nearly an hour to get there, but sights on the way were otherworldly.

Before entering the Lagoon, we were required to shower and told not to wet our hair. But of course, we—and practically everyone else—did. The water was a soft, opaque, blue-green color and felt like a warm bath. After five weeks of constantly scrambling from one place to another, it was wonderful to just be able to have fun, take some pictures, and relax. We also took advantage of the free mud face mask that was situated at the swim-up station.

Tip: If possible, head straight to Blue Lagoon from Keflavík International Airport. In the summer months, tickets can sell out weeks to months in advance.

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A geothermal vent in the Geysir Geothermal Area
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The Great Strokkur Geysir
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Gullfoss waterfall (a.k.a. Golden Falls)
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The surface of an active volcano in Vestmannaeyjar
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A street of colorful buildings in Vestmannaeyjar
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Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Day 3: Begin road trip around the south coast, stay near Hella or Hvolsvöllur (175 miles)

The next morning, we left early to begin our journey along the island’s south coast. On our way, we passed through the stunning Þingvellir National Park, before arriving at the world-famous Geysir.

After this, we went to the Gullfoss waterfall, then to Landeyjahöfn to take the ferry to Vestmannaeyjar, an archipelago off the south coast. In Vestmannaeyjar, we took a puffin and volcano tour with Eyjatours where learned a lot about the island’s unique history and culture, visited an active volcano, and got to see live puffins.

Once we returned to our car, we headed to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, then to our cabin in Hella.

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Dyrhólaey arch at Reynisfjara
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Reynisfjara black sand beach
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Classic view of Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
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A different perspective of Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Day 4: Continue road trip, stay near Jokulsarlon (425 miles)

On the fourth day, we began at Dyrhólaey, then made our way to Reynisfjara black sand beach, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, Jökusárlon glacier lagoon, and the adjacent Diamond Beach.

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The red chair in Þjóovegur
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Birds fly over Jökusárlon glacier lagoon
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Top of Skógafoss waterfall
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Skógafoss waterfall
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Trying not to slip into Kerið crater lake
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Kerið crater lake

Day 5: Finish road trip, stay in Reykjavík (350 miles)

On the last full day, we headed further east to see the red chair in Þjóovegur, then back west towards Reykjavík. We visited the glacier lagoon once again, then Skógafoss waterfall and Kerið crater lake.

Before checking into our hostel, we entered the city one more time for me to try one of Reykjavík’s (apparently) famous hotdogs. I didn’t find Bæjarins Beztu Pylsurn (the chain I was looking for), so I ended up going to Pysuhúsh Hot Dog House instead. I ordered the classic Icelandic, which was a mix of pork, lamb, and beef (a departure from my normal diet) and was quite impressed!

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 1.12.51 AM.jpgFeel inspired to take a trip along the South Coast? Click here for basic driving directions on Google Maps.


2 thoughts on “Exploring Iceland’s South Coast

  1. What an amazing ending to your summer studies and travels! A well written post and great pictures! I hope this summer study trip and the additional travels gave you a wonderful experience that you’ll never forget! 😊❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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