The south coast boasts many of Iceland’s highlights, but as a result it is (like the Golden Circle) also one of the most popular destinations for tourists. Especially being there in August meant there was more traffic than usual, and at the main attractions you often felt like you were on a conveyor belt – with the same people from the previous attraction right in front of you, again. Fortunately there are some hidden gems and some lesser known spots close to the main attractions so you can enjoy some spectacular nature without the chattering masses and buzzing of drones.
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula near Vík
- Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
- Kvernufoss Falls
- Reynisfjara Beach and Reynisdrangar Cliffs
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Dyrhólaey Peninsula near Vík
Dyrhólaey was perhaps the best lookout point we went to, especially for the sunset. It was surprisingly quiet given how big of an attraction it is, and given that around sunset is probably the best time to visit.
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
You might ask yourself why an old hunk of metal is interesting, given the range of options in Iceland. I suppose it is rare that a crashed airplane is left to decompose, and does cut a sharp contrast in the Icelandic scenery. I thought it was interesting, unfortunately most visitors treat it like a Play Place at McDonald’s, which means a lot of clone stamping for me.
Very close to the larger and more popular Skógafoss Falls, Kvernufoss is nestled behind the Skogar Museum. There are no signs showing the way, you simply walk through the farmer’s gate and towards the canyon and have the waterfall almost entirely to yourself.
Reynisfjara Beach and Reynisdrangar Cliffs
Three black basalt columns called the Reynisdrangar are an interesting feature amongst the cliffs around Reynisfjara beach. With a little climbing and less regard for personal safety, they are accessible from the beach, which features some interesting rock formations of its own.
Like many of the highlights in Iceland this one is tucked away in a pretty unassuming landscape, but all of a sudden the most spectacular canyon cuts into the rolling hills, it is a must see.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Icebergs from the Vatnajökull Glacier (the largest in Iceland) float in the Jökulsárlón or glacier lagoon into the Atlantic. It’s the furthest attraction in the south east we went to see, and part of what makes the landscape along the southern coast so diverse. From black sand beaches, canyons, waterfalls to glacial waterways, it seems as if the landscape changes every 5 minutes.
It’s hard to believe going through these photos, but the best – in my humble opinion – is still to come. Comparatively we were in the south longer than in other parts of the country but for me our time in the highlands were still the most fun and interesting, and naturally where the best photos were taken.