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The South Coast of Iceland: a Full Guide & Itinerary

We believe that the best way to explore the island is by making a road trip out of it, and we have plenty of popular road trip routes to make that happen. The South Coast Way (a part of the Ring Road route) is one of them. Some opt to add this route to the others they already have planned for their trip. Others choose the South Coast in Iceland route because of time constraints.

That’s because the route is not as long as some of the others, yet it’s jam-packed with all sorts of exciting attractions and activities. So, if you’re thinking of adding the south coast of Iceland to your itinerary, read on as we reveal all you need to know about this coastal excursion.

South coast Iceland

The South Coast Way; Your Gateway to Exploring Iceland’s Southern Coast

As we already touched on, the South Coast Way is a popular route that allows one to explore Iceland’s south coast. This route is actually a part of the Ring Road and, technically, stretches from Selfoss to Hofn. But many make the journey from Reykjavík down to the South Coast of Iceland.

The route is 401 km long. You could drive it in 5-6 hours without stopping, but that defeats the purpose of a road trip. To truly experience and take in everything the south shore of Iceland has to offer, you’ll need at least 4-7 days.

When is the Best Time to Go on a South Coast of Iceland Trip?

Iceland’s South Coast driving route is open all year round. But when it will be the best time for you to visit will depend on a few things:

What Type of Weather You Like (or Can Handle)

A trip during summer in Iceland will be your best bet if you’re someone that wants great weather whilst cruising the coastline. It won't be a summer beach vacation in Miami, but the temperature will be above 0 degrees and the harsh weather will be gone.

During a winter trip to the South Coast of Iceland, you can expect temperatures between 5-25 degrees Celsius. Luckily, you won't have to worry about snow or the notorious Icelandic winds that are known for ripping car doors off.

South coast Iceland winter

How Much Time You Need

Here on the island, time restraints are not just because of the number of days you have to spend on the island. It’s also about the number of daylight hours you need to do the things you want to do each day.

During Iceland's summer season, there are more than 22 hours of daylight. While in winter, you may only get 4 hours of daylight per day!

What You Want to Do and See

Many things in Iceland are seasonal, and you’ll need to pick the right time for your trip to experience them. For example, you won’t get to experience a Midnight Sun in the winter, and you won’t get to see the Northern Lights in the summer. The majority of Iceland’s ice caves are also closed during the warmer months due to safety concerns.

Driving the South Coast of Iceland

Driving the South Coast of Iceland is generally not a problem. As one of the main roads in Iceland, it is a paved and well-maintained road that can be driven with a standard 2-wheel drive vehicle. If you plan to drive other routes, talk to your rental agency. Some roads on the island require a 4x4 vehicle, such as the F-roads in Iceland.

The South Coast road conditions differ greatly between seasons. Summer has good weather and easy driving, but the colder seasons are difficult with strong winds, snow, and ice on the road. So, if you are a nervous driver or are not used to driving in these conditions, we suggest you plan your trip for the warmer months.

 Iceland south coast driving route

Iceland’s South Coast Attractions

As we already touched on, there is plenty to do and see all along the South Coast of Iceland. These are some of the highlights to look forward to:

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Southern Iceland, mostly because of the photo opp it gives. This is because you have the opportunity to walk behind the falls and take a photo of the Icelandic landscape from behind a veil of water.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, South Iceland


Eyjafjallajökull is a must-see on Iceland's South Coast. It's a glacier-capped volcano with an infamous reputation. This bad boy caused havoc all across Europe during its eruption in 2010 and left many stranded, whilst others were forced to evacuate.

Eyjafjallajökull, south Iceland

Skogafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss is yet another highlight on any South Coast tour in Iceland. It is one of the island’s biggest waterfalls, clocking in at 60 meters tall and 25 meters wide. It’s one of the few falls here on the island that allows visitors to walk right up to it.

 Iceland south coast attractions

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

The Solheimasandur Plane Wreck is a go-to spot for anyone looking to take a few dramatic snaps. No one died or got seriously injured during the incident, so you can go bananas on this plane’s skeletal remains without feeling guilty about it.

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

Dyrholaey Rock Formation & Lighthouse

Dyrholaey Rock Formation can be found near the town of Vik. Years of harsh weather have carved a hole in this rock that now looks like a petrified rainbow. You can also visit the Dyrholaey Lighthouse whilst you’re there.

South coast Iceland must see

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Taking a stroll on Reynisfjara is probably one of the top outdoor activities in South Iceland. That is because Reynisfjara is by far one of the most famous black sand beaches in Iceland.

The beach stretches out for kilometers (perfect for a nice, long stroll), but swimming is not allowed because of safety reasons. You’ll need to keep an eye out for the infamous Reynisfjara sneaker waves that can knock your feet out from under you.

South shore Iceland

The Village of Vik

Vik aka Vik I Myrdal’s claim to fame is as the Southernmost village of the island. This little town is incredibly rich in history, so it’s well worth exploring.

 Iceland south coast tour

Thridrangaviti Lighthouse

This is one lighthouse that cannot be reached via land. Known as “the most isolated lighthouse in the world” this lighthouse can be found about 7.2 kilometers off the southwest coast of Iceland. Visitors with some money to burn can arrange to take a helicopter to the lighthouse for a truly unique experience.

Svartifoss Waterfall

Svartifoss Waterfall is also a must-add to any Southern Iceland Itinerary. Although not very impressive when it comes to height (it’s only 20 meters tall) it has served as muse to many an artist and architect. That’s because of its unique aesthetic with its dramatic backdrop of black hexagonal basalt cliffs.

Things to do in southern Iceland

Vatnajökull Glacier

Excluding this from your tour around Iceland’s South shore would practically be a crime.

The Vatnajökull Glacier is located in the southeastern part of Iceland and is the biggest glacier in Europe. In fact, the glacier is so huge that it makes up about 8% of the total landmass of the island!

Vatnajökull Glacier, south Iceland

Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Whether as a stop on your South Coast Way road trip or as a day trip from Reykjavík, Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a definite favorite amongst visitors. The lagoon is filled with icebergs that have broken off of the larger Vatnajökull Glacier and seals can often be seen playing amongst them. Boat tours will actually get you within touching distance of the glacier and the icebergs.

Top south Iceland outdoor activities

Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach is an incredibly impressive beach on the Southern Coast of Iceland. This beach got its name because of the thousands of pieces of ice strewn across the black sand that sparkles like diamonds when the sun shines on them.

Diamond Beach, south Iceland

A 7-day Iceland South Coast Itinerary

Below you will find a 7-day South Coast itinerary. This serves as an example of an Iceland self-drive tour:

Day 1: Reykjavík & The Blue Lagoon (as long as you arrive early at Keflavik Airport)

Drive Time: +/- 50 minutes


Sleep at: One of the best hotels in Reykjavík

 Reykjavik to south coast Iceland

Day 2: The Golden Circle

Drive Time: +/- 2.5 hours


Sleep at: ION Adventure Hotel in Nesjavellir

Golden Circle, South Iceland

Day 3: Kerid - Slejalandsfoss - Hotel Ranga

Drive Time: Just over 1 hour


Sleep at: Hotel Ranga in Hella

Kerid crater, south Iceland

Day 4: Dyrholaey – Reynisfjara - Vik

Drive Time: Just over 1 hour


  • Dyrholaey Rock Formation & Lighthouse

  • Reynisfjara Beach

  • Village of Vik

Sleep at: Choose from various accommodation options in Vik such as Hotel Vik.

Dyrholaey Rock Formation

Day 5: Fjardrargljufur – Vatnajökull National Park

Drive Time: Almost 3 hours


  • Fjadrargljufur Canyon

  • Vatnajökull National Park; Svartifoss, Jökulsarlon, Diamond Beach

Sleep at: Fosshotel Vatnajökull in Höfn

Fjadrargljufur Canyon, Iceland

Day 6: Solheimasandur – Eldhraun Lava Field

Drive Time: +/- 2.5 hours


  • Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

  • Eldhraun Lava Field

Sleep at: Magma Hotel in Kirkjubaejarklaustur

 Iceland south coast day trip

Day 7: Return to Reykjavík

Drive Time: Just over 3 hours


  • Whale Watching

  • Horseback Riding

Sleep at: Reykjavík, or find a hotel near Keflavik International Airport

whale watching, south Iceland

FAQs Regarding the South Coast of Iceland

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the South Coast of Iceland:

How many days does it take to explore the South Coast of Iceland?

The South Coast of Iceland can be driven in just one day, but you’ll be missing out on a lot on the way. It is recommended that you set aside at least 4-7 days to properly explore the South Coast of Iceland.

How far is the South Coast of Iceland from Reykjavík?

That depends on what you view as the South Coast of Iceland. Technically, the start of the South Coast Way is in Selfoss. It will take you about an hour to drive to Selfoss from Reykjavík. If the South Coast of Iceland is the southernmost town of Iceland (Vik) then it will take you about 2.5 hours.

What is there to see along the South Coast of Iceland?

There is plenty to see along the South Coast of Iceland such as Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Eyjafjallajökull, Skogafoss Waterfall, Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, the Dyrholaey Rock Formation & Lighthouse, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Thridangaviti Lighthouse, and much, much more. Please refer to our article for details.

Driving Iceland's South Coast

Where should you stay on Iceland’s South Coast?

There are plenty of accommodation options all along the South Coast. We can recommend the ION Adventure Hotel in Nesjavellir, Hotel Ranga in Hella, Fosshotel Vatnajökull in Höfn, and Magma Hotel in Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Please refer to our article for details.

Is it true that the South Coast of Iceland is often warmer than the rest of Iceland?

Yes, the South Coast is usually warmer. For example, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, when the north is 3 degrees Celsius, the south is 6 degrees Celsius.

What causes the warmer climates on the Southern Coast of Iceland?

It’s all because of the ocean. A part of the warmer Gulf Stream actually flows along the southern coast of Iceland. This stream ends up making the south coast slightly warmer than the rest of the island.

The South Coast of Iceland; Worth a Road Trip

With so many things to do in Southern Iceland, there is no doubt that it’s worth a road trip. So, if you’re visiting the island, ensure that you bring along or download an Iceland South Coast tour map, rent a car in Iceland, and set out on the journey of a lifetime!



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