Melting ice caps crashed into the lagoon as chunks of ice slowly drifted downstream. Surrounded by rugged rocks and dark sand plains, I stood at the foot of the Sólheimajökull glacier entranced by the gorgeous landscape. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would walk to the edge of a glacier and touch it with my bare hands!
With happy tears streaming down my face, this one of the highlights from my tour of the South Coast of Iceland.
Although rugged, Sólheimajökull was so calm and peaceful.
From snorkeling Silfra to horseback riding in the highlands, my 4 day trip to Iceland was jam-packed with first time experiences and lots of adventure. Although I spent most of my time exploring Reykjavík, I also wanted to see the countryside. Known as “The Land of Fire and Ice”, I couldn’t miss Iceland’s stunning landscape and rugged natural beauty.
With only a day to spare, I had to decide which guided tour I would take. Would I go on Blue lagoon trips, tour the popular Golden Circle, or would I go for something else like the Snaefellsnes peninsula instead?
Although the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon are incredible attractions, I chose the latter. I booked a guided tour of Iceland’s South Coast after falling in love with photos of black sand beaches and roaring waterfalls.
Iceland’s South Coast Waterfalls
On a sunny day, see as many as two rainbows at Skógafoss!
First stop on my tour of the South Coast was Skógafoss, a majestic 200 feet waterfall.
Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland and it’s a popular destination to visit on the South Coast.
Even with partial views of the waterfall from the parking lot, I could tell that Skógafoss was massive. To get a closer look, I walked along the black sand beach to the base.
Skógafoss was so powerful that I could feel the spray even at a distance. Expect to get wet, so wear a waterproof jacket and boots to stay dry!
Aside from the sheer size, one of the striking things about Skógafos was the surrounding greenery. Both the cliffs and the neighboring turf were lush and green.
In addition to the waterfall, I also explored the River Skógá. I dipped my hands in and as expected, the water was freezing!
A friend of mine even drank from the river which is perfectly safe – hey, when in Iceland!
527 steps leading to the top of Skógafoss.
On the side of the waterfall there were stairs that led to a lookout offering fantastic views of Skógafoss and as far as the Atlantic Ocean. The stairs also led to one of the most notable hiking and trekking trails on the island. There are over 20 waterfalls to see on this route, so technically, Skógafoss is only the beginning!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to hike to the top, but this is something that I would love to do next time I visit Iceland’s South Coast.
The Secret Gljúfrabúi
Before heading to another popular waterfall on the South Coast, I stopped at Gljúfrabúi, a secret waterfall hidden in a canyon.
I have to say that I would have missed Gljúfrabúi completely if I wasn’t on a guided tour (or in the know)!
Since there was no foot path into the gorge, I playfully hopped from rock to rock till I reached the inside of the cave. Stepping in the river was inevitable, so I would recommend wearing a pair of sturdy waterproof boots.
Inside the cave, the water looked like it was pouring down from the heavens.
The cave had no roof which allowed for lots of sunlight to shine through. This contrasted beautifully with the cave’s darkness.
There was also a large boulder called Franskanef (the French nose) that partly covered the base of the waterfall. Franskaneft was a great place to take photos and offered a different angle of the falls.
The last stop on my South Coast tour was the awe-inspiring Seljalandsfoss. From the secret Gljúfrabúi, I walked across a lush green field to a waterfall unlike the rest.
Seljalandsfoss was a testament to Iceland’s breathtaking natural beauty and it’s one of the only waterfalls in Iceland that you can walk behind, weather permitting of course.
At the bottom of the cliff, I accessed a footpath that looped behind the falls. Although the climb didn’t look intimidating, I’d advise taking it slow. Not only is the footpath wet and slippery, but there aren’t any hand rails for safety. If you’re clumsy like me, you’ll probably get all muddy holding boulders and cliff walls.
Behind the waterfall, you can see the surrounding meadow or look down at the pool flowing into the Seljalandsá River.
My 10 hour tour of the South Coast of Iceland was more than I could have ever imagined. This tour highlighted some of Iceland’s picturesque waterfalls and glaciers, and I learned a lot about the effects of global warming and volcanic eruptions. I also ate lunch at a small fishing village, spotted puffins nesting and heard Icelandic folklore. I walked away from this tour with a greater appreciation for the Icelandic way of life and I snapped over 500 photos!
Kirkjufellsfoss by Inspired by Iceland
There’s so much to see in Iceland and as my quest to explore the countryside and see more glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls continues, I know that I’ll be back very soon.
What are YOUR favorite South Coast sights?
Author: Danielle Desir
Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.
Want More Travel Finance Tips & Advice?
Get the latest travel finance content from Danielle!