Ready for more waterfalls, green fields, glacier landscapes and black sand beaches in Iceland?
I’ve arranged the second part of my week in Iceland for the South Coast, Glymur waterfall, and Reykjavik. Read about the first 3 days in Iceland here!
Day 4 and 5
The South Coast in Iceland offers many scenic views of huge waterfalls. Falling from 60 meters, they spread drops around and give you the chance to see many rainbows.
We had two days on the road, going from West to East. Many tourists plan this trip from Reykjavík to Vik, a full day on the road, but I recommend you book a night in Hofn (or somewhere in the area). Jökulsárlón, the Glacier Lagoon can be a once in a lifetime experience. It’s almost impossible to return from Glacier Lagoon on the same day and you’ll want to see it in natural light. Remember that days can be very short if you’re not traveling during summer, the sun sets at around 6 pm in late September and October.
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is unique and popular because you can walk behind it. You’ll get wet with every gust of wind, especially if you are up for great Instagram pictures. If you walk 5 more minutes to the left side of it, you’ll reach a hidden waterfall behind the rocks – Gljúfrabúi. You can either climb a rock to see it or go in through a breach. Keep your raincoat on cause drops are falling unexpectedly in this tiny place.
Since I’m talking about the waterfalls, Skógafoss is the next one on the map. Go upstairs and reach the top of it, the stretched field from where it falls.
Going further away, we stopped in Dyrhólaey area, close to Vik. The name is suggestive for the shape of this geographic formation: „door-hole”, massive arch. Once you go away from the main road and get out of the car, the landscape is different, somehow darker. For us, it was heavy winds, stormy weather, waves breaking heavily on the ocean’s rocks. I barely stayed on my feet when I reached the lighthouse. The cliffs are imposing and the black sand beaches around fill in the atmosphere.
We had read about the green protected moss, but this encounter was unplanned. There are a few stops across the road where you can stop, so take a break and walk along the visible paths. Remember that the moss field arose in hundreds of years, it’s very sensitive and it takes hundreds of years to recover.
During this road trip, you will enjoy Eyjafjallajökull Volcano; you’ve heard about it on the news when it erupted in 2010. Also, you will spot Vatnajökull glacier, the largest one in Europe. There are many organized tours if you want to go on a Glacier Walk (check Sólheimajökulll Tour). Unless you’re an experienced alpinist, don’t go there by yourself and without proper equipment.
When we reached Hofn we were so tired and it was too late anyway to walk around.
The next morning, we woke up excited to see Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Black Diamond Beach.
How many chances do you get to see glacial lagoons or icebergs floating into the ocean? There are many boat tours that can take you closer to the ice on the lagoon (about 40 EUR), but the view from the shore is also spectacular.
Jökulsárlón is a special place. The glacial lagoon is part of Vatnajökull glacier and resulted due to the warming climate. As beautiful as the landscape is, it’s kind of sad to see pieces of the ice blocks detach and go deeper into the sea.
If you’re crossing the road, you’ll see the floating pieces of ice coming into the Ocean and the entire Diamond Beach. I recommend to take a walk on this black sand beach and admire the sparkling pieces of ice (both on the shore and on water).
Back in the car and drive to Svartifoss, called also the Black Waterfall in the Skaftafell National Park. This one will take you to an easy hike around the park, so it will be about 2 hrs break with all the stops and pictures. I loved the rough but carefully shaped basalt columns, it is like a piece of architecture.
Glymur is about an hour drive away from Reykjavik and most of the time you’ll drive along the ocean’s shore. And this is wonderful unless there’s a storm outside and your car is shaking due to the wind power.
Glymur is considered Iceland’s second highest waterfall at 198m. If you want to see it, be adventurous, be ready for 3 hours hike, including crossing a river!
I must admit that it felt like a tsunami for me and I stayed in the car. My friends were brave enough to hike to the waterfall. It was pretty hard for them to move on, but they came back with pictures and all wet, no waterproof boots or jackets resisted to this.
I am a fan of “free-walking” tours, especially if I’m only a day or two into a city.
Our city tour in Reykjavik started at 2 pm in the small park in front of the Parliament and the guy that walked us through the stories was pretty funny and smart. This is one of your chances to get locals talking to you about Iceland history, their current living, habits and the struggle with the tourists. Yeah, tourists are welcomed, but preferably not so many. Tourism had an increase in the last 7 years and it still grows from year to year. Despite the contribution to the economy, it’s hard to keep up with all – capacity to accommodate, facilities, infrastructure and so on.
The tour started at the Parliament and then it went mainly to the old city center. This area has many beautiful houses and the Tjörnin pond with its bustling birds or iconic Unknown Bureaucrat statue.
Here are a few more options for the rest of the day:
- Harpa, the concert hall with its stunning architecture; it’s close to the harbor and you can walk around for free.
- Hallgrímskirkja, the white-concrete church which dominates the city. Here you can take the elevator to see the panorama of the city (admission required).
- The Old Harbor it’s not only nice, it’s the best place to eat in town, fresh fish and an average price.
- Walk around Laugardalur area, an area with colorful houses, many shops, and pubs.
- If the time allows, there are some great museum options.
Because Iceland has so many amazing landscapes, my recommendation is to prioritize your stops, not only the destinations. It’s tempting to stop on the route, I hear you!