5 Days in Iceland - South Coast

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Itinerary by: Dan Hill
4 months ago
Traveller
Accomodation-Campsite Accomodation-Hotel Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Exercise-Swimming Nature-Beach Nature-Cliffs Nature-Glacier Nature-Hill Nature-Lagoon Nature-Mountain Nature-Ocean Nature-Park Nature-River Nature-Rock formation Nature-View point Nature-Waterfall Transport-Airport Transport-Car rental Wellness-Spa
Duration: 5 days

Here's our trip to spectacular Iceland - the most sparsely populated country in Europe (364,134 people in 2020, over 102,775 square km). With mountains, glaciers and glacial rivers, lagoons, moss-covered lava fields, waterfalls and hot-springs - Iceland will not fail to delight. On our trip, we hired a car at the airport, and stayed in 3 different locations - Reykjavik for the first 2 nights, a cabin that we rented for 2 nights and a hotel near the airport for the last night. Be prepared with warm clothes and suitable equipment - Iceland's northern latitude keeps even the summers relatively chilly. Most settlements in Iceland are near the coast. The coastline itself is nearly 5000km in length - and the roads follow the coast. This means it is unlikely you will be able to travel around the entire perimeter of Iceland on your trip - so you need to decide where you will focus your travels. On this itinerary, we explored some of the sights along the south coast of Iceland. In writing about where we visited in Iceland - I found myself wanting to use the same adjectives over and over - magnificent, spectacular, incredible.

Day 1

Arrival Day

We landed in Iceland mid-morning. We rented a car, then headed to The Blue Lagoon to get our first taste of swimming in water heated by geothermal activity.
10:00 - 11:00
Keflavík International Airport
Keflavík International Airport (KEF), Keflavíkurflugvöllur, 235 Keflavík, Iceland
Originally built by the US military during World War II, Keflavík Airport is the largest airport in Iceland and the country's main airport for international flights For domestic flights, Reykjavík Airport, 3km from the capital is most commonly used. Photo credit: Photo by 𝔑𝔦𝔩𝔰 𝔅𝔬𝔤𝔡𝔞𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔰 on Unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Transport-Airport Transport-Car rental

11:00 - 11:30
Procar Car Rental Iceland
Vesturbraut, Keflavík, Iceland
Procar Car Rental Iceland is located near Keflavik airport at the main international airport in Iceland. Book in advance via their website, then call them to have a bus collect you from the terminal. We found the service to be fine - just be ready for a few Iceland specific insurances that are offered (such as sand storm damage cover). "Please take care while crossing rivers" is prominently placed on a sticker in the car. Intriguing notice to be greeted with for me as a first time visitor to Iceland!
Article By: Dan Hill
Transport-Car rental

13:00 - 16:00
The Blue Lagoon - Iceland
Norðurljósavegur 9, Iceland
We visited The Blue Lagoon in Iceland in May 2019 - and it was in fact the first stop we made after having collected our hire car at the airport. The Blue Lagoon is an open-door bathing area where the water is a combination of sea-water and fresh water which meet 2000 meters below the surface. The water is then heated naturally in the earth and subjected to extreme pressures - which creates "geothermal seawater". The Blue Lagoon says that this water gets enriched with "silica, algae, and minerals—the bioactive elements that endow this unique fluid with its healing, rejuvenating, nourishing abilities". The facilities are impressive - and geared up to entertaining a lot of tourists. Booking online is encouraged - and I recall we booked online using our phone on arrival. We received towels and spa-gowns on entry. The changing area has lockers to protect belongings, and showers for washing before and after entry to the pool. We visited on a grey and not-particularly warm day, but the water in the pool keeps you extremely warm. The pool is set in natural volcanic rocks - and is large enough to entertain masses of tourists without it feeling overcrowded. There's a bar area set in the pool, and kiosks to obtain silica and algae to treat your skin with while bathing. There are also steam rooms just off the pool area. There is a restaurant and a gift shop selling skin treatments and other goodies. All in all, this was a great experience. Later in our vacation we tried a municipal pool used by the locals - which was also naturally heated and with a steam room - but of course not as commercially polished. It was considerably cheaper, but we enjoyed it - so another option. Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash.com
Article By: Dan Hill
Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Exercise-Swimming Nature-Lagoon Nature-Rock formation Wellness-Spa

Day 2

The Golden Circle

On Day 2, we set off from our AirBnb rental in Reykjavik, and headed out to see four of the most popular destinations on the famous Golden Circle tourist route - the Hakid view point, Oxararfoss Waterfall, the incredible geyser at Strokkur and the spectacular Gullfoss (waterfall). Departing from Reykjavik, you soon find yourself surrounded by dramatic scenery that could only be found in beautiful Iceland.
10:30 - 12:30
Hakid View-Point and Oxararfoss Waterfall
Thingvellir Visitor Center, Bláskógabyggð, Iceland
Thingvellir (Þingvellir in Icelandic) National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park was established between 1928 and 1930 to protect the remains of a historical parliament site. It was later expanded to protect the area's diverse nature. At the Visitor Centre in Thingvellir, you'll find parking and an interesting and well managed walk which ends at Oxararfoss waterfall - for a great introduction to Icelandic geology. It is one of the most popular stops on the Golden Circle tourist route in Iceland There's an incredible view point known as Hakid that looks across the plains at the start of the walk. Very quickly, walkers find themselves walking through the a gorge caused by the Almannagjá fault - which marks the boundary of the Mid-Atlantic Rift. The Mid-Atlantic rift is the dividing point between the North American and Eurasian plates. The waterfall by Icelandic standards is fairly small (20m), but a great photo-opportunity. The walk is fairly gentle and should be manageable by most, and took us a couple of hours max (with a 2 year old child) round-trip. At the visitor centre, you'll also find a cafe selling drinks, snacks and tourist gifts, as well as toilet facilities (with a magnificent view!). Don't forget to pay for parking - which you can do online using your license plate.
Article By: Dan Hill
Eat & Drink-Cafe Nature-Cliffs Nature-Hill Nature-Park Nature-River Nature-Rock formation Nature-View point Nature-Waterfall Social Distance-Social distance friendly

13:30 - 14:30
Strokkur - Geysers & Hot Springs
Haukadalsvegur, Iceland
Strokkur - located in the Haukadalur valley in Iceland - is a fountain-like geyser that erupts dramatically every 5-10 minutes. It is one of the most popular stops on the Golden Circle tourist route in Iceland. There's ample parking at the tourist information centre - which also houses a large shop selling gifts and clothing, toilet facilities and a restaurant. Crossing the road from the parking, you start to see steam coming from pools in the hillside. The path is roped to keep visitors safe - signs indicate that the water in the pools and in the streams can reach 80-100 degrees Celsius! Keep children on hand as it's easy for little ones to run under the guide rope. Reaching the Strokkur geyser rewards you with a spectacular sight - regular 15-20 metre eruptions, which can apparently sometime reach 40 metres. You might find it difficult to get a 'person-free' photo of the eruptions as when we were there (May 2019), there were people all around the perimeter of the geyser. The path to the geyser continues up the hillside. The climb is worth it as a view down the hill to see the eruptions gives another perspective.
Article By: Dan Hill
Nature-Mountain Nature-Rock formation Nature-View point Social Distance-Social distance friendly

15:00 - 16:00
Gullfoss Waterfall - Iceland
Gullfoss Falls, Iceland
Gullfoss is Icelandic for Golden Falls - and it is a truly spectacular 2-step waterfall set in a canyon of the Hvítá river. There's plenty of parking at the restaurant facilities located at the falls. The restaurant itself is large and well-staffed for volumes of tourists. The path to the falls leads from the carpark and is well maintained to cope with its tourist visitors - and easily navigated. There are a couple of sections with steep but wide steps. It's hard to describe the sight of such volumes of water powerfully falling into the gorge. The water falls a total of 32 metres via an 11 metre drop followed by a further set of falls that drop an additional 21 metres. The falls provide a stunning photo opportunity and are a popular stop on the Golden Circle tourist day-excursion.
Article By: Dan Hill
Eat & Drink-Cafe Nature-Rock formation Nature-View point Nature-Waterfall

Day 3
13:00 - 14:00
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall - Iceland
Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Want to walk behind a big waterfall and don't mind getting a little wet? Then head to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Waterproofs and decent foot-wear are recommended - I saw plenty of soaked tourists coming straight off the bus wearing jeans and sneakers who looked like they regretted it! It's a really unique experience to walk around and behind this 60 meter high waterfall and there's a pleasant little walk down the valley a little with a small stream if you want to escape the hordes or tourists for a few moments. At the ample parking facilities, you can find a cafe with outside tables and toilet facilities.
Article By: Dan Hill
Eat & Drink-Cafe Nature-Waterfall

14:30 - 15:00
Skogafoss Waterfall - Iceland
Skógafoss, Iceland
The impressive Skogafoss waterfall flows over cliffs that were once at the coast - before the ocean receded. At 60 metres tall and 25 metres wide, they are one of the biggest sets of falls on the island. The walk to the falls from the car park is short and along a flat path. There's plenty of parking, a restaurant, toilet facilities and a camp site.
Article By: Dan Hill
Accomodation-Campsite Eat & Drink-Cafe Nature-Waterfall Social Distance-Social distance friendly

15:30 - 16:00
Dyrholaey, Iceland
Dyrhólaey, 871 Vík, Iceland
Dyrhólaey - nature reserve near the town of Vík, is the most southern point in Iceland and offers magnificent views of geological features. Looking east, black lava columns rise from the sea, while looking west provides an unhindered view of the Selfoss coast. If you look north, you can see the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The huge black arch of lava which steps into the sea gave the area its name - door hill island.
Article By: Dan Hill
Nature-Beach Nature-Cliffs Nature-Ocean Social Distance-Social distance friendly

16:30 - 17:15
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland
Reynisfjara, Iceland
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (Reynisfjöru in Icelandic) is the most famous black sand beach on Iceland. It's located on the south coast of Iceland, near the small fishing village of Vík. When I looked out to sea, I felt like my eyes had gone into black-and-white mode - there is literally no colour in the sand. There are signs stationed as you approach the beach warning of the dangers posed by strong waves and tales of tourists lost to the sea - so be careful near the water's edge. At each end of he beach you can see rock formations known as promontories (east and west) - and there's a lagoon to the north - making this an extremely scenic beach. Additionally, there are very distinct basalt columns of rock which form the cliff face, and a cave with unique rock shapes to look in. There is good parking available, as well as a cafe and toilet facilities.
Article By: Dan Hill
Eat & Drink-Cafe Nature-Beach Nature-Cliffs Nature-Ocean Nature-Rock formation Social Distance-Social distance friendly

Day 4
12:00 - 12:30
Stjórnarfoss Waterfall - Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Iceland
Stjórnarfoss Waterfall was one of the few places we visited in Iceland where we found no other tourists. The falls form part of the river Stjórn, which originates at Geirlandshraun mountain. It is located near a campsite and is a short walk from some public parking. There is a flat river valley in front of the waterfall and it would make a nice place for a picnic. The falls themselves consist of 2 drops of approximately 15 meters each - and are quite beautiful. If you are travelling the ring road in southern Iceland, Stjórnarfoss Waterfall could be a pleasant, quiet place to stop.
Article By: Dan Hill
Accomodation-Campsite Nature-Waterfall

14:00 - 16:00
Skaftafellsjökull - Skaftafell glacier
228M+J9 Skaftafell, Iceland
The walk to the lagoon to see the Skaftafell glacier in the Vatnajökull National Park was my personal highlight of my visit Iceland. We started from the visitor centre at Skaftafell - and from here there are 9 graded hikes to take - labelled S1-S6, and M1-M3. There are advisories and specific precautions to take if you are hiking in the winter time (please check the national park's website). We visited at the end of May 2019, and conditions were very favourable. We took the easiest route - which was S1: Skaftafellsjökull - at only 3.7km - since we had a sleeping 2 year old in our baby-carrying backpack. The trail is flat and easily navigable - and winds through woodlands until the glacier comes into view. As someone who has never seen a glacier in person before, this was an incredible moment. The glacier's melt-water flows into a lagoon, in which there are some smaller floating icebergs. You can walk across some scrub-land to until you are fairly close to the glacier - and are only stopped by the melt-water itself - which runs out of small waterfalls at the end of the glacier. If you are more adventurous, there are plenty of trails to choose from - and the visitor centre has lots of information to advise you.
Article By: Dan Hill
Nature-Glacier Nature-Lagoon Nature-View point

Day 5

Last Day

For the last day of the trip, we made the long journey back to Reykjavik. Along the way, we stopped at an outdoor municipal swimming pool which was heated by geothermal energy and had a steam room. This was a great experience. We arrived in Reykjavik in the later afternoon. After a stroll around Reykjavik to do some shopping and eat an evening meal, we headed to the Lighthouse-Inn near the airport - prepared for our early morning flight home.
20:00 - 23:55
Lighthouse-Inn
2, Norðurljósavegur 402, Suðurnesjabær, Iceland
The Lighthouse-Inn is just 11km away from the Keflavik International Airport and it's located on the northern tip of the Reyjanes peninsula. This makes it very convenient for morning flights or late arrivals. The hotel interior is styled in wood - giving it a log-cabin feel. Rooms are very spacious at between 21 and 42 square metres. The hotel has a bar and restaurant. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are included.
Article By: Dan Hill
Accomodation-Hotel

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I’ve lived in 5 different countries so far: the UK, France, USA, Canada and Denmark. I’ve also visited 33 countries in 5 continents for vacations. We're building MapADay to help people get the most out of their free time - via building a directory of great travel articles combined with local events - and algorithms that can serve users with relevant content. As we all face a new reality with the climate & virus challenges ahead, I hope that MapADay will enable users to discover exciting experiences not only on long distance vacations, but also closer to home. I've really enjoyed building the MapADay platform - and contributing content. If you enjoy using it, we'd love you to contribute too - by leaving a review, adding your own favourite places or sharing your own itineraries.

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