The south coast of Iceland with waterfalls, black beaches and sea cliffs by the Atlantic Ocean is a magnificent place to visit. This site includes short descriptions of the top four places in the area and driving instructions to get there.
The drive from Reykjavik to Reynisfjara beach takes about 2,5 hours one-way, with no stops included. With a one-hour stop at each of the main attractions, you’re in for a nine-hour trip in total.
Attractions in South Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is the first attraction you’ll come across when driving from Reykjavik. If you’re on the road before noon in the summer, the scenery may be dimmed by shadows. Therefore, to have a chance of sunshine, you may want to shift your on-site visit for the return leg – if you’re planning to drive back the same way.
The pictures on this page were taken in early June around 19.00-20.00. At 13.00, the site was still in the shade.
It's possible to walk behind Seljalandsfoss, and if you don't mind getting a little wet, it's a very nice experience.
There are a couple of smaller waterfalls next to Seljalandsfoss.
Driving instructions: The waterfall is visible to the Ring Road if driving from the west. From the east, the only way to find it is to follow the signs and/or a navigator.
A few hundred meters from the Ring Road there's a parking lot with a food trailer and a souvenir shop. There’s also a machine to buy parking tickets that cover the whole day.
From the parking lot, there’s only a short and an easy walk to get to Seljalandsfoss.
Compared to Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss is a more massive waterfall. You can view it from different angles by climbing up the stairs to the hiking trail following the river. There’s also a viewing terrace to Skogafoss.
There are some services in the area, so it's a good place to eat, have a picnic, or even spend the night.
Driving instructions: Skogafoss is visible from the Ring Road. There are also signs indicating the location, so it's hard to miss. The parking lot is large, and there's only a very short walk to the waterfall. You can see the whole area in this picture, with the Ring Road in the background.
Dyrholaey is a small cape that offers great scenery to all directions; black beaches, rugged sea cliffs and blue ocean.
From the lower level, there's a closer view to the two black beaches; Reynisfjara in the east and Kirkjufara in the west. Pictures 8 and 9 on the map below were taken from there.
It's best to wear some kind of a hood or a cap, since the wind can be cold and strong.
Driving instructions: Turn to the road 218 (Dyrhólavegur) from the Ring Road. There's a clear sign "Dyrholaey" indicating the direction.
Drive straight for 5,5 kilometers and you'll end up at the lower parking lot, from which the viewing places are just a short walk away. The building on the right-hand side of the picture consists of toilets; there are no other services.
If you turn right a little before the parking lot, you'll end up at the upper level. It might not be possible to get there by car in the spring, as certain birds may be nesting. There's also a walking trail by the shore from the lower level to the upper level.
You can see the black Reynisfjara beach clearly from the viewing point at Dyrholaey, as described previously. It's a very impressive beach to visit, with powerful waves and unique surroundings. Be sure not to be surprised by the waves though (link to YouTube).
There are interesting basalt stacks right by the beach and the famous Reynisdrangar rocks in the water. These are shown in the picture above. At the other end of the beach, there's yet another rock formation Arnardrangur rock.
Next to the parking lot, there’s a small restaurant that is open around the year.
Driving instructions: Even though Reynisfjara is right next to Dyrholaey, it’s almost an 18-kilometer drive to get there. Turn to the road 215 (Dyrhólavegur) from the Ring Road and drive 6 kilometers until the end of the road.
Vik is a small village in the southernmost tip of Iceland. It's a good place to spend the night, if you are going to head further. Check for hotels at Booking.com.
There's a large black beach in front of Vik as well.
Other attractions in South Iceland
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is located a couple of hundred kilometers east of Vik, where it's possible to take a boat tour among icebergs.
In front of it, there's a black beach with washed up pieces of icebergs. It's called Diamond Beach.
Text and images: Jussi Ryynänen
Translation: Janne Hietanummi