With its dynamic, diverse landscapes and magical skies it is no surprise that travellers are flocking to this impressive island.
Most travellers chose to stay in Reykjavik and use it as their base to explore Iceland. However, if you have access to a vehicle and so are not relying on public transport/tour groups, then I would recommend staying further west along the south coast. This will better place you for access to the fantastic sights and of course, skies with less light pollution so a greater chance of viewing the Northern Lights.
We stayed in Selfoss which is around an hour’s drive outside of Reykjavik and perfectly positioned for all day adventuring. For details of our accommodation, please message me directly.
The Scenic South:
Geysir – If you haven’t seen hot springs and geysers before then a visit to Iceland’s Geysir is the perfect introduction. Walk the path from the visitors parking area and enjoy the smaller geysers, building your enthusiasm for the dominant Geysir. Geysir regularly erupts and so you can be sure of a worthwhile natural performance. Top tip -Try to arrive before 10am as this is when the tour groups from Reykjavik leaving at 9am will arrive.
Gullfoss – A striking, wide waterfall located in the canyon of the Olfusa River. Be prepared to get wet as the force of the waterfall crashing creates a powerful spray. Look out over the waterfall and enjoy the clear views across the country.
Snowmobiling Langjokull Glacier – As we knew we were going to be in the Gullfoss area, we booked on to a snowmobiling tour which would collect us from the Gullfoss café. The trip was pricey but caution was thrown to the wind (when am I going to get the chance to snowmobile across a glacier again anytime soon?) and we booked on. The super truck ride from the snowmobile base to Langjokull glacier was both terrifying and exhilarating! Snowmobiling across the glacier was very cool and on clear days you will get great views. When I went it was very cloudy and so we were surrounded by a layer of white reflecting the glacier beneath. It was eerie but added to the otherworldly experience.
Gluggafoss – The Merkjá River has several beautiful waterfalls, but the most exceptional is Gluggafoss (also known as Merkjárfoss). An unexpected waterfall with two tiers, the bottom of which you can go behind.
Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui – A short distance from Gluggafoss you will find these two waterfalls side by side but varying in power. Seljalandsfoss is a powerful stream of gushing water where Gljufrabui is set further back into the land and requires you to hop over stones positioned in its stream to get up close.
Skogafoss – Skogafoss is a waterfall situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline. Skogafoss is unique because the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. This waterfall is an ever popular one and has appeared in films and music videos.
Black Sand Beach, Reynisfjara – A morning spent visiting waterfalls will leave plenty of time to get to Reynisfjara. The loud crash of the strong waves will draw your attention and add to the impact of the volcanic beach. There are several rock formations which can be seen in the waters and the cliff face itself has been eroded in an interesting manner.
Plane Wreck, Sólheimasandur– This is one of Iceland’s most iconic photography locations. On Saturday Nov 24, 1973, a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach in the south of Iceland after experiencing some severe icing. Admittedly, I only visited this spot as a photographer friend wanted to go. It’s a 45 minute walk to reach the wreckage from the the roadside and there is nothing else visible during this walk save for dark rocks and sand. Having visited several other wreckage sites, I would not say that this is a particularly interesting one as a lot of the plane has weathered away leaving only the main body which has been defaced. That being said, my photographer buddy loved it (and her pictures are much better than mine).
Kerid Crater – Just down the road from where we were staying was the Kerio Crater. The colours of land surrounding the clear waters of the crater are extraordinary and to find out that it is used to hold music events in the summer was entertaining!
Thingvellir National Park – You could easily lose a few hours exploring this national park. It encompasses the dramatic break in the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, Oxarafoss waterfall (among others) and you can even snorkel through the crystal clear waters of the Silfra Fissure.
Reykjavik – Save for the curious colours of the buildings lining the streets, there is not an awful lot to see in the city center. Grab a coffee and take a stroll through the narrow streets to the harbour where you can join a whale and puffin watching tour.
Reyjanes – After a quick stop in Reykjavik, hit the road and head towards the Reyjanes Peninsula. The road will lead you through vast open, rocky plains. Continue until the earth begins to change colour and spout steam at regular intervals. You’re sure to spot Gunnubhur from afar – this geyser appears to be ever increasing in size. From here, head across to Valahnkur Mountain and enjoy far reaching views out to sea.
Blue Lagoon – No trip to Iceland is complete without visiting the Blue Lagoon. You’ve heard all about it and seen hundreds of pictures but if you are still not convinced, read my opinion here.
Want to see more of Iceland? Read my photo essay.