South Coast Adventure - 7 Days
All around, you will see landscapes formed by glaciers and reminders of the forces of nature that shaped the land. So be prepared for some amazing sights and breathtaking nature on this south coast adventure!
As the name suggests, this tour will take you on an adventure along the south coast of Iceland. Many of the country's highlights can be found in the south of Iceland, and this part of the country is very interesting and varied. All around, you will see landscapes formed by glaciers and reminders of the forces of nature that shaped the land. On this tour, you will visit the famous Geysir hot spring area, the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall, and beautiful Þingvellir National Park, all in the southwest of the country. In the eastern parts along the south coast, the powerful glacial rivers find their way through huge black sand deserts down to the sea. Around the famous volcano Hekla there are obvious signs of volcanic activity, such as large lava fields and impressive gorges. In the western part of the south coast region, you will find good farming land as well as interesting historical sites. So be prepared for some amazing sights and breathtaking nature on this south coast adventure!
DAY 1: REYKJAVÍK AND THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
Get ready for a busy day! Today, you will see some of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of Iceland. Leave Reykjavík and visit Gljúfrasteinn, the home of the most famous Icelandic novelist and Nobel-prize winner, Halldór Laxness, before reaching Þingvellir National Park. The park is not only home to the most important place in Icelandic history, where one of the world's oldest parliaments was founded in 930, but also Iceland's largest natural lake and a lava field, situated right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are moving apart. At Þingvellir you can walk through parts of the ridge. Carry on through the town of Laugarvatn, with a pretty lake baring the same name. Next up, it's the hot spring area of Geysir, including the very active geyser Strokkur, erupting every 5 to 10 minutes. Spend time walking along the paths and looking at the different geothermal phenomena. Carry on to the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall or the "Golden Waterfall". 32 m high and 250 m wide, the water falls into a 70 m deep gorge, allowing for breathtaking views from different viewpoints. Finish the day with a visit to Skálholt church and archaeological remains, one of Iceland’s places of special historical interest.
DAY 2: THE ÞJÓRSÁRDALUR VALLEY, HYDROPOWER, AND VIKING SETTLERS
Iceland is known for its hydroelectric power, and today you get a chance to check out one of the country's impressive power plant stations in the river Þjórsá, which has a visitor centre open during the summer months. You can also visit Stöng, a captivating replica of a farmhouse from the Viking age. Here, you will find an interesting museum showcasing the living conditions of Iceland's early Viking settlers, before Hekla volcano erupted in 1104. Close by is the original Viking homestead, excavated by archaeologists in 1939, now protected by a roof but easily accessible. The Þjórsárdalur valley has an astonishing landscape, formed by the river Þjórsá and eruptions of Hekla volcano. There are plenty of hiking opportunities around here, for instance to the magnificent gorge Gjáin and to Háifoss waterfall.
DAY 3: WATERFALLS, PUFFINS, AND BLACK SAND BEACHES
Today is full of beautiful waterfalls and breathtaking nature so brace yourself! You start the day off by visiting one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss, a narrow but high and powerful waterfall that you can walk behind (as long as it's not too icy). Breathe in the fresh air and forces of nature, all the while getting dewy from the waterfall. Next up: another beautiful waterfall! This one is called Skógafoss, and has plenty of walking paths and amazing views. The area also has a very interesting folk museum that comes highly recommended. Carry on your drive to reach the Vík area, with spectacular the black sand beaches and views of the impressive cliffs of Reynisdrangar. Watch out for the strong tide along the shore here! And see if you can spot the puffin colonies on the cliff faces of the small peninsula of Dyrhólaey (in the summertime).
DAY 4: GLACIER LAGOON, LAVA FIELDS, AND VATNAJÖKULL NATIONAL PARK
From Vík, you drive along Mýrdalssandur; a large black sand desert, formed by glacial rivers and glacial floods from one of the nearby glaciers. You also get an up close and personal chance to see Eldhraun (“fire lava”), an impressive lava field from a row of craters called Lakagígar. This is the largest flow of lava in the world, covering 565 km², caused by eruptions in 1783-1784. Another geological phenomenon along the way is a formation of basalt columns known as Kirkjugólf, thought to have been the floor of a medieval church. Kirkjubæjarklaustur also offers attractive and easy hiking opportunities. While driving along the south coast, you will have Vatnajökull glacier powering over you a large part of the way, by far Iceland's largest glacier (and the biggest in Europe), covering one of the most powerful geothermal areas in the world and many active volcanoes. You might even see the highest point in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m), in the southern part of Vatnajökull. Do you feel like you've already had enough of unbelievable natural phenomena today? Well, we're sorry, but there's another one waiting for you just down the road, the fascinating glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón! The lagoon is filled with large chunks of ice like diamonds glistening in the sun. The area has several hiking trails and you can also book a boat tour around the lagoon.
DAY 5: CLIFFS, WATERFALLS, AND FARMS
Start the day by visiting Hali, where you will find a cultural heritage exhibition on the famous Icelandic novelist, Þórbergur Þórðarson. Next up you drive to Skaftafell National Park, which is an excellent area for hiking, such as the 1.5-hour hike to the beautiful waterfall Svartifoss, surrounded by basalt columns. Worth the hike if you have the time and capability. If you are an enthusiastic hiker, you might want a bigger challenge and go on a breathtaking hike to Kristínartindar mountains or Morsárdalur glacier valley. Carry on your journey, pass the impressive inland cliff Lómagnúpur on your way back to Vík.
DAY 6: BLACK SAND BEACH AND PRETTY VILLAGES
Today, you head back along the south coast and get a chance to visit even more amazing places that the south coast of Iceland has to offer. Start off by going to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, at the foot of the mountain Reynisfjall. All around you will find interesting geological phenomena, such as cliffs and caves with basalt column formations so take your time. But, watch out for the strong tide along the shore here! Carry on your journey and pass through the town of Selfoss on the banks of the beautiful and powerful river Ölfusá, Iceland's largest river. Spend some time down by the river, breathing in the fresh air. From here, you drive down to the very pretty seaside villages of Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri, a few minutes apart from one another. Both villages have many lovely old timber houses and pretty churches, as well as some interesting museums and amazing seafood restaurants. Enjoy a nice stroll along the seafront.
DAY 7: GEOTHERMAL POWER AND THE CAPITAL AREA
Start the day by visiting the lovely town of Hveragerði, home to many greenhouses and located in a very active geothermal area, with hot springs and steam all around town. Hveragerði and the surrounding area offer loads of fantastic hiking opportunities, and there are also some great horse riding possibilities around here. We recommend the hour-long hike from Hveragerði up the mountain hills to Reykjadalur valley, where you can bathe out in nature. Truly an amazing experience! Once you've soaked it all in, you drive over Hellisheiði plateau, which separates the capital area from the south coast of Iceland. You will see many signs of the Hellisheiðarvirkjun geothermal power plant on your way over the plateau. The power plant has a very interesting visitor centre that is worth a visit, where you can learn about how Icelanders utilise geothermal energy for their benefits. There are also some fantastic hiking trails in the Hengill mountain ridge that come highly recommended. Head back to Reykjavík where this tour ends.
Reykjavík City HI Hostel
Reykjavík Loft HI Hostel
Laugarvatn HI Hostel
Árnes HI Hostel
Eyrarbakki HI Hostel
Fljótsdalur HI Hostel
Höfn HI Hostel
Skógar HI Hostel
Vík HI Hostel
Selfoss HI Hostel
Vestmannaeyjar HI Hostel
Vagnsstaðir HI Hostel
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