Guest blog by Simone and Dan from The Aussie Flashpacker, were they share some great insights on traveling in South Iceland.
Written by Simone and Dan from The Aussie Flashpacker.
Ruggedly beautiful Iceland is best seen by car. We recently rented a 4x4 through SADcars to roadtrip the south of Iceland during winter! During summer, it is possible to cover the entire Ring Road, however during winter many of the roads up north are inaccessible. A 4x4 is essential during winter and we had the most incredible time exploring the breathtaking landscapes of southern Iceland. From the Blue Lagoon, to glaciers, black beaches, ice caves, lava fields and much more, there is no shortage of things to see and do.
Here are our highlights from a roadtrip through South Iceland:
The Blue Lagoon
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is a must visit on your holiday to Iceland! This geothermal spa is located in lava field and is only a short drive from Keflavik Airport. To be swimming in warm, blue water with steam billowing around you, surrounded by lava fields is an experience you will never forget! The Blue Lagoon also has a mask bar, in water bar, sauna and steam room as well as spa and dining options. All tickets include one drink and face mask and it is honestly worth every cent!
We booked the first session of the day, so arrived in the dark but were some of the first people in the lagoon for the day and enjoyed sunrise with a drink in hand! By the time we left after soaking for about four hours, the lagoon was quite busy so we definitely recommend booking one of the earlier time slots!
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle and its sites are easily visited on a day trip from Reyjkavik. Geysir Geothermal area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Pingvellir National Park are the three equally incredible sites on the Golden Circle route. The highly active Geysir hot spring area with the Great Geysir, Strokkur geysir and boiling mud pits is well worth the trip to see boiling hot water spouting over 30 metres in the air! Gulfoss Waterfall is an enormous waterfall that showcases the wild, untouched beauty of Iceland. In the middle of winter, the falls are surrounded by snow and on sunny days, bright rainbows can be seen dancing over the falls! Pingvellir is the location of the world's oldest Parliament as well as many natural wonders including the location where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet! In Silfra you can actually dive between the two continents in clear, glacial water.
We travelled from Reyjkavik to Pingevellir, Geysir and Gullfoss and then onward through Selfoss to the Ring Road South East. Many people also choose to do the Golden Circle on a day tour either through a company or on their own, and it is definitely do-able in a rental car!
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara is one of the most unique beaches you'll ever visit! Located near the small village of Vik, this black sand beach is famous for its huge basalt rocks stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning scenery. According the Icelandic forelore these large basalt columns were once trolls that got turned into solid stone! It's a stunning place to visit, just be sure not to walk too close to the shore as there are often rogue waves!
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
The drive from Vik to Jökulsárlón is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful drives you'll ever do! So make sure you plan plenty of time to enjoy the sights and drive to the conditions. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon filled with stunning icebergs! It is truly breathtaking and is the starting point for many glacier tours. The icebergs which have broken off from the glacier eventually float down a narrow waterway into the wild Atlantic Ocean. They then wash up on the black sand beach, looking like glistening diamonds, hence the name Diamond Beach! This is one of the most naturally beautiful and unique places we've visited in our travels and we would highly recommend all visitors to Iceland add it to their roadtrip itinerary!
Glaciers and Ice Caves
Amazingly, over 11% of Iceland is covered by ice, making it a glacier paradise. Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe, with 30 outlet glaciers that you can see whilst driving the southeast part of the Ring Road! These glacier tounges are very easy to access, meaning there are countless tours that allow you to actually walk on the glacier! We took a glacier tour from Jökulsárlón to Breiðamerkurjökull on a modified vehicle where we could drive on ice and then walk on the glacier with cramptons and through spectacular ice caves!
At the recommendation of our guide, we also visited the Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon which is one of the most stunning glaciers you'll see in Iceland! Visiting an ice cave and walking on ice are two experiences you cannot do in many places around the world, and they are certainly a highlight of any roadtrip around southern Iceland!
Waterfalls, waterfalls & more waterfalls!
There are no shortage of waterfalls in southern Iceland and whilst they are all beautiful, there are three standouts while roadtripping the south of Iceland!
Seljandsfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland and for good reason! It is a majestic 65 metres tall and is unique in that you can actually follow a path that takes you behind the waterfall! Just be careful of your camera and wear a raincoat or you'll get soaking wet!
Skogafoss is more than 60m high and it is possible to walk right up the waterfall and also take the stairs to the top of the hill which allow to look over the waterfall! It's a breathtaking waterfall where you can often see rainbows dancing across the water.
Last but not least is Svartifoss, a unique waterfall located in Skaftafell. It is a further walk than the other waterfalls, but well worth taking the scenic route to reach! Svartifoss is a basalt column waterfall, and it is so beautiful that Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik is based on it!
Iceland is without a doubt one of the most spectacular countries on Earth. The best way to experience Iceland is on a roadtrip which gives you the freedom to plan your own itinerary and take the time to stop along the way at any of the many beautiful places you'll see along the way. Our SADcar was reliable and so comfortable and we felt completely safe on the roads at all times. We were however, quite sad to return it at the end of our eight days in Iceland! Winter is a magical time to visit Iceland, it just requires a bit more forward planning, flexibility and ensuring that you are driving to the conditions due to the unpredictable weather conditions. It’ll be a holiday of a lifetime!