What is the first natural attraction you associate with Iceland? Beaches are probably not the first attraction on the tip of your tongues but surprisingly along the South Coast, there is a stretch of gorgeous coastline albeit with black, volcanic sand. Situated in the heart of the North Atlantic Ocean and with constant volcanic activity, it is no surprise that beaches in Iceland are made up this way.
However, beaches are just one of the many attractions that make Iceland’s South Coast such an appealing destination, hence the reason why we had no hesitation in taking the day trip on offer by Time Tours Iceland to explore this part of the country. Anyone that has experienced Iceland in winter will know that there are a myriad of reasons for visiting the “Land of Fire and Ice.”
Although we are focused on Iceland’s South Coast, you can be sure that this is just a small part of why Iceland has quickly become one of the hottest destinations in the world.
A Day Trip to Iceland’s South Coast
Despite having a hectic previous day exploring the Golden Circle and later pursuing the Northern Lights, we were raring to go the next morning as we waited patiently for the tour to begin. We were a little surprised to be picked up in an SUV rather than the usual Time Tours shuttle bus but we later found out that we would be joining another group of South Coast explorers as two members of our party had canceled at the last minute!
The day started with a lengthy drive from Reykjavik until we finally reached the south coast of Iceland and we made a short stop to see the sun rising in the distance above the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say, this was around 11:00 AM but by now I am sure you are aware of the lack of daylight during the winter months across Iceland.
Our adventure continued along Route 1 (Iceland’s ring road that wraps around the country) passing by a number of notable landmarks that we would later explore on our way back. We took a quick stop to allow a couple of folks to leave the bus as they were participating in a glacial walk and then moved on to the coastal town of Vik where we stopped for lunch. The scenery approaching Vik was breathtaking, especially as the sun was beating down and the sky was a perfect blue.
Vik is situated at the bottom of a valley and dropping down from the mountain ring road really is a special feeling as you peer out of the windows of the shuttle bus and take in the stunning Icelandic landscape. I could just imagine living here and being able to appreciate this beauty on a daily basis.
However, enough of the daydreaming and back to reality as we pulled into a roadside restaurant which would be our base for the next hour as we had lunch and decided how much of Vik we wanted to explore.
Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
The most impressive sight along this stretch of coastline is Reynisdrangar which are basalt sea stacks situated under the Reynisfjall mountain. After leaving Vik, we made the short drive to the Reynishverfi beach which is home not only to the sea stacks, but also the volcanic black beach that I referred to earlier.
As we all piled out of the bus and made our way to the beach, it was noticeably colder due to the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean. Forget the cold though, we wanted to cherish our short time here and capture some amazing memories both in our minds and photos.
A couple of caves spotted along this stretch of coast provided a brief moment of respite from the frigid conditions, but even more impressive was the basalt columns on the side of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic.
I guess now is as good a time as any to introduce our tour guide, Albert, as he told us that visiting a glacier was next on our agenda. As we headed back along Route 1 to the point where we had dropped off our counterparts earlier in the day, we veered off the beaten path and started climbing or should I say ‘off-roading’. As the conditions of the road deteriorated, we noticed someone that had veered too far from the road and was digging themselves out. No fear, we continued on despite the path of the road becoming less and less apparent.
It will come as no surprise when I tell you where this story is heading…yes, you guessed it we got stuck!! When you see all of the other tour buses and vehicles passing by with extremely large winter tires, it becomes obvious that our attempt to clamber through the snow packed roads in our shuttle bus leans on the side of stupidity rather than smart thinking. But we are not the guides and it was all part of the adventure.
The first time we got stuck we were able to get away but instead of turning around and making our way back to the main road, Albert decided to make another attempt. It was one of those situations that you had to be there to believe it but try to picture a mini-bus taking a running start trying to push through a wall of snow and repeatedly doing this until finally breaking through only to get stuck on the other side. When I say stuck, I mean literally stuck in the middle of nowhere and our vehicles wheels were just spinning.
Various vehicles passed by with many trying to help and despite several attempts to pull us out using a rope that simply snapped, we noticed the weather beginning to deteriorate. Stuck in the heart of Iceland’s arctic tundra with a snowstorm rapidly approaching was not the place to be. Fortunately, another tour bus offered to give us a ride to a nearby town while Albert and other onlookers waited for a tractor to come and plow the road.
So when I say glacial off-roading, we didn’t really get to fully experience a glacier but we had enough of an adventure to make this a memorable trip off the beaten path!
South Coast Waterfalls
After returning to the realms of normality following our off-road adventure, we experienced two amazing waterfalls that are prominent in the Icelandic landscape in this part of the country. Skogafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland and definitely worth experiencing. The view from below is impressive though during winter it was really difficult to get close to the falls due to the frozen ground which made walking near impossible.
One of our final stops saw us pay a visit to Seljalandsfoss. Iceland certainly has a plethora of distinctive waterfalls that are awesome attractions. Not only did we capture some great shots of this waterfall that was illuminated by surrounding lights, but as we peered into the night sky we caught another glimpse of the Northern Lights – a definite bonus but another memory we cherished!
Do you remember all of the chaos caused by the volcanic eruption that took place in Iceland in 2010? Well, taking the South Coast Iceland tour you have the opportunity to pass right by the glacier and location of the now dormant volcano Eyjafjallajokull.
Here is the first test – attempting to pronounce this volcano! Ok, fair enough we gave up as well but it’s pretty cool to be in the same neighborhood of a volcano that erupted just a few years ago.
What an epic journey we encountered exploring Iceland’s South Coast. It started and ended calmly though plenty of adventure in between made this a memorable trip that will long live with both of us. Thanks to our tour guide and in particular to Time Tours Iceland for organizing this tour.
For 12.900ISK which equates to $98, you can experience all of this adventure! I would highly recommend checking this out if you want to see volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and beaches all in one amazing day trip.
If you would like to see more of our pictures from our trip on the South Coast Iceland, click here!
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Time Tours Iceland for providing us with complimentary tickets for the South Coast Iceland tour. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.
I can feel the cold from these photos! But, wow, how breathtaking they are. Love the shot of the falls — at first glance I thought the water was frozen solid!
Is it ever warm enough for an ocean dip in Iceland? I can’t really imagine it is!
Love all these pics – the basalt columns might be my fave.
LOVE Iceland. We visited during summer a couple of years ago. These photos are beautiful and such a contrast to what we saw. Glad you had such a great visit.
It looks so chilly there! I’ve seen a ton of summer pictures, but I think these are the first winter ones I’ve seen. It’s so beautiful, and the sky isn’t nearly as dark as I thought it would be midday. I can’t believe that the driver made a 2nd attempt after getting stuck the first time. You sound like you had a good attitude about it. I think I’d be freaking out that I’d turn into an icicle out there. The basalt columns on the cliffside are so cool.
Ooooh, Iceland is lovely. You’re brave for going there in winter 🙂
One word – AMAZING! Icelands has been on my bucket list for years, but never really had the “time” to travel there, as I always had in mind summer is the best seaosn for it. I might even consider visiting Iceland in the winter time now – just need to right clothes to do it 😉
Fantastic photos, love the stacks and the basalt colums – Iceland is such a fabulous destination for nature and landscapes.
Looks like a great time. I would love to see those black sandy beaches!
Awesome! I love Iceland and this makes me want to return!
Thanks for sharing
What an amazing trip! Those basalt columns look incredible. Having got stuck in a snowy ditch recently I could really relate to your story. We eventually got towed out backwards by two vehicles; not the experience I was expecting to have that day! Super excited to our late April trip to Iceland now, thanks!
I recently visited Iceland as well, but didn’t make it down to the coast. Really neat to see those basalt columns in your pictures. Will have to add that to my list for next time!
I feel like Iceland is this hot (cold?) new trend, and I can see why! I hope to see Iceland both in the summer and winter months!
Everyone that I know who has visited Iceland has loved it! I am not drawn to cold weather destinations as I live in one, but inverting yodels look breathtaking. Thx for sharing.
I’m a little jealous you got to see the volcano! When I visited we just saw it in the distance- pretty neat though. I’m also in love with the waterfalls covered in snow and ice. Gorgeous! I want to go back so badly!
Stunning place Chris!
Some great ideas for when we get there later this year! 🙂
Lovely pictures, especially the beach ones, but I think I’d go for a summertime visit!
Those photos of the beach are stunning! I’m planning on heading to Iceland in January 2016 to see if I can see the Northern Lights, but mostly to explore the coastline and go glacier walking. The landscape is stunning, and though I’d normally head out and see stuff on my own, I would definitely consider a tour for something like this.
That sounds like quite the adventure! I’m glad you got rescued from being stuck in the snow. It happens! I love your positive outlook as it all being part of the experience. That beach is also beautiful.
Seems like great value for money if you ask me. I have not been to Iceland as yet, it’s on the list for when the little guy gets bigger.
What a beautiful place! I was about to say at least you didn’t get stuck, but oh well it’s all part of the adventure haha. I hope you that tour bus took you somewhere warm.
You may have just convinced me to add it to my list. Your photos are just gorgeous!
I was on Iceland in May last year, but we took the western route and drived to the northern fjords. That was really something! But I’m afraid I won’t miss that cold 😉
Iceland is amazing and the South Coast makes up for a spectacular day trip. What I love most about it are the waterfalls, they are just stunning. Would love to see them in the winter sometime, have only seen them in the summer so far. Iceland is getting busier unfortunately but I guess we can all see why, it’s so close to both Europe and north America and yet so different from any other country in the world…
Love this post!! We really enjoyed the south coast of Iceland. It’s fun to see how the area looks in the winter–it looks just as beautiful as it does in the summer! Great photos!
Wow you guys, you were able to encounter all of that beautiful trip for 100 dollars 🙂 That’s amazing! I love the first photo with the moon so crisp and also the waterfall shot. I can’t wait to head to Iceland and experience such amazing sights as these!
Ok… You convinced me, our next destination is Iceland!!!
Your pictures are great and the place looks fabulous!
GREAT shots! It hasn’t been snowing a lot here in Belgium but we are planning on going to the north to get more of a feel like this one! Iceland just looks so amazing.