So many people venture to Iceland to see the Blue Lagoon and a few highlights around the infamous Golden Circle. Staying around the capital of Reykjavik has its own level of beauty; but if you have the time, venturing toward the south of the island is majestic enough to be derived from fairy-tales.
I started my trip off by staying on a farm about 10 min outside fishing village of Vik, and I have absolutely 0 regrets about this decision! Choosing this Airbnb was one of my better decisions and I highly recommend it to all who are planning a visit to Iceland. We were so close to the DC3 plane crash, ice caves, Vik, Skoafoss waterfall, Dyrholaey (a GOT stop) and so much more that we were able to check off many items in one day while navigating the bipolar Icelandic weather. By staying here, we were about 2 ½ hour drive from the Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach and Jὂkulsarlon Glacier and about 1 hour and 45 min away from Vatnajὂkull Park.
This drive itself was well worth every bit of the entire south Iceland stay and I when I go back, I will absolutely be spending more time in this area.
Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach:
When I was planning my Iceland trip, this location became my whole reason for wanting to stay south for a few days. I saw one IG post (IG is where I do most of my research to get the true essence of a place) and I was hooked and it definitely lived up to its expectations. Considered the “crown jewel” of Iceland, it is located in the southeast region of the island. Jökulsárlón is a lagoon filled with icebergs of the Vatnajὂkull Glacier (Europe’s largest) that have melted off into the water. Since this is all formed from the effects of the glacier melting, I hear each visit will look different.
With the mouth of the lagoon, opening to the sea, you can crossover and see glistening chucks of ice that have been carried out and are floating along or melting along the black sand beach or Breiðamerkursandurif you care to practice your Icelandic. The whole beach is glittered in the appearance of ice ‘diamonds’ sparkling in the sun and it is as stunning as it sounds. Hang out with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and watch the local seals navigate their way back over to the lagoon.
**Tip: If you are here and end up starving like it did then I highly recommend the "Nailed It" food truck for some fish and chips! It was extremely fresh and delicious. There were additional trucks that had vegan and vegetarian options as well.
Europe’s largest glacier is as beautiful as it is deadly. Not unlike many other glaciers, Vatnajὂkull has several volcanoes under its snow cap and a couple of eruptions have interrupted air travel for days. This glacier has approximately 30 outlet glaciers, including the well-known Jökulsárlón Lagoon. There are many pull offs on Route 1 that will take you up close but still at a safe distance from the glacier so you can get that IG worthy “I was here” shot. If you wish to do any ice caving or adventuring on the iceberg, then I highly recommend you book a professional tour. I stopped by one of the pull offs on my way back from the lagoon and on my journey over to Vatnajὂkull Park and Skaftafell.
Vatnajὂkull Park and Skaftafell:
Skaftafell is a hikers dream area (well…all of Iceland is)! There are multiple hikes that one can do that vary by degree of difficulty and preferred scenery goals. At the base near the parking lots, there are restrooms, maps and food and beverage options so don’t be worried if you have journeyed a long way to get here, you will be able to take care of most of your needs upon arrival. Keep in mind that if you are visiting in the winter, many eateries or accommodations might be closed. However, in the summer (June through August, many of the park rangers will let you join them on some of their short walks to check the paths).
My main reason for stopping here was to see the Svartifoss Waterfall, aka ‘The Black Waterfall’. The hike was stunning and a great contrast to seeing the glacier lagoon. Svartifoss Waterfall is completely surrounded by dark lava columns and the basalt structures have inspired much of Icelandic architecture. The hike from the Skaftafell visitor center is about 3 ½ miles and it is rated as “easy” but there is quite a bit of steep grade uphill climbing in the beginning. Go at your own pace, have water with you or at least a bottle to refill in the creeks and remember that layers are the key! I ended up in just my sports bra and yoga pants by the time we got to the waterfall….that’s a far cry from the parka I was in at the lagoon! Keep in mind that it is about $7-$12 to park depending on your vehicle but the hiking itself is free so it’s a win.
There are 3 key photo opps to remember:
1. On your climb up, there is a lookout point for the waterfall
2. Once you descend down, there is a look out point relatively close to the waterfall and you can get a really good view of the basalt columns
3. Once you walk away from the lower viewpoint to continue your path, there is a step out part on the creek that is flowing from the waterfall, you can easily step out on the rocks and get a photo with the waterfall behind you. You may have to combat tourists and photographers to get this shot so be ready to move quick!
Southeast Iceland Lover