This travel guide highlights the best things to do in South Iceland. The Golden circle is beautiful and a short trip from Reykjavik.
You have many choices on things to do when visiting Iceland. However, since Iceland has only one main road that encircles it, you will be faced with the tough decision of what to see in the time you are there.
Some options are:
- Circumvent the entire island (7-10 days)
- Take day trips from Reykjavik like the Golden Circle (1 day)
- Choose a direction West, North or South to explore (2-3 days)
We only had 5 days to explore Iceland on this vacation. 2 days were allocated for Reykjavik to be able to relax.
On the remaining 3 days, we decided to drive the Golden Circle and to explore the South Iceland for the waterfalls.
This turned out to be a great itinerary as it is fairly accessible and perfect for families.
Things to Do in South Iceland
Two things that surprised me about South Iceland are: how close to the road everything is and how many waterfalls there are.
You will need to walk, at most, a couple hundred feet to reach these places. The waterfalls can also be seen from the road!
South Iceland is perfect for travel with small children as no hiking is required.
Just make sure you take cash to pay for parking and restrooms stops along the way.
A massive waterfall, you have the option to tent camp here or stay in a couple guesthouses nearby. There are a couple restaurants too.
Parking is free, but be aware that to use the bathroom you must pay 200ISK per person.
We were surprised to drive by Seljalandsfoss and soon after arrive at our Airbnb. It was literally only a mile away.
You can tell that this place has seen a lot of change since the boom of tourism hit Iceland. There is a nice paved parking lot and a automated parking machine to collect the 700ISK fee per car.
There are free flush toilets on site and the path to the waterfall is clean and well maintained.
If you are not afraid of getting wet, an option is to walk behind the waterfall. This requires climbing some very slick steps, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear and a rain coat.
The basalt rock cliff is super impressive as are the caves you find underneath it. The beach is long and there are nice round pebbles everywhere for the kids to throw into the water.
Reynisfjara is a nice place to picnic and there is also a restaurant at the parking lot if you prefer to dine in.
Bathrooms here are also on a fee and you need to pay for a card to insert into the door to get in.
A cute little town with an Instagram famous church and an incredible view. This was our end-point during this day trip.
There is a big store in town (where the Ice Cave Bistro is located), that sells the biggest variety of souvenirs and Icelandic products that we saw.
The complex houses two restaurants and a grocery store on site as well. We stopped here to eat and rest before heading back to Reykjavik.
If you have ever seen pictures of Iceland before, changes are you have seen a couple Icelandic horses as well. The breed is unique as it has not been bred with any other breed in centuries. They have a great temperament and a mane to make anyone jealous!
There are farms with Icelandic horses all through South Iceland so pull over and see if you can take a picture of these beauties. Just make sure you are not impacting traffic or trespassing on someone’s property.
We were fortunate enough to stay at an Airbnb that was a farm and has these beautiful horses near the property for us to pet them.
Other Places of Note in South Iceland
These places are also of note if you are traveling to South Iceland, but unfortunately we were not able to see them during this trip.
I caught the flu traveling from Ireland to Iceland so our plans were derailed a bit as I developed high fever and body aches and became bedridden for a couple days.
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
We weren’t able to stop here, but if you have more time and don’t mind walking a bit further to reach it, then it’s an interesting site.
An iconic lake filled with icebergs, it is further away and requires an overnight if you don’t want to drive for half of the day.
This was the first public pool built in Iceland to teach people to swim. It was built on the side of a mountain which makes is so appealing to visitors. Nowadays it’s a spot for pictures for the ‘gram’.
It requires some hiking and although idillic, if you are skirmish, this place may not be for you as the dressing rooms are not separate or clean but once a year. The pool is natural and also only maintained once a year, so bathe at your own risk.
Glacier in South Iceland that is easily accessible. That are tours that take you into the Glacier, but since we have them back at home, we didn’t venture into the mountains. If you never been to a glacier though, this sounds like a cool place.
If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out my guide to Reykjavik as well.