This article was contributed by Amanda Twine from Fly Stay Luxe.
When you think of beautiful countries, Iceland is undoubtedly one destination that comes to mind. The absolute best way to see the most picturesque sights that this beautiful country has to offer is to get out and explore the countryside by car. Iceland’s Ring Road is one of the most iconic road trips in the world. If you don’t have at least two weeks to take in the sights of the full Ring Road, then the southern section offers a great alternative. Here are the places that topped our list of the most picturesque spots to visit in Southern Iceland.
Icelandic for “long glacier”, Langjökull is the second largest glacier in Iceland and is easily accessible as a day trip from Reykjavík. The glacier is 50km long and up to 20km wide in some parts. A jeep or snowmobiling tour is the best way to experience the sheer size and beauty of the glacier. If you make the trip in winter, you’ll also be able to visit of an ice cave, which is a simply stunning phenomenon. The ice caves are usually filled with water during the warmer seasons, making them inaccessible.
Iceland is famous for stunning waterfalls. You know that one waterfall that you always see on Instagram or Iceland tourism advertisements – the one with the rainbow that makes you really want to visit Iceland? Well chances are, it’s Skógafoss. Located approximately two hours’ drive east of Reykjavík, Skógafoss is a favourite spot for many visitors to Iceland and it’s not hard to see why! The waterfall has a drop of 60 metres and is 25 metres wide. It’s simply epic! It’s possible to stand close to the base of the waterfall, but be prepared to get drenched. The observation platform located at the top of Skógafoss is well worth the climb.
Ok, so this one is not a “place”, but they are picturesque! The number one thing that most people want to see in Iceland is the gorgeous Icelandic horses. If there’s one thing I can guarantee – you will definitely see horses in Iceland, they’re everywhere! You can literally stop by the side of the road, and they will come over to you. Just remember that they are kept on private property, so it’s best to pat them from the fence. Or maybe opt to do a horse riding tour if you want to get up close to them.
Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
The exact reason why this US Navy DC-3 aircraft crash landed in 1973 is a source of contention. Some say they ran out of fuel, but more accurately, the pilots experienced severe icing conditions and were forced to make an emergency landing on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach. The crew survived the crash, but the plane was left abandoned and has now become a photographer’s and visitor’s playground.
In fact, it’s become so popular that the local landowners no longer allow vehicles to access the site. Instead, you’ll have to hike 4km to the plane from the road. There’s a carpark on the road and a marked path to the aircraft. It’s also very popular, so I recommend making the trek at sunrise if you want to see or photograph the plane wreck without too many other tourists climbing on top of it.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Located near the most southern town of Vík, Reynisfjara is a volcanic black sand beach featuring impressive basalt columns, caves and lava rock formations that rise from the seabed. Reynisfjara Beach has to be one of the most unique beaches I have ever seen in my life. At the other end of Reynisfjara, also worth a visit, is the Dyrhólaey peninsula, featuring a 120-metre-high natural arch and a striking lighthouse. Cute Icelandic puffins can be seen here during the summertime.
Jökulsárlón (the Glacier Lagoon) is one of the greatest natural wonders in all of Iceland. Tourists flock here during summer and winter to see massive chunks of ice break away from Vatnajökull glacier and float down the lagoon, out to sea. In the summertime, iceberg activity is at its peak. You can take a boat ride to get up close and personal with the massive icebergs. Seals can also be seen year-round, bobbing about in the glacier lagoon.
Diamond Beach is a very unique phenomenon. Icebergs from the nearby Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon floating out to sea are picked up by the waves and deposited on this black beach. It’s affectionately known as Diamond Beach, because the ice chunks literally look like diamonds sparkling in contrast to the black sand. I could have easily spent hours wandering around taking photos. Timing your visit around sunset is a must as the beautiful colours produced during golden hour reflect through the “diamonds”.
Don’t even bother trying to pronounce the name, but this canyon is definitely worth a visit. Fjaðrárgljúfur is quite possibly the most beautiful canyon I’ve ever seen. It’s simply breathtaking. And the best part – it’s relatively unknown to the majority of tourists. A slight detour off the Ring Road will bring you to the Fjaðrárgljúfur viewpoint, where the canyon appears to go on for miles. In fact, it’s just over a kilometre long. A short hike along the eastern ridgeline offers stunning views over the canyon and nearby plains.