What can you find in the south and west of Iceland? Well, both parts of the island are incredibly unique and different, and they will vary in what you can find and see. The south is a region of waterfalls, black sand beaches, northern lights, small little towns, and great hikes. The west is famous for many things, including Kirkjufell mountain, Snæfellsjökull National Park, and glacier. As well, here in the west on a clear winter day, you will find yourself surrounded by tall snow-capped mountains and might even see the northern lights at night.
Here are the locations I visited in the south:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall isn’t only a location with one waterfall; here, you can find a few smaller waterfalls coming down from the mountain. Due to the waterfall’s location next to the Ring Road and impressive natural characteristics, it’s considered Iceland’s most famous and visited falls. Also, it is one of the most photographed points in all of Iceland.
Winter tips for visiting Seljalandsfoss Waterfall:
-Pay for parking: if you forget to pay, you will face a fee (ticket) and a penalty from the rental company. Many tourists wander off and forget that in Iceland, everything has a price tag, even nature. Around the parking lot, there are a couple of sophisticated parking meters that are easy to use and pay for your time at the waterfall.
-Dress appropriately for your winter waterfall excursion. Winter conditions in Iceland vary day to day (to find out more click here,) and dressing appropriately is a must. As well as expect slippery and wet pathways all throughout the location.
-It’s going to get overcrowded fast. Tour buses pull up every few minutes, dropping-off fifty or so visitors to explore the waterfalls, that’s not including cars. Because this location is small compared to other waterfalls, it’s going to feel jammed packed. For the best experience, visit this waterfall at dawn.
To Know before you go: Here at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, you have access to free restrooms, a small coffee shop, and a souvenir store.
- Skógafoss Waterfall is massive, and it was one of my favorites to explore on this island. Majestic and picturesque, the falls is unique because the waterfall comes straight from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. Creating clear, cool, and very powerful falls. If you have the time and strength, climb to the top of the Skogafoss waterfall. The reward from climbing 370 steps is the awe-inspiring view of Iceland’s coastline. Also, this is the start of the Fimmvorduhals pass, a popular hiking route.
Winter Tips for visiting Skógafoss Waterfall:
-Wind, it gets extremely windy at this location, especially if you plan on climbing to the top. Dress in waterproof and waterproof clothing.
-Ice, the ground around the falls, is exceptionally slippery; wear proper shoes to avoid falling.
To Know: On the good side, parking is free at Skógafoss Waterfall, don’t worry about getting a ticket. On the bad side, there aren’t any facilities such as restrooms or a place to eat.
- Solheimasandur Plane Wreck on the south coast of Iceland has become a famous tourist location in recent years, prompting for transport to be made available to the public, to and from the plane. Some might say this location became popular after the Justin Bieber video “I’ll Show You” that came out in 2015. However, I visited and loved this location, not for the music video but the beach. From one side, volcanic dunes surround the old carcass of the plane and from the other the cold ocean. This location isn’t only a picture-perfect Instagram worthy spot but also very majestical. You can find the planes crash site between Skógafoss waterfall and the town of Vik.
Winter Tip for visiting Solheimasandur Plane Wreck:
-Strong winds, be prepared for freezing temperatures, and strong gusts of wind. At times the clouds get very low and release powerful surges of hail and wind, making it difficult to walk or see. Dress in waterproof clothes made to withstand freezing temperatures. If you don’t, you might get frostbite or worse, and trust me at this location worse happened. Don’t take weather warnings for granted.
Things to know:
-If you don’t want to walk, then take the bus, click here to find out the prices and operating hours. I walked to this location, and it took me 45 minutes each way. It was tough to walk at times due to strong winds and hail, but I loved the experience anyway.
- Vík í Mýrdal is a secluded seafront town in the South of Iceland. Although this village is small, its an excellent stop for necessities such as restaurants, cafes, gas, food stores, and hotels.
Here are a couple of places to spend the night:
To see in Vik:
-On a clear day, you can see glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The glaciers blanket two very explosive volcanoes. Most recently, in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted, disrupting European air travel for six days.
Other amazing locations you should consider visiting in the South of Iceland:
- Black sand beach, you have to visit one of the many beautiful beaches around the coast; they are out of this world. Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, near the small fishing town of Vík í Mýrdal. Famous for the enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves, and stunning views. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit in the world.
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon a sea of icebergs.
- Skaftafell Nature Reserve and National park is full of volcanoes, glaciers, campsites, and hiking trails.
Places to visit in the west:
- Snæfellsjökull National Park and Glacier is found on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is one of three National Parks in Iceland. Unquestionably the crowning gem of Snaefellsjokull National Park is Snaefellsjokull glacier itself. The glacier covers a dormant volcano that last exploded in 250 AD. The icy cone-shaped peak is visible from Reykjavik on a cloudless day.
What see and do in the Snæfellsjökull National Park during winter:
- Skarðsvík Beach is an excellent, golden sand beach in Iceland.
- Svörtuloft Lighthouse is a big lighthouse, located atop a long cliff with beautiful ocean views.
- Öndverðarnes lighthouse is the smaller orange version of Svörtuloft Lighthouse. Its located on the opposite side of the cliff.
- Djúpalónssandur is a sandy beach and bay on foot of Snæfellsjökull in Iceland.
- Saxhóll Crater is, in fact, two craters. Climb to the top for rewarding views of the Atlantic Ocean and dried lava fields of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
- Vatnshellir Cave is an 8,000-year-old lava cave, book a guided tour to explore inside.
- Malarrif Lighthouse is an old farm and an old lighthouse.
- Londrangar is a pair of rocky towers overlooking the ocean, composed of basalt volcanic minerals.
Plan your trip to Snæfellsjökull National Park:
If you want to see as many attractions as possible, plan your travels accordingly. During the winter, you’ll have about 4 to 6 hours of daylight, getting to your first stop at down could make a big difference in what you’ll get to see.
Other things to watch out for; there aren’t’ t any gas station or food stops once you enter the park, make sure your car has a full tank, and you’ve got plenty of food with you or ate before this trip. I’ve always had a thermos with hot water with me to make tea or coffee. As well as sandwiches and fruit to eat. Snacking and driving are my past time hobbies, well maybe not hobbies, but a snack makes any road trip that much better.
Not far from the Snæfellsjökull National Park:
Within an hour of driving, it is possible to reach many other sites of Snæfellsnes. These include Mount Kirkjufell, the most photographed mountain in Iceland; Ytri Tunga, a seal-watching beach; and Rauðfeldsgjá, an impressive canyon that cuts into the mountainside.
- Mount Kirkjufell is the most photographed rock in all of Iceland. This rock has an odd-shaped (not something you would imagine a rock to look like) has attracted many professional photographers. Within walking distance from Kirkjufell is the waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss, which plays as an excellent subject for photographers who can easily frame the mountain in the background. If you have a professional camera, you can visit this location at any time of the day, even during the night. Maybe you’ll be lucky and capture this mountain with clear night skies and northern lights.
-Parking, pulling up next to the rock, you’ll see a rather big parking lot, be mindful one your step outside. The whole parking lot is a massive ice-skating rink.
Other Locations to visit in the West:
- Hraunfossar is a range of waterfalls created by rivers streaming over rugged Hallmundarhraun lava field-created from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjökull.
- Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hot spring.