On our third and last full day in Iceland, we embarked on a road trip to chase waterfalls in Southern Iceland. Keep reading for our highlights and my Southern Iceland Vik travel Itinerary from Reyjkavik.
Southern Iceland Vik Travel Itinerary: Eyjafjallajökull and Skógafoss
We started our day early, and left Reykjavik in the morning after breakfast. We drove straight to Skógafoss (approximately two hours if you drive the speed limit) and stopped at the infamous Eyjafjallajökull to take some pictures. Do not stop at the side of the road, but wait until you see the official tourist office for the volcano (on the south side of the road). The Eyjafjallajökull volcano did not look like much more than a mountain, but it was interesting to see farms and an inn set up right underneath the volcano that shut down air traffic in 2010.
Afterwards, we drove a further 10 minutes to visit the infamous Skógafoss waterfall. This stunning waterfall is 60 meters high and the cliffs used to make up Iceland’s former coastline. Fun fact: this waterfall was used as a location in Thor: The Dark World.
I am wearing a patterned dress from Zara (similar here), Blundstone chisel toe boots (also worn here), a parka c/o Parajumpers (available at Sporting Life) and a Gucci Marmont Shoulder Bag.
Skógafoss is absolutely stunning and while not my favourite waterfall in Iceland (Gulfoss was my fave!), its power is incredible. If you get too close, you will get completely drenched in its spray. It has easy access from the ring road, and free parking. That being said, tour buses tend to pile in, so make sure to get there early. It wasn’t too busy when we arrived, but I’d love to take advantage of the midnight sun and arrive before breakfast time to get the perfect shot and absorb its power.
Southern Iceland Vik Travel Itinerary: Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Next up, we drove a further 30 minutes towards Vik to arrive at the legendary Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. This stunning beach has incredible black sand, powerful waves and the most unique cliffside.
At Reynisfjara, you will find the Reynisdrangar basalt sea rocks, that are sometimes perches for adorable puffins. The basalt sea rocks at Reynisfjara are completely out of this world, and resemble perfectly-formed stacked blocks. Legend has it that two trolls attempted to drag a ship to the shore, and when daylight broke they became rock. This stunning scene has also been the setting for one of my favourite recent movies, Star Wars: Rogue One.
Be careful as you walk around the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, the area is known for “sneaker waves” that can whisk tourists out to sea out of nowhere. I was in awe of the surf at Reynisfjara. Nicole compared it to the surf in Hawaii, and any swimming or surfing here is forbidden. Apparently further along the coast, sneaker waves can take your car into the ocean! Definitely be careful and don’t get too close to the water. There is a cafe restaurant nearby, which had WiFi, restrooms and overpriced hot chocolate. We opted to skip lunch there (which appeared to be more fast food) and head into Vik itself for lunch.
Southern Iceland Vik Travel Itinerary: Vik & Dyrhólaey
After exploring the black sand beaches, we stopped in Vik for a late lunch. Vik is a very quaint city, and only has a few places to eat and a couple gas stations. We ate at Halldorskaffi and I enjoyed the fresh cod meal, which was thankfully gluten free. After a morning of being pelted by the elements, it was nice to dry up and fill our bellies.
We stopped at the Icelandic wool factory shop, however I would not recommend shopping here, as it was a tourist trap. We had a quick browse and moved on to drive to Dyrhólaey. Pro tip: I do not recommend trying to drive up here unless you rent a 4×4 vehicle and have nerves of steel. The drive from Vik to Dyrhólaey brings you on a two-lane road (barely wide enough for two vehicles) with raging waters on both sides. It started to rain and hail as we drove out on this 5-minute long stretch, and waves were hitting our tiny car named Darlene. I nearly pissed myself. After making it out alive, we reached the entrance gates for the uphill road leading you to the Dyrhólaey lookout point. We ignored the signs warning about holes, winter closures and 4×4’s being recommended and made it 20 seconds up the road before I made a 3-point turn and left! We noticed a Range Rover struggling up the windy gravel road, which was riddled with deep holes. While I hear the view and lighthouse is spectacular, this might be best enjoyed if you have a better vehicle.
To the left of this gate entrance is a more tame lookout point… just look for the newly-constructed white washroom structure. We parked here, and walked up to the cliffside. That day, it was so incredibly windy, I had a serene moment where I realized I could be completely blown off the cliff. After surviving that treacherous drive, I was in a daze. We could see the famous Dyrhólaey arch below, but sadly, it was higher tide towards the afternoon, so the effect was a bit lost. After I got my sea legs back, we embarked on that same road back towards Vik. Overall, I don’t think this stop was worth it if the weather and winds are bad (as you can see from my hairdo…)
Southern Iceland Vik Travel Itinerary: Seljalandfoss
We turned around to make our 3-hour journey back to Reykjavik. Along the way, we had planned to stop at the DC3 Plane wreck, however Nicole, my travel buddy, informed me that a farmer didn’t like people drive through his land, so it was now a 20 minute walk each way. With insanely high winds, there was no way we were stopping, and decided to check out the site on Instagram geotagged pictures instead.
Nearby, we stumbled upon these mystical troll houses. We saw them on the way to Vík, and had to stop for some photographs on the way back. Visitors are allowed to stop here, however signs warn tourists to respect the structures and not trespass.
It’s so incredible to think people actually live in such a rugged landscape, exposed to the elements. By this time, the wind wasn’t as strong, so we had a lovely stop exploring the structures and landscape.
Because it was towards the end of day (around 4:30 p.m.), all the tourbuses went home, so I was able to get clear shots without any tourists or drones buzzing around, and enjoy the majesty of the falls without a crowd. You should note that paid parking is required at this stop (around $5-10 CAD), however it was nearing the end of day, and there were no attendants stationed.
I wanted to climb behind Seljalandfoss waterfall, however, it was very slippery and I didn’t have any clampons on my boots. The stairs are a bit slippery as well, and accessibility is definitely an issue. A friendly tourist took this shot of me admiring the falls, and I really took in the moment, feeling the mist on my face.
As the day was coming to a close, we needed to say goodbye to our Iceland road trip. From exploring the Golden Circle to architectural wonders in Reykjavik, it was a memorable trip. Even more memorable, our Darlene. That vehicle went through a lot, and covered a lot of ground. Our last day in Iceland was spent exploring the South, visiting volcanoes, black sand beaches and waterfalls. It was a trip that tested our driving skills, patience, and rewarded us with amazing views and memories.
Thank you to Nicole Clark for the photos of me, and for being game for all these windy photo stops.