South Iceland Tour
We booked the South Iceland tour with Gray Line to visit the volcanoes, beaches and waterfalls of the southern most points of the island. The tour costs around 70EUR and lasts for 10 hours (9am – 7pm) so rather good value! As I mentioned in my Golden Circle tour (see separate post) Gray Line have been operating tours around Iceland for over 25 years so you are in safe hands!
As with the Golden Circle tour, you are picked up from your nearest bus stop half an hour before departure and taken to the Gray Line terminal for check-in – all very smooth. The bus journey to the first sight is around 2 hours but a convenience break is factored in to break it up and you can always have a little nap – made easier by the fact it is dark outside!
Our first stop off was at Skogafoos , one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls, situated on the Skoga River. Skogafoss is unique because the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. It really is a stunning sight to see the waterfall so close and feeling the spray of the water. To the side of the waterfall are 370 steps to climb for amazing views of the coastline. Sadly we hadn’t left enough time so stopped at around 200 to make sure we were not late for the bus!
There is a legend story that a Viking Pirate hid a treasure chest under the Skogafoss waterfall. Many tried to dive down and reach but died trying. Then one day a clever man tied a rope around him to bring the chest back to the bank – however, the chest disintegrated and all the gold and silver rushed down the river with just the handles remaining!
Onwards and there is a brief stop in front of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano (there are 127 volcanoes in Iceland!) scene of the 2010 eruption that stopped air traffic. This eruption actually put Iceland on the map for tourists and resulted in a large increase in tourism! This was followed by a quick stop at the Sólheimajökull glacier to drop off those booked on the glacier hike.
On the way, one of the most amazing sights was seeing horses walking in the snow – gorgeous black, brown and white horses completely resilient to the weather. They may be smaller than typical English horses but do not call them ponies!
The next stop is at the town of Vik, the most southerly part of Iceland, where there is opportunity to grab lunch in a small shopping centre and take pictures on the black sandy beach. The word town is a little misleading as it only has a small amount of houses and a church – the cafe / restaurant we visited in the centre had some awesome chicken curry (a little change from typical Icelandic dishes!).
After lunch, you are taken to Reynisfjara volcanic pebble beach with great views of the iconic Reynisdrangar basalt stacks in the sea. We were told by our tour guide that legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock! A volcano erupted there to form the cliffs and stagmalites which is pretty awesome when you can see how they were formed. We also loved walking along the black sand beach but be warned of the rogue waves though, so do not get too close!
When we picked up the group from the glacier hike we had a bit of time to explore the glacier area, which was pretty cool!
The last stop was Seljalandsfoss waterfall, one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland (and which, in better weather, you can walk behind). However, you still can walk right up to the waterfall and is where the Seljalandsá river runs which looks really pretty.
Whilst it is a long day, the sights on the south coast are some of the more unique and the tour is a great opportunity to fit in a lot of those iconic natural sights within one jam packed day!