The South Iceland region is a place of amazing natural sights and sounds. This part of the country contains an abundance of natural attractions, including volcanoes, waterfalls, geysers, beaches, and glaciers. South Iceland has the Capital Region to its west and the central highlands to its north. The Jökulsárlón (Jokulsarlon) glacier lagoon covers the region in the east. Some of the most picturesque natural areas of Iceland are in this region, and it draws a great number of tourists every year. South Iceland is home to the two most popular national parks in the country i.e. Þingvellir (Thingvellir) and the Vatnajökull (Vatnajokull) National Park.
The biggest urban center of the South Iceland region is Selfoss, situated at a distance of just 50 kilometers from the capital Reykjavik. Every corner of South Iceland has witnessed considerable geological activity, and thus the landscape is quite interesting. Exploring South Iceland and its many wonders should be your priority regardless of how long you are in the country. Many consider it to be as beautiful and majestic as the Westfjords. Visiting all of this region’s attractions during your trip can easily take you a week. There are three famous volcanoes including the very famous Helka, and Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in all of Europe. Many South Iceland tourism locations are part of the Golden Circle tour map.
South Iceland is an Icelandic region associated with a great number of sagas and has a rich medieval history. It has a great number of historically significant locations including Alþingi (Althing), the place where Iceland’s first parliament was held. You will also find locations that are associated with the Saga Age that went on from 870 - 1056 CE. These date back to the very beginning of human settlement on the island and carry tremendous historical and cultural significance.
The South Iceland region has a vibrant and diverse culture, with art exhibits being held around the year. You may also catch some musical concerts or theatre performances while you are there. The people tend to occupy themselves with libraries, folk dancing, card playing, and other recreational activities. Much of their time is also spent in exploring the picturesque wonders of the South Iceland countryside. If you are keen on exploring the wonders of this region during your Iceland visit, be sure to stay for at least a week.
The key attractions you should check out in the South Iceland region include -
The Valley of Thor - Thórsmörk or the Valley of Thor is an iconic location in South Iceland, linked to the famous Norse God named Thor. It is a place of spellbinding natural beauty, nestled between the mountain glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull. Thórsmörk is one of the best hiking destinations that you can visit in Iceland. Tourists can explore various trekking and hiking tour options for astounding views of the area’s natural beauty. The Valley of Thor is considered as a unique place on earth, with a stunning combination of rivers, deserts, and glaciers. It is wrapped in lush green vegetation including moss, ferns, and birchwood. Thórsmörk can be considered as a must-visit location if you are in South Iceland.
Landmannalaugar - Landmannalaugar is a famous South Iceland location, situated within the expansive Fjallabak Nature Reserve. The name translates to ‘People’s Pools’ in English, owing to a large number of natural hot springs in the area. Landmannalaugar is a popular location for summer hiking and taking baths in the hot springs. This scenic region has some of the most beautiful rhyolite mountains that project vibrant pink, red, green, yellow and blue shades. The multicolored rocks create a dazzling view that you must witness during your South Iceland visit. Landmannalaugar has historically been a place where travelers can relax in the hot springs, and take in the mesmerizing views of the surrounding landscape. You have the option of camping at this location during the summer months.
Sólheimajökull - Sólheimajökull is an easily accessible glacier situated between the Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanoes. It is a part of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and a major tourist attraction of the South Iceland region. Sólheimajökull is a great place for tourists who are interested to take guided glacier walks. The glacier is eight kilometers in length and has a width of two kilometers. Reaching Sólheimajökull is quite convenient as it is right by the Ring Road in South Iceland. You can climb its ice walls, and get stunning views of the South Coast from the top of the glacier. Visiting Sólheimajökull is an adventure as you will come across slippery ice surfaces, crevasses and caves. Going on a guided tour is the best option to ensure adequate security. Make sure to rent safety gear and carry ice axes as you take the hike up to this amazing glacier.
Fjaðrárgljúfur - Fjaðrárgljúfur is another geological wonder of South Iceland, situated near the Kirkjubæjarklaustur village by the Ring Road. This imposing canyon is 2 kilometers long and has a depth of 100 meters. Fjaðrárgljúfur, formed two million years ago, has become quite popular with tourists since the last few years. Its unique serpent shape, sharply eroded edges and lush green appearance makes it one of the most beautiful locations in Iceland. The Fjaðrá river runs graciously through the canyon base, adding to its appeal. Climbing up on one of the limbs of the canyon gives you magnificent views that you will cherish forever. If you decide to get down to the surface, get ready to come across several waterfalls trickling down its edges. Fjaðrárgljúfur has to be visited during the summer months.
Katla - Katla is one of the most active large volcanoes in South Iceland, with an elevation of 1,512 meters. This massive volcano has been witness to 20 eruptions between 930 and 1918, usually at gaps of 20-90 years. Parts of Katla are covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, lending to a distinct appearance that draws thousands of tourists. It is widely believed that small eruptions do occur from time to time at Katala, but these are not strong enough to break through the thick layer of glacial ice. This phenomenon adds to the mystery of the place and makes it a must-visit in the southern region. You are unlikely to come across too many tour options, but some operators do offer helicopter and Jeep tours to the volcano.