The Icelandic South Coast

After a wonderful night gazing at the stunning Northern Lights, it was an early rise so that I could go exploring the South Coast of Iceland and eventually make it to Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

Getting to Jökulsárlón from Reykjavik is far from a short drive! It can be done in a day, but if you aren’t hard pressed for time, doing it in two days is much more pleasant.

I was travelling through Iceland in September, given the time of year, it really should’ve been starting to cool down for the winter and the hours of sunlight should’ve been rapidly diminishing, but neither was the case. Unseasonably warm weather was upon me!

I was actually pretty unimpressed with this unseasonably warm weather – I had not left Australia – the ideal place if you like the idea living of living on the surface of the sun – for more warm weather! I wanted cold, I wanted rain, I wanted my nose to go bright red and numb from the chilling wind.

However, on this particular day, the warmth and sunlight ended up being pretty amazing, because when I arrived at the magnificent Skógafoss waterfall, this was the sight that lay before me.

I had visited Skógafoss before in January 2014, and during those months, this waterfall looked more like this.

What a difference a season can make!

I spent more time exploring the area and climbing the stairs running up the right side of the waterfall, which led to some pretty gorgeous views.

The drive to Jökulsárlón is long. It’s a whopping 370km (230 miles) and according to Google Maps – a 4hr30 drive, but I can guarantee that the drive would take you much longer than that!

Yes you have to factor in food and toilet stops, but what you also have to factor in is the photography stops.

You will definitely have the problem where as soon as you get back in your car and start driving again, within a few minutes you will be wanting to stop again to look at another gorgeous part of Iceland’s other-worldly scenery.

On a list of problems though, this a pretty damn good problem to have!

I have said it before and I will say it again and again. Iceland is one of the most physically flawless places you will ever visit. Around every corner is another waterfall, geothermal phenomenon, lava field, volcano and geological marvel just waiting to be explored.

The incredibly scenic drive did have a purpose other than just photography stops! I wanted to get to Jökulsárlón.

So what is Jökulsárlón?

Jökulsárlón is a large glacial lagoon situated below the Vatnajökull glacier, and is a direct result of glacial melt. In this lagoon, calving from the glacier results in short term icebergs. Most of the icebergs in the lagoon are melting very rapidly, which has created this incredible lagoon which in the not so distant past – did not exist.

I had certainly been spoiled in Greenland in terms of iceberg viewing, and I was nervous that the lagoon wouldn’t excite me as much as it would had I not just been in Greenland. That sounds crazy, but if you’ve ever backpacked through Europe or Southeast Asia, surely you’d remember how after a while you would visit a spectacular church or temple – which for any other person would’ve been extraordinary – and found yourself saying something along the lines of “it’s lovely but (insert name here) was far more beautiful”. I worried that this is what would happen to me!

However, I needn’t have worried, for that first glimpse of Vatnajökull was nothing short of spectacular.

What could be around the corner?...
What could be around the corner?…
Oh. My. God.
Oh. My. God.

A mountain of ice just appeared right before my very eyes!

The contrast of Iceland’s sparse earth with this pure white mountain leading up into the sky was nothing short of spectacular!

Sometimes the ice would seem to hide behind the mountains.

Other times it was just showing off with its beauty!

Before long we had finally made it to Jokusarlon, but that story is for another post and another day!

However, I feel like it is only fair to give you a little preview…

T H E   L O W D O W N
Getting to Jokusarlon: Drive the ring road south west from Reykjavik
Waterfall Heaven: There are numerous gorgeous waterfalls along this route including Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko pro lens
Remember: To have a full tank of petrol and adequate supplies for 2 days on the road

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

116 thoughts on “The Icelandic South Coast

  1. How incredibly beautiful. Your photos are amazing. I would love to go there in the middle of winter for an extended period to read, write and explore.

    1. Thank you so much! You should do it – the Icelandic winters are wonderful and I am sure there would be no shortage of inspiration and adventures for you.

  2. Absolutely stunning photos and a joy to read. Your adventures in Iceland sound amazing and it’s propelled this place way up on my bucket list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Another great enticement! This post was perfect timing as read it during a break from researching places to visit on my 10day trip in June. Currently very confused about which car rental company is best. So many scams and bad experiences from a lot of different companies. Any experience with renting a car there? I’m going to be sticking to the ring road and only sealed roads so looking to get a 2WD due to cost.

    1. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t rent the car (I caught a ride in the passenger seat) but Iceland isn’t a country to have scams – search for companies you can pick up at Keflavik airport and you should be fine.

      1. Oh really? I must admit- this is not my area of expertise as I have never done the renting myself! I’m sorry I cannot be more helpful 🙁

  4. Gorgeous photos! I’ve only been to Iceland once, for a couple days in spring and it was grey the whole time. Seeing your sunlit pictures is a good reminder why I definitely need to go back sometime!

      1. Nothing official yet but I imagine I’ll be visiting family and friends in Canada sometime this year – and I’ll definitely include a stopover in Iceland on the way!

  5. We’re going back to Iceland very soon (my fifth visit, hubby’s fourth) and this time will be focusing on the east and south east. Thank you for your fabulous photos and write up! Iceland is one of those places that definitely gets under your skin 😊

  6. Beautiful photos! I am forwarding them on to my son as well who is planning to go camping with friends next summer. After reading your post, I am ready to pack my bags and off I go to see all of this beauty for myself!! Wow!! Thank you for sharing all of your super photos and memories…..

  7. Thank you for this post! The south coast looks amazing! My partner and I went to Reykjavik 2 months ago but did not have a car which limited us greatly. We have since been dreaming to return for a longer period (and with a car).

    1. You should do it! I must admit, I have never had a car in Iceland, but have been lucky enough to find people headed to the same places who I have been able to hitch a ride with!

  8. Beautiful photos, I can just imagine that they still do not do justice to the landscape stretching before you. This now has a place on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

      1. No problem! Icelandair is the big international airline and Air Iceland is the smaller domestic one that flies between cities and also to Greenland and th Faroe Islands 🙂

  9. I am sharing this post with a friend who visited Iceland last spring. He will appreciate your photos and comments.

    Beautiful shots and good observations. Thanks for sharing.

  10. With posts likes these your blog is quickly becoming my favourite to read. Awesome photos, beautiful vistas, and intriguing destinations! Besides that my jealousy of your travels is getting out of hand. You’re living the dream!

    1. Wow thank you! I hope I can stay as one of your favourites forever! I am definitely a lucky lady being able to travel as much as I do 🙂

  11. This is second account of Iceland in very short duration given diversity of writers.

    Extremely Beautiful Place. ( I cant manage more words with my limited vocab )

    Keep writing about it..!!

  12. Wow!!!! I seriously love all the photos! As usual! You and all your amazing landscape shots have inspired me! I love it! The waterfall looks phenomenal! The mountains majestic! What a site!

  13. Oh DRATS~ I just checked out your Iceland journeys because my wife’s friend has been trying to get us to go to Iceland with her next year, but I have been pushing for Australia (which I love, have been there 5 times)… but NOW… oh wow… now… where do we go???

      1. I sent the link to this posting to The Mrs, and she is already knee-deep in planning for Iceland…. Looks like Oz will have to wait. Thanks!! 🙂

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