South Iceland picture
Akemazing/Getty Images

Price & Hours



Beaches, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

If you have a limited itinerary, you'll want to prioritize seeing the Golden Circle. But if you're staying in Iceland for multiple days, a trek throughout South Iceland is a must, according to recent travelers. This region, which is south and east of Reykjavik, boasts towering volcanoes, expansive glaciers, gushing waterfalls, ample farmland and a black-sand beach. You may even pass Icelandic horses or spot puffins while traveling around the area.

Besides touring Golden Circle sights like Gullfoss and Strokkur, previous visitors suggested heading to Vík, where the black-sand Reynisfjara and its gigantic cave reside. Snapping photos of Skógafoss and walking behind Seljalandsfoss, two of South Iceland's most well-known waterfalls, are also worthwhile. If you don't want to drive to the region, consider joining an organized tour from companies like BusTravel Iceland and Gray Line Iceland. Nine- or 10-hour excursions to Iceland's south coast start at 12,781 Icelandic króna (about $123.50) per person and include roundtrip Reykjavik transfers and the services of a guide.

The Golden Circle's sights are about 25 miles outside the city center, while coastal attractions around Vík are more than 110 miles away. The area itself is free to visit 24 hours a day, but keep in mind that fees may apply to access select locales. You'll need to drive or join an organized tour since public transportation to South Iceland's natural wonders is not available; free parking is readily available. Restaurants, shops and public restrooms can be found in the region's towns. Check out Visit South Iceland's website to learn more about things you can see and do while in the area.

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Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)1 of 10
Golden Circle2 of 10
#1 Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

The aurora borealis (or northern lights) can be an almost eerie sight: Picture emerald green swirls coloring the otherwise darkened sky. But scientists have a boring explanation for this phenomenal natural light show – "collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth's atmosphere," according to the Northern Lights Centre. Still, it's a pretty breathtaking sight, and if you're visiting Reykjavik in winter, you might want to stake out some time for northern lights gazing.

Although you can see the lights from Reykjavik, you'll increase your chances of viewing them outside of the city. Previous travelers recommend taking a tour with local companies like BusTravel Iceland or Reykjavik Excursions. (But keep in mind that the aurora borealis requires a perfect cocktail of climate conditions in order to show – so you're not guaranteed to see the elusive display of lights even if you book a tour.) If you'd rather hunt for this natural phenomenon on your own, time your visit between September and mid-April.

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