Iceland in January: Along the South Coast

One thing that hasn’t left my mind since I got back from Iceland is the breathtaking scenery. Although we stayed near the centre of Reykjavik, a lovely, clean city in itself, when we ventured out to explore the south coast we were just blown away by the vastness of Iceland’s beauty.

Getting to explore these places is definitely a highlight of my year (already). Before we left we still hadn’t fully decided where to go, so when a friend of ours suggested we go on a tour of the south coast, we looked into it and immediately booked ourselves on this one.

To summarise, it’s a guided bus tour, and it takes you along the south shore from Reykjavik to Vik with a few stops on the way: Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara beach, the Reynisdrangar salt towers and the fishing village of Vik.

So, on to our first stop:

♢ Seljalandsfoss waterfall

It took around an hour and a half to get here from Reykjavik, and as we left at 9am before the sun was even up, we got to watch the sunrise over the mountains we drove past.

I’m going to keep saying this throughout this post, but none of my pictures show the scale of it! It’s really beautiful and such a tranquil setting. At the bottom of the waterfall there’s a small pool that continues off into a wide stream.

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There are also smaller waterfalls just across the bridge that takes you over the stream. It was a little slippery when we went due to all the mud, but as long as you’ve got your boots on you should be fine!

♢ Skógafoss waterfall

This one was much larger than the Seljalandsfoss we’d seen earlier in the day, but here you’re able to climb some stairs on the side to see it from the top.

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It was a long way up (it is much taller than it looks in the photos), but we jogged up the steps and were at the top in 10 minutes!

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The one thing I wasn’t too enamoured by was the height, and the balcony that had been built for visitors to stand on had a hatched floor, so you could see right down to the bottom: my legs turned a bit jelly-ish when I realised this, and I made my way back to land shortly after getting this photo!aloma-skogafoss-rivertop-waterfall2-edit

Even from the top, it’s stunning because the water is just so blue: I’ve always lived right next to the Thames, so any river that isn’t sludge green is obviously a bit of a shock to me!

♢ Sólheimajökull glacier

Honestly, this was my favourite part of the trip. Getting off our nice, cosy bus and into the fresh, ice-cold Icelandic air was indeed a bit of a shock to the system, but upon seeing this glacier in person, we both stared in awed silence for a long time.

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The photo above is the furthest we went, as we didn’t think we could navigate the ice ahead of us without slipping over and doing some damage, but I mean, look at it.

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I repeat, my photos really don’t do it justice. The view above is of the path we took to get there: it was icy in parts from where the snow had been trodden in by previous visitors so it wasn’t a quick trip either way. But it was incredible throughout.

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When we started making our way back, it began snowing on us, and by the time we made it to our bus it had turned into a full on hail, so we were covered in snow. But if I could choose to do any part of this trip again, it would be the Sólheimajökull glacier.

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Every single inch of this glacier is just beautiful, and it was strange that I got to visit something that I’ve only ever seen in photos: it’s truly a million times better in person than it’ll ever be on film or in photos.

♢ Reynisfjara beach & Reynisdrangar salt towers

Reynisfjara beach is a black sand beach right next to Vik village.

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Having been drenched in snow from our walk around Sólheimajökull glacier, I couldn’t bring myself to stay out on the beach for too long, but we did wander down to the cave near the shore.

The waves from the ocean were insanely huge, and we stood and admired them from afar. It was so windy that the spray from the sea was getting all over us, and it froze me even more than I already was.

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The Reynisdrangar salt towers are three columns of volcanic rock jutting out of the ocean and they’re situated right next to Reynisfjara beach. I didn’t manage to get any non-blurry photos, and it was also freezing by this point I couldn’t stand to take my hands out of my pockets!

♢ Vík i Myrdal village

Our last stop was Vík, and it was a very brief one! It’s an extremely tiny fishing village, and the most noticeable thing about it is the church: it’s on top of a small hill that overlooks the rest of the village, and as it’s white and red with a steeple, it stands out nicely against the houses that sit below it. Even though our visit was fleeting, it was so peaceful watching the snow starting to settle on it.

All in all, this tour made our Iceland trip feel kind of like a dream: never have I ever been surrounded by so much snow, the sound of crashing waves and such clean, fresh air. It’s as if we’ve been living in a fairytale for the past week!

If you’re thinking of booking a trip to Iceland, I’d completely recommend visiting these places, especially the Sólheimajökull glacier. It’s a good route to go if you’re planning on driving, and there are plenty of guided tours that take you to these places too (and the one we booked was great!).

And if you’ve already booked and are wondering what you might need to wear, check out my previous post where I talked about how I kept warm (for the most part) while in Iceland!

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