Before my trip to Iceland, I did extensive research about the various geographical wonders of the island. Knowing I was only going to be there for 4 days, I began mapping out my top interests and how I was going to get there.
I had quite a few things on my list but I've narrowed it down to give you the 5 must-see spots of Southern Iceland going from East to West. (ps. I made the map so it was easier to visualize.)
1. Þingvellir: This national park, about 45 mins from Reykjavik, is a perfect starting point to explore the island. This is a great place to camp in the summer, while in the winter you get a completely different experience from the main waterfalls as it freezes the rocks it falls upon. Another incredible excursion offered at Þingvellir is the chance to snorkel or scuba dive (if certified) between two large tectonic plates. They give you a special suit to keep you dry and warm in the glacier waters and guide you through the deep crevasse. From the camp sites, to the waterfalls and scuba diving between tectonic plates... There is really so much to see and experience at this park.
2. Seljalandsfoss: This stunning waterfall is completely breathtaking and so powerful! You can see it from the road, when driving down Route 1 (also known as Ring Road). The reason this was one of the more interesting falls I went to, because lets be honest… it’s Iceland there are lots-o-waterfalls, is because you can actually walk behind it. Standing behind it, taking in the beautiful views while getting naturally misted from the fresh water is something else.
3. Black Sand Beach: This is one of the most fascinating stops on the road trip around Southern Iceland. On the way to Vik, there is a small side road that leads to Reynisfjall. It is a completely black basalt beach with the most beautiful rock formations. When I went, it was very overcast, with the grey clouds reflecting off the white caps making the entire beach look completely monochromatic. I took a video of the beach and it honestly looked like I had put a black and white filter over the footage because of the white water and sky against the black sandy beach. A very cool, yet trippy experience.
4. Fjaðrárgljúfur: this breathtaking canyon runs 2 kilometers long and 100m deep with the Fjaðrá river running through the middle. The mossy cliffs are ornately carved and shaped after years of water flowing from the glaciers through the rocks into the ocean. Breathtaking!
5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: This was the furthest we traveled away from Reykjavik (it takes about 5 hours in a straight shot). The lagoon was actually in the middle of nowhere, to the point where I questioned how it wasn't man-made. It was so beautiful but also so random, honestly you just round the corner on Route 1 and suddenly feel as though you’ve made a wrong turn and ended up in Antarctica. But after a couple minutes of research, I figured out how it’s all possible (naturally). Basically, how this phenomenon works is lava flowing below the volcanic glaciers surface heats up a large portion of a glacier eventually breaking off a large chunk. The whole mass then slides down, away from the main glacier and slowly starts melting. Over time, it breaks further down into a beautiful spacious lagoon filled with large, luminous blue icebergs that become home to lots of arctic fauna such as: puffins, seals, and seabirds. This stop, although quite a drive was a truly unique experience, it really put the "ice" in Iceland.