April 28, 2019

The Best Way to do the South Coast in Iceland on a Budget!

by Ragnheidur Harpa
Driving in iceland
Natural attractions
South Iceland
Travel tips
Ragnheidur studied anthropology with a minor in media so it might not come as much of a surprise that she is curious about the nature. She loves educating others about her findings or her home country, Iceland. Ragnheidur is into country living, traveling, Icelandic horses, the Icelandic naming system, plants and all things having to do with food and beer. Her favorite places in Iceland are the Westfjords and the South Coast but she has lived in downtown Reykjavik for the last few years.
The Best Way to do the South Coast in Iceland on a Budget!

When the question comes up about where to visit in Iceland, “the South Coast” will often be the answer. It is easy to navigate, extremely beautiful, the time driving between stunning attractions is at a bare minimum and the sunsets are like something from a corny postcard. Furthermore, the South Coast is home to almost all of the glaciers found in Iceland.   It is a place where you can walk behind waterfalls, where you can witness the natural burst of a geyser and where you can see the fertile farmlands side by side with pitch black lava fields. It is a place of extremes,  and a place visitors often describe as stepping onto a new planet every 20 minutes.

South shore Iceland

Questions regarding the South Coast in Iceland are probably the most common ones we get. People want to know what to see, where to go, where to stay and what to eat. Moreover, people want to stay on a budget and see as much as possible while still not overloading the day. Even though this might sound like impossible requirements, we are here to tell you that they are not!

The perfect south Iceland itinerary

Our expert team of Iceland enthusiasts and nature lovers we have put together the perfect plan for 5 days/4 nights in Iceland and actually turned it into a tour, one which we like to call The South Iceland Express Road Trip. However, this is no usual tour, it is more of an exploration which  do at your own pace, with your own alterations and last minute decisions. In addition, Iceland Travel is  here to help. We’ll  make sure you have a place to stay each night, that you taste the right local dishes, that you get the best price for a rental car and–  last but not least–  that you have a tablet packed with amazing Icelandic info to make the most of your trip to Iceland!

Vik village summer

We provide the basic itinerary, make sure you are safe, well taken care of and that you don’t miss out on any must-sees.  We’ll even let you in on some Icelandic secrets and teach you the local’s way of exploring the Land of Ice and Fire.

This highlight hitting self-drive experience is one for the books. It will guarantee the best value version of a trip to Iceland.  Our experts will be available throughout the trip to make sure you get the ultimate best experience, don’t miss out and come home with that ‘I just can’t stop smiling’ feeling!

This 5-day Self-Drive trip in Iceland includes:

  • 2 nights at a hotel in Reykjavik
  • 2 nights at a country hotels
  • 4 breakfasts at the hotels (with Icelandic specialties)
  • A Rental Car for 4 days with unlimited mileage and proper insurance and an additional authorized driver
  • A GPS System for the car
  • Fuel Discount Card
  • Car pick-up/drop-off at Keflavik international airport, making all transportation so much easier and cheaper!
  • Airport Service Charge
  • Customer Care Service open during office hours
  • Emergency phone line open 24 hours, including weekdays and public holidays
  • Service fee and taxes
  • A Tablet with the Icelandic Companion Travel App provided with the rental car. The App has:
    • Thousands of points of interests; nature sites, historical places, and roadside services that can be fitted to suit your interests and needs
    • A Highlights section for each day of the tour
    • Your hotel bookings with check-in and check-out dates
    • Safety guidelines and the apps of the Icelandic Meteorological Office and The Icelandic Road Administration – an important thing to check in Iceland!
    • A map view of the Iceland road trip and the different way you can do the trip
    • Iceland Travel Road Guide about Iceland in English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and French

What you will See on the South Iceland Express Road Trip

10) Reykjavik

Reykjavik Iceland

9) Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss waterfall

8) Geysir and Strokkur

Geysir summer

7) Thingvellir National Park

Walk through history at Thingvellir National Park

6) Skogafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss Waterfall

5) The Reykjanes Peninsula


4) The Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

3) Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Reynisfjara black sand beach

2) Eyjafjallajokull Glacier Volcano

Eyjafjallajokull Glacier

1) Seljalandsfoss Waterfall


The 5 Day Iceland Itinerary + all the ways you can do it!

This is where the Road Companion App will come in handy, always there to guide you and tell you all about the different ways you can explore Iceland. The secret stops, the necessary information and the must-do’s!

Day 1Arrival – Reykjavik

This is the day you have been waiting for. The day that you will arrive in Iceland!  Once having landed, pick up your bags and head on over to the desk to get your rental car and specially-designed tablet and app. The world is your oyster. Take a long breath as you step out of the airport; there is nothing like Icelandic fresh air!

Make your way to the hotel in Reykjavik, check in and drop off your bags.

There are so many ways to explore the colorful city of Reykjavik, make sure you do it properly!  Stroll around the city, possibly joining a food walk where the local guide will take the lead to all the best cafés, restaurants and food trucks. This is a great way to learn about the culture in a quick and satisfying way, literally swallowing it!

Akureyri food walk

If you are here in winter and can’t wait any longer to let the Icelandic nature surprise you,  book a Northern Lights tour for the evening. There are so many options!  The tour guides pick you up and use their expertise to find the prime spot for the evening. Enjoy the glistening multicolored waves as they dance in the night sky.

Others like to jump on a whale watching boat and get in close contact with the gentle giants of the Atlantic ocean. There is nothing quite like seeing them in their natural habitat, and Iceland is an excellent place to do so!

If the weather is acting up you might want to stay indoors. No worries, even the indoors in Iceland can blow your mind. Make your way to the Pearl for the Wonders of Iceland Exhibition. Just how they managed to make everything this real I will never know,  but boy oh boy does it brings me joy!

Reykjavik by sea and whale watching adventure

Day 2 – Golden Circle; Gullfoss, Geysir & Thingvellir National Park, Kerid Volcanic Crater, Laugarvatn

Do some serious carb loading at the breakfast buffet;  you have an amazing day ahead. First up is the famous Thingvellir National Park, one of the three stops that form the Golden Circle. It is a place of incredible history and where the continental plates drift apart in the most fascinating of ways. It is, after all, a UNESCO heritage site!

There you can join for a Silfra snorkeling tour where you put on a dry suit and go in between the North American and Eurasian plates. Most noteworthy, it is the only place in the whole world where you can do this.  The water is so clear some visitors have said the experience feels like flying!

Snorekling in Iceland

When making your way to the bubbling geysers you will pass Laugarvatn Fontana Spa.   Many visitors like to make a stop to bathe in the geothermal hot tubs with splendid views of South Iceland. Further on you will start to see the smoke come up and know that you are in the Haukadalur area. It is where the renowned Geysir rests, the namesake of all geysers in the world.  He is resting these days.  His younger brother, Strokkur,  now does all the work, spouting up into the air every 4-10 minutes.  It’s a sight you will never forget!

Only a few minutes away you will find the powerful and majestic Gullfoss waterfall.  The Golden Waterfall  drops in two cascades in a glacier-carved canyon, creating the most dazzling of sights. From Gullfoss, you can join a snowmobiling adventure gliding across the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjokull.

From Gullfoss make your way to the geothermally-active Fludir area where you can bathe in the Secret Lagoon, visit a tomato greenhouse cafe for some delicious food  or drive on a bit longer for a visit to the moon-like volcanic crater called Kerid.

Overnight in the charming village of Fludir.

Day 3 – South Coast; Eyjafjallajokull, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Reynisfjara, Fludir Geothermal Area

Wake up to a delicious country hotel breakfast and head on out. The South Coast waits!

As you make your way from the Fludir area Hella will be the first town you go through.  This is an area of open plains which are fertile and green, but in the distance you can always spot a glacier or a volcano lurking. The further east you drive the closer they get. The second town on your itinerary Hvolsvollur, which is where the truly captivating LAVA Museum is housed. For anyone interested in volcanoes you need to stop here.  This town is also a good place to stop and get some lunch.

Lava Centre Hvolsvollur

Next up are the waterworks:  Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall you can walk behind. It takes its water from the famous glacier volcano Eyjafjallajokull which so famously shut down all air traffic in 2010. The glacier volcano sits right above the falls,  and you can see it early on when driving along the Ring Road. Make sure to stop at Gljufrabui as well, Selfoss‘s hidden sister fall on the left side of it.

Onwards the road will take you to Skogar, home of the powerful  waterfall Skogafoss. This is a sight which will leave you in awe and has been made famous is quite a few Hollywood movies and, recently, in the TV show Vikings.

A bit further east  you will find the enchanting Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Equally as important to visit with its basalt pillars, volcanic sand and truly gripping views,  this place is sure to end up on your list of top  Iceland attractions.   Onwards you can go to the neighboring village of Vík , here you can join some of Iceland’s most popular adventure tours,  including a visit to a natural Ice Cave which rests right under the volcano Katla and a glacier snowmobiling experience on the mighty Myrdalsjokull!

Ice cave in Myrdalsjokull

Day 4 – Reykjanes Peninsula; The Blue Lagoon, Gunnuhver, The Seaside Drive, Bridge Between Continents

Wake up on a lovely country hotel in the area of the Katla Geopark and start to make your way back in a westerly direction. You can go the same way you came, through Selfoss and Hveragerdi , but there is also the alternative route of the Sudurstrandarvegur. This way will take you along the seaside, into the villages of Thorlakshofn and Stokkseyri. These are excellent locations to taste some delicious Icelandic langoustines or maybe join an ATV tour along the beach! For those who are looking to explore the lava fields around the part of the island today , there are excellent lava cave tours available, the best being the tour through Raufarholshellir Lava Tunnel.

Lava cave Iceland

The Sudurstrandarvegur route will take you into charming fishing of Grindavik and give you an excellent opportunity to take a dip in the world-famous Blue Lagoon. Just make sure to book your Blue Lagoon entrance in advance!

Reykjanes is a UNESCO Global Geopark, and that nomination reflects what an extraordinary place Reykjanes is. Take your time and enjoy the exotic vastness!  Some  amazing sites to visit include the bridge between the continents and the colorful Gunnuhver hot spring area.

The night is spent again in Reyjavik, where there is always something new to see and experience. Subsequently, this could mean spending your last night with the locals on a beer tour or maybe viewing a comedy show about the Icelandic Sagas. Maybe you’d like to take a stroll down to Solfarid, the Sun Voyager and watch the sun go down,  or perhaps you’ll simply want to taste your last Icelandic hot dog. Whatever you do, just make sure to give yourself time to explore the capital of Iceland.

ATV tour on a black beach

Day 5 Departure – Reykjavík, Reykjanes, Keflavik

This day is up to your flight schedule. If you are leaving in the afternoon,  you will have time to roam around Reykjavik in daylight, continue exploring the Reykjanes peninsula or maybe even catch a morning horse riding tour in the lava landscapes near the town of Hafnarfjordur.

Visit here and get a feel for how the Earth was created!

Finally, just make sure to be at the airport timely, 3 hours with a rental car is advised!

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