Iceland South Coast Tour A Day Trip to Vik from Reykjavik by JetSettingFools.com

Iceland South Coast Tour: A Day Trip to Vik from Reykjavik

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The Iceland south coast is marked by incredible landscapes. Thundering waterfalls, picturesque villages, black sand beaches and massive glaciers are the top sights on an Iceland South Coast Tour. We joined a day trip to Vik from Reykjavik to explore the sights – and the tour surpassed our expectations!

 

Why a Day Trip to Vik, Iceland?

We had not originally planned to take a day trip to Vik during our Iceland visit – but that all changed after we got our first glimpse of the scenic countryside.

On our first full day in Iceland, we toured the magnificent sights on the Golden Circle. We were blown away by the natural beauty of the country – and yet we were only seeing a small piece of it. By the end of our tour, we knew we had to experience more, even though our trip to Iceland was just a few days long.

 

Vik Tour Iceland

Intrigued by the vast, volcanic lands, our interests were piqued by the picturesque south coast of Iceland and the quaint town of Vik. At first, we considered taking a public bus to Vik, Iceland from Reykjavik – but quickly dismissed the thought. There are too many sights and things to do between Reykjavik and Vik that are not accessible by public transport. Instead, we scouted Vik tours from Reykjavik.

While riding the bus back to Reykjavik after our day on the Golden Circle, we used the on-board WiFi to find the best Reykjavik to Vik South Iceland tours. We booked our tour for the following day to explore Iceland’s South Coast.

Ready to book your South Coast Tour Iceland now? Use this link to book now – or read on to find out the highlights of our day trip to Vik!


 

Iceland South Coast Tour

The tour itinerary for our trip to Iceland’s South Coast included four popular sights, plus one unexpected stop that wasn’t listed on the tour plan. Our day included seeing two waterfalls, hiking through snow to see a glacier, spending time in Vik (on two black sand beaches) and visiting a folk museum.

Less overrun with visitors than the Golden Circle, the sights do not have large welcome centers – but they weren’t so far off the trodden path that we needed any special gear, either. (More about what you will need for your day trip to the South Coast of Iceland at the end of the post…along with a helpful map!)

 

The Start of Our Tour to the South Shore Iceland

Many Iceland day tours to Vik and the South Shore of Iceland depart from the main BSI Terminal – as ours did. The company we booked with provided pick up locations throughout the city center, so all we had to do was walk to the meeting point from our Airbnb. We didn’t need to wait long for our ride to arrive and we were shuttled to the BSI Terminal.

Once there, we easily found the South Coast bus and were warmly greeted by our tour guide, Gus. Immediately, we knew our day would be an entertaining one. We find Icelandic people to be welcoming, humorous and sometimes downright quirky. Gus was all of those things – and we felt we definitely lucked out by having him as our guide.

For example, Gus’s name isn’t really Gus. He has a much longer, difficult-to-say Icelandic name that he jokingly tried to get us to pronounce. Rather than strictly informing us the importance of staying on schedule, he let us know that anyone delaying the departure of the bus would be required to sing karaoke-style for the group. Throughout the day, he peppered the standard script with personal stories that gave more depth to the places we visited. Having a fun and friendly tour guide can make all of the difference!

 

Ring Road and Iceland Scenery

We left the bus terminal and headed for the Ring Road, Iceland’s Route 1 that circles the island and connects Reykjavik to South Iceland. Like a city’s outer belt freeway linking suburbs, the Ring Road connects the villages and towns around the country.

The interior of the Iceland, however, is vacant of people and is mostly open land consisting of moss-covered lava fields and glaciers. Of the 330,000 Icelandic citizens, 75% live in the capital, Reykjavik. The remaining 25% reside is the villages and towns near the shore.

On our Iceland winter tour, the bus maneuvered flawlessly over the snowy road allowing us to sit back, relax and take in the incredible snowy scene outside our window.

 

South Coast Iceland Stop #1: Skogafoss Waterfall

The first stop on our tour is one of the top South Iceland points of interest: the Skogafoss Waterfall. The thundering Skogafoss is one of the biggest Iceland waterfalls and a must-see sight on the Iceland south shore. It has a width of 80 feet and falls 200 feet to the pools below, before continuing along the Skoga River to the coast.

From the top of the waterfall views stretch across the land to the sea. Our winter visit, however, kept us from climbing the stairs to the side to the viewing platform, as they were covered in a thick layer of slick ice. Instead, we marveled at the thousands of icicles clinging to the cliff wall, created by the falls’ spray.

 

South Iceland Tour Stop # 2: Solheimajokull Glacier

Our second stop in southern Iceland was at a famous glacier, Solheimajokull. We departed the bus and followed Gus for a half mile on a snow-packed trail. Gus, who wore winterized clothing, confidently led the group. 

The valley spread out to our left; small hills rose to our right – and with the landscape covered in white snow, it looked as barren as the moon. When Solheimajokull glacier was in sight, we gathered around Gus as he pointed out the glacier, which was necessary, as it was almost entirely covered in snow.

Solheimajokull, which translates to Home of the Sun Glacier, is about 8.5 miles long. The size of the glacier, which has been measured regularly since the 1930s, varies with the climate. It can grow and shrink in the same year. Since 1995, however, it has been shrinking more than growing and it is believed that at the current rate of melting ice, in 100-200 years’ time there will no longer be glaciers on Iceland.

Combine Your South Shore Iceland Tour with Glacier Climbing

A glacier hiking group passed us, complete with helmets and crampons for the walk. With already numb toes, we were all too happy to be heading back to the warmth of the bus, but – in better weather – we think Glacier Hiking would be an awesome experience. Find out more about the combo Iceland South Shore Tour with Glacier Hiking – and book it here!

 

Iceland South Coast Tour Stop #3: Black Sand Beaches at Vik

The next stop on our tour was Vik and the Black Sand Beach. As one of the top South Iceland attractions, we were allotted ample time to explore the village and Icelandic coast.

Vik, which is about 110 miles from Reykjavik and has a population of around 300 residents, is the southernmost village in Iceland. Interestingly, however, it is the only coastal village without a fishing port. Instead, it is known for its black sand beaches and basalt rock sea stacks that sit just offshore.

 

Things To Do in Vik, Iceland

For our tour, Vik was not only an attraction, but also the lunch stop. The small town boasts a handful of places to eat, a black sand beach that fronts the village, a historic church and stunning landscapes.

Lunch

The small recommended restaurant (not included in the tour) was warm and inviting, but we had brought along a picnic lunch in order to have more time on the beach. That’s correct; we planned to have a picnic lunch on the beach in Iceland in January!

Black Sand Beach Iceland

When we climbed over the dunes to the beach, we were in awe. The powder-fine, charcoal black beach was half covered in a fresh dusting of snow, creating a striking contrast. We found a perch along the rocky breakwater where we could eat as we took in the amazing scenery.

Reynisdrangar Rock Formation

From the Vik Black Sand Beach, there is an incredible view of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks. The surf pounded the shoreline and the rock formations looked like frozen figurines.

How the rocks came to stand in the ocean off the tip of the peninsula is shrouded in folklore. One legend is that trolls tried to drag a 3-masted ship onto the beach, but the ship turned to rock before they accomplished their task. Another tales is that a woman was kidnapped by two trolls who took her out to sea; when her husband found out, they solidified and still stand there today.

Vikurkirkja: Vik I Myrdal Church

Topping a hill and overlooking the village is the Vik I Myrdal Church, Vikurkirkja (also called Reyniskirkja). The small white wooden church was built in the 1930s. In the wintertime, it nearly blended in with the blanket of snow, made visible only by its rising steeple and red rooftop.

Reynisfjara Black Beach Iceland

After the rest of our group finished lunch in the restaurant, we boarded the tour bus and made our way to the west side of the peninsula where the Reynisdrangar rocks stand to the famous black sand Reynisfjara Beach.

The small black sand beach provides an even better view of Reynisdrangar. On the tip of the point, columns of basalt rock rise in a cliff and provide a home to a variety of Iceland sea birds. At the base, visitors can wander inside an enormous cliffside cave. In ideal weather, adventurous travelers can hike to the top of the cliff for a stunning viewpoint.

Being such a narrow beach makes the powerful waves dangerous – and we were warned of their unpredictability. The waves travel a long distance across the sea, uninterrupted – and have the ability to quickly sneak up on unsuspecting tourists and drag them out to sea.

While I was captivated by the scene through my lens, Kris started shouting my name, warning me of an approaching wave. I clumsily tried to escape it, falling face-forward onto the beach and getting a mouthful of black sand. Fortunately, I escaped with nothing more than wet feet, a heaping dose of embarrassment and a terrible picture.

Although the Vik village and it’s black sand beaches were a highlight of the tour, there’s still a few more things to do in South Iceland as we made our way back from Vik to Reykjavik.

 

South Coast Iceland Tour Stop #4: Skogar Museum

When we learned that a museum was on the itinerary for Iceland’s South Coast, we were less than enthusiastic about our visit. It’s not that we didn’t want to see the museum, there are just so many south Iceland attractions that are outside – and we were most interested in a natural wonderland of Iceland.

Once we arrived at the Skogar Museum, however, we quickly changed our minds – as it was far from an ordinary museum. Not stuffy or formal, Skogar Museum is packed with 15,000 historical artifacts from the region.

Resembling a treasure trove, the museum was started 80 years ago when a local 14-year-old boy began collecting things that other people were throwing away. His collection grew and he turned his assemblage into a museum. Everything on-site was acquired through friends or friends-of-friends, guaranteeing the authenticity.

The pieces tell the story of the Icelandic people and how they survived in a world without the most typical resources like metal, wood and clay, instead using materials that were abundant, like fish bones and wool. Some of the more notable items are a first-edition Icelandic bible printed in 1584 and a large fishing boat.

 

South Coast Tour Iceland Stop #5: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in winter, Iceland

The winter sun had already set by the time we made it to the last stop: Seljalandsfoss, one of the most famous South Iceland waterfalls.

The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall streams over the edge of a cliff in front of a cave. The cave makes it possible to walk behind the waterfall for a unique look at the natural sight. However, on our trip, the icy conditions made it impossible to take the path into the cave. Instead, we settled for the striking view from the front.

Our late afternoon arrival meant that it was already getting dark (the sun sets at 5pm – and because it sits so low in the sky, it starts to get dark around 3:30pm). Much to our surprise, however, beams of light illuminate Seljalandsfoss, giving us a more unique perspective than we imagined.

Seljalandsfoss is about the same height as Skogafoss, falling 200 feet, but isn’t nearly as wide. Rather than the water roaring down, it seemed to drop in long, sheer ribbons and collected in pools of deep blue. Watching the falls as the sky grew darker was an incredible way to end our day touring Iceland’s South Coast.

Book your South Coast Tour here!


 

South Iceland Map of Attractions

On this map, we indicate the sights we visited on our South Shore Tour Iceland. Use this link to Google Maps for our Iceland South Coast Tour Map online.


 

Vik: Iceland Bus Tour vs Iceland Self Drive Tour

Iceland's South Coast Tour with Reykjavik Excursions JetSetting Fools

Rather than sorting the details of planning our own South Iceland itinerary, we were content joining a tour to see the Iceland south coast sights. Our day was stress-free, incredibly entertaining and included all of the attractions we wanted to see.

However, DIY travelers can plan their own South Iceland adventure by renting a car and making the trip on their own. Before setting off on a drive from Reykjavik to Vik, we have a few tips.

How far is Vik from Reykjavik?

The distance from Reykjavik to Vik is about 190km (about 110 miles) one way on the Iceland south ring road. From point-to-point, it takes about 2.5 hours – but a Self-Drive Iceland Southern Coast Tour will surely include stops along the way. Use this Google Maps link.

Map of Southern Iceland

Although we have provided an online South Iceland Attractions Map (above), we highly recommend purchasing a good driving map for your South Iceland tour from Reykjavik. This map on Amazon, gets good ratings by fellow travelers.

Bus: Vik-Reykjavik

As we previously mentioned, it is possible to visit South Iceland via public bus, but it is not ideal for tourists, unless the village of Vik is the only sight you want to see on your Reykjavik to Vik tour. The public buses do not make stops at Iceland South Coast waterfalls or other attractions.


 

Iceland South Coast Attractions Tour: What You Will Need

Whether you decide to join a Reykjavik South Coast Tour or plan your own Self-Drive Iceland South Coast Itinerary, there are a few things you will want to make sure you have for your trip!

Waterproof Shoes and Weather Gear

On our Iceland South Coast Day Tour, I wore my everyday slip on Skechers, which in hindsight, was a huge mistake. While fine for city walking, they proved to be inadequate for wintertime South Coast Iceland weather. A pair of weatherproof boots would have been a better option, perhaps even in summertime. The weather can change quickly, so we recommend wearing layers and a weather-resistant coat or at least bringing a packable raincoat.

Good Camera with Zoom Lens

The Iceland southern coast is simply astounding! Rather than using a phone camera to capture the sights, we recommend upgrading to an actual camera with a good lens. On our Southern Iceland day tour, we used our Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens.

Travel Insurance

We think travel insurance is essential! Not only does it protect travelers in the event of flight cancellations or lost luggage, but it can be crucial for travelers who get ill or injured abroad. Check rates and coverage at World Nomads.

Lunch Plan

On our South of Iceland Tour, lunch was not included. We were in Vik at lunchtime – and our Iceland tour guide gave recommendations for the best restaurants in Vik. However, we couldn’t imagine sitting inside to eat in such a beautiful place! Instead, we were prepared with a simple picnic lunch that we ate on the Vik black sand beach.

Use our guides to the Must-Eat Food in Iceland and Craft Beer Reykjavik for tips on what to taste during your trip!


 

More Iceland Day Tours

Searching for other Iceland 1-day tours? Take a look at these popular day trips. You can also read about our Northern Lights tour experience!

Golden Circle

The sights on the Golden Circle are a must-see in Iceland! Get all of the details of this day trip in our blog post: The Best Iceland Golden Circle Tour – or book it now!

Whale Watching Iceland

Hop aboard a ship for a 3-hour expedition from Reykjavik in search of whales, dolphins and porpoises. During the tour, learn about the marine wildlife and marvel at the scenic landscapes. Get the details!

Iceland Glacier Tour & South Coast

Take in the sights of the Southern Coast Iceland Tour and visit the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, where floating icebergs add to the dramatic scenery. The top-rated 14-hour tour also includes waterfalls and visiting Vik. Find out more!

 

We want to know: Have you been on a Iceland South Coast Tour? What was your favorite part about the day trip from Vik to Reykjavik? Tell us in the comments! 

 

Start planning your trip to Iceland! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

Need help creating your trip plan? Use our detailed day-by-day Iceland Itinerary!

3-Day Itinerary for Iceland in Winter JetSettingFools.com

3-Day Itinerary for Iceland in Winter

 

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Iceland South Coast Tour Full Day Trip to Vik from Reykjavik by JetSettingFools.com

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15 thoughts on “Iceland South Coast Tour: A Day Trip to Vik from Reykjavik

  1. I will be visiting Iceland next week. We arrive very early in the morning, which I understand will be dark. I am hoping I don’t get discouraged to see some of these sights because of the cold and darkness. My girlfriend and I at renting a car. She doesn’t drive so I will do all of the driving which I don’t mind. I do mind however, that the roads may be icy. Therefore, discouraging me from venturing out to see the sights. Thank you for your informative pictures. They are amazing. I am wondering if a GoPro and my cell phone would be suffice to capture this beauty. Wish us luck, as we are 2 girls from New York going on this magnificent adventure!!!!

    • Hi Frances – What an exciting trip you have coming up! We loved the landscapes of Iceland in winter. I think a GoPro and a good cell phone camera will work, but probably not for the Northern Lights. If you wanted to invest in an actual camera, I would suggest a small PowerShot by Canon. They are small and lightweight, yet take incredibly good pictures. They cost about $150, depending on the model. There will be few hours of sunlight during your visit, but some of the sights are lit so that you can see them at dusk. You will want to get an early start to make sure you are at your first sight when it just starts to get light. Most of the roads were clear of ice when we visited, but we had an overnight storm that caused quite a few people to slide off the road in the morning. If you have never driven on ice, I would suggest maybe researching a few tips on what to do if you feel your car sliding (like NOT slamming on the brakes!). Have a wonderful adventure!! Cheers!

  2. Damn, I get the shivers just looking at those photos. They’re beautiful though. I think if I ever go to Iceland it’ll be in summer 😉

    Frank (bbqboy)

  3. D

    Hey, nice little piece on your trip. you were very lucky on the beach, one tour company no longer will take people on the beach after a tourist drowned last week.

    I’m curious as you why you didn’t take more suitable shoes and also pack a cheap pair of ice grips so you’d have a bit more flexibility on where you could walk? The blog suggested you’re seasoned travellers, so i just wondered. I’ve not seen behind Seljalandsfoss in the winter, i know grips helped us around Geysir in winter to be able to explore more quickly and not have to slowly walk around to avoid falling over

    • D

      Having just read your ‘about’ bit, perhaps extra shoes would not fit in your travel pack – but def recommend some ice grips which take up hardly any room (mine dont anyway, about as much room as a pair of socks)

      • Hello D –
        We heard about the drowning and it is truly awful to hear. I can attest to how quickly the waves can sneak up, especially when trying to be a tourist and looking through a lens! Did you still get to visit the black sand beach at Vik?
        Regarding our packing: As full-time travelers without a home, we carry everything we own. I have one 50L backpack and a small messenger bag. That’s it. (Yeah, it was tough going when we first set out 2 years ago! 🙂 ) Our trip to Iceland was a last minute decision (as is true with most of our travels), so we just made do with what we had. For our 4 days in Reykjavik, the biggest issue I had was keeping my shoes dry. If we ever head back to Iceland in the winter (and I hope we do!), I would probably consider getting better shoes for the trip! Thanks for the tip on the ice grips – those sound like they would work well for both packing and exploring!

        • D

          Ah yes, once i read more about your travels i realized the shoe decision – but def recommend the ice grips 🙂

          I went to Vik nearly 10 years on a previous trip, but I’m heading back there later in the year (v short trip, but using it as base for 2 nights) and will visit the infamous beach (but i will be very careful!)

          • Sounds like a great trip! We would love to go back to Iceland and see it in the summer, too. Such a beautiful country…I don’t think I would ever get tired of looking at it 😉 Enjoy your upcoming adventure!! 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    How do people earn a living here? I would think it would be economically disadvantaged because much of one’s income would have to be spent on heating and food, surviving looks difficult! Looks too desolate for me, I need photosynthetic plants year round!

    • The main industries in Iceland are Fishing, Agriculture, Tourism and Aluminum. Fishing is kind of obvious – and they ferment their fish so they have easy access to it year round. Agriculture is a little more interesting. They grow veggies year round in geothermal greenhouses using the abundant geothermal natural resources (both clean and sustainable). But, for half the year (the half that isn’t winter), the sun shines nearly 24 hours, making farming possible. Tourism is currently gorwing at a pace of 25% increase per year. It is huge. Aluminum: now this one threw us. However, 3 major aluminum companies use Iceland as a base. They ship the raw materials in from Australia then produce the goods in Iceland and then export the product to the US and other countries. The reason: The natural geothermal and hydro enegery are cheap in Iceland. So cheap, that this ridiculous process makes sense. 90% of the homes are heated with geothermal energy, so it doesn’t cost much. They have so much hot water that they encouraged us to take long showers!
      All that said, it is an extremely expensive country. Imported food is necessary and expensive. Beer is astronomical (but don’t think that stopped us from having a few pints!). It is a fascinating country. They have gender equality. They are extremely well-educated – with a literacy rate is 99.8%. And, they pay 36-47% in taxes.
      Admittedly, the winter is pretty white and void of much color. But, although we haven’t seen it for ourselves, the summers are green and lush!

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