Iceland 2015 a road trip - south coast of iceland

Join us in our photographic story of our road trip around the south coast of Iceland - where we visit the blue lagoon, and experience thermal spring areas sitting in stunning volcanic landscapes, with mountains, glaciers, towering waterfalls, and black volcanic beaches covered in icebergs. Alas, on this visit, we didn't manage to see the wonder of the Aurora Borealis, perhaps next time, because there will definitely be a next time.

For this trip we based ourselves in two locations, firstly in the area known as the Golden Circle and secondly near to Jokulsarlon in the Vatnajokull National Park. Another option would have been to have based ourselves somewhere like Reykjavik and take one or some, of the many tours into and around these areas but we always like to plan our own itinerary and hire our own transport, which gives us the freedom to go where we want, when we want, and to stop anytime we want.

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

Basing ourselves in these locations enabled us to explore large areas of southern Iceland without constantly having to pack and repack and book in and out of accommodation.


Iceland - a Land of Fire and Ice

Iceland is a Nordic island country between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, it is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland has extensive volcanic and geothermal activity. The rift associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which marks the division between the European and North American tectonic plates, runs across Iceland from the southwest to the northeast.

The morning of our first day and we visited the world renowned Blue Lagoon geothermal Spa, which is located not far from Keflavik airport and between Keflavik and Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland.

Blue Lagoon Thermal Spa

After relaxing in the beautiful warm blue waters of the Blue Lagoon we traveled on to Reykjavik for the afternoon. We didn't spend a lot of time in Reykjavik, preferring to get out on the road into the wilderness areas. However we did manage to treat ourselves to Icelandic fish and chips at the Reykjavik Fish restaurant.

Niki standing beside the Sun Voyager dream boat in Reykjavik, Iceland.

After Reykjavik we traveled on to Minniborgir where we stayed for 3 nights as we explored the Golden Circle, visiting the geothermal area at Geysir, Gulfoss waterfall, and the historically and culturally important Thingvellar National Park, including walking along the actual fault line on which Iceland sits.

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Iceland is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a ridge along which the oceanic crust spreads and forms new oceanic crust

The fault line at Thingvellar, part of which you can walk through and some of which is filled with a waterfall and river tumbling through the gorge that is created there.


Icelandic Horses

The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. The horses are small, at times pony-sized and their ancestors were probably taken to Iceland by Viking Age Scandinavians between 860 and 935 AD. Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy. In their native country they have few diseases; Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country, and exported animals are not allowed to return.


Geysir Geothermal Field

The Great Geysir

The Great Geysir, is a geyser in southwestern Iceland, in the Haukadalur valley. The English word geyser (a periodically spouting hot spring) derives from Geysir, and the name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", a verb from Old Norse. Although Geysir is less active nowadays, it has lent its name to hot springs all over the world.

The geothermal field is also the home to Strokkur geyser, which spouts water 30 meters (100 ft) into the air every few minutes. The area became active more than 1000 years ago and comprises more than a dozen hot water blow holes along with boiling mud pits.

Strokkur geyser




Waterfalls are perhaps one of Iceland's most recognizable attractions. Iceland is perfectly suited for waterfalls, its location and climate produces frequent rain and snow along with a near-Arctic location that produces large glaciers, whose summer melts feed many rivers. As a result, it is home to a number of large and powerful waterfalls.

After the Golden Circle it was time to head east into the Tolkien-esque lands of mountains and glaciers of Vatnajokull National Park.

Dyrholaey beach , looking east towards the sea stacks of Vik.

.. and then onward, deeper into the lands of the elves

... a magical land guarded by supernatural forces

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park is one of three national parks in Iceland. It encompasses all of Vatnajökull glacier and extensive surrounding areas. The Icelandic word jökull means glacier and the National Park contains the largest glacier in the world outside the Arctics, called Vatnajökull, with a surface area of 8100 square km. This massive glacier has many subsidiary glacier tongues, each of which has its own name and distinct characteristics.

Jökulsárlón; literally "glacial river lagoon" is a large glacial lake in Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.


Jökulsárlón ice lagoon at sunset

The icebergs that calve from the glacier move towards the river mouth and get entrenched at the bottom. The movement of the icebergs fluctuates with the tide currents, as well as being affected by wind. However, they start floating as icebergs when their size is small enough to drift to the sea. These icebergs are seen in two shades: milky white and bright blue, which depends on the air trapped within the ice and is an interplay of light and ice crystals. the icebergs finally float from the lagoon out to sea where they are then washed up on the black sand beach.


Stokksnes and Vestrahorn

Stokksnes is a headland on the south eastern Icelandic coast, near Hofn. From the headland you can look back across the black ash sand dunes towards the breathtaking mountains of Vestrahorn, one of Iceland´s most iconic mountains.




Where we stayed during our trip.

Hotel Berg | Keflavik


Minniborgir Cottages | For Exploring the Golden Circle


Hali Country Hotel | For exploring Vatnajokull National Park and South East Iceland


Car Rental | Keflavik Airport

We hired a car through Budget from the airport, going for a Group B (VW Golf 1.4 or similar) and we got a Skoda estate which was brilliant. Plenty of romm and it had 4 wheel drive and was fitted with snow tyres with metal studs.

We booked direct with Budget but after a disastrous direct booking later in the year on a trip to Canada, I think I've learned that you should not book direct with any car rental firm, instead go through a broker, you will get it cheaper through a broker.

Our car
btw, Iceland is called Iceland for a reason, so take some warm clothes!


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