What to See in Iceland, Day 5 – Lazy day exploring Southwest Iceland

Southern Iceland Waterfalls & Black Sand Beaches
Southern Iceland Waterfalls & Black Sand Beaches

Looking for what to see in Iceland? Here are some great sites in Southern Iceland that don’t take much effort to see on the beautiful island!

In this article:
Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland
Beautiful Black Sand Beach in Iceland
Rock formations of Reynisdrangar, Reynisfjara and the Hálsanefshellir Cave
The Dyrhólaey Arch
Rainbows at Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls


Exploring Southern Iceland

Day 5 of our Icelandic adventure wasn’t a terribly exciting day, but it was a beautifully relaxing day – and a much-needed one at that. After a few days of driving, exploring and adventuring, today was a day with nothing planned and no schedules. We had some things nearby that we wanted to see, but we were in no rush. We slept in a bit, enjoyed breakfast at the Welcome Hotel Lambafell (be sure to read the reviews – it wasn’t terrible, but not great either), and set off to explore some nearby areas of Southern Iceland.

Exploring southern Iceland
Exploring southern Iceland

The Magnificent Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland

To start the day exploring Southern Iceland, we decided to stop by the Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland since it was a quick 2-minute drive from our hotel. It’s an incredibly beautiful and large waterfall…with lots of tour buses. The Skogafoss waterfall is visible off of route 1 (The Ring Road), and there is a large parking lot with a few nearby restaurants and accommodations.

It was raining when we parked, so we ran close to the waterfall to get some pictures and then back to the car to hide. By now, we had seen so many waterfalls that we didn’t feel the need to spend a ton of time hiking up to the top of the Skogafoss waterfall, which you can do and I’m sure is very exciting with a beautiful view. But, we were tired…and hungry.

We had taken our time getting ready to explore South Iceland after breakfast and it was around 11 am now. We had read great things about fish and chips from Sveitagrill Miu – Mia’s Country Grill – a small food truck right near the falls – but I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed. Prices seem to have gone up recently vs prices I saw in pictures while doing my research. It’s about $20 USD for one order of fish and chips, and it’s not very large.

The fish was fresh, I’ll give them that, but it just wasn’t worth $20 for that small portion. Since it was raining, we ordered one portion (weren’t hungry enough for two) and sat in our car to enjoy. Oh – and I totally found my dream house. It’s right in between our hotel and the Skogafoss waterfall, built into the mountains. Absolutely lovely!


Beautiful Black Sand Beach in Iceland

We had driven Southern Iceland through Vik and some surrounding areas the day before on our way to ice climbing on the Falljökull glacier, but today we wanted a closer look. Turns out, there’s not a whole lot to see in Vik. I don’t know why I had expected more, but I was wrong. It’s a very small town but does have one of the more popular black sand beaches in Iceland.

You can drive right up to the black sand beach, and it’s beautiful! There was a wedding going on when we got there – aww. We decided we would start here, and then work our way back along the coast and check out the other great sites.

This black sand beach in Iceland was created because when lava comes in contact with water, it cools quickly and gets broken into tiny basalt fragments that look like sand. Off the coast of this black sand beach, you can see structures composed of basalt as the sand built up in those areas.

Rock Formations of Reynisdrangar, Reynisfjara and the Hálsanefshellir Cave

On the western side of the bluffs from Vik is another black sand beach, and the really cool basalt formations. You have to drive back to route 1 towards Reykjavik, and then north on route 215, but it’s not very far. Worth seeing, but again, very crowded with tour buses.

If you want a more secluded black sand beach in Iceland, go on the other side of the bluffs in Vik (described above). However, there is a little café here where you can get food, coffee, cocktails – whatever you like. It gets incredibly packed with tour bus crowds, but we were lucky enough to get a seat by the window where we could enjoy our coffee as we watched the rain outside.

Reynisdrangar is one cool spot to check out – it’s that set of basalt formations out at sea, said to be that of trolls turned to stone in the daylight. Reynisfjara beach has an even cooler rock formation, just beyond the cafe, made of basalt rock with a very tall but shallow cave. The waves come crashing right up against them, and they can be very strong, so be careful!

The Dyrhólaey Arch

Heading back to the Ring Road, you’ll drive west a bit until route 218 which takes you to a bluff above the Dyrhólaey Arch. When we were there, it was INCREDIBLY windy, so we didn’t spend much time hanging out. We walked over, got our picture, and ran back to the car.

On a day where it’s not as windy, this would be a great spot for a picnic! As you drive back on the 218 towards the Ring Road, there’s another road that brings you down closer to the black sand beach, but we had seen enough and were getting hungry.

Rainbows at Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls

Last on our list for today was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall– yet another beautiful waterfall in Southern Iceland. There are actually two waterfalls within a few hundred feet of each other (Gljúfrabúi right next door), and you can even walk along a path behind Seljalandsfoss without getting (too) wet. We were lucky enough to have a few beautiful rainbows show up for our visit, along with…you guessed it, a ton of tour buses. Seriously, so many tour buses everywhere – and we were late-season! I can’t imagine what summer is like.

Overall, day 5 exploring Southern Iceland was a nice, lazy day where we got to see some beautiful sites without having to exert a whole lot of energy. There’s a glacier in the area as well, if you’re interested, but we had seen enough on our glacier tour the day before.

Also, there are some hot springs near the Welcome Hotel Lambafell – Seljavallalaug – but you have to hike out a bit to get to it. It doesn’t seem like an incredibly difficult hike, and probably well worth it, but it was raining and we were just not motivated enough for that!

We had hoped that maybe we’d get another nice, hot tub night, but it rained all night so we stayed in bed with a movie and our gas station sandwiches to end our stay at the Welcome Hotel Lambafell and in the Southern Iceland. Tomorrow, we would be heading to Reykjavik for a few days in the city to end our Icelandic adventure!

Want to read more? Follow along on the rest of our week-long adventure in Iceland! 

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