After the exciting snowmobile adventure to the Vatnajökull Glacier, our on-the-road tour of Iceland continues along the Ring Road in the south coast of the island. During the last part of our itinerary we explore the scenic black beach of Reynisfjara, the Dyrhólaey Viewpoint and the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, before returning to Reykjavík. In this part of the island, please pay close attention to the strong wind, which can really bring big trouble!
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Reynisfjara Beach and Dyrhólaey Viewpoint
A common feature of the beaches in the south of the island is a very fine black sand, a characteristic that makes them particularly scenic not only in the summer months, but also during the Winter when the deep black of the sand is in contrast to the bright white of the snow. But another feature not to be underestimated is the very strong wind that rages here and which, for the first time during the entire tour, really makes us understand why car renters are so insistent in asking for caution when opening the doors in windy weather! However, at the beach, strong wind also means taking caution against sudden waves and not getting too close to the water. Many people are said to have been swept into the water suddenly, and the warning signs placed just about everywhere are a clear indication of the strong risk. But Reynisfjara is also famous because it is enclosed by a magnificent group of basalt columns and is full of small and large caves, some of which can be visited with proper caution. During Summer, the beach is quite busy, so to make the most of the beauty of the place, our advice is to go there either early in the morning or late in the evening.
However, if you prefer to admire the beach from above, we suggest moving to Dyrhólaey Viewpoint. From here you will have full visibility of the black beaches and the stone arch of Dyrhólaey. The viewpoint can be reached by car and has two parking areas, one lower and one higher up, near the Dyrhólaey lighthouse. This last one in rainy weather is recommended only for 4X4 cars, as the road surface is in really bad condition.
Skógafoss and Skógar Museum
Located about half an hour from Dyrhólaey Viewpoint, the Skógafoss waterfall is famous because of its spectacular 62-meter drop! Near the waterfall, you will find a convenient carpark that is quite crowded in the summer months because it is also reached by the tour buses that leave from Reykjavík. From the carpark, you can reach the base of the waterfall and walk around it. Be prepared to get pretty wet though, and if you want to take some good pictures, remember to protect your camera from the water! If you are lucky, you will be rewarded by the sight of magnificent rainbows! For a slightly longer walk, you can climb the steep staircase that flanks the waterfall. From its top starts the Fimmvörðuháls Hiking Trail, which is 23 km long and reaches Þórsmörk. At this link you will find all the information about the trail.
Not far from the waterfall and often overlooked by visitors, the Skógar Museum tells the story and folklore of the Icelandic people. The museum consists of an outdoor exhibit, a museum of traditions, and a museum of technology. We particularly enjoyed the outdoor exhibit, which consists of many reconstructions of typical island houses in different historical periods. The exhibit is carefully detailed and exploring this place will really take you back in time! The museum is open in the summer months from 09:00 to 18:00 and with reduced opening hours the rest of the year. The ticket cost is ISK 2300 (about CHF 16) per person. You can find more information about this Museum at this link.
The last stop on our on-the-road tour of Iceland is the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This magnificent waterfall, which falls 60 meters from the lower edge of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, is very popular because a narrow path (quite slippery!) allows you to walk around it and reach the rest of the waterfall. For a special visit, we suggest you reach it at sunset and watch the sun go down from behind the water. A truly indescribable emotion!
Arriving by airplane
See the location in Google Maps. Most travellers choose to reach Iceland by flight. The island is well connected to the rest of Europe and Switzerland by the national airline Icelandair. All flights from abroad land and depart from Keflavík Airport, located about 50 km from the capital Reykjavík. During the summer, a domestic flight to the northern city of Akureyri also departs from Keflavík. The airport has rental counters for all major international rental companies. You can therefore easily pick up your rental car here. By car, the city of Reykjavík is about 50 minutes away.
Arriving by ship
Beware of strong winds! As already mentioned several times, wind is one of the biggest risks for you and your car in the south of the island. Car hire companies are well aware of this and don’t fail to point it out at the time of pickup. We experienced great difficulty ourselves during our visit to Dyrhólaey Viewpoint, being able only by pure luck – in two of us – to hold on to the car door and prevent it from being taken away! So be extremely cautious!
A few meters ahead of Seljalandsfoss, hidden in a canyon, is the Gljúfurárbui waterfall. This little piece of paradise is quite popular with professional and amateur photographers who, equipped with waterproof boots, enter the narrow passageway to reach the waterfall. We, considering the crowds, gave up the venture. Maybe you will be luckier than us!
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