Best things to do in South and sightseeing in South
Gullfoss Waterfall - South
Translated to mean “Golden Falls”. Fed by Langjökull, the second largest glacier in Iceland, Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall. At Gullfoss, you can walk really close to the amazing waterfall and feel the mist of water in your face because the water is just so fast. It was my first time seeing a natural waterfall and I was grasping in awe because it was so majestic. We managed to see rainbow as the light shines through the mist!
Cut into the rocky cliff, the waterfall cascades in a “staircase” motion before abruptly plunging 105 ft to the riverbed below, creating a dramatic roaring sound. We were mesmerized by the large amount of water gushing over the falls, as well as the lush green hillsides.
From there, we head to the Gulfoss Waterfall. This is a popular tourist destination and is a very busy spot. We are surprised by the number of tourists still visiting Iceland at this time of year. Our tour group yesterday was two busloads and over 100 people.
Pingvellir National Park - South
With wonderful vantage points and stunning surroundings, it’s easy to understand why this site is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions.
Driving out of Reykavik (Rey-kya-vik) armed only with maps and a GPS was one of the best scenic road trips I ever had, combing through the extensively unspoiled nature. We took the Golden circle route in South Iceland initially, covering about 300km looping from the main city district into central Iceland - this got us through Pingvellir national park (a UNESCO world heritage site), lunch at Gullfoss waterfall (translated as 'golden falls') which was one of the most painful lunches I had as I couldn't feel my hands, much less savour my ham sandwich, and Haukadalur, an active geothermal valley which had Strokkur and Geysir geysers. Driving up North, we explored Pingvellir, Glymur and the Hvalfjordour region, and stopped by small towns like Akranes, Borgarnes and Hellnar, just to poke our noses into how countryside Nordic life is like. Some of our leisure drives also found us looking out for Kerið crater and 101 other waterfalls including Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss along a coastal drive. Others found us mounting random hills (okay, mostly the guys) and walking on thin ice. The main roads are smooth to drive on, and some roads and sidewalks branching out from Reykavik are heated by geothermal energy to melt ice (not that we even realized, but we read about it). But if you steer off the beaten path, you may find yourself well in several inches of snow or gravel.
Thingvellir National Park - South
Part of a fissure zone running through Iceland that is situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge(Earth science knowledge) and is classified under UNESCO world heritage site due to the tectonic and volcanic environment as rift valley. From here, you can see/dive in the continent drift between the American and Eurasian plate in terms of faults and fissures which is damn cool! I feel like I have applied my Earth science knowledge well in Iceland. Thingvellir National Park also house the largest lake in Iceland!
The next stop was Thingvellir National Park. This place is significant because it's where the tectonic plates that separate the American continent for the Eurasia continent are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year. Every few decades there's a bit of an earthquake that causes the plates to drop, and there's now a significant crevices in the ground that runs miles across the land at this point. You can see the huge cracks in the ground due to the shifting of the tectonic plates. This is the actual spot where the North American continent officially ends. They have built a ramp where the ground collapsed a few years ago so that you can walk right through one of the crevices.
Sólheimajökull - South
Ice picking our way through on the glacier walk on Sólheimajökull Glacier was quite the dream. Although we were guided through the labyrinth of a glacier tongue extending down from the fourth biggest glacier in Iceland, the cold winds and the sudden mild blizzard didn't help. The architecture was majestic, but it was slightly daunting to be enveloped by tall mountain ranges in the distance. You feel like you're buried in a whiteout, surrendering to God's amazing creations.
Eyjafjallajokull - South
The next day was our last full day in Iceland. We’d booked to go walking on a glacier which turned out to be right next to Eyjafjallajokul, the volcano that brought the world to a halt a few years back. That was absolutely amazing, even if the ice wasn’t quite as blue and pristine as we’d been expecting. After a couple of hours of cramponing about on the ice, we headed back down and back towards Reykjavik one more time, stopping off along the way at a viewing point for the volcano and at two huge waterfalls: Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the latter of which you can even wander behind!!
Strokkur Geyser at Geysir - South
Hotel Ranga - South
Geysir - South
The Geysir geothermal area is well known for its spouting springs, including Strokkur, the most active geyser in Iceland which spouts water into the air every few minutes. The formation of geysers is due to particular hydrogeological condition(located near active volcanic areas) which exist in only a few places on Earth, so they are considered a rare phenomenon.