Best Places to Visit and Photograph on Iceland's South Coast

04 January 2020, by Oana Badiu

Iceland's South Coast is beautiful and unique in the world, with lots of places to visit and photograph! People from all over the globe visit Iceland to admire its waterfalls, glaciers, black sand beaches and volcanoes.

I had only one week to visit Iceland and after heavy research I discovered that the South Coast of Iceland has the most interesting and unique places to photograph! Of course, I would have wanted to visit everything in Iceland, but time didn't allow.

Since this was a solo photography travel, I visited only the places that were easily accessible with a normal car, along the ring road. For a single person, hiring a 4WD car in Iceland was way too expensive. Also, nature can be a bit tricky here, so I didn't want to get myself in trouble on a weird path all by myself.

I visited Iceland during the last week of September and the timing was perfect for the beautiful autumn colours! Some days were a bit rainy, but mostly the weather was on my side. The southern part of Iceland is where it rains the most, so I was prepared for the worst. It was very windy and cloudy most of the time, but not really rainy. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable and it can be sunny and beautiful on one side and a few kilometres away, on the other side of the mountain, it can be rainy and cloudy. It helps to follow vedur.is, the Icelandic weather forecast, and plan your day according to where you can find the best weather.

Here are the best places to visit and photograph on Iceland's South Coast!

The list is in order of preference.

1. Vestrahorn and Stokksnes

Vestrahorn is probably the second most photographed mountain in Iceland, after Kirkjufell. To reach Vestrahorn check on Google Maps for a place called "Stokksnes". The Stokksnes peninsula is privately owned and you will need to pay a small fee to get to see Vestrahorn and the surroundings. From the main road there is a small, gravel road that leads to the Stokksnes Cafe. Here you pay the fee inside and then you can enter with your car. When I visited in September 2019 the fee was 10 €, but it was all worth it!

Stokksnes was my favourite place from my one week trip, even if the weather wasn't really on my side on this one! Drones are allowed here, however it was way too windy, so I didn't dare to fly my drone.

2. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was made famous by Justin Bieber's video of the song "I'll Show You". The video shows Bieber walking on the narrow paths of the canyon. Unfortunately this is not possible anymore, due to the destruction of the fragile nature around the canyon by a lot of tourists. The access to those paths is restricted and in order to preserve the nature I would urge everyone to obey the signs!

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is really impressive and unique and I actually visited it twice in hopes of better weather. Drones are still permitted at this place, however you should never fly above people.

3. Skógafoss

Skógafoss is one of the most impressive waterfalls of Iceland and definitely the most amazing waterfall along the Iceland's South Coast! If you want to get close to it, prepare with a rain coat because you are going to get soaked!

You can also climb up the mountain and see the waterfall from above.

There are many hiking places starting from this area if you wish to explore more of Iceland's rugged terrain.

Unfortunately it was impossible to get a picture of Skógafoss without people. I tried taking 30 pictures and stacking them up, but I still couldn't get a picture without the tourists. Drones are not allowed here.

4. Kvernufoss

Just a few minutes drive from Skógafoss and a short hike is Kvernufoss waterfall. Maybe Kvernufoss itself is not the most impressive waterfall in Iceland, but combine it with the beautiful hike through an amazing canyon that leads to it and you get one of the nicest short hikes in South Iceland.

5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

Once of the best places to photograph on Iceland's South Coast is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This is also one of the most popular places in Iceland and with good reason! The ice caps in the lagoon are simply spectacular and I haven't seen any place like it before! No drones allowed at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, but you can rent a boat and go see the ice caps up close (if you don't mind waiting in a very long queue).

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is just 1.5 km away from Diamond Beach, where small ice chunks gather on the black sand beach, making them look like "diamonds".

6. Vatnajökull Glacier and Glacier Rivers

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe and it's covering around 8 % of Iceland. It has an area of 7.900 km² and an average thickness of 380 m. You can photograph this glacier from many different places and angles. You'll get to see a lot of it while driving on the ring road.

if you have a drone, one of the most impressive things you can photograph is the glacier rivers, however you should follow Iceland's drone rules while doing so. New rules require you to not fly above 120 m. Read more about Main Attractions in Vatnajökull National Park.

7. Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui

Once of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland is Seljalandsfoss. This is also the famous waterfall where you can walk behind it. If you do want to walk behind it, prepare to get soaking wet.

Drones are not allowed in this area.

If you walk for 10 minutes, away from Seljalandsfoss, on the gravel path you'll find Gljufrabui waterfall, hidden in a canyon. If you are brave enough you can walk through the water into the canyon, as are the people in the picture.

8. Hundafoss and Svartifoss

To be honest, I liked much more Hundafoss waterfall than the famous Svartifoss. At least from the photograph perspective, Hundafoss turned out to be much more interesting, with the beautiful red and orange colours of the autumn.

Svartifoss is very famous for its impressive basalt columns.

9. Vik and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

The weather was definitely not on my side while I was visiting Reynisfjara. The pictures are taken in the middle of the day and it's really dark, with very low clouds. It was also a really windy day, so I didn't stick around for too long.

Reynisfjara is a very famous black sand beach with spectacular basalt columns! Another thing why this beach is so famous for is deadly waves. Quite many people have been swept off by rogue waves at this beach and, even with signs and a bad reputation, people still don't take this seriously.

A lot of people still walk dangerously close to the water and every year there are people getting injured or worse.

10. Cool places next to the road

One of my favourite pictures taken during my trip to Iceland is this one above. The picture was taken on an early morning on my way to Höfn, after a rainy night. There was a nice small lake next to the road with calm water and almost perfect reflection of the mountains. To top it all up it had whopper swans too.

Another great place was a river close to Fjaðrárgljúfur, which I took on a dark evening, while I was returning to my guesthouse.

Lómagnúpur mountain is a worthy mention of a good photography subject. You'll definitely see it from the ring road!

Iceland's South Coast looks like it's out of this world, a beautiful and unique scenery, where you can see the influence of volcanos and glaciers on the landscape! You'll always find something to photograph here!

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