There are many top things to do in Iceland, a country with limitless possibilities. Iceland tourist attractions are almost countless. But what are the best South Iceland attractions that you really can’t miss during your stay in Iceland? Here are the most beautiful top attractions in South Iceland!
Iceland has a lot to offer. On almost every turn from the Ring Road, you can find something beautiful. Our 7 days Iceland travel itinerary was filled with amazing sights, from hidden gems to those more popular places to visit in Iceland, all of them just purely beautiful.
Wherever I travel, I prefer to find places off the beaten path, not flooded with tourists. However, there are also some of those truly breathtaking and iconic South Iceland attractions, that, even though they are popular with people, they quickly jump on the list of must see places in Iceland. And with a little effort, you can still manage to visit them without the crowds! Those places are worth it to be a part of your Iceland vacation itinerary and they will surely make for a great one! What to see in Iceland including the best Iceland tourist spots? (For recommendations for Iceland off the beaten path head here!).
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Iceland Tourist Attractions & South Iceland Attractions you can’t miss
Most of the Iceland tourist attractions are located in southern Iceland. This is also where you can find a famous Golden Circle Route. If you are short on time, I recommend taking this Golden Circle best-seller full-day tour, as an introduction to Iceland.
Especially if you have limited time on the island, I recommend you to focus on one region in Iceland. You will have enough to do and see and you won’t spend all of your time only driving. I made a list of the Iceland top attractions below. Those are the places that you would want to include in your Iceland trip, no matter what. And there is a reason for that!
Planning a trip to Iceland? Check out these posts:
#1 Hot Springs in Iceland
One of the best things to do in Iceland is bathing in natural hot springs. Cold or warm outside – doesn’t matter, because when you dip in the hot waters of the geothermal pools life just instantly becomes better.
One of the famous commercial and very well promoted hot springs in Iceland is Blue Lagoon. However, there are so many other natural hot pools in Iceland, that you can choose for yourself which one you prefer to visit. The smaller and more hidden pools are less popular, but equally (or even more) amazing, so you can enjoy your time there alone. I’ve compiled the full list of natural hot springs in Iceland in the post here (that most of the time are also free), so head there for more details.
#2 Glaciers in Iceland
To see a glacier up close in Iceland is a must! Glaciers are some of the best places to visit in Iceland for me. There is just something powerful, dramatic and very beautiful about the glaciers in Iceland.
Vatnajökull National Park
One of the biggest south Iceland attractions is Vatnajökull National Park and Vatnajökull glacier. It’s one of three national parks in Iceland, and it extends to the huge area. Vatnajökull glacier is the biggest ice cap in Iceland and second largest in Europe!
A worth visit is also Sólheimajökull Glacier, where you can try a glacier hike and Skaftafell park where we did a hike to the Black Falls.
Skaftafell is famous for its Alpine-like landscape with influence from glaciers, volcanoes, and rivers. Trips to the glacier are very popular and there are many other activities that will keep you busy. You can also hike to the Svartifoss (Black Falls), made from black basalt columns. It was an inspiration for an architect who built the very well known church in Reykjavik – Hallgrímskirkja. You can also visit some amazing ice caves in winter.
Svartifoss (Black Falls) in Iceland
#3 Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond beach
Iceland is definitely a land of ice and I was fascinated by all the ice, that you can see there all year round.
Do you recognize those blue pieces of ice floating in the water? This is an Iceland must see place, no doubts about it!
Maybe if you’ve seen movies Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or Batman Begins it will bring your memories, as those movies were shot in the Icelandic glacier lagoon.
Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon in Iceland, was developed into a glacial lake when the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier started melting and breaking. Now, you can see the icebergs of different sizes and shapes drifting away from the glacier and dying in the sea. The glacier lagoon grows and changes, so if you visit it again after some time (or even the next day, what we did) it will be entirely different.
I’ve never seen anything like this before – milky white and bright blue colors of ice look truly spectacular. Many of the ice parts lie on the black sand beach nearby, called Diamond Beach, where you can touch them and taste a 1000 years old ice.
#4 Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara black beach is one of the top Iceland attractions, and it was voted one of the best beaches in the world (even beating beaches in Indonesia!).
On the beach, you can find the pitch-black volcanic sand and basaltic columns towering above it (called Gardar), that also form a shallow cave nearby.
In the sea, close to the shore, there are dramatic looking sea stacks called Reynisdrangar. The sea looks very aggressive and the waves are high and strong – white foam contrasts with dark volcanic sand making it a perfect landscape view for photographers.
The waves at Reynisfjara beach can also be dangerous. They are called “sneaker waves” – they can sweep in quickly and their force is so strong, that a person would struggle to come back on the shore. They already caused several accidents with people drowning in the sea, so be careful!
The Reynisfjara beach is the most touristy beach on the south coast of Iceland. You will see buses and numerous cars in the busy car park, but it’s a special place and definitely worth to see. You can always walk away on the beach to be by yourself and admire the typical Iceland views or sit on the nearby pebbles and cook your lunch, as we did.
#5 Geysir geothermal area
Filled with mud pots and bubbling hot springs, geothermal areas in Iceland are some of the most interesting things to see in Iceland. One of the most known is an area with the Geysir geyser, which gave the name to all of the other periodically spouting hot springs. It’s located in Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill.
Geysir doesn’t erupt as often as before, but his younger brother Strokkur located around 50 meters away, blows a high stream of water every 6–10 minutes. The usual height of the stream is 15–20 m, although it can sometimes erupt up to 40 m. Around it, you can see other bigger or smaller geysers and smell the sulfur in the air.
Together with Þingvellir and the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area is a part of the Golden Circle – one of the most famous tourist routes on the island. It’s also included in our Iceland road trip itinerary here.
#6 Iceland Waterfalls
Iceland is a land of many stunning waterfalls. In the south coast of Iceland, you can find a lot of them, but I would recommend you to see at least one of those two – the most spectacular ones from the south Iceland waterfalls.
Gullfoss [Eng. Golden falls]
Gullfoss is an iconic waterfall in southwest Iceland, located in the canyon of the Hvítá river. With its height of 32 meters and significant width, it creates an outstanding impression of masses of water falling down to the rocky river bottom. You can view it from above or go down to see it closer.
There were some plans to use it for generating electricity, but now it is luckily protected.
Together with Þingvellir and the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss is another part of the Golden Circle tour.
Skogafoss is a stunning waterfall situated on the Skógá River. It can easily be classified as one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. The water drops from the cliffs that are a part of a former coastline, which now is at a distance of about 5 kilometers away. It’s one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a width of 25 m and a drop of 60 m.
You can walk close to the waterfall and watch the water falling down in front of you. Just be aware that you can get quite wet as the waterfall produces a lot of spray. However, thanks to that, in the sunny days you can see the rainbow reflected in the water drops.
Near Skogafoss, you can also visit a famous plane wreck on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. You can read more about it here.
Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall, located in the South Coast of Iceland, by Route 1. The waterfall has a drop of 60 meters. The coolest part about it is, that you can walk all the way around it – and also see it from behind!
#7 Þingvellir (Thingvellir)
Another site on the famous Golden Circle route in South Iceland and one of the Iceland famous landmarks has historical, cultural, and geological significance. Þingvellir is also called Thingvellir. Located in a rift valley between the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian plate, is an unusual place to visit. You can even try snorkeling or diving in the lake of the Silfra canyon, where the continental drift between the plates is wide enough to swim and enjoy great visibility.
Þingvellir is also the place where the national parliament of Iceland was established in 930 AD. Since 2004 it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and important place for Icelandic history and culture.
If you are not sure if it’s worth stopping by in Reykjavik, think again. There are so many reasons to fall in love with Reykjavik, and a lot of awesome things to do in Reykjavik.
Usually, I’m not a city girl and Iceland is all about nature. But I think it’s definitely worth to visit the Iceland capital city, even for one day. You can discover the real Icelandic way of life, look at Icelanders enjoying their days and explore a bit of an island’s culture. Most of the people, who you’ll meet in popular places in Iceland will be foreigners, so better to get to know some of the locals in the beautiful Reykjavik. The city is a home for 130 thousands of people and with the country population of over 300 thousand, it’s Iceland’s main hub.
Reykjavik is a pretty town, that has a lot to offer with some cozy restaurants, bars, and a lively music scene. You just need to watch out for your money as, well, Iceland is pricey! Luckily, there are ways on how to travel in Iceland on a budget, also in Reykjavik, so have a look.
#9 Northern Lights in Iceland
Thanks to its location, Iceland is a perfect place for watching the Northern Lights. Even during our stay in September, we managed to see Northern Lights in Iceland, three nights in a row. The first night even from Reykjavik. I have for you some tips on how to see Aurora if you also want to see this amazing spectacle!
Iceland tourist attractions map
Click on the map for the interactive version.
Click on the image for the interactive Iceland attractions map.
Would you like to see some of the South Iceland attractions? Would you add anything else to the list? Let me know in the comments!
More Iceland read:
Ultimate South Iceland road trip itinerary
Best free and wild hot springs in Iceland
Iceland food – what to eat and what to avoid
Published: February 2017, Updated: March 2019
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14 thoughts on “Top Iceland Tourist Attractions You Can’t Miss + South Iceland Attractions Map”
Fantastic pictures and interesting information about a country I definitely want to visit! Keep up the good work!
Thank you! I hope this will be helpful for your next visit 😉
Beautiful photos and great story.
Thank you, Poorna 🙂
Oh what beautiful photos! Iceland is on my bucket list but sounds like I really need to save some cash. But the views are priceless!
Hi Katie, thanks for the comment! Iceland is beautiful and you should definitely visit if you have a chance. To be honest, you don’t need that much money for it, though. It is more expensive than other places in Europe, but you can lower the costs down. Have a look at some tips here: Iceland on a budget
Woow, Iceland is on our bucket list since ages 🙂 Loved your tips and photos. Hopefully we’ll get there in summer 2018, let me bookmark this!
Thanks, Enrico & Zuzana! I’m glad you find it helpful 🙂 good luck for your Iceland trip in 2018 – fingers crossed so you can go there!:)
This was very helpful! I am planning my wedding in Iceland for spring of 2018 and I cannot wait to see these locations! Do you think the Skaftafell area would have enough room for a group of 10 to do a quick ceremony without too many people in the background? Just not sure how large this area is around the black falls. Thank you!
Wow, that sounds amazing! So happy for you 🙂
For the Black Falls, there is the rocky area just next to the waterfall, around the stream and a small path on the side. The path is too small for 10 people, but you could stand around the rocks in the middle. If you google Black Falls, it will show you images with people sitting on those rocks. In spring it shouldn’t be very crowded and it’s generally less crowded places than other easier to get to waterfalls, where you don’t have to hike. There is also a small bridge over the stream, you could stand there and your guest around. Otherwise, you can also see the waterfall from a bit of distance – when you approach it, there is like a plateau which is big enough for many people to stand and you can see waterfall, but it’s further away. I think it’s doable, just take good hiking shoes as it’s all rocks! 🙂 Good luck!
Wow, I am amazed just by reading about these south iceland hidden gems. Just can’t wait to visit them personally.
We just got back and loved reading this page to remember all of the amazing things we saw. I want to go back!!!!!!
Amazing! I want to go back too 🙂
So quiet and calm places to visit. These places look so adventurous and so exciting. Actually I can’t just bear too much cold, it doesn’t really suit me. But, I love all these places. But, my brother loves to travel to cold places like these, I will definitely recommend these places to him, I am sure that he will love it. I love that Hot Springs in Iceland. It is of my kind of place. Anyways, thank you for sharing this blog.