Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is one of the most visited waterfalls on the south coast of Iceland. Seljalandsá originates in the volcano underneath the glacier of Eyjafjallajökill and flows down the mountain until it tumbles 60 meters off the edge of the cliff creating the absolutely beautiful waterfall. When coming from the west towards Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall can be clearly seen from a distance cascading off the foothills of the great mountain. This is the waterfall which you can walk behind, make a wish, meet an elf, get wet and get coffee and donuts afterwards, all in the space of half an hour.
The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption stopped all air travel in Europe for a few days as the ash cloud drifted out over the Atlantic, the ash plume reaching a height of up to 10 km and the ash detected far south on the European mainland. Considering the many active volcanoes in Iceland the volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull have not been many, only five in the last 1100 years, in this case a moderate eruption but it did destroy on of the outlet glaciers and closed the Ring Road. Fortunately Seljalandsfoss Waterfall remained intact and it still is one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland and the fact that you can walk behind the waterfall makes it a further attraction and a must stop on any day trip to the south shore.
The ice cap on Eyjafjallajökull makes it incredibly picturesque and whenever you are visiting Seljalandsfoss make sure you keep your eyes out for a good photo-stop of the volcano. Seljalandsfoss is also the destination where you might be able to get that unique photo of northern lights or the midnight sun through falling glacial water. However the real experience here is of course to feel, see and hear the endless flow of water coming rumbling off the cliff side. There is something absolutely magical about standing behind a waterfall looking out knowing that you are also standing in the bosom of a legendary volcano.
Also the little food truck which is usually standing in the parking lot next to the waterfall is a great one. They serve fresh donuts and muffins as well as homemade sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and sodas. A lovely little family run spot right in front of the waterfall with a great view of the south western Icelandic saga-land.
Vík í Mýrdal is the southernmost village in Iceland right next to the great Mount Katla Volcano and on one of the longest black beaches in the world. To the north lies Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and to the south there is the open ocean stretching ten thousand miles all the way to Antarctica. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is just on the other side of Mount Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar rock formations can be seen rising from the sea just off the coastline. Vík is one of the main stops of the ring road on the south coast of Iceland and if you are heading further east to the glacier lagoon then the Ice Wear complex has the last proper grocery store for the next two hundred miles.
The classic South Shore Tour usually goes all the way to Vík which is not just a great lunch stop but also has one of the best souvenir shops along the ring road and a really good collection of wool goods many of which are made in the area since Ice Wear is from right here. Vík is also the home of The Icelandic Lava Show where you can experience a recreation of a volcanic eruption as they heat lava up its liquid state at 1100°C and you get to hear it sizzle, see it flow and feel the intense heat in safe controlled surroundings. There is also a lovely church on a hill above the village where there is a beautiful view over the area and far out to sea.
Vík is the center of Katla UNESCO Geopark formed around the area affected most by the great volcano. During the 1918 eruption so much ash, gravel and lava was brought forth by the volcano that the coastline in the area moved on average around 200 meters out. Eruptions in the past have greatly affected the area and it is evident from the rugged peaks and amount of black sand that this is a place very much at the mercy of the elements. The coastline goes through daily changes as the sand moves and the whole area is famous for the irregular sneaker waves which have caused deaths as people get snatched up and pulled out to sea. But for those who wish to brave nature then this is also a popular spot for paragliding and there is a little glider port on top of Mount Reynisfjall.
Whether you are spending the day doing The Golden Circle, The South Shore or The Glacier Lagoon, Vík is the largest settlement in a scarcely populated area but offers some options for lunch, dinner and accommodation including Hotel Kría and The Icelandair Hotel Vík and there are quite a few good spots for northern lights in winter and during the summer months puffins and full-mars nest in the seaside cliffs.
The Keflavik International Airport in Iceland is situated out on Reykjanes peninsula close to The Blue Lagoon and about 45 drive to Reykjavik City. The peninsula is a part of the mid atlantic ridge where Eurasian and North American tectonic plates drift apart. A short drive from the airport lies the bridge between continents a symbolic spot chosen to celebrate the connection between Europe and North America.
Keflavík International Airport has grown fast in the last few years and all major services for passengers can be found here including bus service and car rental, although planning ahead is recommended and for example Private Driver can provide any transport service you might need. Domestic flights leave from Reykjavik Domestic Airport and take just under an hour depending on traffic.
Reykjanes Peninsula on which Keflavik Airport is situated also has a number of attractions including vast lava fields stretching in all directions and hot springs in geothermal areas with steam rising high into the sky. Also, the largest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula is Kleifarvatn not far from the Seltún high heat area where, due to the geothermal activity, the mud pools smell strongly of sulphur and give an extraterrestrial feel.
Keflavik International Airport was originally built by the US Air Force during World War II and was a part of the US Air Base until 2006. During the Cold War the airport was one of the main NATO airbases in the North Atlantic and thousands of troops were stationed there. Due to Iceland becoming more and more popular as a destination for world travelers the airport has grown significantly in the last few years and there are even plans for further expansion in the near future.
The Reykjanes Peninsula is quite a scenic part of Iceland and coming in on a flight the great lava fields are bound to be the first thing to grab your attention and it is no wonder that many filmmakers have chosen this landscape as background for their films. Not surprisingly perhaps, most of these are either science fiction or post apocalyptic fantasies using Iceland as some other planet ravaged by alien forces and unknown elements, or a post nuclear disaster zone. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the exception to this since Ben Stiller actually used Iceland as itself and even used it as a substitute for both Greenland and the Himalayas. Actually the filmmakers did a great job although they managed to put a volcano literally in the only place in Iceland that has none.
One of the most picturesque waterfalls on the south coast of Iceland is Skógafoss Waterfall. Nestled in the south eastern foothills of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano not far from the glacier tongue of Sólheimajökull, an outlet glacier from Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The Waterfall cascades 60 m off the hillside and is around 30 m wide and you can walk all the way into the gorge where the amount of spray coming off the waterfall often creates perfect conditions for double rainbows.
The eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull volcano have not been many considering the many volcanoes in Iceland and by default the many volcanic eruptions that the country has, every 5 years on average. The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption created an ash cloud whose ash plume spread far and wide and stopped all air travel in Europe as well as closing the Ring Road and leaving vast amounts of ash in the ice caps all around. Right next to it embedded in the glacier Mýrdalsjökull is the great Volcano Katla which erupts usually every 100 years and last erupted in 1918 and the eruption added 200 meters to the coastline in the area. During the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull the Skógá River in which Skógafoss is situated has often filled up with ash a gravel from the eruption and during the 2010 eruption the river went completely black but managed to clear itself again.
Skógafoss is also situated next to Skógasafn Folk Museum which is one of the most interesting museums in Iceland giving a unique insight into the life of the Icelanders and the struggle to survive in past times. There is also a transport museum there and some turf houses.
Out of all waterfalls in Iceland Skógafoss has one of the more enduring and intriguing folktales. One of the first settlers here was Thrasi which owned a great treasure which he hid in the waterfall in a big old chest. Everyone knew this story and one day sometime in the past a young man guarding a flock of sheep next to the waterfall saw the chest in the water and reached out to yank it out but unfortunately only a metal ring was left in his hand. And among many treasures of the past, this particular ring can be found in the Folk Museum at Skógar.
Skógafoss Waterfall has also entered popular culture since legend has that pop star Justin Bieber almost drowned here during an extremely unpopular video shoot where he managed to break every other safety rule that guides strive hard to communicate to travelers, caused an overflow of tourists in sensitive areas and topped it all of by having dancers dance on top of protected vegetation. Well done Justin Bieber!
Whether you are travelling here during summer or winter the waterfall is a great attraction. Summer is green and lush and the midnight sun lights beautifully the glistening flow of water and in winter ice sculptures can often be seen within the sides of the gorge and there are quite a few pictures of the northern lights doing their magic above Skógafoss Waterfall.
The South Shore Adventure Tour is a step into a different world, a chance to travel through a landscape at the mercy of glaciers and volcanoes, see beautiful waterfalls and beaches of black volcanic sand.
A Private South Shore Adventure from Keflavik Airport takes you along the south coast all the to Vík í Mýrdal, passing Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall and The Black Beach at Reynisfjara. The Eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull have not been many but the last one in 2010 sure made headlines when the ash plume stopped all air travel in Europe for a few days. When visiting Seljalandsfoss waterfall which is in the foothills of the great volcano it is worth taking waterproof gear with you since you can walk all the way behind it but you will not make it dry to the other side. Continuing on the ring road around Eyjafjallajökull you find Skógafoss waterfall situated in Skógá river, one of the most picturesque waterfalls in Iceland and because of the amount of spray in the gorge we often see double rainbows there on sunny days. There are two main ice caps, on Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, the latter which has a few outlet glaciers including Sólheimajökull which is featured in the documentary Chasing Ice, dealing with the rate the glaciers are melting due to global warming. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is another stop with basalt columns forming a natural sculpture rising up the hillside next to the black volcanic sand, ash and pebbles. Vík í Mýrdal is just around the Reynisfjall Mountain which is also the southernmost tip of Iceland. There is wool production there as well as large souvenir shop, a restaurant and a supermarket. During summer Reynisfjall Mountain is a nesting site for puffins, and it also serves as a glider port for paragliders.
The South Shore is one of the most popular day tours in Iceland and as an added value in wintertime there is a chance to spot Northern Lights after dark. We strongly recommend that you use a tour guide for this tour in order to get a maximum experience out of the tour.
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