The South is Iceland’s most travelled region and it’s easy to see why, with its active volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, Europe’s largest glacier and the trio of natural wonders which make up the Golden Circle. Embark on a Golden Circle tour and discover the mysterious landscape of Geysir; meander through the geothermal field past bubbling hot pools and fumaroles to the iconic Strokkur geyser which erupts 20 metres into the sky every ten minutes.
Close to Vík – Iceland’s southernmost village – Dyrhólaey is an attractive promontory created during a submarine volcanic eruption some eighty thousand years ago. Beyond the black sand beaches, the pounding Atlantic has eroded 100 metre-high lava cliffs into uniquely-shaped rock pillars which are a haven for puffins and guillemots as well as basking seals. Covering around 8% of the country’s surface, it’s hard to miss the immense Vatnajökull Glacier which dominates the south west landscape. The majority of the southern rim now forms part of Skaftafell National Park, an unmissable land of contrasts from endless flat sandy plains to soaring volcanoes.
The highlight of the region is Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, a natural wonderland where chunks of glacial ice tumble into the lake creating a visual spectacle of gigantic icebergs floating in the blue waters.
Perhaps not the most likely of gourmet recommendations, the unassuming Icelandic petrol station is a surprisingly good option and can often be the only eatery in some of the country’s more remote locations; expect to join locals tucking into their evening meal at these well stocked roadside cafés. Found in nearly every petrol station in Iceland is the not-to-be-missed pylsa – a traditional hot dog topped with tomato ketchup, mustard, rémoulade or fried onions – a Regent Holidays favourite for lunch on the road. Petrol stations are often the best places to pick up well-priced groceries so stock up for a picnic and find a remote spot to enjoy lunch with a view.
Packing your swimming costume to visit Iceland is essential. No matter the weather, do as the locals do and take the plunge. Choose from indoor or outdoor swimming pools or naturally heated ‘hot pot’ thermal spots; some of our favourite swimming places are located in South Iceland. For a dip with a view, venture to Iceland’s oldest pool – Seljavallalaug dates back to 1923 and sits nestled in the narrow valley below Eyjafjallajökull, overlooked by snow-capped glaciers. Hidden a 20 minute walk from the ring road at Raufarfell, this slice of serenity is well worth the journey, but for a more easily accessible water experience, head to the whirlpools and natural sauna of Laugaskarð Thermal Bath, thirty minutes from Reykjavik.
From Björk and fermented shark, to steaming geysers and the Blue Lagoon, Iceland is famous for many things – but it’s the striking volcanoes that steal the show. From South Iceland’s ring road, glimpse views of the mighty glacier-topped Katla, rumbling Hekla and the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull. Climb aboard a Superjeep and take on rough mountain tracks for a Volcano Hat-trick tour and take to the skies by plane or helicopter for an astounding aerial view. Brave souls should visit the Blafjoll Mountains and jump into an open cable lift, to descend deep inside the Thrihnukagigur Volcano crater on an Inside the Volcano tour. We eagerly await the opening of LAVA – Iceland Volcano and Earthquake Centre in Spring 2017. 5