Iceland – Southeastern Coast Drive
When traveling to Iceland in winter, one main attraction is to drive the ring road along the southeastern coast or at least a portion of it to see gorgeous waterfalls on one side and the ocean with black sand beaches on the other. The southeastern coast is magical, but busy. Stay safe out there by reading tips about driving in winter and give yourself plenty of time and snacks. Another suggestion is to get an early start, the waterfalls can get quite busy with drones overhead. I’ve listed a number of beautiful places to go in the post below, but before we get there, here is a mini video of our experiences in South Iceland.
Roughly 1.5 hours from Reykjavik on the southeastern coast, this waterfall is one of the tallest in Iceland. You can see it coming while you are driving east, but is more majestic up close. The turn-off is to the left, so slow down well in advance – this intersection was where we witness the overturned SUV. Seljalandsfoss is unique because you can walk behind it! Would only recommend, if you have waterproof pants… We pulled over a mile or so after the turnoff to Seljalandfoss because we saw these pretty mini falls. Keep your eyes peeled as you drive (see photos below).
Skógafoss is the *iconic* Iceland waterfall and the intensity of the water is a pure delight. When approaching the waterfall, look for double rainbows. Also try to capture the incredible posing that everyone does with this waterfall, because if you go at a normal time, you are likely to see one or more tour buses in the parking lot. I highly recommend climbing the stairs to the right of the waterfall for a different perspective of the falls. #worthit
SOLHEIMASANDUR PLANE WRECK
After Skógafoss, you will see a turn-off on your left to a dirt parking area. This is to visit the Solheimasandur plane wreck. When we drove by, the parking area had 15+ cars, so we decided to pass, but you can walk from the parking area down to the beach to the wreck and the black sand beach that it sits on. While walking back, ponder where the plane came from and where it was going. Highly gram-able location.
We took a turn to get HWY 1 and ended up at Dyrhólaey. You drive through a marshland, which is worthwhile on its own. You can view the massive arch, which is where Dyrhólaey gets its name. It is also a fantastic view down to Reynisfjara Beach. I implore you to take the slightly nerve-wracking drive up to the top of Dyrhólaey’s outcropping. There is a lighthouse at the top at 360° view from the top. I loved it up there, even though people constantly taunting me by getting wayyy to close to the edges. Be sure to read the legend about the spires sticking out of the water here.
These sights were what we were able to see in a day. Once you are at Vik and beyond, I would say you are into the south coast, instead of the southeastern coast with many more sites to be seen! The wonderful thing about Iceland is in person, it looks exactly like all the photos – absolutely incredible. A couple other things I looked into included a trip out to Vestmannaeyjar Island, which you can ferry to, or hiking the valley of Rejkjadalur. A couple hours past Vik is the iconic glacier bay. I hope to return soon to see the bay and the do the glacier tour, something that is likely worth the cost.
What sites do you recommend visiting on a drive along the southeastern coast?