The amazing South of Iceland is quite literally alive and vibrant in summer. It’s no wonder that it holds all three of Iceland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With its vast lava fields, volcanoes, visible tectonic scarring, archipelagos and glaciers, the south has the feel of a geological amusement park. And that’s before even mentioning the largest Puffin colony in the world. In only four action filled days this diverse region can be explored in depth during the summer months.
Throughout the trip we will explore the entire south coast of Iceland, sneaking behind waterfalls and strolling across pristine black sand beaches. Our most adventurous day will include a glacier hike on one of the magnificent outlet glaciers within an UNESCO World Heritage Site, which holds Europe’s largest glacier, the Vatnajökull National Park (designed for first timers). Prepare yourself to be awed by giant icebergs floating around on the vast Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and washing up on the nearby Diamond Beach. On another day we will take a ferry ride to the volcanic Westman Islands to discover the countries volcanic past (and hopefully see a few Atlantic puffins). It’s here that you get a view of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Surtsey island. One of the newest islands in the world, created from a submarine eruption in 1964. We’ll also travel through the famous Golden Circle with its erupting geysers, thunderous waterfalls and of course spend time in the 3rd UNESCO World Heritage Site in Þingvellir National Park. 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in only 4 days. Not bad at all!
This 4 + day excursion really does provide you with many of the summer highlights. If you are travelling in winter, this tour can be replaced with the Ice Cave, Northern Lights & Golden Circle Tour which covers many of the same spots.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE 4 + DAY PRIVATE TOUR
Day 1: Explore the entire south coast of Iceland
Day 2: Adventure day with a glacier hike, designed for first timers, and the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach
Day 3: Ferry to the volcanic Westman Islands with the biggest Atlantic puffin colony in the world
Day 4: Golden Circle with Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse Lunch and Blue Lagoon.
Please Note: Arrival day, departure day and additional days are not part of the proposed itinerary but will be planned by our Trip Planners for you in your first quote. We also recommend having at least one full day in Reykjavík before or after your tour.
Day 1 | Explore the South Coast
On the first day of this summer adventure we traverse the entire south coast of Iceland, stopping to see many of the most breathtaking sights of the entire island. We’ll experience the power of waterfalls, such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, going behind the former and probably getting soaked as we try to get as close as possible to the latter. We also go down to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara with large waves & unique basalt columns.
As we continue further east we go past different yet incredibly vast landscapes, from the black sand desert of Mýrdalssandur to the boundless Eldhraun lava field, covered in bright green moss. Our guide will tell you the history and unbelievable consequences of the Laki eruption that caused this awe-inspiring landscape. As the cherry on top we’ll take you to the strangely beautiful Fjaðrárglúfur canyon where we hike along its feather like ridges.
In late August and September you might just be able to witness the dance of the northern lights, while the summer months bring the pink hue of the midnight sun, lovely to behold amidst mountains and glaciers.
Where do we stay?
We stay at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon on our first night of the tour (or equivalent)
Day 2 | Vatnajökull National Park
Waking up in a remote location in the vicinity of the largest glacier in Iceland is something else! We hope you got a good night sleep because today is all about the ice.
The glacier, and the national park it belongs to, is by far the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iceland, covering about 14% of the country. After breakfast overlooking the other worldly landscape we’ll go and get a closer look at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and admire the building sized icebergs floating nearby. With some luck you might spot a cute family of seals taking in the sun on a floating iceberg or swimming around the lagoon. We’ll have our last up close look of the ice as we go down to the Diamond Beach to take in the sparkling ice crystals lying on the long black beach.
As promised, the afternoon is time for us to get onto the ice itself with our glacier hike, designed for first timers. We’ll get to know the Vatnajökull ice cap on an intimate basis today. The glacier hike last around 3 – 4 hours and depending on the group we can take it easy exploring the base of the glacier in crampons or venture higher to experience everything the glacier has on offer towards the ice fall. Hiking on this less travelled section of the glacier and traversing countless ice formations like crevasses (cracks), moulins (holes) & seracs (ice sculptures) – is something you are sure to never forget. To learn more about what the glacier hike entails you can check out our Glacier Hike Guide here.
As the sun dims and the evening approaches we’ll say farewell to the amazing south east and head to tonight’s accommodation, making a stop or two on the way
Where do we stay?
We love staying at Hotel Vos, Skálakot Manor Hotel and Hotel UMI or any number of south coast hotels.
Day 3 | Volcanic Westman Islands*
After breakfast we head to Landeyjahöfn Harbour and take the short ferry ride to the volcanic chain of islands known as the Westman Islands. The main island of the archipelago, Heimaey, was almost destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1973 resulting in a full town evacuation.
We start our island visit with a 1 hour RIB boat ride. The scenic and fun boat tour takes you inside sea caves, and around the small islands scattered around Heimaey, which are otherwise inaccessible. If you are lucky you may even get close to the array of wildlife around the islands, like whales and puffins, while hopefully catching a glimpse of the newest of the Westman Islands, the pristine UNESCO Heritage Site Surtsey. It is amazing to see the islands from this angle. In summer the Westman Islands is one of the best places in Iceland to view the cute Atlantic puffins, with millions calling these islands home for the season.
After all this we should have a pretty good appetite for a delicious lunch at one of our favourite restaurants on the islands, inspired by what is available locally they’ve given the ingredients a modern twist to many of Iceland’s favourite dishes. Depending on fitness levels and time, we then hike to the top of the still-warm volcano at Eldfell. Here your guide will share all they know about the eruption that destroyed hundreds of homes and lasted for months, making it the “Pompei of the North”. From here you can see the lava and new section of the island that was created in 1973, with the island increasing in size by over 20% from all the new lava.
In the late afternoon we take the ferry back to the mainland and return to our south Iceland accommodation for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Where do we stay?
We stay another night at Hotel VOS, Skálakot Manor Hotel and Hotel UMI or any number of south coast hotels.
*This location is only advised to travel to in mid May, June, July and August due to weather patterns. We will swap this day for another incredible location if you are travelling outside of these months.
Day 4 | Golden Circle
Today we continue towards the Golden Circle, where you will witness the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, whose force has formed a vast canyon for the white water river Hvítá. The next stop is the famous geothermal area where you can see the erupting Strokkur and the original geyser, Geysir, surrounded by the colourful landscape, steam vents and bubbling hot springs.
Our next destination is the Friðheimar Tomato Farm. There we feast on everything the greenhouse restaurant has to offer in the cosy setting amongst the tomato plants. This lunch is all inclusive (with the exception of alcoholic beverages) so you can explore the menu and try out the renowned tomato soup, the ravioli, Icelandic mussels, green tomato and apple pie or even the homemade tomato ice cream!
Last but certainly not least is the original UNESCO Heritage Sites – the Þingvellir National Park. The site is protected primarily due to its historical and cultural significance, however it is no less important because of its geology and incredible landscape. This is where we will observe the divergence of the tectonic plates, separating North America and Eurasia. Nowhere else in the world can you find a better location for seeing this phenomenon (above water).
To end the day we either head past the city to the Blue Lagoon to end the trip with a bang or simply return to Reykjavík in the late afternoon for a chance to explore the city. The choice is yours.
Where do we stay?
Your guide will drop you off either at the luxurious Silica by Blue Lagoon or the 5 star Retreat by Blue Lagoon for a unique treat to wrap up your stay in Iceland. Both these hotels give you access to their own secluded pools as well as access to the Blue Lagoon itself. If you are on a budget you can always opt to stay at the nearby Northern Lights Inn once you’ve finished bathing in the lagoon. Alternatively, we can head back to Reykjavík.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Depending on availability we will stay at a combination of Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon (or equivalent), luxurious Hotel UMI, unique Skálakot Luxury Manor or the more comfort level Hotel VOS. All hotel choices are modern, spacious and comfortable with private bathrooms, and include breakfast. The glacier hike will have all necessary safety equipment provided. Lunch at Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse (all inclusive except from alcoholic drinks). 1 hour RIB tour. Lunch at GOTT restaurant (all inclusive except from alcoholic drinks). Entrance to the Blue Lagoon. Private transportation in a modern and comfortable vehicle and one of our wonderful English speaking guides for the duration of the 4 days.
Flights to and from Iceland, meals unless otherwise specified. Reykjavík based activities and accommodation.
Extensions / Add-ons
We can include Reykjavík based accommodation and activities upon request
This trip can be extended to 5 or more days upon request
Additional or replacement activities can be requested (see form below)
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