10 Best Stops on the Reykjavik to Vik to Jokulsarlon Drive

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by Michael Rozenblit

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Those driving some or all of Iceland’s ring road usually take in the incredible stops on the Reykjavik to Vik to Jokulsarlon drive first, heading south from the Icelandic capital. Along with seeing the Golden Circle and soaking in the Blue Lagoon, the attractions in South Iceland are some of the most iconic in the entire nation.

If you’re spending more than a few days for an Iceland layover and are looking for the perfect road trip from Reykjavik, then driving from the capital along the south coast of Iceland is an excellent way to have the Iceland trip of your dreams.

Planning a Reykjavik to Vik to Jokulsarlon Trip

The distance on the drive from Reykjavik to Vik is 116 miles (187 kilometres) and takes approximately 2.5 hours if you don’t make any stops. However, if you plan on making stops along the way, expect the drive to take most of the day.

Obviously, renting a car is the best way to embark on your own South Iceland road trip. This gives travellers the ultimate flexibility in making as many stops as they want and not being bound to bus timetables or a tour itinerary.

A great way to hire a car in Iceland is by browsing Rentalcars.com. The platform aggregates prices across many major international and local companies to ensure you get a great deal.

If you prefer not to rent a car, then the best way to see many of the below stops is by taking an organised tour from Reykjavik. There are a number of day tours that will cover many of the stops on the way to Vik such as this full-day tour.

It’s also possible to take a tour all the way to Jokulsarlon such as this full-day tour, however, it’s a much longer day and you won’t cover as many of the other stops due to time constraints.

Reykjavik to Vik Drive Stops

Town of Hella

One of the first towns you’ll see when you start driving from Reykjavik to Vik is the quaint village of Hella. Hella is a great town to base yourself as it has a few budget hotel options (budget relative to rest of Iceland!) and is close to some of the popular waterfalls along the South Shore of Iceland. 

Don’t know where to start when it comes to packing? – Check out our all season Iceland packing list!

Hella is also a good place if you want to ride Icelandic horses, experience a local geothermal pool or see the beautiful Ægissíðufoss Waterfall which draws few other tourists!

Ægissíðufoss Waterfall in Hella
Ægissíðufoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular South Iceland attractions and for good reason – it’s absolutely stunning! Located about a 30-minute drive from Hella, just off the Ring Road, it’s easily accessible for travellers.

The waterfall is approximately 60 metres tall and one of the highlights is being able to climb up to a cave behind the waterfall and see an amazing view of Seljalandsfoss from behind!

Be warned though, the path up can get extremely icy making it difficult to hike up if you don’t have proper footwear. It can be quite amusing watching people trying to scramble their way up and then cautiously slide back down!

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljavallalaug Hot Pool

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path alternative to the Blue Lagoon, a great option is to visit Seljavallalaug hot pools. Located just a short journey from Seljalandsfoss and about 2 hours into the trip from Reykjavik to Vik, the 25m outdoor pool was originally built in the 1920s and these days is absolutely free to visit and use.

To get here, follow directions to the nearby car park and then it’s about a 15-minute walk to the swimming pool. Many locals visit this swimming pool with a few beers in tow so don’t come here expecting to be able to swim laps! Instead, enjoy the fantastic view of the nearby mountains and the fact it’s absolutely free!

There are changing facilities at the pool and also please remember to clean up after yourself as there aren’t regular cleaners in the area!

Seljavallalaug Hot Pool
Seljavallalaug Hot Pool

Skogafoss Waterfall

Along with Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss is one of the most popular stops on the drive from Reykjavik to Vik.

It’s one of Iceland’s widest waterfalls and on sunny days you can often see a rainbow going across the waterfall lending itself to some fantastic photo opportunities!

Make sure to also take the time to climb up the top of the waterfall where there are lookout points to get a bird’s eye view of the waterfall. There are also several hiking trails that you can take from the top if you fancy going for a bit of a stroll!

Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss Waterfall

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

About 10km from Skogafoss, intrepid travellers who are up for a bit of a hike can go and explore an abandoned plane wreck.

In 1973, a US Navy plane crashed on the black sand beach – luckily, all the passengers survived, however, the plane wreck was never moved.

Some vehicles used to be allowed to drive to the plane however in order to protect the landscape, all vehicles are now banned so if you want to explore you’ll need to park your car off the Ring Road and then hike 4km to the abandoned plane.

There is no paved path and as the area is quite open it can be difficult to get here on a windy day due to sandstorms.  If you want to get active but aren’t keen to head to the plane, you can also take a guided glacier walk on the Sólheimajökull glacier – which is just inland from the plane wreck.

Dyrholaey Arch

If you want to see an incredible natural sea arch when driving the ring road, then you need to make sure to stop at the Dyrholaey Arch.

Located next to the town of Vik, it’s quite a steep drive up to the top of the cliffs however once there you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic views of both the arch and the surrounding area. There are some great short walks you can take along the coastline and this is also a great place to try and spot puffins during the season!

Dyrholaey Arch
Dyrholaey Arch

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

The final stop before you reach Vik is one of Iceland’s most famous Black Sand beaches – Reynisfjara.

The beach here is an absolute delight to walk along as you listen to the waves crashing down alongside you.

Along with Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the black sand beach here is one of the more popular attractions in the area, however, it’s easy to walk a bit along the shore to get away from the crowds.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Where to Stay on the Reykjavik to Vik Drive

There aren’t many accommodation options in South Iceland so it’s crucial to book ahead if you want to secure a good room. We recommend staying in Hella to see the first few stops before finding a place to stay in or near Vik. These are some of our recommended places to stay:

Hotel Kanslarinn – A fantastic hotel located in Hella, they offer clean budget rooms located just off the Ring Road. A delicious buffet breakfast is included in the price.

Stracta Hotel Hella – A modern hotel that offers a range of private rooms and apartments that can accommodate up to six people. A fantastic breakfast is included in the rate and some rooms even come with their own hot tub!

Sólheimahjáleiga Guesthouse – Located around twenty minutes from Vik, this guesthouse is located just off the Ring Road and based on a local farm. It offers basic clean rooms and guests can also make use of their communal kitchen and lounge facilities.

Hótel Kría – Located in the centre of Vik, this hotel offers guests modern rooms with amazing mountain views. A delicious breakfast is included in the daily rate. 

Private Rental – If you are planning far in advance, then there are also a few private rental options on the drive such as this cosy cabin in Hella however they tend to book out quickly.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels along Iceland’s South Coast!

Vik to Jokulsarlon Stops

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

The black sand beaches of Vik is probably as far as the day-trippers from Reykjavik make it so you’ll certainly begin to notice fewer tourists as you begin the drive from Vik to Jokulsarlon.

The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is an astonishingly beautiful place and one which photos simply don’t do justice. The canyon is over 100m deep and offers visitors a number of walking paths to take so they can enjoy the breathtaking views!

Similarly to Seljalandsfoss, the trail here can get extremely icy so make sure to have appropriate footwear!

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Skaftafell National Park

Travellers could easily spend a couple of days hiking through Skaftafell National Park when they visit South Iceland as there are a number of great paths to be explored.

Alternatively, if you’re short on time, there a couple of shorter one hour walks that you can take to see the glaciers in the park.

The visitor centre at Skaftafell can provide hikers with maps and information on different trails as well as letting you know which paths are currently open.

The national park is also a great place to go on a glacier hike and enjoy a unique experience. You can book a 3-hour hike here or a 5-hour hike here – make sure to book in advance so you don’t miss out!

Skaftafell National Park
Skaftafell National Park

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Nearly every site that you see in Iceland is spectacular, however, nearly everything you will see will pale in comparison to the spectacular Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It’s hard to put into words how absolutely stunning this place is so I will let the below photo do the talking!

Apart from walking along the glacier lagoon, it’s worth also crossing the road to Diamond Beach whose name arises from the bits of ice that break off the glacier which resemble diamonds and lie along the black sand beach.

If there’s one site you simply can’t miss when you visit South Iceland, it’s the glacier lagoon!

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Where to Stay on the Vik to Jokulsarlon Drive

After spending a night or two in Vik, there are a couple of options for accommodation on the Vik to Jokusarlon drive. One option is to stay near Jokulsarlon which will help you get an early start to see the glacier lagoon without the crowds.

As there are only limited hotels near Jokulsarlon, another option is to drive from Vik to Hofn and find accommodation there.

Skyrhúsid Guest House – If you want to stay as close as possible to Jokulsarlon, then this guest house is the place for you! Located only ten minutes away, this guesthouse offers basic clean rooms that can accommodate solo travellers, couples or families.

Kálfafellsstadur Bed & Breakfast –  A great budget hotel that is located about twenty minutes from the glacier lagoon. You can book single or double rooms with shared bathroom access. Breakfast is included in the daily rate.

Apotek Guesthouse – A fantastic guest house located in Hofn that offers modern private rooms and is located in the centre of the town.  

South Iceland Attractions Map

Check out the map below to see all of these South Iceland attractions plotted on a map!

In my opinion, it’s a shame to visit Iceland and spend your time only in Reykjavik and the Golden Circle. Make an effort to drive from Reykjavik to Jokusarlon to see these attractions. You will be rewarded with amazing sites and scenery that will undoubtedly leave you wanting to explore more of this amazing country!  

Are you planning a road trip in South Iceland? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments! 

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Michael is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Both solo and with his partner, Maggie, he has travelled to over 50 countries across the globe and has a particular affinity for the Balkans and Eastern Europe. He’s lived in numerous countries worldwide but currently resides in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Read more about Michael


  1. Hi Michael- I love all of these suggestions. We plan to stay in Vik 2 nights. Do you think after the second night we should do Jokulsarlon and head back towards Reykjavik or stay a night there? Also, we are going the last week of March. Do you think all of these sights will be accessible? Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. This is wonderful. Question: Which stops are from Reykjavik to Vik and which are Vik to JOK?
    When Driving from Reykjavik, do you enter the town of Vik before reaching JOK Lagoon?

    • Hi Jay, Everything in the “Reykjavik to Vik” section is before Vik. If you’re travelling on the Ring Road, you will go through Vik before Jokulsarlon.

  3. Hi Michael,
    Your itinerary is great and we will definitely follow it during our trip to Iceland in June. Could you help me to figure out how to break down return to Reykjavik to avoid a long ( I believe about 5 hours) drive straight back.
    thank you so much,

    • Hi Victoria, I would suggest picking a few stops to see on the way back rather than seeing them on the way to Vik or Jokulsarlon. Hope you have a great trip!

  4. Thank you for your advice. We are going to Iceland in June and beginning of July.
    This is exactly our itinerary. We are staying for 8 days so we would like to see the Western Fiords, The Golden Circle and of course drive from Rejkjavik to Vik on the southern coast to Jokulsarlon glacier. This will be very helpful.

  5. The 10 best stops from Reykjavík to VIk to Jökulsárlón made our three days trips thoughtless and spectacular. Don’t look or ask for any other recommendations. This is all you need!


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