Iceland Road Trip Part 2: The South Coast (Vik, Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon)

The RV Atlas Podcast
Iceland Road Trip Part 2: The South Coast (Vik, Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon)

Our trip to Iceland was like a dream from beginning to end. But our journey along Iceland’s South Coast was our absolute favorite part of the trip. This section of our road trip was filled with astonishing waterfalls, quiet hikes, delicious food, great campsites, and so much more.  Read on just below to learn more about this epic stretch of our trip.

To read about the first leg of our trip in Reykavik and along the Golden Circle–please click here.

To find out about 53 things you need to know before you go to Iceland–please click here.

To listen to Jeremy and Stephanie discuss the second part of their Iceland Road Trip–please click on the media player above or subscribe to The RV Atlas podcast wherever you get your favorite shows!

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Two Amazing Waterfalls On the Road to Vik

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is located just off of the Ring Road on the way to Vik and is about an hour and forty-five minutes away from Reykavik. This stunning 200 foot waterfall is an absolute must stop on your way to Vik–or on your way back–depending on your timing and travel plans. In the weeks before our trip (when we were in researching mode) this waterfall seemed to appear in photos and videos more than any other in Iceland This is no surprise considering how easy it is to visit–and considering the fact that you can walk all the way behind it. Make sure you wear a rain coat when you go. You won’t get soaked–but you will get wet!

Skogafoss Waterfall

Skogafass was our favorite waterfall out of the five that we visited. It felt wild and untamed and you could get right up close to the edge of it without guardrails of any kind in your way impeding you view.  Like Seljalandsfoss this majestic waterfall is located right off of the ring road about two and a half hours away from Reykavik and less than 30 minutes from Vik. Plenty of parking is available and the waterfall is just steps away from the parking lot. There are other hikes with waterfalls located above and behind the main waterfall for those that want to beat the crowds and enjoy a longer ramble.

Vik Campsite and Skool Beans Coffee

We loved Vik and the Vik Campsite so much that we stayed there on our way out to Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon and on the way back. We even changed our plans to do so. We initially planned on spending two nights at Skaftafell but we ditched our second night there to retain to Vik for good food and drink. The campsite was in a lovely spot just across the street from shopping, great restaurants, and the beach. With mountains on one side and the ocean on the other this location felt like a dream. Vik Campsite had a very friendly staff and all of the facilities were clean, comfortable and welcoming. The common area had a community kitchen and plenty of tables for enjoying a meal or hanging out–and the bathrooms and showers were plentiful and also immaculately clean. But at the end of the day it was all about the location. Being able to walk to breakfast or dinner (or for a drink at the local brewhouse) and walk back to the motorhome made this entire stop chill and relaxing. It didn’t hurt having Iceland’s most famous coffee house located right on the Vik Campsite’s property. Access to electricity is available and the overall price for this campsite for two of us was around $35 dollars US.

Skool Beans Coffee

Skool Beans Cafe is located just on the other side of the Vik Campsite’s common area and bathhouses and they serve up (arguably) the best cup of coffee in Iceland. Their shop is located in a school bus and it is warm, cozy, and inviting. We had the dark roast and the medium roast while we were there. The medium roast was very good. The dark roast was one of the best cups of coffee we have ever had–and all just steps away from our gorgeous campsite with mountain views.

The Village and Shops

The village of Vik is charming and chillaxed in just about every way. There are restaurants, brewpubs, a grocery store, a gas station, some great shopping, and more.  The Icewear and Vik Wool shop across the street from the campground was wonderful and packed with great clothing and gifts. We each bought our souvenirs for the trip here. This is the place to get a gorgeous wool sweater or hat–or even a book or a mug. they had just about everything. There are also plenty of clean public restrooms here.

Vik is a lovely town for strolling and the black sand beach is just steps past the shops. The famous Black Beach (Reynisfjara) is not right in front of Vik–you have to back track towards Reykavik about ten minutes. It is right on the other side of the Peninsula that can be viewed to the west of downtown Vik. You must still take caution on the beaches directly in front of Vik–but the infamously dangerous beach where numerous tourists have died is on the other side.

Black Beach (Reynisfjara)

We lost track of the number of times an Icelander told us to be careful when walking on the infamous Black Beach just west of Vik. A handful of tourists have died on this beach in the last 5-6 years so we did take those warnings seriously and you should too. Rogue or “sneaker waves” can materialize out of seemingly nowhere and surge onto the beach and knock a person down and then sweep them out to sea. So don’t walk too close to the water when you visit and don’t turn your back to the waves–ever. Besides the possibility of danger this is a lovely beach for a stroll and we saw puffins while we were there. They were hanging out on the rock outcroppings and swooping out over the waves.

This is a must stop during your stay in Vik.

Food and Drink in Vik

Black Crust Pizza

Black Crust Pizza is another must stop when you are camping or passing through the village of Vik. Listed below are the three pizzas we tried (and appetizer)–and they were all delicious. They are famous for the charcoal crusted black pizza dough–but we loved the sourdough crust just as much.

  1. Pepperoni/Mushroom/Pepper Cheese/ Olives/ Sourdough Pizza
  2. Cherry Tomato/ Mozzarella/ Fresh Basil/ Sourdough Pizza
  3. Black Crust/ Pizza/ Icelandic Cheeses/ Red Current Jelly/ Rose/ Pepper Parmesan
  4. Black Crust Garlic Bread and Cheese

The vibe here was relaxed and chill and the selection of beer was excellent. We actually ended up eating here twice. Once on our first night in Vik and once on our second night in Vik after visiting the Glacial Lagoon and Diamond Beach in Jokulsarlon .

Strondin Pub

The Strondin Pub also had excellent food and drink and a nice, relaxed atmosphere close to the beach. The fish and chips was excellent and so was the Traditional Icelandic Fish Stew. Ask for some stickers before you leave–they have them behind the counter and they are free.

Smidjan Brewhouse

This wonderful brew house is located in the old section of town–which is still just a short walk away from the Vik Campsite. The staff was friendly and the selection of craft beers was excellent. If you are a beer lover then this is the stop for you in Vik.  The food here is also very tasty–we had an order of chicken wings and a brownie dessert to go along with our craft beers.

Skaftafell (Vatnajökull National Park)


Skaftafell was an independent national park until 2008. But now it is part of the much larger Vatnajokull National Park whose dominant feature is the Vatnajokull Glacier. Skaftafell is often still referred to as Skaftafell National Park–so don’t get confused when it is.  After one night in Vik it was our plan to spend two nights at Skaftafell Campsite (which costs about 40 bucks per night for two people and electric) but we ended up spending one night and then hightailing it to Vik for another night of great food and drink. This is no knock on Skaftafell–which was absolutely one of the most beautiful spots on Iceland’s South Coast.  We just felt like we saw what we wanted to see in one afternoon and one morning and we felt like having another great meal in Vik.

Skaftafell Campsite

The campsite at Skaftafell (which does not take reservations) was truly beautiful–and peaceful and relaxing. There are 8 pitches (aka loops) here and about half of them are for tent campers and half for vans, caravans, and motorhomes that need electric. The campsites are at the base of the hiking trail to Svartifoss and the exceptionally lovely visitor center is just a short walk away.  We loved the views of the snowcapped mountains from our campsite and we also really appreciated the clean bathrooms and the free, hot showers. Everything at Skaftafell was delightful and remarkably uncrowded while we were there in May.

Skaftafell Hiking (Svartifoss and Vatnajokull Glacier)

The most popular day hike at Skaftafell is clearly the hike to the Svartifoss waterfall.  This moderate hike was 2 miles out and back with some slight elevation gain–especially at the beginning. This hike was not crowded while we were there–but there were certainly other people on the trial with us.  This was an awesome hike made particularly enjoyable by the fact that the trailhead began just steps away from our campsite.

The first hike we did in Skaftafell (soon after picking our site and parking our motorhome) was the short ramble to the edge of the glacier–which begins just past the visitor center. This is a super easy hike (less than two miles round trip) with little to no elevation gain–and we were practically alone on the trail. We saw one couple on the way out who stopped to tell us that they saw a fox. But we were completely alone by the glacier. We were also almost able to walk right up to the edge of the glacier—but a few streams and deep pools were in our way.

Jokulsarlon (Glacial Lagoon and Diamond Beach)

After we completed the hike to Svartifoss we headed further south to Jokulsarlon which was our furthest point away from Rekavik on the south coast. Jokulsarlon is a terrific end point for a south coast adventure and for those that are not proceeding further east to complete the entire ring road tour. The Glacial Lagoon at Jokulsarlon is clearly one of the most photographed spots in the country. After all, you can park your van or motorhome with a direct view of giant, electric blue icebergs floating by in the sparkling water just past the parking lot.

Those icebergs either wash out to sea or wash back in on the black sand beach at the end of the river-mouth just a short walk away from the Glacial Lagoon. This beach is fittingly called Diamond Beach because of the stunning chunks of ice that wash ashore there. It was a beautiful dreamlike place to take a stroll on the beach and pick up stunning, multicolored chunks of ice that are taking up temporary residence on the beach.

We can’t wait to return to Iceland. This beautiful country is calling us back already. Maybe next time we will tackle the entire ring road, or the Westfjords, or the North, or the Highlands. We are not sure what the next trip will entail–but we are certain we want to go back.






The RV Atlas Podcast
Iceland Road Trip Part 2: The South Coast (Vik, Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon)

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