Heading to Iceland? The Southeast Coast of Iceland is a bit farther than the normal Iceland itineraries, but it’s SO WORTH IT, especially if you want to see Jökulsárlon glacier lagoon! If you’re worried about the distance, just keep in mind that not only did I do this roadtrip in a day (from and to Keflavik), but I also went straight from a red-eye flight to the car rental place, got my car, and drove nearly 5 hours to get there and then back! Totally worth it!
Length: Full Day (or longer)
Cost: About $80 for gas + food money
Tips: Bring good hiking shoes and a warm jacket
Before you rule out driving all the way to the Southeast coast of Iceland, let me just throw it out there that the glacier lagoon, black sand beach with iceberg rocks, and black basalt waterfall were some of the most breathtaking things I saw during my whole trip.
In fact, the only day I had free was the day I arrived, but I was so ambitiously determined to see them, that as soon as I landed in Iceland at 5:30am, I rented a car, fumbled with the GPS, and drove 5 hours across the entire south coast of Iceland to get there.
Not gunna lie, it’s a bit of a trek, but you see lots of interesting things!
I spent about 3 hours total at all of the stops I made, then drove back to my hotel in Keflavik for a total of a 13 hour roadtrip. I was beyond tired, but didn’t mind the drive that much, because the scenery along the way is just so incredible. It’s definitely doable in one day, but if you have extra time, I’d highly suggest staying or camping around Skaftafell National Park, and combining the South Coast roadtrip with the Southeast one!
Here are the stops I made on my Southeast coast roadtrip:
You get a great view from the top of the “easy hike” at Skaftafell, like the glacier in the background
Skaftafell National Park is the perfect first stop because it’s the easiest one to find, and also to enter into GPS. It has clean bathrooms, a little cafe, and tons of information in case you need it. Skaftafell National Park is at the base of the massive glacier called Vatnajökull, which can be easily seen from miles away from the park.
There’s also a lot of random waterfalls along the hikes in Skaftafell
There are several hiking routes you can take in Skaftafell depending on what you want to see, and how ambitious you are about exercising. There’s also a camping area in case you want to pitch a tent and stay the “night” (there was 24 hours of sunlight when I was in Iceland).
Luckily, the one thing I wanted to see at Skaftafell National Park, was the one thing that was on the easiest hike! Svartifoss is famous for being a waterfall that cascades down a wall of black basalt rocks (those cool column-shaped rocks) and is just as awesome to see in person as it sounds.
The hike is easy, despite the clusters of tourists clad in intense hiking gear and lacking breath, and you even pass two other waterfalls on the way to it!
Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is DEFINITELY worth the road trip to get there!
If you haven’t already seen a glacier or glacier lagoon, go to Jökulsárlon right after Skaftafell (there’s another one on the way but not as cool). Even though I had seen photos of it online, my mind was absolutely blown by how illusory this place was.
If there was ever a time for me to actually think “my life’s a movie”, it was definitely at Jökulsárlon, which is why it’s one of my most highly recommended places to stop at in Iceland! It’s about 30 or 40 kilometers east of Skaftafell if you just keep driving on the main road.
4. Black Sand Beach Across From Jökulsárlon
The black sand beach across from Jökulsárlón is probably the best one I saw in Iceland!
I could have sworn there was a sign with an actual name for this beach, but I can’t seem to find it online…that being said, if you go here, please take a picture of the sign and let me know what the actual name is! Anyway, the beach is across the street from Jökulsárlon, and you’ll probably see some cars or trailers in the parking lot.
I mean come on…crystal glacier rocks and jet black sand?!
What makes this black sand beach so awesome compared to all the other ones is that the black sand is actual fine grain sand instead of little pebbles, and more importantly…there are iceberg rocks all along the shoreline! It’s like a beach straight out the movie Frozen!!
Fjallsarlon isn’t too well known, but as long as you have a map and keep a look out for the sign, you should find it!
This is the other glacier lagoon I was referring to as “not as cool” as Jökulsárlon, but on an overall scale of coolness, it’s still pretty high up there! It’s literally just down the road from Jökulsárlon if you head back west, at the base of the volcano (covered in glacier), Öræfajökull, which makes for a pretty epic background.
It’s a smaller lagoon, but there’s still a bunch of really big icebergs floating in it that broke off from the glacier! You can even pay extra to go on a “glacier walk”, although they were all way too expensive for my little adventure budget.
Alyssa is a full time solo adventure traveler who turned her love for traveling and writing into a self-made career as a travel blogger and social media influencer. She's been to 70 countries and 6 continents so far, as well as all 7 New World Wonders, and 7 Wonders of Nature. Alyssa believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, packing light, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!