Our last few days in Iceland were spent on the south coast, near the town of Vik. It was at this point in our trip that we realised just how big this island actually is. Bigger than Portugal, according to our friend Google. We drove from Budir to Vik all in one go, via Reykjavik as there was no alternative route to avoid the city. The speed limit here is 90 km/h and there are speed traps EVERYWHERE. For people accustomed to the Portuguese driving style (ie: as fast as you can get away with) this was worse than Chinese water torture and made an already long journey seem to go on forever.
However, once we arrived on the south coast it was definitely worth the effort and this part of the country is dramatically different to the western part we had just left… much greener and more fertile. We visited the black sand beaches at Vik, checked out a few waterfalls, stopped to chat with countless beautiful horses and just generally spent our time here driving around and exploring the countryside.
The highlight of the south coast (for me, anyway) was Seljavallalaug, a geothermally heated swimming pool hidden in a glacial valley. It was tricky to find and required a good 15 minute hike up the valley to get to (which thankfully eliminated all but the most determined of visitors) but the effort was more than rewarded by a swim in the warm water. We spent a few hours here and I would love to see this place in the winter, covered in snow… the warm water must be even more delicious in comparison.
This is a map of the places we visited and the general route we took during our week in Iceland… click the image for the original map if you want to zoom in or see more details. We would love to do this again as there were so many things I wanted to see that we did´t have the time for. Our next visit will definitely be with a 4×4 and at least 2 weeks long, to be able to drive all the way around the island and explore a bit more off the main roads.