Skip to content

There are many interesting places on the South Coast Lighthouse Trail, apart from the three lighthouses, the area is rich in history, nature, and wildlife.  

Herdísarvík
Now abandoned, the former estate Herdísarvík, now abandoned, stood on the synonymous cove in Selvogur. The steep cliffs of Mt Herdísarvíkurfjall (329m) protrude behind it to the north, and several lava tongues on its slopes bear witness to prehistoric eruptions in the area and some of them reached the sea. Along the coastline are still a few apparent ruins of ancient fishing outfits, which were declared inviolate in 1973. According to the legend, a woman, Herdís, lived in Herdísarvík in the past, and her sister, Krýsa, in Krýsuvík. They did not see eye to eye and were constantly at each other’s throats. Both sisters practiced witchcraft and continuously played tricks on each other. The renowned poet and entrepreneur Einar Benediktsson spent the last years in his house in Herdísarvík. In 1935 he donated it to The University of Iceland, and union professors sometimes spend their holidays there. Herdísarvík is not far from the South Coast Lighthouse Trail, which connects Þorlákshöfn, Eyrarbakki, and Stokkseyri and, at the same time, tells the history and culture of the places as well as all the possibilities for experience in recreation and nature.  
Selvogur
Selvogur is the westernmost settlement of Árnessýsla. The countryside is relatively small, and the land resources there are scarce. Even though Selvogur had been a somewhat isolated settlement in earlier centuries and conditions along the coastline were challenging, many people lived there, and much exploration was practiced there during the winter. Most of the settlements in Selvogur have now been abandoned, but there are now three farms there. Ruins and meadows peek out of the ground and give an insight into the life of previous centuries, but now there is permanent residence on three farms. Significant places in Selvogur include Herdísarvík and Strandakirkja. Herdísarvík was previously a large farm in Selvogur but is now deserted. Herdísarvík stands by the vast and open cove of the same name. Above the town is Herdísarvíkurfjall (329 m). Herdísarvík was formerly a well-known fishing station with several sea camps, and there you can still see the ruins of many of them. Also, see rock gardens in the lava where the fish was dried. These monuments were all protected in 1973, and Herdísarvík was declared a nature reserve in 1988. The poet Einar Benediktsson (1864-1940) lived in Herdísarvík for the last years of his life. He donated the land to the University of Iceland in 1935.  Strandakirkja is a church by Engilvík on Suðurstrandavegur. The church was a church of the inhabitants of Selvogur, and a priest lived in Vogsós until it was closed down in 1907. Strandakirkja is nationally famous for its promises and rituals, and it is visited by thousands of visitors every year.  
Strandarkirkja church
Strandarkirkja church is located in Selvogur (Seal Cove) and was originally built in the 12th century. The story relates that during one night when a group of sailors tried to navigate back to Iceland in a storm. The southern coast of Iceland is notorious for its hidden reefs and rough coast. The distressed sailors prayed to God for a safe return and vowed to build a church wherever they landed. When they ended their prayer an angel, seemingly made of light, appeared before their bow. The angel guided them through the rough surfs and led them into a bay for a safe landing. The sailors kept their promise and built a wooden church at the site and named it Strandarkirkja. The bay nearby is named Engilsvík (Angel's Bay) to commemorate the incident. Many miracles have been attributed to Strandarkirkja and there was a time when it was one of the richest churches in Iceland from the donations of Icelanders coming from all over the country in hopes of having their prayers and wishes come true.  It has more supporters all over the world than any other church in Iceland and is often referred to as the 'miracle church' with the locals' longstanding belief that it has profound, divine powers.
Selvogsviti Lighthouse
Selvogsviti was built in 1919 and rebuilt in 1931. The light height is 20 meters above sea level. In 1919, a 15-meter high iron frame was built on Selvogstangi. It was fitted with a 3.3 meter high light and a 200 ° dioptric 1000 mm lens and gaslight fixture. The lighthouse was the same type as the Stokksnes lighthouse, built-in 1922. After only ten years, the lighthouse had become so rusty that it became necessary to build a new lighthouse, and in 1930 a 15.8 m high lighthouse was made of concrete. A year later, the lighthouse, lens, and gaslight fixtures of the iron frame lighthouse were installed on it, and the new Selvog lighthouse was taken into use. In 1987, the walls of the lighthouse were renovated. The lighthouse was electrified a year later, and a radar detector was installed on it. The light is now lit on the lighthouse for safety reasons, but the radio transmitters on top of it are the most important thing now. The lighthouse is still in operation and is fully automated today.   Selvogsviti lighthouse is part of the beautiful South Coast Lighthouse trail that you can find more information about here.  
ÞORLÁKSHÖFN
The main town in Ölfus is Þorlákshöfn, west of Eyrarbakki. The town is important as a port because the only viable harbour on Iceland's southern coast between Grindavík in the west and Höfn in the east is situated there. The town has a population of about 1500 people. The industrial foundations in Þorlákshöfn are ship-outfitting and fish processing factories, with business and service industries growing fast. Leisure opportunities for tourists are excellent, with an outdoor swimming pool with hot baths, a steam bath and a brand new waterslide. A good campsite is next door to the pool, with indoor cooking facilities and spaces for mobile homes. From the swimming pool you can select many walking routes in the surrounding area and longer walks along the coast, leading all the way to Selvogur and Herdísarvík, and along the beach leading to Óseyrarbrú and Eyrarbakki. In the Egilsbúð library and museum items that tell the story of the development of the town are to be found. The town church in Þorlákshöfn is built in a unique style, and Strandarkirkja church in Engilsvík in Selvogur is famous as a place for vows. Anyone wishing to go caving has the Raufarhólshellir caves, which are some 1360 metres long. Duggan in Thorlákshöfn and Skíðaskálinn in Hveradalir offer many services to travellers, among them food and drink. Many scenes in the epic blockbuster movie "Flags of our Fathers" (directed by Clint Eastwood and produced by Steven Spielberg - 2005) were filmed on the black beaches close to Þorlákshöfn. There are also plans to construct a big international golf course close to Þorlákshöfn.
Hafnarnes lighthouse and viewpoint
Hafnarnes is an area on the edge of the town Thorlákshöfn where you are surrounded by beautiful cliffs and the majestic ocean. A viewpoint is located in the area and from there you have panoramic views over the mountains surrounding the area such as the volcanoes Mt. Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull. This area is also very popular amongst surfers and usually you can spot a few surfing. There is a small lighthouse on the cliffs, it is not open for visitors but is very picturesque with the waves banging against the cliffs.  Hafnarnes lighthouse is part of the beatiful South Coast Lighthouse trail that you can find more information about here 
Ölfus black sand beach
Ölfus has a black sand beach that stretches from Thorlákshöfn to Ölfusa river. A long walk on the beach surrounded by black sand and lyme grass is the perfect way to unwind from the day to day stress. The beach is also a popular surfing spot and the waves are suitable for those taking their first steps at surfing. For more advanced surfers the waves by the lighthouse in Thorlákshöfn are superb. 
Ölfusá river
The river is the most voluminous in Iceland, with an average flow of 423 m³/sec.  Three large floods occurred in the 20th century, and beside the restaurant, Tryggvaskáli, are lines showing each flood's height. All the floods happened during the wintertime due to heavy rains and high temperatures, which caused the snow to melt unusually fast.  Ölfusá River is relatively short, about 25 km (14 miles) long. About 6 km (4 mi) north of Selfoss are two rivers, Sogið and Hvítá, and combined they form Ölfusá. 
The Flói Bird Reserve
Northwest to the town of Eyrarbakki is a wetland area, rich in birdlife. The reserve has walking paths and a bird hide, an ideal spot for bird watching. The Flói Bird Reserve is listed in the Bird Life international Association. The Reserve is characterized by its flood meadows and numerous small ponds. Approximately 70 species of birds have been recorded in the Reserve. During spring and autumn migration Greylag Geese and White-fronted Geese can be found as well as Wigeon and Tufted Duck and various waders such as Snipe and passerines like Wheatear. During winter, birds, chiefly gulls and sometimes Long-tailed Duck and Common Eider, are concentrated in the estuary of the river Ölfusá. Whooper Swan, Teal, Mallard and Goosander are attracted to open water in winter.
EYRARBAKKI
Eyrarbakki, pop. 585 is a friendly village that used to be the largest commercial community and main harbor on the South Coast of Iceland. Many preserved houses from 1890 to 1920 are situated in Eyrarbakki, and a visit is, therefore, like going 100 years back in time. Other great attractions are The Eyrarbakki Maritime Museum and the Árnessýsla Folk Museum, which is located in a building constructed in 1765, famously known as “The House”. Here you can also find a campsite, hostel, guesthouses and a great restaurant. On the rocky shoreline is a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean, where you can watch the surf break. It is an ideal spot for hiking and bird watching. Passing the beautiful recreational forest Hallskot northwest of Eyrarbakki, you enter the Flói Bird Reserve. It is a significant nesting area, especially for wetland birds, and is listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. ÁRBORG The Municipality of Árborg was established in 1998. It consists of the town Selfoss, the villages of Eyrarbakki, Stokkseyri, and the Sandvík area. This region offers excellent options for recreation and relaxation, including a wide selection of restaurants, cafés, art galleries, museums, swimming pools, and a 9-hole golf course in Selfoss. A perfect location for any visitor who wants to stay closer to nature and explore unique landscapes such as large lava fields and black sand beaches.
The coastline between Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki
The coastline between the rivers Þjórsá and Ölfusá (25 km/15 mi) forms the outskirt of the great Þjórsárhraun lava field. Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri provide easy access to the coastline as well as a path between the two villages where you can see the Atlantic Ocean and marvel at the fact the South Pole is directly to the south. This spot has a great view of both the ocean and mountains. Information signs can be found in both villages as well as an observation platform in Stokkseyri.
STOKKSEYRI
STOKKSEYRIStokkseyri, pop. 559 is a charming village renowned for its beautiful seashore, breaking ocean waves and birdlife, and rich in handicrafts and culture. Workshops, galleries, Ghost Center, and the Elves and Northern Lights Museum are all located in a Cultural Centre, Menningarverstöðin, an old fish processing factory that has found a new role due to changes in the fishing industry. The Wildlife Museum is dedicated to hunting and wildlife and contains many mammals and birds. The bunkhouse Þuríðarbúð provides an excellent example of how fishermen had to make use of what nature provided. Stokkseyri also offers one of Iceland's most famous seafood restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, kayak tours, and a campsite. East of Stokkseyri is Knarrarósviti Lighthouse, built-in 1938 and put into operation a year later. For further information, visit the tourist information at the local Café, Gimli Kaffihús. ÁRBORGThe Municipality of Árborg was established in 1998. It consists of the town Selfoss, the villages of Eyrarbakki, Stokkseyri, and the Sandvík area. This region offers excellent options for recreation and relaxation, including a wide selection of restaurants, cafés, art galleries, museums, swimming pools, and a 9-hole golf course in Selfoss. A perfect location for any visitor who wants to stay closer to nature and explore unique landscapes such as large lava fields and black sand beaches.
Knarrarósviti Lighthouse
Built-in 1938-1939, the lighthouse was the first one in Iceland to be built out of reinforced concrete. For a long time, the lighthouse was the tallest building in South Iceland, 26,2 meters (86 feet) high. It was designed by the engineer Axel Sveinsson as a blend of functionalism and art nouveau (jugendstil).  In summertime (mid of June to start August) the lighthouse is open every day. Knarrarósviti lighthouse is part of the beautiful South Coast Lighthouse trail that you can find more information about here.