Top choice in The South

Buried by white volcanic ash in 1104 during one of Hekla’s eruptions, this ancient farm once belonged to Gaukur Trandilsson, a 10th-century Viking who lived a tempestuous life. Excavated in 1939 (Iceland’s first proper archaeological dig), it's an important site, used to help date Viking houses elsewhere. The ruins include the foundations of a farm, house, barn, smithy and church. Find it at the end of a rough 5km dirt road (Rte 327), off Rte 32 about 26km northeast of Árnes

The site has toilets and water. Brief mentions in some 12th-century graffiti in Orkney, in Njál’s Saga and in a scurrilous medieval rhyme hint that Trandilsson had a fling with the housewife at the nearby farm, Steinastöðum, and was killed over the affair in an axe duel. Contemplate this as you explore the site, where you'll find stone-lined fire pits and door lintels made from octagonal basalt columns and an impressively multihued lava landscape.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The South attractions

1. Gjáin

0.54 MILES

A walking path from Stöng farm takes you a couple of kilometres to a lovely little lush valley, Gjáin, full of twisting lava, otherworldly caves and…

2. Þjóðveldisbærinn

2.83 MILES

Þjóðveldisbærinn is a reconstruction of Stöng, exactly reproducing its turf-covered layout and its neighbouring church. Staff here wear period dress and…

3. Hjálparfoss

3.82 MILES

Twenty-six kilometres northeast of Árnes along Rte 32, take a short (1km) detour along a signposted track to this delightful waterfall. The azure falls…

4. Háifoss


Iceland’s second-highest waterfall, Háifoss is a magnificent 128m-high cascade that plunges off the edge of a majestic plateau into an undulating lava…

5. Hekla Volcano

11.44 MILES

One of Iceland's most active volcanoes, Hekla stands at 1491m, and has erupted 20 times since 874, most recently in the year 2000. In a 4x4, it's possible…

6. Hekla Center

13.38 MILES

The Hekla Center is part of the Leirubakki compound (camping, hotel and restaurant). It details the explosive history of Hekla in a deliberately dark…

7. Hellnahellir

15.59 MILES

On the farm of Hellar in Landsveit, this 50m long human-made cave was built up to 11m below the soil at its deepest point. Inside a barn, visitors walk…

8. Gullfoss

16.58 MILES

Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Gullfoss is a spectacular double cascade dropping a dramatic 32m. As it descends, it kicks up magnificent walls of spray…