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The South

As you work your way east from Reykjavík, Rte 1 (the Ring Road) emerges into austere volcanic foothills punctuated by surreal steam vents, around Hveragerði, then swoops through a flat, wide coastal plain, full of verdant horse farms and greenhouses, before the landscape suddenly begins to grow wonderfully jagged, after Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Mountains thrust upwards on the inland side, some of them volcanoes (like Eyjafjallajökull, the site of the 2010 eruption that disrupted much of Europe), and the first of the awesome glaciers appears, as enormous rivers such as the Þjórsá cut their way to the black-sand beaches rimming the Atlantic.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout The South.