Most people traveling around Iceland take the Ring Road (Rte. 1) heading east of Reykjavík, through the southwest central area, before hitting the coastal regions after Hvolsvöllur. Because they are detached from the course of the Ring Road, lovely southwest coastal destinations such as Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri are often overlooked in favor of star attractions and natural wonders, farther along Rte.1, where from the Markarfjót Valley to the charming town of Vík and beyond the road presses closely to the coast threading through a progression of impressive volcano-scarred landscapes and large glacier-topped mountains, including everyone’s favorite Icelandic tongue-twister: Eyjafjallajökull.
The power of volcanoes is evident on a journey along the south coast. At Kirkjubæjarklaustur you can still see scars of the great Laki eruption of 1783. At Stöng you can visit excavated ruins of a farmstead buried by the 1104 eruption of Mt. Hekla, known throughout medieval Europe as the abode of the damned—and still mightily active. Other regional natural wonders include Skaftafell area of Vatnajökull National Park and Þórsmörk (Thor's Wood), a popular nature reserve.