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Proceeding east from the capital along the southern coast, this area represents the last broad expanse of agricultural land before mountains and glaciers press more tightly to the coast. The villages of Hella and Hvolsvöllur are right along the Ring Road; east of Hvolsvöllur, the broad Markarfljót river valley leads inland toward Þórsmörk.

The area is particularly famous for raising horses and hosts the country's major horse festival, the Landsmót (tel. 514-4030; www.landsmot.is), for a week in late June or early July on even-numbered years. The atmosphere is lively, with about 12,000 attendees, mostly Icelanders. You won't see lots of high-speed racing or hurdling fences -- Icelandic horses are bred more for balancing on lava rock and swimming across freezing rivers -- but they do show off their unique "tölting" gait.