Many of the images captured of Iceland are of the country’s stunning landscapes. From Kirkjufell mountain in the northwest to Vatnajökull glacier in the southeast, there is no shortage of breathtaking locations on the small Nordic island. And when you see photos of otherworldly black sand beaches, imposing hexagonal basalt columns along the shore, and a remote white church with a red roof among a field of flowers, you’re most likely looking at the lovely town of Vík í Mýrdal, more commonly known as Vík, and its environs. The picturesque seafront village lies in the heart of South Iceland and is a frequent stopover for visitors traveling along Iceland’s Ring Road. So what makes this area so unique? What are the things to see and do in Vik?
How to Get to Vík
Traveling east from Reykjavik on Route 1, you’ll reach Vík after about 110 miles (180 km). Give yourself time to make the drive as you’ll pass both Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls along the way. You’ll probably want to stop for an hour or so at each one. According to Google Maps, the drive takes around two and a half hours. In winter, allow yourself additional time. A reasonable estimate when driving in Iceland is to add an extra 15 minutes to every hour when traveling in the winter. Once you’ve made your way to Vík, you can either check into your accommodation and relax or begin exploring some of the cool sights in the area. Resting near the foot Katla volcano and the glacier that covers it, Mýrdalsjökull, the geologically diverse zone has been shaped by both glacial and volcanic activity.
Sights in Vík – Reyniskirkja Church
This is a very typical, Icelandic church. The quintessential architectural layout of the white wooden church and its colorful roof that has been painted red is quite representative of the small churches you will see dotting Iceland’s countryside. Built in 1929, the building overlooks both the town of Vik and the sea below. Be sure to stop by one of Iceland’s cutest churches for some great photo opportunities.
Sights in Vík – Reynisfjara Beach
The shores of Reynisfjara, close to Vík, are renowned for their volcanic black sand beaches. The dark pebbles and hexagonal basalt columns here are unlike anything else you have ever seen. Many draw the comparison to Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. The beach’s black shores are so impressive that they doubled as the setting of Eastwatch By The Sea in Game of Thrones. There are also some pretty spectacular rock formations closeby at Reynisdrangar.
Sights in Vík – Reynisfjall Mountain
The cliffs of Reynisfjall mountain form the striking backdrop to the natural wonders found at Reynisfjara Beach. You’ll also find colonies of Atlantic puffins here during their breeding season in the summer months. These adorable birds are a symbol of Iceland, so try to catch a glimpse of them when visiting Vík.
Sights in Vík – Dyrhólaey Peninsula
West of Vík and Reynisfjara is the Dyrhólaey peninsula. Sights in the area include the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse and the large rock arch jutting off into the shores of the peninsula. Its name actually means “door hole” and boats can sail through the arch in calm seas. You’ll also be able to see puffins at this promontory point during mating season.
Iceland Travel Spotlight: Vík
Whether visiting Vík on a day trip from Reykjavik or stopping here on a longer itinerary on Iceland’s Ring Road, this small town is sure to be a favorite during your trip to Iceland. Not only does it make a great jumping off point for exploring the surrounding areas, but you’re also close to the hiking trails at Landmannalaugar and the glacier at Vatnajökull National Park. Coming to Vík gives you the chance to get to know small-town Iceland while also providing outdoor adventure opportunities nearby.
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