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The village of Vik on Iceland’s south shore may be tiny, but the area packs a big punch in terms of sheer natural beauty.
The stretch of black sand along the coast here is regularly voted onto the lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches. But the village is most famous for the iconic stacks of rock, known as Reynisdrangar, just off- shore, along with the massive Atlantic waves that crash into them.
Vik is the southernmost village in Iceland, about 180 kilometres (110 miles) southeast on the ring road from Reykjavik. If you’re driving the ring road, chances are you’ll be making a stop there for supplies as I did on my road trip in my Rent.is camper.
But be sure to take the time to enjoy the stunning scenery. Here’s where to find the best views:
Dyrhólaey is a point with 100-metre cliffs extending to the sea. It was formed by an underwater eruption thousands of years ago and since then, the waves have been battering the cliffs, carving out sea stacks and holes or “doors” in the rock.
As you can see, the views here can be somewhat weather dependent, but you can be sure that it will always be dramatic.
If you’re driving from Reykjavik, it’s about 25 kilometres after Skogafoss (before you get to Vik) and there are marked signs at the turn off.
The Black Sand Beach in Town
The Reynisdrangar sea stacks are visible from the black sand beach in Vik. You can walk to the beach from the main gas station in town.
According to legend, the rocks are actually two trolls that were turned to stone by the sun because they were trying to sink a sailing ship. The tallest “troll” rises to 66 metres. The view toward the stacks is spectacular from here at sunset, while the view toward the town is breathtaking at sunrise.
There is a wonderful little church that sits high on a hill overlooking Vik.
The church itself is quite cute and classically Icelandic, but if you drive up the road just behind it, you’ll have fantastic views of village and the sea.
If there is just one spot you can’t miss, it’s Reynisfjara.
At this black sand beach, you’ll be closer to the sea stacks and there are also beautiful hexagonal basalt columns along the shoreline. The window panes of the famous Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik were designed based on the shape of these columns. In the summer, you may also find puffins living in the cliffs in this area.
The turnoff to Reynisfjara is onto Route 215 about 5 kilomtres before reaching Vik from Reykjavik.
The other big draw, and danger here, is the wild Atlantic surf. The unpredictable waves have proven to be fatal for tourists who have not heeded the warning signs. It’s a good idea to check the weather and the tides, and to avoid getting too close to the water. The wind and sea spray will still be surprisingly invigorating from a safe distance. Hang on to your hat!
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