Experience the Charm of Vík: A Picturesque Coastal Village on Iceland’s Southern Shores
- South Iceland
- 10 May 2023
Nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of southern Iceland lies the idyllic seaside town of Vík í Mýrdal.
Surrounded by towering cliffs, jagged peaks, and the shimmering Atlantic Ocean, Vík í Mýrdal is a picturesque coastal village that showcases natural beauty and rugged charm. At the heart of the town is the iconic red-roofed Víkurkirkja church. And beyond, you can explore the world-famous black sand beaches of Reynisfjara, and the Dyrhólaey promontory nearby offering breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline and sea.
In this guide, we will delve into the rich history and natural wonders of Vík í Mýrdal and its surroundings, revealing the many hidden gems that await adventurous travelers.
The Origin of Vik i Myrdal
Known as Vik, the full name is actually Vik i Myrdal. And the town has a rich and fascinating history, dating back over a thousand years to the settlement of Iceland. It’s named after the nearby river Myrdalur, which means “marshy valley”. So the name can be translated into “the village in the marshy valley.”
The earliest settlers in the region were farmers who made a living raising sheep and cattle on the surrounding hillsides. Over time, Vik i Myrdal grew into an important trading post and fishing village, with ships arriving regularly from across the North Atlantic to trade goods and supplies. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the town became a center for the local wool industry, producing high-quality wool products for export.
Today, you can still see remnants of Vik i Myrdal’s past in the form of traditional turf-roofed farmhouses and historic churches. One notable example is the Reyniskirkja church, which dates back to the 12th century and is one of the oldest surviving structures in Iceland.
Vik i Myrdal is also steeped in Icelandic folklore and mythology. According to legend, the nearby sea stacks known as Reynisdrangar were formed when two trolls attempted to drag a ship ashore, but were turned to stone by the rising sun. Similarly, the Dyrhólaey peninsula is said to be named after a “door” (“dyr” in Icelandic) in the cliff, through which Icelandic elves are said to pass.
To understand the old Iceland, Vik i Myrdal is a great window to see the rich tapestry of Viking settlers, trading ships, wool production, and mythological tales. You can explore it through the town’s historic landmarks, museums, and cultural events.
What to see in Vik i Myrdal
Welcome to Vik i Myrdal, where the rugged beauty of Iceland’s southern coast meets charming town life. From iconic black sand beaches to thrilling glacier adventures, there’s something for everyone to see and do here.
Vikurfjara Beach is a beautiful and rugged stretch of coastline located just a short drive from Vik i Myrdal. The black sand beach is lined with towering cliffs and jagged rock formations, creating a dramatic and otherworldly landscape.
Vik i Myrdal Church
The charming red-roofed Vik i Myrdal Church is a beloved landmark in the town, dating back to the late 19th century. With its classic Nordic design and simple yet elegant interior, the church is a peaceful and welcoming place to visit. The beautiful stained-glass windows and ornate altar, as well as the tranquil surroundings of the churchyard are the highlights of the place.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Nominated as one of the most beautiful beaches of the world, Reynisfjara black sand beach is just a short drive from Vik i Myrdal, offering stunning black sands, sheer cliffs, and unique hexagonal basalt columns. The wild waves and currents give the beach a wild and untamed feel, adding to its allure. More information about this remarkable spot in the guide to Reynisfjara beach.
Friendly reminder, stay alert for the sneaker waves as they are very dangerous and often come in out of nowhere.
Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
The Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, located just off the coast from Reynisfjara black sand beach, are one of Iceland’s most iconic natural landmarks. These towering basalt columns rise from the sea, creating a dramatic and otherworldly sight. According to local legend, the stacks were once trolls who turned to stone when caught by the rising sun. With rugged beauty and fascinating folklore, Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks are a must-see for anyone exploring the Vik area.
Reyniskirkja Church is a charming and historic church located near the iconic Reynisfjara black sand beach. The church dates back to the 1920s and features a unique and striking design, with a bell tower rising high above the surrounding landscape. The church’s intricate stained-glass windows and beautiful woodwork, as well as its serene and peaceful atmosphere have attracted many visitors.
Dyrhólaey Arch and Lighthouse
Perched on a promontory just a few miles from Vik i Myrdal, the Dyrhólaey Arch and Lighthouse is a stunning natural and cultural landmark. The arch, a natural rock formation that spans over 120 meters, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline and sea. You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse, which dates back to the 1920s, and take in panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
What to Do in Vik i Myrdal
Vik i Myrdal is a destination that caters to a wide range of interests, making it an ideal location for a diverse array of activities.
Vik’s surrounding area offers a plethora of hiking trails to explore, ranging from short walks to multi-day treks.
Take a guided tour of the nearby Myrdalsjokull glacier, especially the Solheimajokull glacier, which is one of the outlet glaciers stretching out of Myrdalsjokull. Join a glacier hiking tour to experience a unique opportunity to explore ice caves and crevasses.
Ever imagined riding on a horseback on a stunning black sand beach? Experience a guided horseback riding tour from Vik on the black beach, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
Vik i Myrdal is a photographer’s paradise, with breathtaking scenery that includes black sand beaches, awesome cliffs, and stunning waterfalls.
The area is home to a variety of seabirds, including puffins, which can be observed during the summer months of the year.
Northern Lights Hunt
From September to April, visitors have the opportunity to witness the stunning Northern Lights in the clear night sky.
During the winter months, take a guided snowmobiling tour of the nearby glaciers for an unforgettable adventure.
Explore the rugged terrain around Vik i Myrdal on an ATV tour, which offers stunning views and a thrilling ride.
Finally, you can simply unwind and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of this charming town of Vik, enjoying the local food, drink, and culture at a leisurely pace.
Wildlife nearby Vik in Iceland
In Vik i Myrdal, the stunning natural landscapes of Iceland’s southern coast are home to a rich variety of wildlife, including puffins, seals, and more. Explore the diverse and captivating creatures that make this destination so special.
Puffins Colonies Close to Vik
For birdwatchers and nature lovers, a trip to the puffin colonies close to Vik i Myrdal is an unforgettable experience. These charming and colorful birds are a true symbol of Iceland, with their distinctive orange beaks and bright markings. The colonies are located on the nearby cliffs, where you can observe the birds in their natural habitat and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding coastline. The best time to see puffins is between May and August, when they come to the coast to breed.
Puffins are one of the many reasons why Vik i Myrdal is such a charming and impressive destination. With their endearing personalities and distinctive appearance, these colorful birds are a true delight to spot in Iceland.
Vik’s Local Seal Population
Seals are a beloved part of Iceland’s rich wildlife heritage. The seal population in Vik i Myrdal can usually be found in the nearby coastal waters and on the rocks near the shore. One of the best spots to see them is the beach at Reynisfjara, you can often see seals swimming in the waters or lounging on the rocks near the beach. Another good spot to see seals is at the nearby Dyrhólaey promontory, where they can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks or swimming in the ocean. While sightings are not guaranteed, seals are a fairly common sight in the area during the breeding season, which typically occurs in late May and early June.
How to Get to Vik in South Coast of Iceland
Vik i Myrdal is located approximately 186 kilometers (115 miles) southeast of Reykjavik, along Iceland’s southern coast. There are several ways you can reach Vik from Iceland’s capital.
The easiest way to get to Vik is to drive from Reykjavik. The journey takes about 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. You can rent a car in Reykjavik and drive along the scenic Route 1, also known as the Rind Road, which runs along the coast and passes through several charming towns and villages along the way.
If you prefer a guided tour, several South Coast day tours from Reykjavik stop at Vik and the surrounding area. These tours include transportation, as well as stops at popular attractions like the Reynisfjara black sand beach and several famous waterfalls along the way.
Another option is to take a bus from Reykjavik to Vik. Several companies operate bus services between the two cities, for example Strætó. The journey takes approximately 2.5-3 hours, depending on the route and schedule.
No matter which mode of transportation you choose, the journey to Vik from Reykjavik is filled with breathtaking scenery and natural wonders that are not to be missed.
The Weather in Vik of South Iceland
The weather in Vik i Myrdal, South Iceland can be quite variable throughout the year. The area has a subarctic oceanic climate, with relatively mild temperatures considering its latitude.
During the summer months, from June to August, the average high temperature in Vik i Myrdal ranges from 11-13°C (52-55°F), while the average low temperature is around 7-9°C (45-48°F). It’s worth noting that summer days in Iceland are quite long, with up to 24 hours of daylight in June.
In the winter months, from December to February, temperatures in Vik i Myrdal can drop to around -1°C to -4°C (30-24°F), with occasional snowfall. The area experiences very short days during the winter, with just a few hours of daylight.
It’s best for you to get prepared for a wide range of weather conditions when you visit Vik, including rain, wind, and occasional storms, regardless of the season. It’s a good idea to bring warm, waterproof clothing and layers to ensure a comfortable visit.
Nearby Attractions of Vik Along the South Coast of Iceland
Get ready to embark on a journey that will leave you spellbound and inspired by the rugged beauty of Iceland’s south coast.
A beautiful waterfall that you can walk behind, it’s located about 40 minutes’ drive from Vik i Myrdal. It’s famous for its unique viewpoint that is behind the cascade.
One of Iceland’s largest and most popular waterfalls, Skogafoss waterfall is located about 30 minutes’ drive from Vik i Myrdal. It drops from 60 meters from a cliff, creating a palpable energy and a beautiful screen of mist.
Solheimajokull glacier is a breathtaking sight located just a short drive from Vik i Myrdal. You can join a guided glacier hike, explore nearby ice caves, and witness the stunning blue ice formations.
Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
A hauntingly beautiful site where the remains of a US Navy plane that crashed in 1973 can be seen, located about 20 minutes’ drive from Vik i Myrdal. Now it’s referred to as the Plane Wreck.
A stunning canyon with a river running through it, located about an hour’s drive from Vik i Myrdal.
Skaftafell Nature Reserve
A stunning national park located in southeastern Iceland, it encompasses a diverse range of landscapes and ecosystems. Visitors can explore glaciers, waterfalls, and lush forests, as well as hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and coastline.
Vatnajökull National Park
A vast national park located about 2-3 hours’ drive from Vik i Myrdal, featuring glaciers, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. Vatnajökull glacier is Europe’s most voluminous and Iceland’s largest glacier. In winter, ice cave tours and glacier hikes are very popular there.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
The spectacular glacier lagoon is located about 2-3 hours’ drive from Vik i Myrdal, where you can see blue icebergs floating in the water. In summer, you can hop on boat tours sailing among the icebergs and see the beauty of Icelandic nature.
And some ice chunks wind up on the shore, sitting against the black beach, creating an appealing vision of wonder that gave the place the name Diamond Beach.
A famous geothermal spa located about more than 2 hours’ drive from Vik i Myrdal, the Blue Lagoon offers a unique and relaxing bathing experience in warm, blue, mineral-rich waters.
- 10 hours
- 10 hours
- ~ 14 hours