Vík & Reynisdrangar – South Iceland

Categorized as Landscapes and seascapes
Reynisdrengur - vik

Vík & Reynisfjara Beach

Vík í Mýrdal is situated on the South shore of Iceland. Vík was once a fishing village. Men would launch their mid sized fishing boats from the black sand beach, which was a very dangerous occupation given the huge surf here.

Everywhere along the shore line are reminders of some serious ship wrecks including a memorial to drowned seamen whose boats were likely caught up in the rocky shore around Reynisdrangur.


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The residents of Vik live with the threat of glacier floods (Jökulhlaup) from a Katla volcano eruption under Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Such floods come every 100 years and are described as the biggest floods humans have ever experienced. The biblical film ‘Noah’ was filmed in the area.

Reyniskirkja Church

The Church is situated high on a hill and is the site of refuge should any serious eruption occur. Local people practice running up to the church on Wednesdays.

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Tourist Facilities

Vík is now a principle tourist destination as it lies on the number 1 road at a reasonable distance for a day trip from Reykjavik. Vík is often the furthest point on most South Coast photo tours. Vík also serves as a useful resting point as it is half way from Reykjavik to Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon & ice-beach.

It is possible to connect with local tours on the Mýrdalsjökull glacier such as The Mýrdalsjökull Ice cave.

There is a very busy grill which shares it car park with a busy gift store and this is all across the road from one of Iceland’s largest campsites and a long golf course.

Vík í Mýrdal beach - South Coast Iceland
Black sand beach at Vík í Mýrdal.

Reynisdrangar sea stacks

Most of the town is obsessed with the Reynidrangar sea stacks. You can spot the shape in many places. Legend has it that this was a tröll who was frozen in the morning light as he tried to tow his sailing ship ashore. Most photographers also obsess about the sea-stacks which can be seen from 2 beaches. The iconic shape is best viewed from the Vík beach.

From the other black beach at Reynisfjara, the stacks appear with a different configuration and can be seen along with one of the finest examples of basalt hexagons. The sea can be very dangerous and has claimed the lives of several unsuspecting tourists.

Photo tips:

During the Winter always check weather and road conditions on safetravel.is because the elevated road approaching Vík can be very dangerous and often closes in severe Winter storms. If you get it wrong you could end up stranded in Vik for several unintentional hours.

With the sea stacks in mind explore the town to find different angles and different foregrounds. The best moments on the Vík side beach are Winter sunsets, but with light in the town better on Winter mornings.

Danger of death!

You should observe the safety warnings, especially on the Reynisfjara side. The information points called the dangerous waves “Sneaker waves”, but they should be called Doc Martin waves.

Reynisdrangar sea stacks Reynisfjara beach
Reynisdrangar sea stacks from Reynisfjara beach.

Day Tours

A selection of South Coast sightseeing tours from Viator. These tours depart from Reykjavik and include Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls and Vik black sand beach.

Private South Coast

South Coast by Minibus

Reynisfjall mountain

The bird cliffs which over look the Village of Vik are part of Reynisfjall mountain. The ring-road crosses Reynisfjall mountain before descending into Vik, but there is a challenging 4×4 track which will take you up on top of the sea cliffs. This road requires a serious Jeep and Driver and gets worse as it gets higher. From the top of the track there are amazing views over the village of Vik. From the bird cliffs it is possible to get close to Puffins in the summer. The cliff has great views over the Reynisdrangar sea stacks.

Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks taken from the Reynisfjall mountain.

The sea cliffs accommodate a large puffin colony. The best time to see puffins is from May – August. This location features on our Iceland Puffin Map.  The Western edge of the cliffs give you a great view along the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. The black sand stretch towards the Dyrholaey sea arch.

Reynisfjara beach
Reynisfjara black sand beach from the Reynisfjall mountain.

Activities from Vik

These activities are in Vik, or depart from Vik. These are useful if you are on a Self-Drive tour or staying in the area.

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.