Vik is the Southernmost village in Iceland and the only place that offers services and supplies in between Skógar and the West bank of the Mýrdalssandur outwash plain. The population is gradually increasing due to tourism and its popularity is increasing as a picturesque stopover village.
With a population of 300 inhabitants and no towns or settlements for at least 50 km in each direction, by default, the small village of Vik is the largest settlement in the area. The village of Vík í Mýrdal is much more than the home-base, swing-by, service town reputation it holds amongst tourists and tour buses! The village itself has a large range in the selection of hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
The origin of Vik dates back to the 9th century, but it wasn't until comparatively recently, in 1890, that traders settled permanently to sell products, commonly flour, salt, and sugar, fruit, and vegetables. After some time, there were five open, food-stores in Vik with two slaughterhouses. The population within the small settlement expanded over time, eventually becoming a meeting place for farmers to get together. The church in Vik was built in 1934, solidifying Vik’s status as a community and village.
Where is Vik, Iceland?
GPS 63.4186° N, 19.0060° W
Vik is a remote seaside village found South of the Katla volcano, in the Mýrdalshreppur Municipality. Located about half-way along the coast in southern Iceland, peaceful and scenic, Vik is the only town around for over 50km, in each direction! Vik has developed as an important local retail center and service for the travel industry, by being the only town to house a wide variety of public services for almost 40 miles! Due to its remoteness, supplies are limited and expensive, but the town serves a purpose with its importance in uniting the east and west sides of Iceland. There is infrastructure, gas stations, grocery stores, and cafes, as well as a swimming pool and limited for-profit tourist attractions.
How to get to Vik
Vik is very popular and accessible, due to the main Ring Road or Route One, which runs through the village to the south coast of Iceland. Vik is roughly 110 miles (187 km) from Reykjavík and without stopping it should take no more than two and a half hours. Follow the Ring Road in a southerly direction the whole way and you will shortly arrive in Vik!
From the East, Vik is halfway between Reykjavik and Jökulsárlón Lagoon, roughly 190 km from each and is 130 km from Selfoss Waterfall.
Attractions in Vik
There’s more to Iceland than the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, and there’s more to Vik than a gas station and a church! Arguably you could potentially take a brisk walk through the village of Vik and see it all within half an hour...However, Vik has much more to offer than a brief sweeping visit would suggest! The village itself, has basic amenities, a post office, tourist shop, a bonus wool factory, a popular pub and a hardware store that doubles as a gift shop!
Sundlaugin is Vík’s Outdoor swimming pool - every village has one! Welcome to Iceland! No matter the external temperature, the water is geothermally heated, averaging 28 – 29°C, so you’ll see people there any time of the year! The main pool is 16 meters and there are several smaller, hotter pools too. A trip to the pool is the perfect day out for Icelandic families.
Reyniskirkja Famous Church
The most iconic landmark in Vik! Or at least the most photographed! The famous red-roofed church was finished in 1934 for the small population of pre-toursim, 1930’s Vik. This church is especially popular for weddings and given the villages close proximity to Katla volcano, if it was to erupt or something bad to happen, the church is the evacuation spot and is believed to be the only location in the village out of glacial meltwater, due to its high position.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is the most famous black sand beach in Iceland! The Black Sand beach is within walking distance of the village and is a great place to unwind after a long day! You will often find local people walking their downs along the dark black sands of the beach, and they are more than happy to chat for a while! But please take care, the sea is rough. There are no landmasses of significant size between Reynisfjara and Antarctica, giving waves the entire length of the Atlantic Ocean to build strength. Stay well clear of the tide and keep hold of children, the sea has claimed more than enough victims and the signs are put up for a reason.
Voyages Friendship Statue
This 1.8 m (6 ft) statue is found opposite the black beach, a short walk away from the center of the village. The figure is symbolic of the bonds of friendship reached at the end of the cod-fishing wars between Iceland and the UK, two neighbors and economic rivals. The art piece was created in 2006 by Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir.
Wildlife around Vik
If you like to spend your vacations bird watching, Vik is the place for you! A large Arctic Tern colony is nested East of Vík, not far from Mount Reynisfjall. In this are you will also find numerous other bird species, most famously the Icelandic Puffin. Other birds range from Fulmar, Kittiwake, and Auk. There is also a slight chance to see dolphins or whales, or most commonly seals on the shore!
Positioned just outside of Vík is the mighty Mýrdalsjökull Glacier which is just under 1.5 km (5000 ft) in height and covers an area of 595 km², including a section of Katla, one of Iceland’s active volcanos. The volcano typically erupts every 40 - 80 years, but as of 2018 the last eruption was 100 years ago! It is being monitored closely by scientists for any warning signs. Right now, the glacier is safe to walk on and there are some amazing hiking routes in the area, and during the winter it is a popular place to go sledding! Don't forget your walking boots.
Hálsanefshelliris a cave under the basalt rock, not too far away from the village, worth finding, should you have time. The cave is quite small but 10ft high in some places, accessible only in low tide. It’s worth noting that the cave although beautiful is natural and gradually eroding. In 2013, the cave collapsed considerably and 100 tonnes of columnar basalt crumpled into the cave.
Glacier Hiking Tours
If you’re in Iceland at some point you’re going to climb a glacier! It’s inevitable! Solheimajokull glacier is about 28 km west of Vík and approximately 11-km-long. To explore it at its best, take an easy 3-hour hike along the ice - suitable for complete beginners!
The Arch with the Hole is an incredible, natural peninsula on the South Coast, which has eroded from the main headland. At a height of 120 meters, it has an overlooking view of the black sand beaches and glaciers all around.
Reynisdrangar is the name of the basalt rock formations situated near - or in, (depending on tide times) - the shore of Reynisfjara beach. These rocks are all that remains from what was once a cliff and if anything, they serve as a warning to show how strong and unpredictable the waves and current can be. Naturally, Icelandic folklore has stories of the rocks as the solidified bodies of 2 trolls, who waded out into the waves but turned to stone when the sun came up and caught them.
Hjörleifshöfði and the “Yoda Cave”
Hjorleifshofdi is the catchy and easy-to-pronounce name (named after the Viking settler, Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson) of a headland on Myrdalssandur, on the South Coast of Iceland. Geologically it is spectacular and the view from the top is rewarding and deserved after the 2-hour hike! Historically the mount has played some significance, and the remains of the Viking settler are rumored to be buried at the top!
Relatively recently, a cave was discovered at the side of the cape, and for whatever natural reason, it resembles Yoda far too well! As a result, it didn’t take long for this ancient, beautiful cave to be nicknamed the Yoda cave!
Take advantage of this once in a lifetime Icelandic adventure and book a small group tour to visit the Ice Cave beneath the Volcano! Hop into a super jeep tour and head to the hills and into the glacier for an up-close view of Katla ice cave.
When is the Best Time to Visit Vik?
The weather and climate in Vik is not far different from Reykjavik, but it is considered to be the warmest place in Iceland… and also the wettest. It rains a fair amount!
Due to its location, Vik is normally subject to fair, mild weather with a constant ocean breeze closer to the shore. The large mountains offer protection from the wind and shadow the warmth of the sun. The warmest month of the year is August, with an average temperature of 14.7 °C while February has the lowest average temperature of the year at around 0°C. Depending on what you plan to do in Vik summer or winter season is best. If you are visiting Vik quickly, as a stopover while on a multi-day tour of Iceland, coming in the summer will give you a greater chance of filling your itinerary, due to the everlasting Midnight sun. But if you want to unwind in Vik and hopefully catch the Northern lights and an ice cave - September - April is probably best!
Advice for Visiting Vik
- Should the Katla volcano erupt the church is believed to be the only safe space and is the evacuation meeting point
- Reynisfjara beach has a reputation as being Iceland's most dangerous beach - the current is stronger than it looks and waves are unpredictable, don’t get too close - the rescue survival rates aren't as high as you hope.
- Vik is the largest settlement for some 70 km, prices may be higher than average, even for Iceland
- Vik is the only seaside settlement in Iceland left without a harbor
- Hotel rooms are deceivingly limited and rooms fill up fast - book in advance!
Places to Stay in Vik
The small village of Vik is popular amongst tourists and Icelanders alike - there’s plenty of hotels but rooms fill up fast so be sure to book ahead.
- Hotel Dyrholaey,
- Hotel Katla-Hofdabakka,
- Hotel Lundi
- Vik hostel
- Icelandair hotel
Vik Campsite is 1 km from Vik’s village center and can take up to 250 people in tents, cabins, cars, and caravans as well as offering 4 cottages.
Restaurants in Vik
Vik boasts plenty of restaurants for all cuisine types and dietary requirements, the following restaurants offer a mix of traditional Icelandic food with some home comforts as well.
- The Soup Company
- Smidjan Brugghus
- Sudur Vik
- Restaurant Vikurskali