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Drive and Hike to the Black Sand Beaches of Vik

Reynishverfisvegur, Iceland



1 miles

Route Type



Added by Brian Wheeler

Roughly two hours south of Reykjavik, Iceland is the black sand beach of the world-renowned Reynisfjara shore, often referred to as the most impressive black sand beach in all of Iceland.

The past several years, Reykjavik, Iceland has become a top destination for world travelers and hunters of the elusive Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. Reykjavik, with its themed pubs, seamlessly never-ending nightlife, and sought after local cuisine, is certainly one the best places I've visited during my travels. But there is so much more beauty to be seen in the wonderful world of Iceland. 

Less than 200 kilometers southeast of Reykjavik lies the Reynisfjara shore, commonly known as the Black Sand Beach of Iceland. If you rent a car and drive yourself, the drive is only about two hours. Local tourism companies do offer bus rides, for a cost, to the beach as well. I recommend renting a car as you will give yourself the freedom to stop at other sites along the route, such as Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. And the drive is not difficult. You can find the beaches using GPS. Once you leave, Reykjavik, though, the drive is a straight shot down Highway 1 through the southern Iceland toward the village of Vik in Myrdalur on the country's southern tip.

When you arrive at Reynisfjara, there is ample parking space. From the parking lot, it's roughly only a .25 mile hike out to the North Atlantic Ocean. Please note the waves at Reynisfjara are massive and have been known to be lethal. Always proceed with caution and do not get too close to the water, and always be on alert for high tide. 

The beach is a black pebble beach full of the best skipping stones I've ever seen. The way the sun bounces off the black rocks is unlike anything I've ever seen before. I certainly suggest being on the beach when the sun is breaking through the clouds and fog over Iceland. 

Reynisfjara also offers visitors the opportunity to view an amazing "stepping stone" style pyramid of basalt columns.  Standing on these columns makes for a great photo opportunity! Resting in the sea are two basalt sea stacks called Reynisdrangar. These massive rock formations, pictured above, are different than any stacks I've seen in the oceans of North America. Local folklore states two trolls attempted to drag a three-masted ship to land but were turned to stone as the sun rose and daylight broke, turning them into the Reynisdrangar stacks, which are clearly visible from the beach and one of the most often photographed formations at Reynisfjara.

You may also be lucky enough, depending on the time of season, to view local wildlife, such as puffins. Unfortunately, I did not see a puffin when visiting. 

After you've spent time walking up and down the black beach, make the short, five-minute trip to Vik. From what locals told me, less than 500 people reside in the area, therefore it's not nearly as busy as downtown Reykjavik. Vik also offers visitors several nice restaurants and pubs, such as Halldorskaffi.

After a relaxing walk along Reynisfjara, a Viking beer and Icelandic lamb is quite the treat. 

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