Vík is a very small coastal town in Iceland and although there isn’t necessarily much to do directly in Vík, it sure does pack a punch as the gateway to explore what Southern Iceland has to offer. In fact, the things I saw and did whilst based in Vík were actually probably the highlights of my entire trip. Read on for all of my top picks to do whilst in Vík.
For a full itinerary for a week long trip to Iceland, read my other post!
Do Go Chasing Waterfalls
The drive from Reykjavik to Vík is 2.5 – 3 hours in total but along the way, there are 3 waterfalls to take a break and stop at for 20 minutes. The first 2 waterfalls are actually situated next to each other but it’s worth visiting them both as they offer different experiences.
Waterfall number one that you will see very quickly as you pull into the parking area is Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland’s most famous falls, cascading down off a cliff edge. If you’re a Justin Bieber fan, this waterfall may be a bit familiar to you as it featured in his I’ll Show You music video which was all filmed in Iceland! The path was quite slippery in winter so we didn’t get too close but plenty of other people did and came away looking a bit damp from the mist of the fall.
Just round the corner leads to waterfall number two called Gljufrabui. Most people seem to congregated just around Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui is overlooked but it’s definitely worth the 10 minute walk round to it. It’s a hidden gem both figuratively and literally as it sits back hidden behind 2 cliffs faces that you can only just see it peaking out from. You can wade through the stream to approach the falls if you wish but I didn’t do so as didn’t feel too steady on my feet going over the icy ground.
Further on from these two falls is Skógafoss, which is the grandest of the three and another one for the Bieber fans. The ground here is very flat so as long as it’s not too cold and icy, you can get up quite close to the wall of the water although this again would probably leave you quite wet from the constant cloud of mist. There are also some stairs leading up to an observation platform at the top of the waterfall that we climbed where you can see the origin river and all the nesting seabirds.
Visit the Black Beaches
One of the highlights of all of my Iceland trip was seeing the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara and Vík. I remember seeing about Reynisfjara years ago on a modelling TV show where it was a location for a shoot and it always stuck in my mind as somewhere I wanted to see with my own eyes. It feels like being on a different planet with the pure black sand from the volcanic rock and cooled lava and the unique basalt rock formations with their column structures surrounding Hálsanefshellir Cave. Reynisfjara can however be dangerous with violent sea and sneaker waves appearing out of nowhere; it was the roughest sea I has ever seen and the waves really did come far up the shore. We kept an eye on the weather alerts every day and saw on one day it was recommended not to go inside Hálsanefshellir Cave as the waves were particularly bad one day and it is highly recommended to keep a safe distance from the sea and don’t turn your back on it.
Although many people stay at Reynisfjara for sunset, just round the corner, Vík has it’s own black sand beach itself which is far quieter. Although it doesn’t have the cave and basalt columns, it’s a lovely beach in itself to watch the sunset from and look at the huge rocks in the sea (Reynisdrangar). They have sea breakers here too which some people walked along to have a nicer view although I’m not sure how advisable that would be with the rough sea – we certainly didn’t walk out that far!
Marvel at Europe’s Largest Glacier
The jewel in the crown to the entire trip was easily witnessing Jökulsárlón Glacier which is a day trip from Vík on its own as it’s about a 2.5 hour drive each way and in winter, there’s only about 4 or 5 hours of daylight per day anyway.
You are looking at 5 hours of driving today up to Jökulsárlón Glacier (2.5 hours each way) but it’s totally worth it and was the highlight of my Iceland trip. Jökulsárlón Glacier is the largest in Europe and covers 8% of Iceland, as we made our way to the lagoon, we were gobsmacked at the sheer size of the glacier peaking out of between the mountains several times and it’s hard to comprehend how huge it truly is.
There’s free parking available at the lagoon, and toilets for after your long drive, and you can take a look at the huge icebergs from different angles – step down to the edge of the lagoon to see the ice up close, walk to the top of the hill for a view from a higher point and see the whole picture and walk down the river out to sea where you’ll come to Diamond Beach.
Diamond Beach, aptly named as the ice on the beach sand beach really do looks like diamonds glittering in the sun, was particularly lovely as the sun was setting. There’s ice from the glacier here coming in all shapes and sizes and we lost track of time and spent about an hour on this beach alone just wandering around. We probably could have spent even more time here really but our time at the glacier was definitely the coldest I felt throughout the whole week in Iceland with a hat, scarf, big coat and two pairs of gloves on not feeling like enough so we headed back to the car when my fingers went numb.
Where To Stay
In Vík, we stayed in a really homely place called Guesthouse Carina. We chose to stay in a guesthouse purely to save money as Iceland is known to be pricey but this turned out to be an absolute winner! This place was super homely and every room has a view, whether it be of the mountains or out to sea, but even if they didn’t, there is a glorious breakfast room which is all glass for amazing views. Vík is a small town so it’s easy to get everywhere from anywhere and this accommodation had parking right outside for us.