Photo by Rentsch/age fotostock
Located in the not-so-easy-to-pronounce Mýrdalshreppur region, the small beachside town of Vík is bordered to the north by the immense (270-square-mile) Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland's fourth largest glacier, and to the south by the Atlantic Ocean and a distinctive black-sand beach. There are many natural places of interest in the vicinity, including puffin and arctic tern breeding grounds, a spectacular set of rock columns known as Reynisdrangar, and Dyrhólaey, a 394-foot-tall headland extending into the sea and forming an impressive natural arch. There are also hiking trails, bird-watching trips, and the option to go horseback riding on the black sands or snowmobile on Mýrdalsjökull. The village of Vík has a golf course, a swimming pool, and a couple of local museums.
By Paul Sullivan, AFAR Local Expert
Vík is the southernmost point of Iceland. It is a small village of only 300 inhabitants. The town itself is really only three main roads. Along these roads you'll find two picturesque churches and a handful of restaurants. Vík is a great jumping off point for adventure travelers trying to see Mýrdalsjökull glacier or the Black Sand Beaches.
By Lucy Flanagan, AFAR Contributor
Vik: A Study In Contrasts
In January, my husband treated me to the best 40th birthday present - a trip to Iceland. One of our favorite stops on our exploration of Iceland was Vik, the country's Southernmost village. Iceland is a wonderful study in contrasts - light and dark, soft and hard - and nowhere was that on display more than at Vik's gorgeous black sand beach. I loved the contrast between the fluffy white snow and the coarse black sand. If you visit Iceland, I highly recommend a trip to Vik, especially in the winter when the beautiful contrasts I came to associate with Iceland are at their most dramatic.
Icelandic Sunset: Black, White, Pink and Blue
During my 40th birthday trip to Iceland in January, my husband and I thought it would be fun to see the country in the way we most enjoying traveling: by renting a car and wandering. One of our favorite places we visited was beautiful Vik, Iceland's southernmost village. One of the things we most enjoyed about our time in Iceland was the fact that during the winter days, the sun goes down around 6:00 p.m., but it does so very slowly, making for a long and dramatic sunset each day. The landscape itself was as dramatic as the sunsets, and when the two combined it was breathtaking. These mounds, between Vik and Selfoss, perfectly showed off the four colors I came to associate most with Iceland: black, white, pink and baby blue. There's very little I've seen in my travels that's more serene and beautiful than an Icelandic sunset!
Desolate But Beautiful
During a trip to Iceland in January to celebrate my 40th birthday, my husband and I rented a car so we could explore the country on our own schedule. We were struck by how amazing the sunsets were in the winter, lasting for 45 minutes to an hour and casting the most beautiful light over the landscape. Everything was bathed in a pink and baby blue alpenglow. This stretch of road between Vik and Selfoss perfectly summed up what winter driving was like in Iceland: the roads aren't perfect but are passable if you're comfortable driving on ice; the landscape is dramatic, in large part because it's so sparsely populated; there's very little traffic, so you better ensure that your car is in good repair and full of gas; and the sunsets are gorgeous and seem to go on forever. I loved Iceland in the winter, especially the contrasts the snow and rocks create, and I can't wait to go back!
Little Church, Big Mountain
One of the first things you notice when you enter Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland, is the town's red-roofed church. In winter the church is especially dramatic, set off as it is against the dazzling white snow and imposing dark mountain behind it. For anyone interested in a trip to Iceland, I highly recommend visiting in the winter when you're treated to dramatic contrasts of white, black, pink, and baby blue, the four colors I came to associate most with beautiful Iceland.
Iceland's Moody Landscape
Driving back to Selfoss after a visit to the charming coastal town of Vik, Iceland's southernmost village, most of the landscape was like much of the rest we'd seen: flat and desolate. So we were surprised when we came across these interesting mounds running next to the road. They looked like a miniature mountain range. I loved the contrast of the clean white snow against the sharp black peaks. The sun had just set and storm clouds were rolling in, creating a moody, dramatic scene that you could almost feel physically. On any trip to Iceland, a visit to the beautiful Vik is a must. As an added bonus, you're sure to enjoy the area's unique geological features that you're not likely to see elsewhere in Iceland.
As we did every day during our trip to Iceland this January, on our drive back to Selfoss from coastal Vik, my husband and I sought out a perfect place to watch the sun set. We sat at this roadside stop for over an hour watching the sun drop below the horizon, painting the sky all shades of pink and blue in the process. Just as the sun went down, storm clouds rolled in and darkened the sky's cheerful pinks, transforming the coast into a moody blue scene. That's the best thing about Iceland's epic sunsets - they last for more than an hour in the winter, an ever-changing light show ranging from pastel pinks to dramatic blues. Iceland's dazzling sunsets are sure to be one of the many special things you'll remember about this magical country long after you've returned home.
Reynisdrangar - sea stacks at Vik
My husband and I traveled around the periphery of Iceland (on Ring Road) over a 9-day trip this summer. This was shot on the second day of our road-trip at Vik as we went anticlockwise (starting from Reykjavik) around the island. The village of Vík (or Vík í Mýrdal) is the southernmost village in Iceland and has a killer black sand (volcanic soil) beach. Since lupine grow all over Iceland during summer, they made a perfect antidote to the dark, moody Reynisdrangar - sea stacks at Vik. There's a cozy (a little pricey though) restaurant called "Strondin" by the beach from where you can view the stacks too. Vik has a beautiful and modest red and white colored church located at the base of mountains. There's also a sculpture called "For" (Voyage) facing the beach that commemorates long standing fishing trade between England and Iceland in Northern Atlantic including cod wars between the two countries.
The view from Dyrhólaey
My husband and I traveled around the periphery of Iceland (on Ring Road) over a 9-day trip this summer. This was shot on the third day of our road-trip at Dyrhólaey, a small peninsula located in Southern Iceland , close to the village of Vik. The road to Dyrhólaey though paved can be very easily missed from Ring Road. If you are traveling from Skogar to Vik look out for a small sign pointing to Dyrhólaey on the right. Once up there, you get beautiful views in all directions including Reynisdrangar - sea stacks at Vik, and Mýrdalsjökull glacier. There's also a rock-arch which is visible from the Ring Road. We also saw several puffins nesting on the cliffs .
A lone puffin braving the winds at Dyrhólaey cliffs
My husband and I traveled around the periphery of Iceland (on Ring Road) over a 9-day trip this summer. This was shot on the third day of our road-trip at Dyrhólaey, a small peninsula located in Southern Iceland , close to the village of Vik. The road to Dyrhólaey though paved can be very easily missed from Ring Road. Once up there, you get beautiful views in all directions. We also saw several puffins nesting on the cliffs. Aren't they the cutest! :) We spotted puffins again later on the sea in Northern Iceland when we took a whale-watching tour.
All in a Day's Work at Vik
Dramatic weather shifts, rolling waves, shiny black sand, and an itty-bitty serving of sunshine. The thick cloud cover parts for 10 and a half minutes. Seriously. Enough time to take a few magical pictures of the sea stacks at Vik. There was snow and hail a while back, and we had to huddle together with our cameras inside our jackets. But now the only challenge is to wait for the right wave to wash up the black sand beach, with the sun’s light reflecting in it. According to Icelandic lore, these are trolls that got back too late after a night of trying to capture some ships. When daylight broke, they turned to rock. It’s a good thing they were photogenic trolls!
You win some. You lose some.
My attempt at creating a time-lapse video - in a perfect little cove near Dyrhólaey in southern Iceland - had to be aborted after about 30 frames as a rogue wave washed over us. Managed to save the camera, but had to sacrifice a pair of precious hiking gloves to the Atlantic Ocean.
Waterfall on Southern Coast of Iceland
On my 1-day trip to hike on a glacier in Southern Iceland, we stopped at this waterfall along the route. I was able to hike directly under this waterfall -- and others like this. The volume of water passing over this rock wall was amazing; the mist curled around a bowl to nourish a wide variety of mosses and grasses, peppered with a few bright wildflowers.
Hiking on a glacier in Iceland
On a 1-day trip from Reykjavik along the southern coast of Iceland, I was able to hike on a glacier. We found and hiked into a tube within the glacier - one of the trip highlights as light filters through the glacier and infuses the ice with a surreal blue hue. Here, my companions look into a large hole int he glacier formed by melting water.