Vik, Iceland is located in the southern region of Iceland, 2 1/2 hours from the capital city of Reykjavik. It is one of the larger towns in southern Iceland which makes it the perfect location to base from. In this post, I am going to share 17 things to do near Vik, Iceland.
Things to do along the south coast near Vik, Iceland
Take a walk on Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Vik is very well known for its stunning black sand beaches. They get their color from crushed volcanic rock and are truly stunning! Perhaps the most famous beach in this area of South Iceland is Reynisfjara.
This popular beach is only 15 minutes from town and boasts some incredible beauty! Not only is the beach itself stunning, but it is also home to towering basalt columns.
Plan to spend at least an hour on this beach enjoying the crashing of the waves and climbing on the basalt columns. There is even a large cave you can stand inside!
If you have a drone with you, be sure and bring it along on this stop to catch some incredible shots of the beach and the ocean.
Take in the views of Reynisdrangar
Reynisdrangar is a group of majestic rock formations off the coast of Reynisfjara Beach. These formations tower above the North Atlantic Ocean and create a stunning backdrop.
The best time of day to catch a dramatic picture of Reynisdrangar is mid-morning. Please don’t forget that the water is extremely dangerous and you should always stay safe on the beach. Do not attempt to swim out to Reynisdrangar.
Drive to Dyrhólaey
Dyrhólaey is an arch peninsula over the ocean and its name means “the hill island with the door hole”. It is located less than 20 minutes from Vik.
To get to the viewpoint, you will have to drive up a steep set of switchbacks. They have been recently repaved and are a lot better than when they were gravel.
Once you reach the top, it is a short walk out to the viewpoint for Dyrhólaey. You will pass the local lighthouse as well as fantastic views of the Icelandic countryside!
Please be respectful of the boundaries and do not leave the path. Both for your own safety as well as the good of the natural vegetation. It can take years for the delicate vegetation to recover from the destruction of irresponsible tourists.
Hike to the DC3 plane wreck
Did you know that there is a plane wreck in southern Iceland only 20 minutes from Vik? This DC3 Plane crashed on the beach in 1973 after running out of fuel. Fortunately, everyone survived.
The wrecked plane was left on the black sand beach near Sólheimasandur and has become a popular spot for tourists to visit today. The hike to reach the plane from the parking lot is 4.7 miles out and back and even though it looks like a road, it is for hiker-use only.
If you don’t want to hike the distance, there is a shuttle that runs every 40 mins but it is not cheap. It costs almost $20 per person (2,500 ISK) round-trip and if you miss the last bus of the day, you have to hike back out anyways.
If money is not an issue for you and you are running short on time, the bus does save you quite a bit of time and energy. If you choose to hike, make sure to bring plenty of water and possibly even snacks.
Once you get out to the plane you can get some incredible photos both with your camera and your drone. For images without any tourists in them, consider visiting this attraction early in the morning.
Take in the views of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is located further from Vik, but paired with a few other stops it makes the perfect day trip! It is roughly 2 1/2 hours from Vik but well worth the trip!
This lagoon borders Vatnajökull National Park and is frequently filled with floating ice chunks from Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier which is part of the Vatnajökull Glacier.
We enjoyed watching the seals swim around and under the icebergs and even got to see a large herd of reindeer just east of the lagoon!
There are multiple activities and tours that you can take from the lagoon including glacier walks, a super jeep tour, and kayaking on the lagoon. We saw many people skipping rocks on the edge of the lagoon as well.
There are public restrooms at this stop as well as a delicious fish and chips stand!
Diamond Beach is perhaps one of the prettiest beaches in Iceland. The icebergs from nearby Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon wash up onto the black sand beach and slowly melt into water.
Morning is the best time of day to visit for maximum ice on the beach. If you are traveling from Vik, the parking lot is located just before the large bridge that takes you across to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Explore Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur is a beautiful stop along the ring road about 1 hour and 15 mins from Vik. You will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance to reach the canyon but the views are worth it!
The hike along the top of the canyon is 2 miles long and is considered relatively easy. There are viewpoints all along the trail where you can catch glimpses of the canyon and the river Fjaðrá far below.
Taking in these stunning views, you’ll be asking yourself if you’re in the middle of a fairytale! The stark contrast of the colors in the canyon is breathtaking! You are allowed to fly a drone here, but unfortunately, ours had died and we were not able to.
When we last visited in March 2022, the trail was only partially open due to the trail being incredibly muddy. If you visit when the trail is fully open, be sure and hike to the very end for stunning waterfall views.
Waterfalls near Vik, Iceland
Iceland is famously known for all of its incredibly stunning waterfalls! There are 4 main waterfalls that we think you shouldn’t miss when you are visiting the area.
Stjórnarfoss is not as popular as some of the other nearby waterfalls and tour buses do not commonly stop here which makes this an ideal waterfall to visit! The area is very peaceful and the waterfall itself is beautiful!
Stjórnarfoss is located near the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and is located about halfway between Vik and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
You are able to park close to this waterfall and a long hike is not required which makes it great for those who are unable to hike long distances.
Svartifoss is one of my favorite waterfalls in all of Iceland! It is surrounded by stunning basalt columns which makes it incredibly unique and helps it stand out from all of the other waterfalls in the area.
The hike to get to Svartifoss is 2.9 miles round-trip and is rated moderate. The elevation gain is over 550 feet. Plan to take lots of breaks as needed and bring plenty of water with you.
This is a very popular hike in Vatnajökull National Park so try to hike in the early morning to avoid crowds if you want to get great pictures.
Once again, Skógafoss is one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland and it is also one of the most famous. It is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland! You can walk right up to it, you will almost certainly get soaked!
It is less than 30 mins from Vik and if you are lucky enough to catch the sun shining on this waterfall, it creates a stunning rainbow in the water!
Many tourists and tour buses come to this waterfall so be prepared for a crowd of people waiting to take a photo with this iconic waterfall.
Although right next door to the popular Skógafoss waterfall, Kvernufoss is much less-known and less visited. It is tucked back into a beautiful gorge and was one of our favorite hikes in the area!
The trail is rated easy and is just under one-mile roundtrip. Even though Skógafoss next door was packed, we only saw a handful of other tourists when we visited Kvernufoss!
Kvernufoss is also only about 30 minutes from Vik. If you are looking for a stunning waterfall to visit without the crowds, Kvernufoss is the perfect option.
Read next: 14 of the Best Waterfalls in Iceland
Activities to do near Vik, Iceland
There are plenty of fun activities and excursions that you can enjoy during your stay in Vik, Iceland. Below are a few of the activities that we enjoyed while staying in Vik.
Ride Icelandic horses on the black beach in Vik
Out of everything that we did in Iceland, riding the Icelandic horses was one of my top 2 favorite memories! Icelandic horses are the only breed allowed on the entire island and there are over 80,000 of them!
When I visited Iceland for the first time I fell in love with the Icelandic horses. We did not have time that trip to book a riding tour so when we went back again, it was a high priority for me. And it just so happened to work out to where we enjoyed this tour on our wedding anniversary!
It exceeded my hopes and was so incredibly fun! We booked our tour with Vik Horse Adventure and did thee did the one-hour tour although they also have a 30-minute family tour.
We arrived early and were able to walk around the stables and enjoy the horses while we waited. Our tour guides gave us brief riding instructions and then we set off for the beach!
I really enjoyed the height of the Icelandic horses. They are generally only 13-14 hands and are similar in size to a Quarter Pony. They have a very unique gate that we got to try out!
Riding on the black sand beach was truly magical! We had a beautiful view of Reynisdrangar off of the coast. We even were able to stop for some pictures before heading back to the stables!
If you are considering a horse riding tour during your stay in Vik I highly recommend it! The guides were very nice and the horses were well trained. If we ever visit Vik again we would definitely book another tour.
Watch the Northern Lights
We were able to catch a beautiful Northern Light show during our stay in Vik even though it was already April. To get the best view of the Northern Lights near Vik, drive out to the Dyrhólaey parking area.
We spent two nights hunting for the Northern Lights and were most successful in this spot! Only a handful of other vehicles headed up there that night with us so we basically had most of the area to ourselves!
Be sure and wear multiple layers if you are planning to stay out taking pictures of the Northern Lights for very long. The wind up on the top of the peninsula can be especially cold.
If you want to get a good picture of the Nothern Lights but you only have a phone, consider purchasing an app specifically designed for Northern Lights photography.
Below is a picture of the peninsula overlook during the day and also during the night when we saw the Nothern Lights from the same location.
Stop in at the Rutshellir Caves
Less than 30 mins from Vik, you will find the Rutshellir Caves. This is a popular stop right on the ring road and is considered a historical landmark.
If you chose to go inside you will find ancient man-made caves that you can explore. The area is completely fenced in for local livestock, but you can easily cross the fence using the provided stiles.
Beware of the high winds that this area can endure! We almost found ourselves knocked over by the strong gusts of wind that waited for us outside of our rental car!
Although this is not an elaborate stop, it is worth pulling over for a quick view if you are already driving past.
Book a glacier walk or ice cave tour
While we were in Vik, we decided to book a glacier walk nearby. You can book a tour on the Sólheimajökull glacier, but we chose to book our tour closer to Vatnajökull National Park at Falljökull glacier.
We book a 3-hour guided tour from Sakaftafell but it ended up being over 4 hours long because they combined our tour with another ice cave tour!
We had to hike about a mile to reach the glacier and then they provided crampons for us to strap to our boots for the rest of the hike. Seeing a glacier from far away is incredible, but being on top of one and seeing it up close is even cooler! They truly are remarkable.
We also really enjoyed being able to stop at the natural ice cave on our tour. You can book ice cave tours specifically for the ice caves, we were just lucky enough to have it added to our glacier walk tour!
Explore what Vik has to offer
There are also a few things in Vik that you can enjoy during your stay.
You can take a walk up to the Vík i Myrdal Church which provides beautiful views of the surrounding area. the church is high up on a hill and is actually the place where the locals would gather in the event of a volcano eruption because it is the highest spot in the town.
There is a local Icelandic Lava Show where you can experience flowing lava! They show you what a local volcanic eruption would be like similar to the Katla volcano and others nearby.
There is also a local swimming pool that you can enjoy after a long day of Iceland travel and exploring the nearby attractions.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do near Vik, Iceland! We stayed in this area for 3 days during our trip and could have easily spent another day or two in the area.
What would you add to our list of the best things to do near Vik, Iceland? Let us know in the comments below!