Vik

The famous rock cliffs, Reynisdrangar, are visible from Vik and make for a very popular photo-op. PIC eatswords

It could be argued that the most popular tourist place in Iceland in relation to the size of the town would be the village of Vik. Often referred to as Vik in Myrdal this place is a popular stop not because it is attractive per se but because of its location smack in the middle of Southern Iceland.

But it could also be said that Vik is dead center stuck between a rock and hard place.

The village is small. Only about 200 inhabitants actually live here and you can drive through here almost any day and not witness much movement at all. The place is gaining in popularity as a stopover for the more serious tourists making the effort the see all the stunning things the South of Iceland has to offer. More and more locals make their living on tourism.

The attractiveness of the village itself is debatable at best but driving on the Ring Road you cannot miss it since the road cuts through the whole village. The village is partly sheltered by the Reynisfjall mountain from which there is great view over the village and surroundings.

However, Vik´s beach is pretty awesome. Black as soot and fine grained and constantly being battered by the seas. In fact, the beach is eroding rapidly each year and locals have tried various ways of protecting their village which will go under sometime in the future. Very famous rock fingers, Reynisdrangar, protrude out into the sea from Reynisfjall mountain and make a beautiful backdrop to the village. Should old tales be believed these fingers are trolls caught out in the sun one day. Also found here are beautiful basalt rock columns and a large sea cave, Halsanefnshellir, which is certainly worth a look. But time your excursion here carefully since it is inaccessible at high tide.

A closer look at Reynisdrangar rock cliffs is easy. The black beach is also enjoyable as long as the winds are easy and hiking the mountain is enjoyable. PIC Matt Chapman

But it is not the village that attracts people here. It is a good base for exploring the South coast and inland too. And this place is the closest village to the majestic Katla volcano and the Myrdalsjokull glacier. The glacier is close enough that on some days you can actually feel the cold wind coming off it.

Katla volcano is a whole chapter by itself. A dormant, but not dead, volcano only 25 kilometers away from the village. Vik will  have to be deserted in a jiffy if Katla would one day awaken and ample evidence shows it is slowly coming to again. Katla erupted last in 1918 and wreaked havoc. Get very detailed information about this volcano and its history in a special exhibition at Brydebud information center.

Also close by ten minutes drive to the east you´ll find Hjorleifshofda. But a bit before, coming from west, you will be astounded by a very sudden change in the landscape. Less than five minutes drive past relatively lush Vik you immediately find yourself in a deep greyish wasteland. This is Myrdalssandur sand desert which is either amazingly beautiful or horribly depressing depending on your state of mind.

If there ever was a lonely mountain then Hjorleifshofdi is it. Rising weirdly high above the endless grey and black sandmass it certainly seems very out of place here. A road leads to it and a not-too-difficult climb is worth it for great views. You will probably find some old graves here too from the days when people actually tried to live here.

Going the other way, coming from East, you will come upon Dyrholaey. Literally, Doorway Hill Island, this is another oddity around here. It is not an island in the regular sense but a promontory with a nice inland lagoon frequented by birds. Dyrholaey has a massive and very popular sea archway. This is a fine area for exploring on foot and various hiking routes possible. For full enjoyment you should take half a day here.

Picturesque when sunny. The local church in Vik is certainly well placed but half an hour walk will do to explore the whole village. PIC ChrisGoldNY

For entertainment, apart from nature, you are pretty much limited to walks and treks. A small bank, post office and a gas station is here but not much else.

For accommodation you have a choice between Hotel Dyrholaey, Hotel Katla-Hofdabakka, Hotel Lundi and at Sudurvikurveg road there is Vik hostel, a well located hostel.

DE FACTO: Few places are under such threat as Vik. The ocean getting nearer, a dormant volcano and a huge glacier close by and to the East a wasteland of sand for an hour. Should something bad happen this is not a place to be

GETTING HERE: Is easy as 1,2,3. The Ring Road goes through the village

OUR HUMBLE OPINION: We don´t like the village so much but the surroundings are certainly worth exploring. A day here should be sufficient to see the major things