Vik is one of my favorite little towns in Iceland. It is a beautiful town and close to so many incredible natural sights to see. We stayed around the town of Vik for several days, but you could stay here for months and not see all there is to see. I have never been anywhere like it.
It is a small town, but has everything you need including restaurants, a grocery store, and an old school bus turned into a coffee shop. I recommend visiting Vik and the surrounding area on your trip to Iceland if you have the chance.
Where is Vik, Iceland?
Vik, Iceland is located on the southern coast of Iceland about 2.5hours and 190km from Reykjavik. It is a popular place to stay whether you are doing a full loop around the island or just wanting to visit the sights of the southern coast.
How to get to Vik, Iceland
I recommend having a car if visiting Vik, or anywhere in Iceland really. Having a car to tour around will really give you the freedom to see the area and stop at any place you want to and at any pace. If you have the budget and ability, I recommend renting a car. We used the company Icepol and thought it was smooth experience.
If renting a car is not an option to you, you could take a bus from Reykjavik. There are supposed to be daily buses to Vik from Reykjavik throughout the summer. One of the more popular way to get to Vik by bus is by taking an organized tour of southern Iceland. There are several companies that offer this service including Viator, Bustravel Iceland, and Artic Adventures.
Where to stay in Vik, Iceland
If you are visiting Vik by car, you will likely need someplace to stay. If you are on an organized tour, they most likely organize the lodging for you or give you specific options to choose from. The options I have listed here are in order from most affordable to most expensive (in general).
One affordable way of staying around Iceland is camping. There are campgrounds everywhere and there are a lot of options for camping. Many people choose to rent camper vans during their time in Iceland to save money camping. Camping also allows for flexibility.
Vik Campsite and Thakgil Campsite are the two well-known areas for camping near Vik. Thakgil Campground is absolutely gorgeous, but it is a rougher road and a bit out of town.
One downside of camping is that it is not really an option if you are visiting outside of the summer months. Camping is generally limited June to September, but be sure to check each campsite’s website for official dates.
Renting an AirBnb is one of the best ways to stay in Iceland. Compared to the hotels in Vik, the Airbnbs are much more affordable and super cute. We stayed at an Airbnb right out of town located on an adorable farm with incredible views. It had 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and was cheaper than a hotel room. (Plus there was a super cute puppy that greeted us every time we entered the house).
AirBnb has some unique lodgings and you can find what you’re looking for, whether it be great views, luxury accommodations, or both.
There are few hotels in and around Vik. Some of the more popular include Hotel Vik, Hotel Kria, and Black Beach Suites. Each of these hotels are incredible and aesthetic. I am sure they would be worth the price. However, they will cost you a bit more than camping or AirBnb rentals.
Things to do around Vik, Iceland
Black Sand Beach Vik
The southern coast has incredible black sand beaches. The easiest black sand beach to access is from the town of Vik itself. If you drive through the town, down towards the ocean, there is a parking area where you can park and walk directly onto the beach. I have included a Google Pin to the location here so you know where to park.
The dark black sand stretches as far as the eye can see, with black cliffs covered in green moss towering over the beach. If you visit at the right time of year, you can see hundreds of puffins flying above. There are rock formations out in the distance, the same rock formations that you can see from Reynisfjara Beach. The black sand and towering cliffs feel ominous, especially if its foggy and rainy, which is most of the time.
To visit Reynisfjara Beach, you will drive out of Vik, up and around the mountains, and return to the ocean. Reynifjara is a very popular beach, one that most tour buses stop at. It can be super crowded or empty depending on the time of day you visit.
From the parking lot, follow the signage to reach the beach and walk around. Here there are restrooms and a café. Depending on the tides when you visit, you may be able to walk around to see the unique basalt rock formations.
Be careful and look out for “sneaker waves” while visiting this beach, or any of the area beaches. Sneaker waves are waves that come up very quickly and can easily engulf you and pull you into the cold ocean. Many people have died here from being swept away by the waves.
At low tide, you can walk around to the left to explore more of the rock formations, including the Halsanefshellir Cave and get closer views of large rock formations protruding from the water.
Dyrholaey isn’t too far from Reynisfjara mileage-wise, but to get there you will need to drive back to the main road and take a separate road out and up a mountain to reach the Dyrholaey Lighthouse and viewpoint. From Dryholaey, there are incredible views of seemingly endless black sand beaches facing the west. There is a lighthouse on the point and also views of an arch which is actually the southern-most point of Iceland.
If you are visiting at the end of summer, Dyrholaey is one of the best places to possibly see puffins up close.
Summer in Iceland is puffin season. In case you don’t know, puffins are beautiful little birds with funny beaks that live in very specific areas. Iceland is one of the best places to see puffins. It is said that puffin season is from May to August, but it depends on the year. We visited in mid-August and saw thousands of puffins in the area around Vik.
The places that we saw the most puffins were Dyrholaey, Reynisfjara, and the black sand beach from Vik. From the beaches you can see them flying up above, while at Dyroholaey you can see them much more up close as they like making their nests in high-up areas on the cliffs.
If you see puffins, enjoy them from a distance and be sure to not disturb them in their nests! That being said, they are incredible birds to have the opportunity to see.
Vik I Myrdal Church
Driving into Vik, you will see the Vik I Myrdal Church up on one of the main hills of Vik. It is an iconic sight of the town. If you wish to get a closer view, you can drive up the hill to have a better view of the church building with the scenery.
Katla Glacier Geopark
Katla Glacier Geopark is huge, but the closest access point to Vik is by driving out to the Thakgil Campground. The road is only open during the summer months. We did not camp at the Thakgil campground, but opted to drive the road to see more of the Katla Glacier Geopark.
The drive is absolutely incredible. I have never seen wide expansive views like the views seen on the drive out to Thakgil campground. Once you get to Thakgil Campground, there are different hikes you can do, but even if you’re pressed for time, there is a short waterfall hike that will take you less than 20 minutes. The waterfall feels hidden and magical, plus there are a lot of wild sheep around to accompany you on a little hike. At the Thakgil Campground, there is also a little picnic area in a cave to use even if you are not camping.
The road out to access Katla Glacier Geopark is gravel, but doesn’t necessarily require 4-wheel drive. We didn’t need 4-wheel drive, but were prepared to turn around at any point if the road became to sketchy. It is a bit out there and has no cell phone service, so make sure you are comfortable with what you are driving and ere on the side of caution. However, if you’re able to, it is so worth it and was one of my favorite things we did in the area around Vik.
There are a lot of horses around Iceland. Icelandic horses have special genes that allow them to walk in a different way than other horses. They are also typically very friendly horses. Right outside Vik, near the Skool Beans Café, there is a large field that has many horses that frequently come to the fence to greet humans. If you want to view horses up-close, this would be the best place see horses around Vik.
When driving out of Vik going east, there is a waterfall you can see on the left side of the road way out after a field full of sheep. We decided to stop and are so glad that we did. You can drive the small dirt road and park at the end. There is a small step ladder to help you cross the fence and you can walk closer to the waterfall. There were sheep in the field surrounding the waterfall that didn’t seem to mind us visiting. It is a waterfall that you can experience without all of the crowds.
Fun fact: “-foss” in Icelandic means “waterfall” so if you see a sign for “something-foss” you can assume that it is some sort of waterfall.
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
A US Naval plane crashed on the shore at Solheimasandur in the 1970’s and can still be seen today. Luckily all of the passengers on the crashed plane survived. The crashed plane is in the middle of a black sand landscape and appears pretty ominous. It is a 4.6 mile round-trip hike from the main road to see the plane crash. We did not end up hiking to the plane crash because it was raining heavily and the walk is almost 5 miles completely uncovered. It is definitely something we would like to do on another visit to Iceland (is this an excuse that I should take another trip to Iceland??? Lol)
Where to eat in Vik, Iceland
Even though Vik is a small town, there are several great restaurants around Vik.
Wok On is a delicious Vietnamese restaurant with a wide variety of noodle and rice options at an affordable price (for Iceland standards).
Black Crust Pizzeria
Black Crust Pizzeria is a delicious pizza place with unique pizza topping combinations, and as the name says, black crust. They also have other crusts if you don’t want to try the black crust (which tastes just like normal crust except that it is black).
Skool Beans micro roaster café
Skool Beans might possibly my favorite coffee shop that I have visited in the entire world (and I have been to A LOT of coffee shops, just ask my husband haha). It is a micro roaster and coffee shop that is out of an old school bus. It has so much personality, with a woodstove inside, local art for purchase, and the star of the show—a three-legged cat. All of the food we tried was delicious and the beans I brought home were so good.
If you’re interested in more posts on coffee shops in Iceland, check out my blog post exploring the best coffee shops of Iceland.
Lava Bakery and Coffee
Lava Bakery and Coffee is located next to the main gift store in Vik. They have a lot of delicious pastries, sandwiches, pasta, and of course coffee. It is a great place to grab a breakfast or lunch.
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Overall, this is my guide for Vik, Iceland! I hope that it is helpful to you in planning your trip to Iceland! Any questions or things that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!