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An Insider’s Guide to Dyrhólaey in Iceland

Dyrhólaey is a magical place in Iceland, not just because of its incredible beauty, but also because of the myths and legends surrounding the area and its natural wonders. Dyrhólaey also means different things to people. Some visit to marvel at its geological significance, some want to check out the wildlife, others want to take the perfect photo, or take part in a beloved outdoor activity in a unique setting.


Whatever your preference or reason for visiting Dyrhólaey, the one thing we can all agree on is that it will leave you with lifelong memories. So, if you’re busy planning a trip to Iceland, read on to see why you should add Dyrhólaey to your trip itinerary and what you can expect from a visit.


Dyrhólaey in Iceland

The Dyrhólaey Peninsula


Although it might be easier for us to understand by just referring to it as a peninsula, Dyrhólaey is actually a promontory. A promontory is a “point of high land jutting into a large body of water”. In Dyrhólaey’s case, the promontory is 120 meters high, allowing visitors to take in breathtaking views of the sea and the Icelandic landscape.


Dyrhólaey’s Claim to Fame


Today, Dyrhólaey is a nature reserve where visitors can check out certain Icelandic landmarks, wildlife, and natural wonders that make it one of the most popular stops along a trip around the island. Here are a few things you can look forward to at Dyrhólaey:


Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach


Reynisfjara is one of our most famous black sand beaches in Iceland. Although it is the Dyrhólaey Beach, very few refer to it as such. Reynisfjara is a black sand beach that stretches out for kilometers and has dramatic black basalt cliffs lining the coast.


The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is also known as a bit of a bad boy. It looks calm on the surface yet has tumultuous streams underneath. And it has sneaker waves that sneak up on you, knock your feet from underneath you, and drag you into the ocean. That’s why you should never stand with your back towards the ocean at our beautiful but dangerous, Reynisfjara. 


Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Dyrhólaey Rock Formation, aka the Dyrhólaey Arch


This is probably what characterizes Dyrhólaey the most and adorns most tourist postcards and brochures. The arch is also what it’s named after (Dyrhólaey translates to ‘the hille island with the door hole’). The Dyrhólaey Arch is a marvel and speaks to the power of nature.


The arch hasn’t always been an arch. Once upon a time, it was a regular sliver of land stretching into the ocean. But add the legendary Icelandic winds and the constant crashing of the waves into the mix, and, over time, it eroded a hole straight through it. The arch’s unique aesthetic draws many photographers to the area, we have many boats driving through it just for fun, and we’ve even had a daredevil pilot fly through it in 1993!


Dyrhólaey Cliffs


Remember the enormous basalt cliffs at Reynisfjara we mentioned? Well, just like the beach, these are also Dyrhólaey’s Cliffs (although rarely referred to as such). What makes these cliffs so impressive is not just their staggering height at certain places, but also the fact that they symbolize thousands and thousands of years of volcanic eruptions here on the island since the basalt rock is nothing else but hardened lava.


The Dyrhólaey Lighthouse


It’s not so far-fetched that a rocky land mass protruding into the sea has some kind of warning system for boats and ships. At Dyrhólaey, it comes in the old-fashioned form of a lighthouse. But don’t expect the usual red and white lighthouse standing tall against the sky. The Dyrhólaey Lighthouse looks more like a little fort protecting the promontory against any potential enemies. Its unique features make it a favorite among avid photographers, and it is easily accessible since it’s just a short walk from the Dyrhólaey viewpoint.


The Dyrhólaey Lighthouse

Where is Dyrhólaey in Iceland?


Dyrhólaey can be found close to the village of Vik in the south of Iceland. Although it’s possible to take Dyrhólaey on as a day outing from the capital (Reykjavik is just 180 kilometers or a 2.5-hour drive away), we recommend you make it part of your Ring Road road trip as it’s so close to the main road.


Getting to Dyrhólaey in Iceland


You can visit Dyrhólaey in one of two ways:


Booking a Tour


As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, you’ll find many guides and tour operators offering tours with Dyrhólaey as destination. You can choose between a day tour, multi-day tour packages and customized private tours.


Driving Yourself


This is, of course, our preferred method of exploring the island. It’s incredibly convenient and allows you to always be in full control of your time and itinerary. The route itself is easy. Just drive east on the Ring Road, turn right at Road 218, take a right up the hill and you’ll end up in the upper area of Dyrhólaey. To explore all the Dyrhólaey highlights at the bottom, just go back down the hill and take the turn-off to the beach.

Camper rental Iceland

Going on the Dyrhólaey Hike


If you like hiking, you might want to try the Dyrhólaey hike. The trail is an out-and-back trail that starts from the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse and ends at Kirkjufara (another black sand beach). This is an easy trail, suitable for most, and is just 5.5 kilometers long. This trail is especially popular among birdwatchers who search for interesting species nesting along the cliffs.


Things to Do & See Near Dyrhólaey


If you want to add a few other interesting things to see and do to your Dyrhólaey trip itinerary, the following are favorites in the area:

Accommodation Near Dyrhólaey


If you would like to extend your exploration of the area or would like to make this your first pitstop along your road trip, there are many accommodation options to choose from. For a touch of luxury, book a room at Umi Hotel. If you would like to have all your creature comforts but at a less pricey price tag, give Guesthouse Skogafoss a try. Or book a spot at the Vik Tjaldsvædi Campsite as the most affordable option. It’s even more convenient when road tripping with a campervan.


Exploring Dyrhólaey as Stop Along a Ring Road Road Trip


Dyrhólaey makes the perfect stop along a Ring Road road trip. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to spend an entire day here (hence the accommodation options above). By renting a campervan in Reykjavík, you’ll not only be able to sort out both your transport and your accommodation, but you might even be able to take a little siesta with a view of Dyrhólaey. So, what are you waiting for? Adventuring on your day out at Dyrhólaey is just a Ring Road road trip away! 


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