Why You Should Visit Dyrholaey in Iceland

Dyrholaey in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Dyrholaey is a favorite amongst visitors. And if you know everything there is to know about it, it’s easy to understand why. Visiting Dyrholaey is a bit of a more-than-4-for-1 type of deal when it comes to natural wonders.

    In this article, we tell you exactly what Dyrholaey is, why it’s so special, how to get there, and what you can expect from a visit to this magical place. So, if you’ve got an upcoming trip to the island or am just curious to learn more, read on. You might be adding Dyrholaey to your Iceland bucket list soon.

    What is Dyrholaey?

    Dyrholaey is considered a Peninsula, but this can become a bit contentious. We think the best way to describe Dyrholaey is as a promontory. That is defined as “a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water; a headland”.

    In the case of Dyrholaey, the promontory is 120 meters high, making Dyrholaey an incredible viewpoint over the ocean and the Icelandic landscape. What makes Dyrholaey so special is that it boasts quite a number of Icelandic landmarks and natural wonders for such a small area. And this is also the reason why Dyrholaey is a nature reserve today. These are some of the most popular spots at Dyrholaey:

    The Dyrholaey Arch

    This strange rock formation is usually the first thing people associate with Dyrholaey. Imagine a sliver of land stretching out into the ocean, and then the crashing water just going to town on it for thousands of years till it has managed to erode the perfect circle at the base of this piece of land, turning it into a natural arch. 

    This rock formation is also what gave Dyrholaey its name in the first place. The name translates to “the hill island with the door hole”. It makes for an incredibly interesting sight. This is why many flock to take a snapshot of the arch, boats travel through it for fun, and we even had a daredevil pilot flying through it in 1993! 


    Reynisfjara; the Dyrholaey Beach

    The massive stretch of beach at Dyrholaey is none other than our famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. This beach looks like it stretches out into infinity and makes for a nice long leisurely stroll. Just never turn your back on the ocean here, and please don’t try to take a dip. Reynisfjara is known for its incredible undercurrents and sneaker waves that will (and has!) knocked many a visitor's feet from underneath them, dragging them into the ocean.

    The Dyrhólaey Cliffs

    This is a double whammy because this refers to the cliffs of the Dyrholaey arch as well as the black basalt cliffs lining the coastline of Reynisfjara. These cliffs are incredibly impressive for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the black basalt column cliffs are the result of volcanic activity here on the island. 

    And what we see today was once red-hot lava coming down the cliffface. It then slowly starts to cool down to form this rocky sediment. Secondly, the cliffs are well known for their incredible birdlife, making Dyrholaey a much-loved place amongst avid bird watchers.

    The Dyrhólaey Lighthouse

    As with any rocky outcrop along the coast, Dyrholaey has a lighthouse to warn any sailors of the potential danger. The Dyrholaey Lighthouse can be found just a short walk from the official Dyrholaey viewpoint, and has more of an odd-looking little fort vibe than what we envision a traditional tall white and red lighthouse to look like. It’s definitely a charming sight and a good photo opportunity.

    dyrhólaey lighthouse

    Where is Dyrholaey in Iceland?

    Dyrholaey can be found in the south of Iceland near the coastal village of Vik I Myrdal (or Vik as most refer to it). It’s roughly 180 kilometers (or a 2.5 hour drive) from the capital city of Reykjavík, making a day trip possible during the summer months with its increased daylight hours.

    But since Dyrholaey is conveniently located just off one of our main roads and one of our most popular road trip routes called the Ring Road, we highly recommend that you simply add Dyrholaey as a stop along the way.

    How to Get to Dyrholaey

    You essentially have two options for getting to Dyrholaey:

    Visit Via a Guided Tour

    There are plenty of tour operators and guides that will get you to Dyrholaey, whether its on a dedicated day tour, a combo tour, or a multi-day holiday tour that includes a number of local attractions. Just keep in mind that you will have to book well in advance if you’re planning on visiting the Iceland during our busy summer season.

    Visit Via a Self-drive

    This will always be the best way to explore the island in our books, and it’s pretty easy to get to Dyrholaey if you have your own transport. Simply get on the Ring Road and start driving east. Take a right onto Road 218. Continue straight, and make a right up the hill. This will take you to the upper area of Dyrholaey. Once you’re done exploring there, you will drive back using the Road 218 again, but this time take the turn down to go and explore the beach.

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    The Dyrholaey Hike

    There is another black sand beach that is not far from Dyrholaey and that many enjoy hiking to from Dyrholaey. It’s not a loop trail, so you will be walking there and back (a total of 5.5 kilometers). The hike is fairly easy, so you don’t need to be incredibly fit or experienced to take it on. You can park at the Lighthouse and then follow the trail all along the cliffs to Kirkjufara Beach. Just keep an eye out for the waves crashing against the cliffs.

    Other Things to Do and See in Dyrholaey

    One can’t believe it, but even after going through everything Dyrholaey has to offer, there are even more things to see and do in its surroundings. These are a few other highlights in the area:

    Where to Stay Near Dyrholaey

    With so much to see and do at Dyrholaey it only stands to reason to stay over for a night or two, and you will have your pick when it comes to accommodation options. For a touch of luxury, you can opt for a hotel stay at Umi Hotel. For a more affordable option that still gives you all your creature comforts, you can stay at Guesthouse Skogafoss.

    For the ultimate budget-friendly option, you can book your spot at Vik Tjaldsvædi Campsite. And if you don’t consider yourself a very outdoorsy person, you can still go this route by simply renting a campervan in Iceland and going camping in comfort and style.

    dyrhólaey promontory

    Dyrholaey; The Keeper of a Wealth of Wonders

    As you can see, Dyrholaey consists of a wealth of wonders and attractions. From strange rock formations and black sand beaches to incredible wildlife and a historical lighthouse – Dyrholaey is definitely not to be missed. So, if you’re planning on visiting soon, rent a campervan in Iceland, start your Ring Road adventure and be sure to include Dyrholaey as stop along the way. 

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