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Complete Guide to Vik, Iceland

Located in southernmost Iceland, Vik is a small village that has a lot to offer. Whether you’re spending a few days exploring the southern coast or you’re looking to refill your supplies as you continue on the Ring Road, Vik is here for you. In this guide, we’ll explore everything Vik has to offer and help you perfect your plans for visiting Vik, Iceland.

In This Guide

Here’s what we’re covering in this guide. We invite you to read the full post or jump ahead to the section you’re most interested in.

About Vik Iceland

Vik, or Vík í Mýrdal in Icelandic, is the southernmost village in Iceland. The small town is known for its iconic church and proximity to some of the south coast’s most amazing destinations.

The village was largely settled in the early 20th century and its iconic red-roof church was built in 1934. It’s interestingly one of the only coastal towns in Iceland without a harbor. This is due to the rocky shoreline and dangerous waters in the area.

The southern coast of Iceland around Vik is actually notorious for shipwrecks. Over 100 ships have been documented as stranded along the coast near Vik, and countless others have sunk and remain on the ocean floor. In the 20th century, there were seven different shipwrecks which could be seen from the coast of Vik.

Vik has historically served as meeting place, and in a way it still is today. Even though the village is home to fewer than 1,000 residents, it’s the largest town for 40+ miles in either direction. Its central location on the southern coast continues to make Vik a popular oasis for tourists and regional locals alike.

The region around Vik is also home to some absolutely stunning landscapes. Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve (known for its picturesque lighthouse and resident puffin colony) and Reynisfjara (Iceland’s most beautiful black sand beach) are just a stone’s throw from Vik.

Services in Vik, Iceland

Today, Vik is seen as a place to refuel (literally) and recharge (figuratively). The village offers a variety of services and amenities for tourists, whether they’re staying for a while or just passing through. Many of these services can’t be found for 40+ miles in either direction.

Hospitality – Where to Stay in Vik

Vik is one of the most popular places to stay overnight along the southern coast. This is due to the number accommodations and price points, as well as the nearby amenities.

Here are a few options in the area to consider.

We personally stayed at Puffin Hotel. It was average in price and quality. It was a fine hotel with a nice free breakfast included. Puffin Hotel costs around $230 USD per night during the summer and around $130 USD per night during the winter. We’d recommend it and would definitely stay there again.

Our room at Puffin Hotel. It was a basic hotel, but you know, it had a light, so Zoe was thrilled.

Food & Drink – Where to Dine in Vik

After traveling through the Golden Circle and eating at visitor center cafes, there is nothing quite like sitting down at an actual restaurant. There are several popular and delicious places to stop for food and drinks in Vik.

Here are a few of our favorite options in the area.

We personally dined at most of these places. The dinner we had at The Soup Company was my favorite in all of Iceland. The food was delicious, the patio was delightful (and pandemic friendly), and it was one of the only times we got to enjoy a beer out in Iceland! #toddlerprobs #pandemicprobs

We also ordered veggie burgers for takeout from Smiðjan Brugghús, because we did not feel comfortable dining indoors during the pandemic. The burgers were great and we enjoyed them at our hotel.

Lastly, Skool Beans is NOT to be missed! This coffee shop is built inside a converted school bus parked on the outskirts of town. It was adorable, delicious and so fun. They opened during the pandemic and could definitely use your support!

This cafe is a concerted school bus and was so cool!

Supplies – Where to Buy Essentials in Vik

Vik is a popular stop for travelers because its beautiful, but also because it’s a great places to fill up on essentials. Here are a few of the stores in town that will replenish your reserves, whatever you’re short on.

  • Grocery Store: Kr.- supermarket is located just off the main road (Route 1) on your way out of town.
  • Gas Stations: There are several in town, including a Víkurskáli gas station right across the street from the grocery store.
  • Liquor Store: You can only purchase alcohol in Iceland at a state run liquor store called a Vínbúðin (or at a bar of course). There is one of these liquor stores off Route 1 on Ránarbraut.
  • Outdoor Gear: There’s an Icewear just east of the roundabout on Route 1. Icewear is an Icelandic chain that sells gear, such as jackets and hats, as well as traditional Icelandic wool sweaters and souvenirs. There’s also a small grocery store and cafe at this location.

There is not a Pharmacy in Vik

You’ll see one major category missing from this list, and that’s a pharmacy. There is NOT a pharmacy in Vik, Iceland.

This is important to note because in Iceland, you can only buy medicine from a pharmacy. This includes basic meds like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which are commonly sold over-the-counter in the US.

The nearest pharmacies are in Hvolsvöllur (50 miles west) and Kirkjubæjarklaustur (45 miles east). These two pharmacies are also closed on weekends. The nearest 7-day pharmacy is all the way back in Reykjavik, and those aren’t even 24-hours.

I labor this point because we had an unfortunate experience. Our almost-one-year-old got sick during our trip, and we didn’t have any medicine for them. We had to drive an hour with a screaming baby in pain before we could get ibuprofen. It sucked.

Parents better than us would have traveled with basic pain reliever for their child, but we didn’t think to do that. So if I can save any kid or any parent from having to go through that, these extra 300 words will be worth it.

Things to do in the Village of Vik

The actual village of Vik is quite small. The longest stretch of any road through town is barely over a kilometer.

Vik’s most popular attractions, like Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, are located on the outskirts of town. Most people will spend their days exploring the area around Vik and only make it back to town to refill their supplies and maybe stay overnight.

However, if you have a couple extra hours, there are a few lovely things to see before you head out.

Vik i Myrdal Church

This red-roofed church is the unofficial symbol of Vik. Before the church was consecrated in 1934, the people of Vik had to walk 1.5 miles over a mountain to get to the nearest church.

You can see the church from most places in town, as it’s located on one of the highest places in the village. The church is said to be the safest place in the village should the nearby Katla volcano erupt and cause flooding.

The views from the church are as beautiful as the church itself. From the church, you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of the village, mountains and nearby shoreline.

To get to the church, you can either walk up a small up hiking path that starts just off of Kirkjuvegur or you can drive and park in the lot by the church. You cannot go inside the church.

For an even better view, you can actually drive past the church a short way. The road ends at a small parking area. From here, you’ll be treated to a sweeping view of the entire town, including the iconic church just below.

Vik Voyages Friendship Statue

Near the coast on the outskirts of town is a tall statue of what looks to be a man looking out to sea. There is a matching statue in Kingston upon Hull in England. The sister statues represent the friendship between these two countries. The statue is an ode to the sea, which is what separates but also connects the two countries.

The statue itself is nice and worth viewing, but it’s honestly just a good excuse to get down to the shore in Vik.

In the summer, the area is a patchwork of wildflowers and you’re treated to a gorgeous view of the rock structures and landscape nearby. Turn around, and you’ll see the red church and town pop against the green of the mountains.

Iceland Lava Show

Vik is home to the only live lava show in the world. It’s a ticketed show where guests can see “real” lava (I’m not sure what that means) up close and in person. The show takes place inside, at a theater of sorts, located centrally in the village of Vik on Víkurbraut (street).

Tickets for the lava show are 5,900 ISK (~ $45 USD) for adults and 3,500 ISK (~ $27 USD) for children 2 – 12. Children under 2 are free.

I feel obligated to mention this here because it is really popular and really highly rated on both Google (4.9 stars on ~500 reviews) and TripAdvisor (5 stars on ~700 reviews). We personally did not go to the show. We just felt like it seemed super tourist-trappy, but people love it! So you do you.

Things to do Near Vik

While the village of Vik is lovely, you simply cannot plan a visit to Vik without also planning to visit some of the nearby attractions. The southern coast offers a stunning mix of things to see: glaciers and volcanos, wild puffins and free roaming sheep, black sand beaches and breathtaking cliffs.

Let’s explore three of the best things to see and do near Vik, Iceland.

Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve

Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve is just west of Vik, about a 20 minute drive. The reserve is famous for its stunning views, darling lighthouse, unique rock formation and puffin colony.

When you arrive at the main (lower) parking lot at Dyrhólaey, it’s a short walk to the lower viewpoints. From here, you can look east onto the famed Reynisfjara black sand beach or west for your first glimpse of the Dyrhólaey rock arch. You can often spot puffins in this area during the summer months.

Then there’s Dyrhólaey itself, which is the unique promontory with a naturally formed arch hole cut right through it. To get a view of Dyrhólaey, you’ll need to hike up to it. It’s a bit steep, but not too far and takes about 20-30 minutes.

From the top, you’ll get an amazing view of Dyrhólaey. You’ll also see miles of black sand beach lining the coasts in either direction, glaciers behind you and in the distance, and an up-close view of the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse. Just past the lighthouse is a steep cliff that is home to even more puffins in the summer.

The nature reserve closes at times during puffin mating season. This is typically during the evening hours (7 PM – 9 AM) in May and June but can be different every year. Check with your local visitor center for open hours if you’re traveling during those months.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Black sand beaches form from volcanic sediment. Iceland has lots of volcanos (over 100!), ergo they have lots have black sand beaches. However, none are quite as breathtaking as Reynisfjara.

Reynisfjara is often considered one of the best black sand beaches in the world and is certainly the most popular one in Iceland. This is due to its wide expanse of black sand coastline, naturally forming basalt columns and cave, and the beach’s overall “moody” attitude.

This is not your typical umbrella-and-sunbathe kind of beach. Instead, this beach is made for walkin’.

Keep your shoes on (it gets rocky) and walk up and down the mile-ish of black coastline. Get up close to the towering basalt columns, soak in the contrast of the green land against the black sand, and observe with respect the power and immensity of the ocean.

There is no swimming allowed at Reynisfjara black sand beach. Iceland’s southern coast has notoriously dangerous waters. Strong and unpredictable currents, cold water and a rocky shoreline combine to create conditions difficult for many ships, let alone people.

Reynisfjara is a 10 minute drive from Vik and free parking is available.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

A little further away, but still drivable in a day, is Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. You’d never guess that this landscape of blue and ice is hidden just around the bend, even in the middle of summer, but there she is in all her icy glory.

The lagoon is unique. As a nearby glacier melts, large chunks of ice break away. While this is typical to glaciers, in most cases the ice floats out to sea or fjords. At Jökulsárlón, the ice gets trapped because the inlet out to the ocean is quite narrow.

The ice consolidates in a small area, getting tossed around until it’s small enough to float away. The result is a beautiful lagoon filled with icebergs of all shapes and sizes.

Also nearby, is Diamond beach — an iceberg graveyard of sorts. The black sand beach on either side of the mouth of the glacier lagoon is dotted with crystal clear icebergs. These are ice chunks that broke away from the lagoon, got cleaned in the current, and then washed ashore with the tide. They’re left shining like diamonds on the beach.

It takes about 2.5 hours to get from Vik to Jökulsárlón. It’s a nice day trip from Vik and is a great addition to a southern coast adventure.

Plan your Visit to Vik

So yeah, I’d say there’s a few fun things to see and do in Vik! Whether you’re staying for a few hours or a few days, here are a couple important things to know when planning your visit to Vik.

How to get to Vik

Vik is easily accessible via car. It is located off of Iceland’s Route 1, just east of Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara. It’s located about 115 miles southeast of Reykjavik, and it takes about 3 hours to drive between the two cities.

The drive along the southern coast is beautiful. This is a roadside waterfall we passed between Vik and Jökulsárlón.

Vik is also accessible via public transportation, which is exciting and rare in Iceland outside of Reykjavik. You can take the 11 bus from Reykjavik to Mjódd, and then connect to the 51 bus. This bus will take you all the way to Vik.

We didn’t take the bus to Vik, but we did ride the city bus in Reykjavik.

The trip takes about 3.5 hours and costs about $40 USD. The 51 bus only runs once a day, so be sure to check the transit website or Google Maps in advance.

If you don’t want to drive or take the bus, the last option is to visit the southern cost, including Vik, is with a tour group. There are several southern coast tour options that include stops in Vik, Reynisfjara black sand beach, and/or Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve.

Weather in Vik

Like the rest of Iceland, Vik has a temperate maritime climate. This means that they experience four seasons: a mild spring (March – May), a warm-ish summer (June – August), a wet fall (September – November) and a cold, snowy winter (December – February).

Even during the warmest summer months, temperature in Vik don’t often go above 65°F. Spring and fall will dance between the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit and the winter months will typically be below freezing. Vik is located on the coast, so it’s also almost always windy.

We visited in July. We wore long pants, long sleeves, jackets and hats for most of the trip.

For a more detailed look at the weather in Vik, I really like this website. They have great charts that show temperatures and precipitation by month.

Daylight in Vik

Iceland is really far north, which means it experiences extreme changes in daylight hours throughout the year as the earth tilts.

In the summer months, Vik sees over 19 hours of daylight, with the sun rising as early as 4 AM and not setting until after 11 PM. By contrast, in the wintertime Vik sees less than 6 hours of day light with the sun rising as late as 9:30 AM and setting as early as 3:15.

Here’s a peek at how bright our hostel room was at 9:30 PM in July.

You’ll definitely want to consider daylight hours when planning your trip to Iceland. Daylight hours can influence everything from selecting your overall travel season to planning individual days. It may even effect packing for your trip. Our minimalist Iceland packing list has a few suggestions for dealing with the extra daylight in the summer.

How Long to Stay in Vik

Most people will see and pass through Vik in a few hours to a day. It’s a small town, and even though the nearby attractions are amazing, they don’t take a really long time to see. You could likely visit everything in this post (except the glacier lagoon) in about 4-6 hours.

We get it. We wouldn’t tell anyone to go out of their way to spend more time in Vik and we probably wouldn’t argue for too long that it’s substantially better than other places on your Iceland bucket list. What we can say though is that Vik is an amazing home base for touring Iceland’s southern coast.

If you’re interested in seeing the southern coast, we suggest staying in Vik for 2 nights and being in the area for 2.5 – 3 days. If you’re not planning to go to the glacier lagoon or if you’re doing a full Ring Road trip, one night in Vik is enough.

Adding Vik to a Golden Circle Tour

The Golden Circle is the most popular tourist route in Iceland. It generally includes Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. You can take a guided tour, but it’s really easy and lovely to self-drive the Golden Circle.

The three main Golden Circle stops can be done in a day, however the Golden Circle can also be just the start of a longer journey around Iceland. For some, this means continuing toward Route 1 and then driving the full ring around the island.

Thingvellir National Park

For those who don’t have time or interest in doing the full Ring Road but want to do more than the Golden Circle, adding Vik and the southern coast is a great option. Here’s a peek at our complete 4-day Golden Circle & southern coast itinerary.

Day 1: Golden Circle

Gullfoss Waterfall

Day 2: Southern Coast

  • Depart from Fludir
  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
  • Gljúfrafoss Waterfall
  • Skógafoss Waterfall
  • Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve and Lighthouse
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
  • Overnight in Vik
Skógafoss Waterfall

Day 3: Jökulsárlón

  • Depart from Vik
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  • Diamond Beach
  • Roadside stops at Skeiðará Bridge Monument & Scenic Green Lava Walk
  • Overnight in Vik
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Day 4: Return to Reykjavík

  • Vik Friendship Status
  • Vik i Myrdal Church
  • Drive back to Reykjavík


Adding Vik to our Iceland itinerary was a really great choice for us. We loved all of the things we were able to see in and around Vik, and we loved that it gave us a glimpse into the many wonders that Iceland holds.

We hope you found this guide helpful. If there’s anything we forgot or that you’re looking for, please let us know in the comments. Whether you’re in Iceland now or planning your dream trip, we hope you have an amazing adventure.