The journey from the Keflavik airport to Vik should take you about 7-8 hours depending on the number of stops and detours. We left at 10 am and ended up at our hotel by 6 pm.
While driving out of the airport, we headed on highway 41 towards Reykjavik before hooking up with Highway 1 towards Vik. We went through the desolate Hellisheiòi plateau on our way to Selfoss. Selfoss is a bigger town with lots of places to eat, gas stations, ATM’s, and a grocery store. We pulled over after the bridge and walked down to the river to take a few photos. There was a drive-thru coffee shop here and some easy access dining places. There isn’t much on this road to see but after about 1 hour or so the terrain begins to become more picturesque.
Our first stop
This waterfall is running off the glacier on the top of E15 and plummets about 210 feet to the bottom of the falls. The falls are not the most powerful falls in the area, but they are still picturesque. This waterfall allows you to walk behind it for an up close and personal spray from it. Please note that you will get wet and the path is muddy and slippery. My recommendation is to be sure to have rain gear and good walking shoes. If you continue on the path to your right, you will see the stairs that guide you to the trail that goes behind the fall. Before taking this trail, make sure you notice the one-way trail around and over the boulders to return to the main path to make sure you are capable of continuing.
Continue down the way to the left of the waterfalls to view a smaller fall (Gljúfrabúi) or just a stroll and take a little hike in the beautiful fields.
Parking -500 ISK (credit card only)
Once you turn off Hwy 1 continue down the road for about 1/4 of a mile to the parking lot. Don’t park at the Puffin lot unless the parking closer to the falls are full.
Toilets and snacks available.
Head back to HWY 1 and turn left to continue towards Vik.
We were starving by now and stopped at:
The Old Cowshed (Gamla Fjósio)
It will be on your right-hand side of the road at a farmstead. This cute little place with mismatched furniture has delicious burger & fries, Home-made desserts, and a relaxing atmosphere. They have outdoor picnic tables with beautiful views of the mountain which would be perfect on a sunny day.
Open Daily: 11-2100 (closed off-season)
Burgers were 2070 ISK, but they give you a pitcher of free water if you want that over a 300 ISK can of coke.
Eyjafjallajökull (E15) Erupts Exhibition:
This exhibit is a close and personal exhibit from the 2010 eruptions of this volcano. It is told by the folks who live at the farm across the street which happens to be at the bottom of this massive volcano. We watched a 20-minute video in English of the E15 eruption from 2010 that halted air travel over Europe for several days. It was fascinating and informative. The husband and wife whose farm is the main feature in this film were at the center, and we were able to talk to them about their experience. The sad thing is they are trying to get the Parks and Recreations department of Iceland to take over as they no longer have time to continue to man it.
We went the first day, and it wasn’t open. We were lucky enough they were open on our way back towards Reykjavik. We noticed a lot of cars and stopped and were able to see the movie.
If they are open, it is definitely worth the little detour.
Entrance fee- 850 ISK
Open June-Aug 0900-1800
Please email them to be sure they are open.
Free toilets for customers
Get back on Hwy 1 (right turn), and the next thing you will see off to your left is:
Approximately 4km after having lunch at the “old cowshed” you will notice a huge rock off to the left. There are three little sheds nestled next to the rock. These little buildings were cowsheds. The legend of the “hidden people” is that the farmer would leave hay and milk cans out and when he would come back he would notice the cows were eating the hay and the milk cans were now full of milk; hence where the “hidden people” legends began. These little elves live inside this rock and would never appear if humans were around. These sheds are on private property so you can only view them from the main road, but you can place a donation into the box next to the gate to help them restore these sheds, and maybe one day anyone will be able to visit. If you have a good lens, one could get great pictures of this magical site. A bonus is if you are staying at Mountain Queen, this big boulder is on the property, and you can explore it.
Mountain Queen Angelica
(Found on Airbnb and Just 4km from Skògafoss Waterfalls)
Best beds ever!!! Temperpedic bed with a mattress topper.
We scored on this little gem. The house is very cozy and bright. Two neighbor dogs come to visit the guests at home and are very friendly. They also have a sweet cat that lives here. The beds were the best beds I’ve ever slept on in my 68 countries I’ve traveled. We could have stayed in bed all day. The rooms were big enough for two people, and even though it was a king bed, they are made-up as twin beds which helps make them feel more like two beds. The temperature was perfect in the rooms, and we had access to make it hotter if we needed. The only downfall is the two restrooms are downstairs. One is just a toilet while the other has a shower and toilet. Amazingly enough, we never had to wait to use the bathroom ever. I was worried about the other five rooms with guests in them, but everyone was quiet, and I never heard anyone talking or moving around.
The bonus of this place was it was a little off the main road and set back next to a huge mountain. The views from the backyard were terrific. There is also a HUGE boulder (Drangshilô-see above) on the property with three little cowsheds that were built into the bottom of the rock. They are pretty beaten up but with the flowers, grass, and the spectacular sight behind them makes for great photos for those who love taking pictures.
The rental came with breakfast which consisted of bread, cheeses, meats, and hard-boiled eggs. There was also coffee and tea served. They allow you to use the microwave and refrigerator.
The next stop is :
This waterfall also drains off of a river from E15. This one to me was more exciting because you can climb up 500 additional steps to the top of the waterfall. There is also a hiking trail along the river that takes you to some beautiful sites. We didn’t hike for too long as we didn’t have much time but the plateau and views at the top were worth climbing the steps. It gives you a different perspective of the falls.
The falls are in a little town with restaurants, hotels, and a small museum. We didn’t visit it as we didn’t have time for this on our trip.
Right at the turn on the right side of the road is a big ole’ field of the purple flowers that you’ve seen everywhere. This area was a great place to stop and get some pictures of what was speckled across Iceland. There is an area to park on the right side of the road.
Continue driving East towards the next attraction –
This Glacier is one of Iceland’s most accessible glacier which allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal with it despite the signs advising you not to go any further.
Take a left turn off Highway 1 and follow the road for about a mile or so. The parking lot is about a 15-minute hike from the glacier. Please dress in warm clothing as it does tend to get colder the closer you get to the falls.
The hike takes you in two directions you can stay up top and hike above the lake or head towards the lake and walk alongside it to get better pictures of the icebergs floating in the water. It amazes me how dirty some of them were and how beautiful the others were. If you look closely to some of the bottoms of them, you can see a Caribbean blue line in them. Eventually, you will come to some rope and a sign advising not to go further. This is for your safety only as the ground can be unstable, the ice is melting, poisonous gases can be released from under the glacier and many other reasons not to go further. However, almost all tourists ignored the warnings and continued to the glacier. We, however, obeyed and didn’t proceed further.
If you have more time or are more adventurous or need to hike on the glacier, there are plenty of tour groups in the parking lot waiting to take you. I would research this and possibly book ahead to make sure you can get on one of the tours if this is on your bucket list. They have a briefing on the hike and fit you in the proper gear for your glacier hike. Please do not temp to do this on your own!.
Toilets – pay
Parking – free
Dyrhókaey Promontory (cliff beach to us)
Worth a stop on a beautiful clear, non-foggy, rainy day.
parking – free
bathrooms – 200isk
Hike along the paths to different viewpoints. I’m sure this would have been incredibly beautiful if it were a bright, sunny day. There are cliffs and rock formations in the water. There were lots of birds hanging out in the water and flying around. We were hoping to spot a Puffin here, but we couldn’t make any of the birds out due to the poor visibility. There is a 10-minute hike to the lighthouse, although we skipped it as it was not a good day to see anything here. Please also observe the signs for the closed off beaches. There was some tourist swept out to sea due to some waves that snuck up on them. There is no need or reason to get close to the water here.
Head back to Highway 1 and make a right-hand turn and drive about 10 minutes to:
Black Sand Beach (Reynisfjara)
Turn right and drive about 10-15 minutes until the road dead ends. The drive is beautiful and surreal. There is a little town with farms and a quaint small church. Continue driving and off to your left will be a parking lot and you may notice folks hiking up into the big boulder here. Take a hike, or a few pictures and continue to the beach. The parking lot and restaurant is as far as the road takes you. After parking your car, it’s about a 5-minute walk to the beach. My friend chose to stay in the restaurant since from the parking lot you wouldn’t realize what was around the corner. I promise you, continue for the spectacular sights mother nature has carved out for you.
When you turn the corner, you are met with a cave, and next to it there are stair type blocks cut into the mountain. Most people were climbing on these for pictures, but I saw one person slip and fall because they were very slippery so please be careful if you choose to do this.
The black pebble beach is gorgeous. The caves that have been carved out in the mountain are crazy. It is mind-blowing to see what mother nature can do and how powerful she is, it is very noticeable in this area. From the formations on the side of the mountain, it appears to look like blocks stacked up on top of each other, to the speckled pebble black rocks on the ground, to the black sand, It’s mesmerizing!
The second cave was my favorite as the ceiling of it looked like someone had a chisel and carved out parts of it. I thought it looked like flowers, but I’m sure your imagination will have it looking like something else. From the beach, if you look right, you will see the area of Dyrhólaey, the area you just came from, to get another view of how massive and beautiful this area is; if only the sun were out.
Caution: The beach looks nice, but there are also waves that come out of nowhere and can take you out to sea. Please keep yourself and especially small kids closer to the mountain opposed to the sea to be safe.
Parking – free
Restaurant- 1100-2200 shorter hours in winter. Cafe type place and a great place to have your first beer. Outdoor and indoor seating.
Bathroom-200ISK for non-customers of the restaurant
Time- at least an hour to get the beauty of this place
Back on Hwy 1 continue east (right turn), and about 10 minutes you will reach:
Vik- Not worth going into unless you need an ATM, gas station, Grocery store, or Clothing store.
We bought food for dinner at the Grocery store where they had a good variety of foods plus home-made rolls and loaves of bread that would suit anyone’s needs. Bring your bag or pay a little extra for one.
If it’s a bright sunny day, you can follow the sign to the church (Suôurvikurvegur) to get some beautiful views of the surrounding area with its cliffs and green pastures.
There are a few hotels, and Airbnb’s in the area if you need a place to stay. Book your stays in advance to make sure you get the right place for you and your traveling partners.