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Dyrhólaey Peninsula is a 120 metre promenade famed for its staggering views of Iceland’s South Coast, as well as its historic lighthouse and wealth of birdlife.

Dyrhólaey Peninsula is a 120-metre promenade famed for its staggering views of Iceland’s South Coast, as well as its historic lighthouse and wealth of birdlife. It is home to a rock arch of the same name.

Dyrhólaey, which translates to Door Hill Island, is of volcanic origin and was once an island before joining up to the Icelandic mainland. In ancient times, passing sailors used to refer to Dyrhólaey as ‘Cape Portland’.

It is also the southernmost part of the Icelandic mainland, making it a popular stop for sightseers travelling along the Ring Road, and can be found close by the coastal village of Vík í Mýrdal.

Other features along the South Coast en route to Dyrhólaey from Reykjavík include the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, and the glacier Eyjafjallajökull.

Dyrhólaey Arch

Dyrhólaey’s most instantly recognisable attraction is the promenade’s massive rock arch, a result of centuries of erosion. As a result, its name is in direct reference to this enormous arch. In fact, this natural feature is so large and dramatic that one daredevil pilot even flew through it, back in 1993. Boats can easily cruise through its opening.

Dyrhólaey Wildlife

Dyrhólaey has an abundance of birdlife, the most common year-round being Eider Ducks. Iceland’s favourite winged resident, the migratory Atlantic Puffin, can be found here from May to September.

It is one of the best places to reliably locate them, and one of the closest to Reykjavík after the islands in Faxaflói Bay which can be visited by boat from the Old Harbour.

While watching puffins, it is striking how little they seem to fear people, as they allow you to get very close. Be aware, however, they do not like to be touched, and if one flies off in a panic, the whole flock might follow it, so be respectful.

Features at and around Dyrhólaey

From your position atop the promenade of Dyrhólaey, you can enjoy staggering views over Iceland’s black sand beaches, complemented by the glittering waves of the Atlantic on one side, and distant mountainscapes to the other.

The most notable stretch of coast here is called Reynisfjara, renowned for its incredible geology, with the sea-stacks of Reynisdrangar jutting up out to sea. If you visit this beach while seeing Dyrhólaey as part of a South Coast adventure, be sure to follow the warning signs and stay away from the water as dangerous sneaker waves here are commonplace.

To the north, you will also able to see the creeping glacier, Mýrdalsjökull. This amazing ice cap conceals a secret; beneath its surface is one of the most explosive and notorious volcanoes in all of Iceland, Katla. Long overdue, experts say that it is a matter of when - not if - it will erupt over the coming years.

On top of Dyrhólaey stands Dyrhólaeyjarviti, a beautiful old lighthouse that consists of a white, square concrete tower. The first lighthouse in the area was built in 1919; the current construction was completed in 1927. Visitors here will be able to see the lighthouse flicking out beams of white light to sea every ten seconds.

Dyrhólaey Lighthouse was built in 1927.

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