Vík í Mýdral, or just Vík, is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 kilometres (110 miles) from the capital Reykjavík.
Often visited by those travelling the popular sightseeing route along the South Coast, it is a wonderful place to stop, recharge, and if you are taking your time, rest for the night. Though it only has around 300 residents, the village is very popular amongst tourists for its convenience and beautiful surrounding landscapes.
Reaching Vík from Reykjavík takes approximately two and a half hours, and en route, there are many marvellous features to admire. Two of the country’s most famous waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, lay between the two destinations; the former has awe-inspiring power, whereas the latter can be fully encircled.
The glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull can also be seen on clear days; both of these cover volcanoes which are particularly explosive, with Eyjafjallajökull famously disrupting European air travel in 2010. Out to sea in especially good weather, the Westman Islands can also be seen on the horizon.
Just before Vík are the popular birdwatching cliffs of Dyrhólaey, where you can also find an enormous rock arch curving out into the ocean. This is one of the best places for birdwatching in Iceland, with thousands of puffins nesting here from May to August.
The village itself sits opposite one of the country’s most famous features: Reynisfjara black sand beach. Considered one of the world’s most beautiful non-tropical beaches, it boasts incredible geology.
Particularly of note are the Reynisdrangar sea-stacks, said to be two trolls frozen in the light of the morning sun as they tried to pull a ship into shore.
Though this beach makes for a lovely walk, particularly for those staying in Vík overnight, as they can see it under the midnight sun or northern lights, it has its dangers. Sneaker waves can be notorious here, so visitors should stay far from the water’s edge, and never go for a swim. Lives have been lost here before.
The route to Vík from Reykjavík is beautiful and continues to be so as you travel further along the South Coast, through the Skeiðarásandur black-sand-plains into Vatnajökull National Park. This beautiful region is often the final destination of those passing through Vík, as it is home to the largest glacier in Europe, the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Of course, ambitious travellers will carry on from here to encircle the full country.
Vík, due to its closeness to the Reynisfjall and Dyrhólaey cliffs, has a rich birdlife. Short walks from the village will take you to the nesting grounds of gulls, fulmar, guillemots, and in summer, puffins.
Due to its coastal location, visitors to Vík have a decent chance to see seals on the shore. There is also a slim chance to see whales or dolphins; the twenty or so species that live in Iceland’s waters can appear at any time.
Vík has a wide variety of public services, due to its remoteness and its importance in connecting the east and west of Iceland. There are gas stations, shops and cafes, a swimming pool, a wool factory that can be visited, and a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets.
Please note, however, that as the village has such a small year-round population, those with special dietary requirements should purchase their food from Reykjavík before departing.