things to do in Vik, Iceland

Adventurous souls will delight in a momentous journey to Vik the small southernmost village in Iceland, surrounded by rugged beaches of black volcanic sand, towering glaciers and hidden blue ice caves!

Experience the raw elements of ‘the Land of Ice and Fire,’ from the crisp spray coming off the Atlantic waves to touching basalt rocks formed by cooling lava resulting from eruptions thousands of years ago!

Hiking over the ice fields of some of the largest glaciers in Europe, navigating past ice burgs in a kayak on a frozen lagoon or zooming around on an exhilarating snow mobile tour are just a few of the awe-inspiring things to do in Vik, Iceland.

With so many fun activities, your journey in Vik is bound to be anything but ordinary. Keep reading, and let the adventure unfold!

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1 – Step inside the spectacular Katla Ice Cave, part of a receding glacier

Katla Ice Cave, Iceland

Travel on a super jeep and explore the Katla Ice cave, a natural wonder nestled beneath the looming presence of an active volcano! What sets the Katla Ice Cave apart is its remarkable accessibility, welcoming visitors year-round to witness its breathtaking beauty.

Marvel at the mesmerizing spectacle of contrasting blue and black ice, an enchanting display that offers a glimpse into the age-old secrets of Iceland’s glaciers. As you traverse the cave’s intricate network of ice tunnels, allow your knowledgeable local guide to immerse you in the fascinating world of glaciology.

For instance, did you know that the vivid blue ice is a testament to its advanced age, in stark contrast to the newer black ice formations surrounding it?

Inside the cave visitors can also take a look at former volcanic ash that has been preserved and embedded within the ice layers!

2 – Power across natural streams in an outstanding jeep tour

jeep tours in Vik

Jump on a super jeep to explore the area of Thorsmork, an area of rugged terrain fringed by three imposing glaciers! Cross over glacial rivers in an all powerful off road vehicle to really get off the beaten track into nature’s wilderness! Access locations that you could never reach in a normal hire car and stop off to explore hidden canyons and waterfalls.

Alternatively cruise up to the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in a super jeep tour to get up close to the glacier for some breathtaking panoramas! A jeep tour enables you to confidently navigate through Iceland’s ever-changing weather conditions due to the vehicles all-terrain capabilities such as excellent grip and robust structure!

3 – Learn more about volcanic activity at the Lava Center

Lava Center, Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

Spending a couple of hours at the state of the art interactive Lava Center is one of the top essential things to do in Vik, Iceland, for those keen to understand more about tectonic plate movements, volcanic forces and lava flows.

Learn more about the massive eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano back in 2010 that led to the complete disruption of air space traffic and understand more about smaller more recent eruptions that continue to shake the island. Visitors will feel fully immersed thanks to the earthquake simulator and fascinating educational multimedia displays!

4 – Put on your walking boots for some hiking

hiking tours in Vik

Have you ever dreamed about hiking across a dramatic icy glacier? Embark on a hiking excursion across Sólheimajökull in the company of an expert guide and fully equipped with crampons and an ice axe!

Experience profound serenity as you stand before the vast and tranquil expanse of the glacier’s icy façade! The stark contrast between the glacier’s ice and the surrounding dark volcanic terrain is visually very striking.

Alternatively embark on a hiking trip across the outlet glacier of Vatnajökull! Known as Europe’s largest glacier, hiking around Vatnojökul is the perfect physical challenge with some epic and rewarding panoramas! Follow in the footsteps of Jon Snow as Games of Thrones was filmed on various parts of these icy slopes.

5 – Take a stroll along the dramatic Black Sand beach of Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara, Iceland

Watch the forceful Atlantic waves crashing down on the enormous towering basalt rock columns that jut out of the icy ocean waters. According to local folklore, these giant sea stacks are the remains of ancient trolls who were transformed into stone when caught in the sunlight.

Admiring the jet black sand sparkling in the sun light is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Vik, Iceland!

The sand is a dark black color due to former volcanic rock that has been broken down over the years by the force of the ocean. Wandering along the dark shores of Reynisfjara, visitors can also look out for interesting seabirds such as puffins, fulmars, and guillemots nestling in the rocky crags and cliffs.

6 – Venture into the mystical depths of the enchanting Hálsanefshellir Cave

Hálsanefshellir Cave, Vik

The remarkable Hálsanefshellir Cave is located at the foot of the Reynisfjall mountain on the Reynisfjara black sand beach. Ensure to gaze up at the sublime octagonal basalt pillars on the right side of the entrance, reminiscent of the world-renowned Fingal’s Cave on Staffa Island.

These dramatic volcanic columns are the result of cooling lava flows! The patterns in the basalt rock have been slowly formed due to the gradual erosion of the relentlessly pounding waves over thousands of years.

According to local folklore the cave was once the lair of hidden trolls and in recent years the cave has been used as a place of sanctuary amongst local fishermen during tough seafaring conditions.

7 – Get up close to red hot molten lava at the Icelandic Lava Show

Icelandic Lava Show, Vik

Put on some safety goggles and participate in a live real life lava demonstration! Feel the heat radiating around the room and be prepared to be blown away when you see how lava reacts when it collides with running water or ice! Watch the bubbling molten lava as it is heated to an astounding 1100 degrees celsius and listen to the gentle crackling and sizzling!

During the Icelandic Lava show participants can reach out and touch cooling lava, learning more about volcanic activity. Get curious and ask questions in an educational Q&A session that will spark the interest of both children and adults!

8 – Race over the black sands on an exhilarating quad tour

quad tours from Vik

Pick up some speed and get off the road as you zoom around the remote and unique southern coast of Iceland. Get the adrenaline pumping as you hurdle over the uneven terrain and pass by the by the famous DC3 plane wreck. Cover more area than you would on a traditional hiking tour and try some racing against friends and family!

From your quad bike you can look up at the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier in the distance as you power across the rugged landscape or stop off to take some incredible photographs of the deep dark sands.

9 – Katla Volcano, one of Icelands most active volcanoes

Katla Volcano day trips from Vik

Katla is a subglacial volcano since it sits underneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Volcanologists are constantly monitoring the activity of Katla since eruptions roughly have been known to occur every 40-80 years on average.

The famous eruption back in 1918 produced one of the largest ash plumes of the 20th century! The eruption in 1918 lasted for a whopping 24 days and whilst there were no fatalities, huge glacial floods wiped out farmland areas.

Take a day trip to enter inside the Ice cave under Katla and learn more about this formidable force of nature!

10 – Enjoy some excellent birdwatching at Dyrholaey

Dyrholaey, Iceland

Dyrholaey, also referred to as Cape Portland is a large promontory with a basalt rocky archway. The arch is so large that boats can easily pass through and in 1993 a daring pilot even managed to navigate and fly through the gaping hole!

This natural area is brimming with wildlife such as Eider Ducks, Atlantic puffins and kittiwakes that use the rocks as a breeding ground.

Perched on top of the cliff there is a lighthouse dating from 1927 and from this vantage point visitors can take in the sweeping views of the shimmering Atlantic waters and the jagged black rocks and sand along the coastline.

11 – Zoom over the ice in a speedy snowmobile

snowmobile tours from Vik

Wrap up warm with a thick balaclava and gloves and wizz along the snowfields of Mýrdalsjökull to make it to the top of the ice cap! Access secluded and untouched icy landscapes and breathe in the clean crisp glacial air!

Alternatively take a fun snow mobile adventure on top of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier with breathtaking views over the picturesque Westman islands. Make it all the way up to Goðasteinn, the highest point of Eyjafjallajökull at 1666m!

Read more: Fun Things to Do in Iceland in Winter

12 – Unleash your adventurous spirit at the Thorsmork Mountain Reserve

Thorsmork Mountain Reserve, Iceland

In Icelandic ‘Thorsmork’ means ‘Thor’s Valley’, a reference to the mighty Norse God of lightning and thunder. Full of jagged mountainous ledges, perilous rocky outcrops and crisscrossed by glacial rivers, it is easy to see how this named was developed!

Visitors to Thorsmork can hike up to the prominent Valahnukur peak to behold incredible views especially during sunset. Enthusiastic hikers will also delight in discovering the magnificent Stakkholtsgjá and Nauthúsagil canyons! These extraordinary canyons are the product of ancient glacial meltwaters!

13 – Soar through the air in a thrilling zip lining tour

zip lining tours in Vik

Try out the exciting zip line course which is situated just 3 minutes away from the Vik Hi Hostel. Zip across meandering streams and surround yourself with gorgeous green hills, steep canyons and gushing waterfalls.

Enjoy a bit of hiking in between the different zip lines and take the opportunity to gaze up at the impressive Grafargil rocks also nicknamed ‘the Grave canyon’!

The zip lines range range from 30 to 240 meters in length so you can rise up to the challenge and feel the wind running through your hair! Have a go on the zip lines nicknamed the Gentle Giant, the Big Rush and the Leap of Faith!

14 – Explore the natural delights of the South Coast

South coast day trips from Vik

The South Coast is home to some incredible waterfalls such as the 60 meter tall Seljalandsfoss. Other popular waterfalls include the Skógarfoss that can be visited on two levels or the Kvernufoss hidden away in the depths of a deep gorge.

The South Coast is also home to Europe’s largest glacier Vatnajökull, also nicknamed ‘the glacier of lakes.’ It is easy to see why this stunning glacier and national park have been classified as a UNESO World Heritage site!

Certain day trips to the South Coast also include stopping off at the lagoons of Fjallsárjökull and Jökulsárlón. Often visitors can spot ice burgs gently floating on the waters surface! Jökulsárlón has gained fame for being the deepest lake in Iceland and featured in the legendary Bond film classic ‘Die Another Day!’

15 – Visit the picturesque Reyniskirkja Lutheran Church

Reyniskirkja Lutheran Church, Vik

Situated on top of an isolated hill overlooking Vik, this little white picture-perfect church with a bright red roof beacons out across the barren and rugged mountainous landscape.

Due to its elevated position it is believed the the Reyniskirkja Church would be the only building to survive a flash food in the event of an eruption! From the Church you can get some good views of the black sand beaches and the village Vik below.

16 – Get a sense of ultimate freedom with some paragliding

paragliding tours in Vik

Feel at ease thanks to the presence of a skilled instructor pilot who controls the glider, allowing you to sit back in the harness and feel the thrill of soaring through the sky! A paragliding tandem flight is definitely one of the top things to do in Vik, Iceland for those looking to appreciate the awe-inspiring scenery from a birds eye view!

Unlike a helicopter ride or skydiving experience, paragliding allows you to fully connect with the tranquillity of your surroundings without the noise of a rumbling motor. The only sounds are the natural rush of the winds and crying seabirds down on the rocks below!

17 – Journey into the icy realms of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Mýrdalsjökull Glacier day trips from Vik

Located to the North of Vik, the majestic Mýrdalsjökull glacier can be explored by snow mobile, super jeep or guided hiking with snow crampons.

Underneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier lies the active Katla volcano mentioned earlier in the article. This volcano has a history of powerful eruptions, making the glacier above it a fascinating and dynamic terrain.

The glacier has a huge ice cap and it is believed that the thickest parts of the glacier can reach a staggering 750 meters of sheer compacted ice!

18 – Canter across the black sands on a horseback riding tour

horseback riding tours from Vik

Ride along the beach on the back of an Icelandic pony and gaze around at the magical natural scenery and ocean views.

Iceland is home to a special breed of horse known as the Icelandic horse and they are known for being relatively small, friendly and sure-footed since they have had to adapt to the uneven and varied Icelandic terrains.

From horseback you can contemplate the vast expanse of the Atlantic ocean and listen to the waves as they crash down on the sandy shore. Remember to take some unforgettable photographs of the horses in juxtaposition against the dark towering cliffs.

19 – Embrace the untamed beauty of Landmannalaugar in Iceland’s highlands

Landmannalaugar day trips from Vik

Capture steam rising from the natural hot springs for some striking photographs or look up and admire the colorful rock formations of the rhyolite mountains. It is possible to distinguish bright hues of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue due to the fusion of minerals with the geothermal activity.

In the Landmannalaugar area visitors have the opportunity to take a dip in a warm and mineral rich geothermal pool! Or stop off at the impressive Ljótipollur crater lake formed by a volcanic eruption around 1480 AD.

Due to its remote location and clear night skies, Landmannalaugar is the perfect spot for viewing the magical Northern Lights usually towards the end of the summer months and early autumn.

Read more: Fun Things to Do in Iceland in Summer

20 – Race around remote beaches on a fun buggy tour

buggy tours in Vik

Zoom around the coastline on a Polaris 1000 buggy and admire the scenic volcanic landscapes! Start the buggy adventure from the small town of Hella and zip along the meandering Ytri-Rangá river to head towards the coast.

The area along the river is dotted with wetlands, marshes and green agricultural fields of barley and potatoes. Near the river banks you can admire the grassy moss and heathy vegetation before you reach the expansive blacks sands and the salty Atlantic breeze.

Alternatively start your buggy tour at the Brú Base Camp, a short drives north from the astounding Gljufrabui waterfall. Get off the road and visit some secluded locations inaccessible by car! Cruise around the Thorsmork nature reserve, nestled in between various glaciers and learn more about this unique terrain.

21 – Roam the crystalline expanse of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier

Eyjafjallajökull day trips from Vik

Eyjafjallajökull is a colossal glacier capped Volcano with a height of approximately 1,666 meters! The name is extremely difficult for foreigners to pronounce so it is often referred to as E15! In 2010 Eyjafjallajökul faced a subglacial eruption emitting a huge ash plume cloud that resulted in significant melting of the glacier.

Day trips on the glacier include travel either on a snow mobile of super jeep. Learn more about the geological history of this volcanic glacier from an expert guide and witness firsthand a landscape that is in constant dynamic change due to the slow shifting of the ice and the geothermal movements.

22 – Paddle through the icy waters of a glacier lagoon on a kayaking excursion

kayaking tours from Vik

Get kitted up in a dry suit and some warm layers before heading out onto the Sólheimajökull Glacier Lagoon on a kayak. Navigate around floating ice burgs and watch how the ice reflects in the dark waters.

You may even hear the gentle cracking of the surrounding glacier cut through the meditative silence encompassing the lagoon’s tranquil waters! There are not many kayaking experiences where you can get up so close to majestic ice burgs!

23 – Capture stunning photos of pristine ice at the Solheimajokull Glacier

Solheimajokull Glacier, Iceland

Solheimajokull is considered a glacial tongue, a section that makes up part of the larger Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

During an excursion around Solheimajokull you can drink some fresh icy glacial water, come face to face with the otherworldly beauty of unique ice formations and deep crevasses. Navigate through this harsh yet breathtaking environment in the safe hands of a glacier guide who will teach you facts about the geological formation of the glacier and the recent impacts of climate change.

24 – Take some eye-catching photos at Gígjagjá (the Yoda Cave)

Gígjagjá (the Yoda Cave), Vik

Located around a 20 minute drive away from Vík lies the atmospheric Gígjagjá cave carved within the Hjörleifshöfði mountain. The cave is nicknamed the Yoda cave because the shape of the entrance is reminiscent of the head and ears of the iconic Star Wars character!

In winter the cave is encrusted with impressive ice stalactites and icicles and in the summer months the rocky entrance is cushioned by bright green and yellow moss!

Admire the light shafting into the dark cavities of the cave’s interior and listen to the echoes bouncing off and reverberating along the jagged cave walls.

25 – Contemplate the eerie remains of the DC-3 Plane Wreck

DC-3 Plane Wreck, Vik

On Sólheimasandur Beach visitors can encounter the remains of an old 1970s US Navy aircraft that was forced to crash land during a routine flight from Höfn to Stokksnes (two places in southeastern Iceland).

Despite the accident, there were no fatalities however reasons for the crash landing remain shrouded in mystery. Some claim that the aircraft simply ran out of fuel whilst others argue that it was due to the icy and unforgiving weather conditions.

Take a look at the deteriorating ruins of the aircraft that has been featured in many post-apocalyptic films such as ‘Oblivion’ starring Tom Cruise,’ or ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ with Ben Stiller and popular music videos.

26 – Stock up on woolen winter clothes at Vík Wool Icewear

Vík Wool Icewear, Vik

If you are in need of some warming Icelandic woolen sweaters, insulated fleeces or some padded jackets take a trip to the Vik Wool Icewear store in Vik, open daily from 9am to 10pm.

Or take a visit to the Wool Katla, a knitwear factory named after the nearby majestic volcano. They specialize in top quality and authentic woolen blankets, hats, mittens and shoulder wraps to keep locals and visitors cozy during the harsh winters!

Icelandic wool is prized for its exceptional warmth due to the natural crimp of the fibers that promotes trapped air pockets. The wool is also famously lightweight and resistant to moisture.

27 – Take a dip in the outdoor Vík Swimming Pool

Vik Swimming Pool, Vik

The Vík Swimming pool complex has a 16 meter swimming pool, a sauna, a hot tub heated at 40-42 degrees and a gym. There is also a fun slide for kids and a small playground facility outside.

The Vík Swimming pool is open both in summer and in winter and you can rent towels and bathrobes from the reception desk. The site is an ideal place to pass the afternoon as the pool facilities open at midday and you can even glimpse the black sands of Reynisfjara in the distance providing an exquisite backdrop!

28 – Challenge yourself as you mount the staggering Skaftafell Glacier

Skaftafell Glacier day trips from Vik

Master the basic techniques of ice climbing as you ascend along the icy cap of Skaftafell, one of the outlets of the massive Vatnajökul glacier. Check out the ice walls, the glacial crevasses and the jaw dropping frozen caves.

Feel like a true mountaineer as you escalade up ice sheets using a harness and an ice axe! You will definitely feel a sense of achievement when you look back over the astounding layers of ice and black mountains looming below!

This glacier has featured in many blockbuster films and series such as ‘Interstellar,’ ‘Batman begins’ and ‘Game of Thrones.’

29 – Stumble across the Voyage Vik (the Voyages Friendship Statue)

Voyage Vik, Vik

The Voyage Vik is a slender 1.8 meters tall sculpture of an elongated figure facing out to sea, created by the Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir.

The statue has a sister statue in the city of Hull in England, a comment on the strong and historic trading relationship between the two countries. The statue points in the direct towards Hull, yearning for the distant sister across the tempestuous ocean.

Perhaps the sculptor chose to depict the body in a naked form to highlight the human fragility and vulnerability up against the dominating strength of Mother nature. On a foggy day when the mist engulfs Vik and the nearby black sanded beach, the statue towers out mysteriously creating some atmospheric photos.

Pay a visit to the Skaftfellingur Ship Museum nearby to learn more about an 100 year old Icelandic ship. The ship played an interesting role during World War II, managing to help save the crew of a sinking German U-464 submarine. Learn more about the maritime heritage of Vik, the only Icelandic fishing village to never have had a harbor due to the fierce and violent waves!

30 – Savor the Icelandic gastronomy at the best restaurants in Vik

best restaurants in Vik

Suður-Vík is a family owned restaurant that also operates as a café and bar in a delightfully renovated historical farm house in Vík. Since the place is located on the top of a hill, diners can enjoy spectacular views over the surrounding mountains and ocean. The restaurant is family friendly with a warm homely vibe serving freshly baked pizzas, fish and meat dishes.

If you are looking for a quick, wholesome and heartwarming lunch, order a bowl of hearty soup at The Soup Company. Tuck into an Icelandic lamb broth or Hot Lava soup with some tasty black bread!

For some excellent pub food head to the Strondin Pub, just a few meters away from the famous black beach sands. Enjoy a pint whilst looking out at the ocean views and refuel after a bracing walk along the coast and replenish on carbohydrates with some filling fish and chips, hamburgers or pasta dishes.

Where to stay in Vik, Iceland?

The 3 star ultra modern Hótel Kría has to be one of the best hotels near Vik! The hotel was built in 2018 and is full of large glass windows with spectacular views of the nearby mountains. Conveniently located just off the Route 1 road in a tranquil valley and 5 minutes away from black sanded beaches, the hotel is great base to explore the local area. Enjoy typical Icelandic cuisine with a contemporary twist at their trendy gastronomic Drangar restaurant. Sometimes it is even possible to see the northern lights when looking out of their huge glass window panes!

The 3 star Hotel Katla by Keahotels has a warm rustic decor with a homely feel and it is located just 5 kilometers away from Vik. Warm up in the outdoor geothermal hot tub and sauna or sit in bed and look out at the mountain view from your bedroom window! There is also a small fitness center where you can complete your morning workout!

The 3 star Hotel Vík í Mýrdal is just a 10 minute walk away from the black beaches. The hotel has a cosy modern bar with wooden walls and wooden furniture. The hotel building itself is a mix of concrete, basalt, wood, and glass which blends well with the natural Icelandic landscape. Sit by the fireplace in the lobby before enjoying a heart warming meal at the stylish in house Restaurant Berg. They also have some luxury apartments available with cooking facilities for those who are looking to self-cater.

Where to go next?

If you are looking for further inspiration check the link for some multi-day tours from Vik. Spend three days trekking across the wilderness of Laugavegur, an area brimming with hot springs, dramatic gorges and colorful rhyolite mountains!

Or spend two or three days trekking in the Thorsmork nature reserve nestled in between the Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers. Cross over the deep valleys, dense birch forests and glacial rivers in an epic outdoor expedition!

There are many other things to do in Iceland such as visiting the bright colorful buildings of the Old Town in Reykjavik. Visiting the National Museum of Iceland or learning about Iceland’s early history at The Settlement Exhibition which is built over a Viking longhouse excavation are some of the top things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland!

Further unique things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland include embarking on a whale watching tour to spot some gigantic humpback and minke whales!

Or venture up to the North of Iceland to visit Akureyri, a coastal city located just 100 kilometers away from the Arctic Circle! There are many things to do in Akureyri, Iceland such as unwinding in the warm mineral rich waters of the Akureyri Geothermal Pool or strolling along the bohemian ‘The Artists Alley,’ an outdoor street gallery to discover the works of local Icelandic artists.

Final thoughts

We hope you have enjoyed our thrilling and adventure packed list of top things to do in Vik, Iceland!

From galloping across the black volcanic sands on horseback, peering inside shadowy and mysterious sea caves to gazing up at the clear dark skies with the possibility of glimpsing the magical Northern Lights, a trip to Vik is guaranteed to make you are feel alive and awaken your passion for the wilderness of the great outdoors!

Happy travels!