From breathtaking ocean views to fascinating natural rock formations, Dyrhólaey is a must-see on your Iceland bucket list.
In this guide, you’ll find all you need to know about Dyrhólaey, and tips to plan an awesome trip.
What is Dyrhólaey?
Dyrhólaey is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions thanks to its unique and stunning coastal views and abundant wildlife, including puffins and other seabirds.
“Dyrhólaey” translates to “the hill island with the door hole” in Icelandic. This refers to an arch carved out by centuries of wave erosion, creating a natural bridge that serves as an entranceway for boats into the harbor beneath it.
Dyrhólaey is also known for its remarkable basalt columns and sea cliffs, which are some of the highest in Iceland.
You can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of both land and sea that showcase the raw power and beauty of the Icelandic landscape.
Where is Dyrhólaey?
Dyrhólaey is located on the southernmost part of Iceland’s mainland, approximately 180 km from the capital city, Reykjavík.
It’s part of the Vesturhorn Nature Reserve and is home to many birds, wildlife, and breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and ocean.
How to get to Dyrhólaey from Reykjavik?
The quickest way to get to Dyrhólaey from Reykjavik is by car in 2.5 hours. The route follows the Ring Road (Route 1) in the direction of Vik, where you will take a left onto Route 218, which leads directly to Dyrhólaey.
Alternatively, you can book a South Coast day tour with an experienced guide who can provide information and suggest what to do in the area.
You’ll get to see the waterfalls, glaciers, black sand beaches, and volcanoes – all in one day.
Buses are another way to get there, and there are two main bus lines to travel to Dyrhólaey. It takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to get from Reykjavik Campsite to Skógar and another 25 minutes from Skógar to Dyrhólaey by taxi.
The other bus leaves from Mjódd, Reykjavik, and travels via Selfoss. It takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to go from Selfoss to Vík í Mýrdal and another 20 minutes to get from Vík í Mýrdal to Dyrhólaey by taxi.
Weather in Dyrhólaey
Dyrhólaey is located on the southernmost tip of Iceland, and its weather can be highly unpredictable.
The area is characterized by strong winds, mild temperatures, and occasional snowfall.
Generally speaking, summers are cool, with average temperatures around 13°C (55°F), while winters tend to be much colder, with averages reaching as low as 3°C (37°F).
Snowfall is quite common in winter, although it does not generally last for more than a few days. Rainfall occurs throughout the year but tends to be heavier in spring and summer.
When is the best time to visit Dyrhólaey?
The best time to visit Dyrhólaey is summer, from June through August. This is when temperatures are most comfortable, and the chance of seeing puffins is highest.
Also, sightseeing opportunities increase thanks to better visibility in sunny weather, allowing you to enjoy stunning views of the beautiful black sand beach, ocean, and surrounding cliffs. During this time, you can also join festivals and events in Iceland.
It’s important to note that even though summers bring good weather, it’s quite crowded, so it’s best to book things ahead.
Plus, windy conditions can occur during these months, particularly in the afternoon so those wanting a more leisurely experience might consider visiting in the early morning.
How long to spend at Dyrhólaey?
The amount of time you should spend at Dyrhólaey will vary depending on the activities.
If you plan to tour and observe the wildlife in its natural habitat, it’s best to spend at least 2-3 hours.
Additionally, there are plenty of photo opportunities around the area, which may require more time.
Hiking trails also provide a great way to explore the surrounding landscape, and these would require longer periods, especially if taking part in an organized guided Dyrhólaey hike.
The duration depends on your individual goals and interests; ideally, you should allow yourself enough time to fully appreciate what Dyrhólaey offers.
Best things to do in Dyrhólaey
Here are some of the best things to do in Dyrhólaey:
Explore Dyrhólaey Lighthouse
Built in 1927, this historic Dyrhólaey lighthouse stands tall, overlooking the coastline.
You can ascend the tower for breathtaking panoramas across the sea and up toward Reynisfjara Beach.
Visit Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
This iconic Dyrhólaey beach, with its striking black sand shoreline, is one of Iceland’s most famous attractions.
Home to towering sea stacks, lapping waves, and stunning basalt columns, Reynisfjara is a must-visit destination.
Dyrhólaey is also home to an impressive variety of bird species, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and fulmars.
Head over in summer for ideal conditions for spotting these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Take a hike
With its dramatic cliffs and unspoiled surroundings, Dyrhólaey offers superb hiking trails with truly stunning ocean views.
Whether you’re looking for a short stroll or an adventurous trek, this area has something to offer everyone.
See the Arch
The iconic Dyrhólaey arch is yet another stunning natural phenomenon in this area.
Peering out over the sea, it’s a magnificent sight and definitely worth stopping to admire on your journey here.
Try sea kayaking
For a unique way to explore this area, why not go sea kayaking?
Traveling by kayak lets you get up close and personal with stunning scenery and gives you access to hidden coves and secret spots along the shoreline.
What to wear when visiting Dyrhólaey?
You should dress comfortably, with plenty of layers. Dyrhólaey weather can be unpredictable, and temperatures can vary greatly depending on the time of year.
It’s usually warm but windy during summer, so lightweight clothing such as shorts and t-shirts are ideal.
However, in winter, you should wear warmer items such as sweaters and jackets to protect against cool temperatures.
What to pack for Dyrhólaey?
When packing for Dyrhólaey, keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable, so layering is key.
Bring a warm coat and plenty of sweaters or long-sleeved shirts.
You will also need comfortable walking shoes as you explore the stunning landscape around the area.
Sunscreen and sunglasses are essential, while insect repellent may also be necessary depending on when you visit.
Don’t forget swimwear, beach towels, and other bathing accessories if you plan to take a dip in the ocean. Lastly, bring your camera because there will surely be many photo-worthy moments!
Attractions near Dyrhólaey
Here are some of the attractions near Dyrhólaey:
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is renowned for its black sand, massive basalt columns that jut out of the shoreline, and powerful waves and swirling maelstroms.
Reynisfjara has many opportunities for exploration, from relaxing walks along the coastline to rock pooling amongst the basalt columns.
There are also plenty of activities, such as kayaking, windsurfing, and beachcombing. You should also be aware of the powerful waves and maelstroms in this area, so swimming is not advised.
Reynisfjall is a mountain located near Dyrhólaey, Iceland.
The peak stands at an impressive 340m above sea level and provides stunning views of the region’s rugged coastline, with the Reynisdrangar basalt stacks being particularly famous.
You can climb to the top of the mountain and take in all of its majestic beauty! The trail begins in Vík í Mýrdal village and winds up to the summit.
Along the way, you will have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as puffins, hawks, and other seabirds.
Vik is a charming fishing village near Dyrhólaey. Known for its picturesque harbor and stunning black sand beach, Vik has numerous activities, such as boat tours and whale and bird watching.
Several restaurants and cafes offer delicious Icelandic cuisine prepared with fresh local ingredients. You can also explore nearby attractions like Myrdalsjökull glacier or the Dyrhólaey archipelago.
Food & drink
If you are interested in trying traditional Icelandic dishes, you can sample favorites such as lamb stew, smoked salmon, seafood soup, and various types of fish.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of desserts on offer, including Skyr (a type of yogurt), pancakes topped with jam or cream, and ice cream served with waffles.
Drinks-wise, beer lovers will be pleased to know that Dyrhólaey has its brewery producing craft beers that complement the local dishes. Several bars also serve a range of cocktails, wines, and non-alcoholic beverages.
Other tips for visiting Dyrhólaey
By following these tips, you can ensure that your visit to Dyrhólaey is safe and enjoyable!
Bring necessary items
I recommend wearing appropriate clothing when visiting Dyrhólaey, as the area can be windy and cold. Besides, bring a waterproof jacket in case of rain or strong winds. Depending on the time of year, sunscreen may also be necessary.
Bring the photography equipment
Please note that some areas are off-limits due to their fragile nature. As such, you should follow guidelines regarding acceptable behavior.
Furthermore, bring a tripod if you plan on photographing the stunning views from the Dyrhólaey cliffs.
Prepare food and water
Finally, if you intend to explore without stopping at the nearby restaurant, it’s best to come prepared with plenty of food and water. Snacks, sandwiches, and energy bars are all good choices to bring along.
Also, remember to take trash with you when leaving, so the area remains clean and undisturbed.
Frequently asked questions
Why is Dyrhólaey famous?
Dyrhólaey is famous for its impressive 120-meter-high arch, formed by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. The arch and surrounding cliffs are home to many species of birds, including puffins, fulmars, and guillemots, making it a haven for nature lovers and bird watchers.
How long is the hike to Dyrhólaey?
The hike to Dyrhólaey is approximately 4 km, or 2.5 miles, in one direction. It’s a moderate-difficulty walk that requires several hours of hiking and can be completed by most hikers with an average fitness level.
Can you drive to Dyrhólaey?
Yes, you can drive to Dyrhólaey. The area is accessible by car from Reykjavik and other parts of Iceland. You need to plan for your trip, though, as the roads can be unpaved and challenging to navigate.
Can you walk from Reynisfjara beach to Dyrhólaey?
No, unfortunately, you can’t walk from Reynisfjara beach to Dyrhólaey. The two places are separated by over a mile of rugged terrain, and no easy path or public transport connects them. However, driving between the two sites in less than 15 minutes is possible, making it an ideal day trip if you want to experience both locations. If you’re feeling brave, you could always attempt the hike – just make sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear!
Dyrhólaey is an otherworldly destination and one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions with picturesque cliffs.
I hope this travel guide has inspired you to add Dyrhólaey to your travel plans. If you decide to visit, take plenty of photos and enjoy every minute of your experience in this magical place.