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Once an island off the south coast of Iceland, Dyrhólaey is now part of the mainland. It is a rugged peninsula, jutting out into the restless North Atlantic Ocean where waves crash against striking basalt cliffs and the rocky shoreline rustles with birdlife. Dyrhólaey is home to one of Iceland’s largest puffin colonies and those that reach this isolated part of the Icelandic coast are rewarded with views from the clifftops over the dramatic sea.
Overhead drone shot of Dyrhólaey featuring its lush green landscape, contrasting black beach, and ocean views.
Best time to visit
All year round
63.40477, -19.11821
Distance from Reykjavík
178km (110mi)

Explore Beaches and Wildlife at Dyrhólaey

How to get to Dyrhólaey south Iceland

The Dyrhólaey Peninsula is found along the south coast of Iceland. In fact, the rocky promontory at the base of the peninsula is geographically the most southerly point of mainland Iceland. Reykjavík is 180 kilometres (around 112 miles) from the main car park of Dyrhólaey, so the drive from the capital takes around two and a half hours. Dyrhólaey sits just off the Route One main road that loops around Iceland, so it is easy to navigate to this place yourself. Following Route One out of Reyjavík, you just need to stick to this road as it travels along the south coast until the turn-off for Road 218, which takes you straight to the Dyrhólaey main car park and viewpoint.

Dyrhólaey is also a short drive from the south-coast village of Vík. By road, this pretty coastal village is 18 kilometres (around 11 miles) from the Dyrhólaey car park and the drive takes around 20 minutes. So, if you’re staying in Vík and exploring the sights of the south coast at a leisurely pace, Dyrhólaey should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

If you don’t fancy hiring a car or driving yourself, day trips along the south coast leave daily from Reykjavík. With a guide and driver, you don’t need to worry about navigation or what to see and do along the way. There are also a few active trips to nearby Sólheimafjara black-sand beach where you can embark on an ATV adventure across the volcanic sand, fording rivers until you reach the wreck of a DC-3 aeroplane on the beach.

Dyrhólaey sits at the west end of the famous Reynisfjara Beach, but due to the dangerous nature of the tides here, it is not advised that you walk to Dyrhólaey from the Reynisfjara Beach car park.

Puffins nesting at Dýrhólaey in the South Coast of Iceland.

Things to see and do on Dyrhólaey

One of the main draws to Dyrhólaey Peninsula is the abundant birdlife that squawks and rustles against the towering sea cliffs. Bird watchers can spot puffins nesting here, and the peak season for puffin watching is between April and September. The birds are most active early in the morning (between 7am and 10am) and later in the evening (between 6pm and 10pm) when they leave their nests to hunt for fish at sea. You can also spot eiders, terns and fulmars wheeling through the sky and calling out to each other. The copious birdlife on the peninsula led to the Icelandic government granting Dyrhólaey as a protected nature reserve in 1978 and in peak puffin season it can be difficult to drive on the peninsula as the nesting birds are given priority over human access.

One of the natural sights that attract visitors to Dyrhólaey is the sea arch at the tip of the peninsula. This striking rock formation was created over centuries of erosion, leaving a rock bridge jutting out into the sea. It makes for a beautiful photo and you can even walk across the natural archway to admire the restless Atlantic Ocean all the way to the horizon. Dyrhólaey is also home to one of Iceland’s famous black-sanded beaches. Volcanic activity in the area means that Dyrhólaey Beach boasts a sweep of raven-black sand as striking (but far less crowded) as Reynisfjara Beach which is just next door.

Another prominent lookout point on Dyrhólaey is the old lighthouse. While you can drive up to the upper car park here, the bumpy, steep road is only really suitable for 4WD vehicles. Parking in the much more accessible lower car park, it’s a one-kilometre walk uphill to Dyrhólaey lighthouse and those that complete the hike are rewarded with views of the rugged headland and endless ocean.

How to stay safe at Dyrhólaey

During adverse weather, the small roads on the Dyrhólaey Peninsula can flood without warning. If you are self-driving to Dyrhólaey, it is a good idea to check the SafeTravel Iceland app before you leave for updates about weather and road conditions. Dyrhólaey is a delightful place to walk and hike but during the summer season, terns and puffins can nest in the long grass on the cliffs of the peninsula, so it is best to follow signs and marked routes to avoid angry mother birds.

Just like neighbouring Reynisfjara Beach, the sea around Dyrhólaey is wild and unpredictable. Even in the calmest months, sneaker waves and crashing swells can rise up without warning. It is imperative that you stay away from the water on this section of Iceland’s coast.

A person crossing a river on a ATV in the South Coast of Iceland

Experiences and attractions around Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey is found along Iceland’s south shore – a region of unparalleled natural beauty and myriad natural wonders. Between Reykjavík and Dyrhólaey, you can stop at Skógafoss waterfall where rainbows dance in the mist, 26 kilometres from the peninsula. Or, walk behind the cascade at Seljalandsfoss waterfall, 52 kilometres away. Adventure awaits at Sólheimajökull glacier, 23 kilometres away, where you can join a glacier hike onto the vast frozen surface and delve into natural ice caves.

Right next door to Dyrhólaey, Reynisfjara Beach is one of the most popular stops along Iceland’s south shore. This long sweep of beach is jet-black and features an ethereal basalt cave at one end, and a view of the striking sea stacks of the Reynisdrangar cliffs. On the other side of Dyrhólaey, Sólheimafjara Beach is an adventurer’s playground with miles of black sand to explore by ATV and the haunting wreck of a DC-3 plane at one end of the sand.

All About Dyrhólaey

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