Dyrhólaey is a peninsula on Iceland’s southern coast, not far from Route One. After a picturesque drive over a narrow band of land, the road winds up onto a high promontory that includes the peninsula itself, rising 120 metres above the ocean and overlooking a huge stone arch—“Dyrhólaey,” directly translated, is “the hill-island with the door-hole.” To the west, there’s a long piece of dramatic black shoreline, stretching far into the distance; to the north, the glacier of Mýrðalsjökull dominates the landscape.
To the east, the standing rocks of Reynisdrangar are visible, just off the coast of Vík. According to legend, these sea stacks, or “needles,” were formed when some trolls caught an unfortunate ship and started dragging it to shore. The tide was against them, but they kept struggling with their prize until the sun rose, when they were caught in the dawn light and turned into stone.
Dyrhólaey also has a dramatic black pebble beach surrounded by basalt cliffs, and a small lighthouse on the top. Work is always being carried out to create walking paths and viewing points in the area, and to preserve the local flora from footfall. Dyrhólaey is a must-see stop on any South Coast road trip—the visceral combination of the strong winds, high, jagged rocks, and the sea spray from the violent, crashing tide make this a quite unforgettable place.
On The Road is our travel series about stops of interest you might pass by on your travels around Iceland. Read more here.