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Complete Guide to Dyrholaey Lighthouse: Puffins, Lava Arch, and a Black Sand Beach

Perched on one of the southernmost point of Iceland, the Dyrholaey Lighthouse commands the top of an impressive promontory, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Black Sand Beach, and Dyrholaey Sea Arch. If you are visiting in the summer, you will see soaring gulls and if you are lucky – puffins. This impressive point of land has much to offer and is a must-see spot on any tour of the Southern Coast of Iceland.

We visited the Dyrholaey Lighthouse on the second day of our road trip around the ring road of Iceland in the late afternoon in hopes of seeing puffins and taking in the views of the coastline. The information below was gathered from our visit and will hopefully give you everything you need to plan an amazing visit to this stunning spot.

See more on our complete 7 day Iceland Itinerary: Driving the Amazing Ring Road.

Overview of Dyrholaey Lighthouse and Promontory

Dyrholaey is located close to the Southern town of Vik and is an easy stop off route 1 on the drive along Iceland’s Southern Coast. From the top of the promontory, the views stretch in every direction and there are several interesting things to see. Once an island, Dyrholaey is now connected by land to the rest of Iceland, making it an easy, if steep drive. Below are some of the most important sites at Dyrholaey, Iceland.

Lava Sea Arch from Dyrholaey Lighthouse
Lava Sea Arch from Dyrholaey Lighthouse

Dyrhólaey – this refers to the entire area of the promontory that juts out into the ocean about 400 feet above the ocean surface. The word – Dyrhólaey, refers to the rock with the hole in it that sits just off the point and can be translated as “Door Hill Island.”

Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve: The entire region surrounding the lighthouse is part of a nature reserve and is thus protected

Dyrhólaey Lighthouse: This small, but lovely little lighthouse sits right on the point. The first lighthouse to sit on this site was built in 1910, followed by the existing lighthouse built in 1927. The lighthouse is just 43 feet tall and the working light flashes every 10 seconds. While you can’t go inside the Dyrholaey Lighthouse, you can walk around the exterior. You will also see the lighthouse called Dyrhólaeyjarviti

Dyrhólaey Sea Arch: Located just off the point, the sea arch is a prominent feature and provides an impressive viewpoint out over the Ocean to the South

Below you can suggestions on the best way to visit this amazing place and what to do during your visit.

Things to See On the Dyrholaey Promontory

When we first started to research our Iceland itinerary, I wasn’t sure if stopping at Dyrholaey Lighthouse was worth it. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good lighthouse, but the sheer number of impressive sites on Iceland’s Southern Coast makes it hard to choose the best places to visit. Luckily, after researching a bit more, I realized there is way more to see on a visit to Dyrhólaey.

Here is a list of everything I recommend doing on your visit (see below for more details):

  • Walk Around Dyrholaey Lighthouse
  • Walk to the Point to see the Lava Sea Arch
  • Look for puffins along the cliff
  • View the Black Sand Beaches to the East and West
  • Hike to Kirkjufjara Beach

Visiting Dyrholaey Lighthouse

The Dyrholaey Lighthouse is easy to visit and is just a short walk from the upper parking lot. Even if the weather is poor, it is an easy place to visit. You don’t need much time at the lighthouse – you could probably stop at the parking lot and visit just the lighthouse in 10 minutes since you can only view the building from the outside.

Walk to the Point to see the Lava Sea Arch

The most impressive view on Dyrholaey is the view out to the lava Sea Arch. To get to the arch from the parking lot closest to the Lighthouse, follow the gravel path out along the edge of the cliff to the furthest point south. This will take you to several viewpoints looking West where you can look out across the Black Sand Beach. Continue making your way around the point and the Lava Sea Arch will come into view.

In my opinion, the first view of the arch from the upper parking lot is the best. You can also continue walking down the gravel path for a different view, but you can no longer walk out along the top of the arch for safety reasons.

You can also get an amazing view of the arch by parking at the main, lower parking lot – the Reynisfjara Viewpoint. Follow the path up towards the point for an amazing view of the arch. You can also see Eagle Rock (or Arnardrangur) – a large stone stack on the beach.

Puffins Near Dyrholaey Lighthouse

Look for puffins along the Cliff

This was one of the main reasons I was drawn to visit Dyrholaey Lighthouse. Seeing puffins in the wild was one of the top things on my bucket list, and this was my first (but not my last) chance to see puffins in Iceland! If you are visiting during the summer months (June-August) you are highly likely to view these amazing birds as they fly in and out of their nest holes in the cliffside.

Millions of Atlantic puffins visit Iceland each year to mate and you are most likely to see them right on the cliffsides. Due to this, in late spring the path out along the cliffs near the lighthouse is often closed in the evening and overnight. We were told that the best time to see the puffins is in the early evening when they return with their fish to their young.

We were lucky enough to see several puffins although they were far away and the viewpoint around them was quite crowded with other people looking to see these amazing birds. Dyrholaey Lighthouse is one of the best places close to Reykjavic to see puffins.

You can also visit in Eastern Iceland see: Exactly How to See the Amazing Borgarfjörður Eystri Puffins, Iceland 

View the Black Sand Beaches to the East and West

Iceland is known for its Black Sand Beaches, and the area around Dyrholaey is one of the best places to visit one of these beaches. The view from Dyrholaey Lighthouse out across the Black Sand Beaches to the South and the North are both dramatic. Reynisfjara Beach lies to the east of the point and you can just make out the famous rock columns at the far end of the beach.

See more about visiting Reynisfjara Beach

The View from Dyrholaey Lighthouse of the Black Sand Beach
The View from Dyrholaey Lighthouse of the Black Sand Beach

Hike to Kirkjufjara Beach

This is a 3.4-mile hike and can be done as an out-and-back walk. The hike is relatively easy with just over 600 feet of elevation gain. You can either park down at the beach and hike up to Dyrholaey Lighthouse, or do the hike in reverse and hike down to the beach. The trail goes right along the cliffs and gives you amazing opportunities to see birds and the dramatic coastline. Note that this is a popular walk, and can become crowded at times. Be very careful on the beach as waves can wash in at any time and have been known to carry people out to sea.

You can see more details about the hike at All Trails, and it’s worth reading the reviews to get the most recent trail conditions.

The View Dyrholaey

Getting to the Dyrholaey Lighthouse

The drive to Dyrholaey has improved in recent years and is up a paved road now. It is still a steep drive and can be crowded and difficult in certain conditions. Turn off Route 1 to the south on route 218, and follow the road right to the coast. You can enter Dyrhólaey View Parking Lot into your map app to get you to the lower parking lot.

There are several parking options once you get to the end of the road. You can park at the lower parking lot. This is the main parking lot and has some facilities including basic bathrooms. To get to the top of the point where Dyrholaey Lighthouse is located, you will need to walk up the hill from here.

Another option is to drive the steep road up to the smaller parking lot where you will find Dyrholaey Lighthouse. This road sometimes gets backed up with traffic, but is the easiest place to park if you are looking for a quick visit to the cliff tops, and views out across the beaches and to the lava rock.

View of the Dyrholaey Arch
View of the Dyrholaey Arch

Note: you can’t simply walk from the parking lot at the end of Reynisfjara Beach to Dyrhólaey as the beach doesn’t go all the way and your path will be blocked by water.

Below you can see a map of the primary locations to visit on Dyrhólaey Point.

Things to Help you Plan your Visit to Dyrhólaey

Top Tips for Visiting Dyrholaey

  • There is no food or drink available, so make sure you bring your own snacks.
  • Use caution on the rocks and near the cliff edge – there are ropes marking off the cliffs, but we saw plenty of people disregarding these for a photo. Remember that rocks can get slippery!
  • Respect the signage and any closures. These are in place to protect the puffins and decrease erosion, and will ensure that future visitors can also enjoy the experience.
  • Check for closures online before visiting – trip advisor or all trail may have recent reviews and updates.

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Dyrholaey Lighthouse?

You can visit parts of Dyrholaey all year long, but the upper cliffs near the lighthouse are closed in the late spring and fall for the puffins. If you want to avoid closures, visit in the summer months (mid-June-August).

You can also visit Dyrholaey in the winter although the point can get icy and windy. Use caution on the trail or stick to the lower trails close to the beach. A good pair of microspikes are essential when visiting Iceland in the winter.

View West from Dyrholaey Lighthouse
View West from Dyrholaey Lighthouse

Where are the Best Places for Photography Near Dyrhólaey Lighthouse

Dyrhólaey is an amazing place to get some incredible photos of Iceland. The black Sand Beaches make dramatic landscape photos, and the white lighthouse perched on the cliffs provides an amazing focal point. Here is a list of some of the best photographic sites near Dyrhólaey Lighthouse.

  • Eagle Rock
  • Reynisfjara Viewpoint
  • Lava Sea Arch
  • Views of the Puffins

How Long do You Need to Visit Dyrholaey?

It is possible to make a very quick visit to the Dyrholaey Lighthouse and the surrounding area. You can stop at the upper parking lot, walk quickly out along the cliff and snap some photos of the Sea Arch and the lighthouse. You could do this in just 10-15 minutes.

To better enjoy the area, you should plan about 1.5 hours (or longer if you want to do the full hike). This gives you time to look for puffins, walk the cliffs, and check out the lighthouse.

View West from Dyrholaey Lighthouse
View East from Dyrholaey Lighthouse

What Else is Near Dyrhólaey?

Dyrhólaey is a perfect stop if you are touring along the Southern Coast of Iceland and it is surrounded by many amazing places. Here are some of the common places nearby and the approximate driving time between each place.

  • Seljandsfoss to Dyrhólaey: 1 hour
  • Skogafoss to Dyrhólaey: 30 minutes
  • Reykjavik to Dyrhólaey: 3 hours
  • Vik (and Reynisfjara Beach) to Dyrhólaey: 20 minutes

What are the Best Places to Stay Near Dyrhólaey

If you are driving the ring road or doing a trip out along the South Coast of Iceland, you may be looking for a place to stay near Dyrholaey. Since this area is between Skogafoss and Vik, your best option is to stay in one of the Guesthouses at Skogafoss or a hotel in Vik. Below are 3 options for hotels, and one camping option if you are camping in a tent or campervan.

Guesthouse Skogafoss – This guesthouse is located at the base of Skogafoss

Umi Hotel – between Skogafoss and Seljandsfoss, this hotel has comfy rooms mostly for 2 people

Hotel Vík í Mýrdal – Located in Vik, this lovely little hotel has room options for 2-5 people

Vík tjaldsvæði – This is a lovely campground right near Vik

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