Dyrhólaey: The ‘Door Hill Island’


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South Coast in Iceland has a world of its own with countless sites to explore, settlements with wonderful accommodation options, restaurants, friendly locals, and cute little cafes to blow off some steam. One of these hard-to-miss attractions is Dyrhólaey, the arch with a hole in it. It located near the village Vik. It is at a distance of 174 kilometers and 2.5 hours away from the capital city. A former island, Dyrhólaey is a peninsula at the southern edge of the country. The arch itself is a very popular spot among tourists simply for the view of the ocean from the edge of the arch and the hefty population of puffins that it gets during the feeding and breeding season. Dyrhólaey is one of the most populated breeding grounds of Atlantic Puffins. The calm waters of the ocean, the contrasting landscape, the cute little puffins, and the overwhelming feeling that this place initiates into your heart are enough reasons to pay a visit when you travel to the south.

View over the black sand beach seen from Dyrhólaey cliffs in south Iceland

Decoding the Arch

Dyrhólaey arch is divided into two parts, the higher part and the lower part. Both parts have their arches. The lower part holds the smaller ones and the higher part towards the end of the cliff has the larger one. Both the arches can be accessed freely at all times except for the breeding season of puffins in summer and spring. You can drive up to the smaller arch in your car during the nesting season but if you want to access the higher part then you will have to cover the distance on foot which is allowed only during the daytime 9 am to 6 pm. The sole reason for this closing from 1st to 12th of May is to create a peaceful environment for the puffins. 

The View: A “Top of the World” Feeling

Needless to say, no matter in which direction you turn your head when on the higher part of the arch, the views that you will see will simply render you speechless. Mýrdalsjökull glacier takes shelter in the north while the ocean takes care of the southern part. Beautiful black lava basalt sea stacks of Reynisdrangar will be the only thing you will spot towards the east and the west is covered with a never-ending black sand coastline. Eagle rock can be spotted from the lower part of the cliff. It is a rock standing in the ocean and serves as a nesting spot for eagles apart from being a great subject for monochromatic photography.

Dyrhólaey or “Door Hill Island” goes up to about 120 meters in height. So, if you are not afraid of heights and have a knack for nature photography then this is the perfect place to capture some awe-inspiring photographs. Another thing that you will spot when you are atop Dyrhólaey is an oddly shaped lighthouse. This lighthouse is designed in the shape of a castle, indeed a unique thing to spot.

Dyrhólaey arch cliffs in south Iceland

How to Get There

As mentioned before, the ride is not too long. A simple straight drive from the capital, Reykjavik,  will bring you at this marvel in about 2.5 hours. Follow Route 1 from the capital which will have you pass through several towns including Hveragerði, Selfoss, Hella, and Hvolsvöllur. Turn to road number 218 and drive till you spot the parking space for the arch. Dyrhólaey lies right before the black sand beach of Reynisfjara and Reynisdrangar cliffs which are visible from the arch well. If you are lucky and the weather is clear, you may even be able to spot the Westman Islands while driving to your destination. In the low tide season, it is possible to explore the several ice caves along the beach to the south as well. Taking a little detour in any direction from Dyrhólaey will bring you nothing but more satisfaction and joy.

Map of Dyrhólaey

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