Kirkjubæjarklaustur in South Iceland | Full Guide


It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Iceland is surely a journey to another world that is untouched, pure, and ecstatic.  This place has something magical about it that acts as a magnet to the travel enthusiasts, nature lovers, and environmentalists across the globe. Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers, rugged contradicting landscapes, sweeping lava fields, plummeting waterfalls, geothermal hot springs, bubbling fluorescent colored dancing lights, deep blue oceans, mystical backdrops with modern architecture and many more such things. No other place can beat Iceland in any of the aspects. The sense of adventure surges down your body and fills you with immense excitement as you see those massive mountain cliffs and natural wonders.

But it is not just about the mystical landscapes and waterfalls, Iceland’s history and the evolution with time will also leave you speechless! One such place in Iceland that still speaks volumes about its geographical history is Kirkubæjarklaustur. So, let’s dive in and know more about the destination.

waterfall near Kirkjubæjarklaustur village in south Iceland

Know About the Kirkjubæjarklaustur Village

The name seems to be a tongue twister for sure. The correct pronunciation for Kirkjubæjarklaustur is “khyr-kyou – bai- yar- klay – stur”.  Kirkjubæjarklaustur, which is often abbreviated to “Klaustur” by the locals, is actually made with three Icelandic words – each one denoting a distinct thing. Kirkju means church, bæjar relates to the genitive of a farm or village, and klaustur that means convent. Kirkjubæjarklaustur is a beautiful small village that is located in South Iceland. It is located between two of the main tourist attractions on the south coast – the black sand beach at Vík í Mýrdal and one of the most famous Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon along with the spectacular Diamond Beach. The village is located by the ring-road 1 and is the first village that you will encounter when driving through the glacial outwash of Mýrdalssandur. The closest glaciers are Skaftafellsjökull, which is 70 km away, Falljökull, which is 80 km, and the Sólheimajökull, which is 100 km away.

view over Kirkjubæjarklaustur village in south Iceland

Historical Aspect of This Tranquil Village

It is believed that Irish hermits, “Papar” used to live here even before Iceland’s Norse settlement. This place has always been inhabited by the Christians, while the pagans were not welcomed at all. During the 9th century, Ketill the Foolish made his home and settled at Kirkjubær. But after Ketill, a pagan named Hildir Eysteinsson who hailed from Meðalland moved to Kirkjubær, but unfortunately, the moment he tried to set his foot in this place, he died and fell. He was buried in the Hildir’s Mound (Hildishaugur), which is a rocky hillock, in the east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur is known for its rich history; the name of this village dates back to the year 1186. Initially, there was a Benedictine convent at Kirkjubæjarklaustur (1186-1554). It continued to operate until 1554. Few of the disobedient nuns were allegedly burned for their sins, on a natural rocky pedestal, which is now known as Systrastapi. Natives and folktales tell about the presence of nuns and, the ecclesiastical history of this place from centuries.

Things to Do in Kirkjubæjarklaustur

When you are through with the history, it is time to rejuvenate amidst the beauty of Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the geothermal pools. Just like any other Icelandic town, this place also has a pool and hot tubs to relax in. Apart from this, if you are an adventure freak, then Systrastapa climbing is what you need to do, there are chains and ropes attached for security purpose. This is something that you can try. Or if climbing is not something that excites you, then a nature walk is best recommended at the Klaustur Trail along Systrafoss waterfall and up to Systrafoss Lake, or even visit the beautiful Stjórnarfoss waterfall. On a good weather day during the summer time, the locals like to jump into the waterfall and bathe in it. And, at last, you can visit at Moss Exhibition at Skaftárstofa Guest Center.

Map of Kirkjubæjarklaustur

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