Tips for Visiting Stokksnes and Vestrahorn Mountain, Iceland

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Tips for Visiting Stokksnes and Vestrahorn Mountain, Iceland


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Stokksnes is the type of Icelandic panorama you dream of — infinite black sand dunes topped with inexperienced grass, gentle grey waves lapping up on a clean black shoreline, all framed by a jagged black mountain. No matter what sort of climate you’ve, this place goes to look spectacular.

The Stokksnes peninsula was excessive on my listing of locations to go to on my Iceland street journey, and particularly so for Amanda, my journey companion on this journey. We powered via our lengthy day of driving from Egilsstaðir, figuring out that Stokksnes could be a late afternoon go to.

And it was astounding. Our journey to Iceland was nothing wanting excellent (although it did value a reasonably penny), with a number of the finest landscapes I’ve ever seen.

Looking again with the attitude of time and distance, Stokksnes was among the finest locations we visited.

While straightforward to achieve, Stokknes is one among comparatively few outside sights in Iceland that expenses an entry payment. Here’s what it’s essential find out about visiting.

Endless hills of black sand dunes topped with green grasses, and in the background, a jagged black mountain.
Stokksnes and Tiny Kate!

Visiting Stokksnes on an Iceland Trip

The Stokksnes Peninsula was one of many earliest settled locations in Iceland, with arrivals courting again to the ninth century. Later, throughout World War II, Stokksnes served as a British military base.

Today there’s nonetheless a working NATO radar station at Stokksnes, which the Iceland Air Defense System makes use of to watch Iceland’s airspace.

How far is Stokksnes from the Ring Road?

Stokksnes is a ten-minute drive from the Ring Road, making it a simple cease.

Can you go to Stokksnes on a day journey from Reykjavík?

Stokksnes is a six-hour drive from Reykjavík — too far for a day journey until you’re a masochist.

A black beach next to calm water with a black jagged mountain in the background.

How to Get to Stokksnes

If you’re driving the Ring Road counterclockwise, Stokksnes is a few 25-minute drive from the city of Höfn (pronounced “Hup” — sure, severely). Höfn has lots of lodging and meals choices, so it makes base when visiting Southeast Iceland.

If you’re driving the Ring Road clockwise, as we did, Stokksnes is a few 90-minute drive from Djúpivogur. On the best way, don’t miss the point of view by the Hvalnes Lighthouse — the lighthouse is okay, however the mountain within the background is a unbelievable background for pictures. (I truly photographed a household there, completely framed by the mountain!)

Either approach, it’s a few 10-minute drive from the Ring Road.

The cash register at a cafe with a wooden sign reading VIKING CAFE ICELAND on the wall.

As you drive in, your first cease would be the Viking Cafe. It’s right here that you simply pay the payment: 900 ISK ($6.23) per individual. Yes, you have to pay the payment, no matter whether or not you’re on foot or in a automobile. This is personal property, not like many different standard locations in Iceland.

If the cafe is closed, there’s a machine exterior the place you’ll be able to pay with a bank card.

The cafe is a remarkably cozy place, and a part of me yearns for a giant slice of cake. Another time.

They’re additionally a guesthouse! You can e book their rooms right here.

We scan our ticket on the turnstile and giggle on the graffiti.

A car turnstile with PAY ALSO FOR WALKING written across it.

After leaving the Viking Café and passing the fields stuffed with sheep, we drive throughout a causeway, nonetheless water on either side, and get to a parking space by the sand dunes.

If you head to the tip of the street, you’ve a view of Stokksnes Lighthouse, as soon as a part of a navy base. Honestly, this is likely one of the much less photogenic lighthouses in Iceland and pales compared to the seashore and sand dunes, so we selected to skip it.

From there you’ll be able to set off to Stokksnes Beach.

A tiny Kate in a pink coat perched among the black grassy sand dunes.

Black Sand Dunes

I’ve seen a handful of black sand seashores in my life, from Santorini to Stromboli — however none fairly like Stokksnes. Here the sand varieties small hills, inexperienced grass poking out between every of them.

Amanda and I park our automobile and head out onto the dunes, taking pictures repeatedly. We are surprised to be the one folks out right here! Shooting to our hearts’ content material, figuring out we received’t need to photoshop any randos out of the pictures once we get house.

One factor that I understand rapidly, although, is how essential a large angle lens is to slot in all of Vestrahorn. My large digicam’s lens isn’t extensive sufficient, however the iPhone takes surprisingly nice extensive angle pictures (together with the one on the prime of this put up).

We’ve obtained cloudy circumstances, which is unbelievable, however I do know the dunes would look glowing on a sunny day, too.

Here are some pictures from the dunes.

Grassy black sand dunes, rolling like an endless field.
A hand with glittery blue nails holding a handful of sparkling black sand.
A black sand path carving between grassy dunes, leading to the water.

From there, we head onto the seashore.

A close up of the calm sea encroaching on the black sand.

Stokksnes Beach

The seashore right here is unbelievable — tiny, mild waves that hardly disrupt the floor. It’s a far cry from Reynisfjara Beach in Vík, probably the most well-known black sand seashore in Iceland, the place harmful rogue waves are commonplace (and a few vacationers have misplaced their lives because of this).

Even so, you by no means know if a sneaker wave can arrive right here, so keep conscious and don’t get too far into the water.

If you’re trying to get good reflection pictures of Vestrahorn Mountain, it received’t be right here — head additional down towards the Viking Village, the place there are some calmer our bodies of water that present the mirror-like impact you’re searching for.

A spiky gray mountain reflecting itself in still water.

Vestrahorn Mountain

The complete time, majestic Vestrahorn Mountain looms within the background. Next to it’s Brunnhorn Mountain, known as Batman Mountain, formed a bit just like the Batman image.

You can undoubtedly hike Vestrahorn Mountain, and there are maps of mountaineering trails on the Viking Café.

A map of Vestrahorn with hiking trails.

If you’re up for a problem, the longest path is an 11 km (6.8 mile) loop journey throughout Vestrahorn Mountain itself. Departing simply previous the Viking Village on the foot of the mountain, it takes you round Kambhorn to Hvammsfjara and again to the place you began.

For one thing a bit extra doable, you’ll be able to take the 4 km (2.5 mile) stroll round Kirkjusander and alongside Drápsbjörg for much more photogenic views of the mountain.

Either approach, do not forget that the climate can activate a dime, and solely hike when you have the suitable gear and sources.

A village of falling-apart wooden houses with grass roofs.

Viking Village

Last however not least is the Viking Village. This village was initially in-built 2010 for Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakúr, however was by no means used. The village was primarily deserted and stays right here right this moment.

Feel free to stroll across the Viking Village, however don’t go in any of the buildings. They usually are not maintained and going inside them may very well be harmful.

One film that was efficiently filmed at Stokksnes was the Bollywood movie Dilwale.

A viking ship docked in still water and reflecting perfectly.

How Much Time to Spend at Stokksnes

I might allot for no less than 90 minutes at Stokksnes. The time actually does add up if you consider shopping for your tickets on the cafe, driving right down to the sting, having fun with each the sand dunes and the seashore, and strolling over to the Viking Village.

This just isn’t a get-in-and-get-out vacation spot. But if you happen to have been brief on time and nonetheless needed to expertise Stokknes, I might advocate spending the majority of your time on the sand dunes with somewhat little bit of time on the seashore. You can axe the Viking Village and lighthouse with out feeling too responsible about it.

Spiky Vestrahorn mountain underneath a dusting of snow and a purple sky.
Snowy Vestrahorn Mountain within the winter, through Shutterstork.

Stokksnes within the Winter

While the most effective time to go to Stokksnes is through the summer season, you too can go to through the winter months! Like all over the place else in Iceland, test earlier than you go, because the climate will be unpredictable and shut roads.

And do not forget that you’re working with restricted daytime hours within the winter, although you’ll be rewarded with an elongated golden hour. Vestrahorn appears unbelievable within the golden mild.

But if you happen to’re a photographer, you’ll love the prospect to catch the mountain peaks and sand dunes below a recent dusting of snow. And if you happen to’re in a position to {photograph} Vestrahorn Mountain, beneath the Northern Lights, I can be SO JEALOUS!!! This is a spot with little mild air pollution, so if you happen to get an Aurora Borealis alert, head straight right here!

A still gray lagoon filled with large bobbing chunks of ice.
Jökulsárlón is simply down the street from Stokksnes, Icelandically talking.

More Cool Spots in Southeast Iceland

Southeast Iceland is one among my favourite elements of Iceland — it’s the place the waterfalls and canyons of the South meet the fjords and mountains of the East! Lots of people barrel via right here rapidly, however you’ll be glad you hung out right here. Natural wonders abound on the southeastern Icelandic coast.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is arguably the most well-liked vacation spot within the area, the place giant chunks break off the glacier and are available to relaxation within the lagoon. Boat journeys are standard factor to do right here. Jökulsárlón is a little more than an hour’s drive from Stokksnes.

Don’t miss Diamond Beach close by, a black sand seashore strewn with giant icebergs which have floated down from the lagoon. A tough gravel street 5 minutes down the street will take you to Fjallsárlón, one other glacier lagoon that’s a lot quieter (and we most popular over Jökulsárlón.) It’s lovely in a extra delicate approach.

Múlagljúfur Canyon, simply west of Fjallsárlón, is one among my absolute favourite locations in Iceland. A magical canyon and probably the most lovely locations I’ve ever seen. You need to drive a tough gravel street to the trailhead, but it surely’s price it.

Two children in winter coats walking along the edge of the water, the jagged mountain behind them.

Where to Stay Near Stokksnes, Iceland

The city of Höfn (pronounced “Hup”) is an effective spot to cease for the evening in Southeast Iceland. It’s a few 25-minute drive from Stokksnes.

Höfn Guesthouse is a top-rated funds choice (I used to be initially going to remain there on my final journey). For one thing particular, Fosshótel Vatnajökull is somewhat additional than Höfn, however simply spectacular.

While you’re in Höfn, make sure you attempt langoustine someplace. It’s the native specialty, and a scrumptious standout in a rustic of oft-unremarkable delicacies. Amanda and I loved buttery, herby langoustine sandwiches at Z Bistro.

Alternatively, there are numerous inns and guesthouses randomly alongside the street. I stayed at one among them — Hotel Smyrlabjorg in Hornafjördur — on my most up-to-date journey to Iceland. It was respectable for probably the most half, however had neither cellphone sign nor wifi, so I most likely wouldn’t keep there once more.

Want to remain even nearer to Stokksnes? Stay on the Viking Cafe! You can e book them right here.

And if you happen to’re tenting, there’s a campsite known as Vestrahorn Camping very shut by that features admission to Stokksnes in your keep.

See extra locations to remain in Höfn right here.

Kate taking a smiling selfie in her pink coat with long dark wavy hair. Behind her is the jagged black mountain of Vestrahorn.

Is Stokksnes Worth It?

Oh sure, Stokksnes is price it! This is one among my favourite locations that I visited in Iceland, and these pictures are a few of my most treasured from this journey.

Go to Stokksnes, even if you happen to’re brief on time. Even if you happen to’re not a lot of a photographer. This place is magical.

More on Iceland:

My Favorite Places in Iceland:

Have you been to Stokksnes? Any tricks to share?

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