View from the air at Vestrahorn in Iceland

Complete Guide to Explore Iceland’s Vestrahorn and Stokksnes

Visiting Vestrahorn and Stokksnes in Iceland is up there with the biggest must-see places in the country. Rising out of the sea, the jagged peaks of Vestrahorn are some of the most photogenic mountains you can find in the world. 

We spent about two hours strolling the beaches and taking photos. I loved every second of it!

As you begin to plan your trip to Iceland, I highly recommend stopping here (even if it is the furthest you head east).

Thanks for reading my guide, and enjoy your trip! 

Your Guide to Visiting Vestrahorn and Stokksnes in Iceland

Is Vestrahorn worth visiting?

The Vestrahorn and Stokksnes area is most definitely worth it. As a photographer, I’ve had this on my bucket list for a while, and it lived up to the hype. The only thing I wish I could have changed was to be there during golden hour and sunset, but that wasn’t possible with us doing our trip during the midnight sun. 

The mountains are majestic, and the black sand beach is beautiful. Combined, it makes for an insanely picturesque scene. 

stunning views from stokksnes and vestrahorn in iceland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Things to do at Vestrahorn and Stoklsnes

Photography

This is one of the most photographed areas of Iceland, and for good reason. The mountains rise out of the sea in the most jaw-dropping manner, making some truly beautiful pictures. 

What is the best view of Vestrahorn?

The most classic view is slightly above Stokksnes, with the jagged peaks in the distance (and maybe someone walking on the beach). Another good one that requires a little driving is to go to the east side and shoot back. That’s pretty cool and can also offer fantastic drone shots of braided rivers. 

Golden Hour

It’s the best time to shoot, in my opinion. Get there around sunrise and sunset and create jaw-dropping images! You won’t regret it. 

Use Long Exposure

Slowing down your shutter can create some sweet shots with the water and sky (if it’s breezy). You may need an ND Filter if you’re shooting during the day with heavy sunlight. 

aerial views form iceland and a black sand beach
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
Drones

Get the drone out and create some unique perspectives from the sky. Getting someone walking on the beach with the mountains in the background can be incredibly cool. 

Gear To Use

Hiking Around Vestrahorn

two people along the black sand beach at vestrahorn
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

In addition to strolling around on Stokksnes’ black sand beach, you can also take some trails there. We didn’t do any of these “trails” completely but did walk around on the beach. To learn more, visit the Viking Cafe. 

Purchase Professional Photos of Iceland

Yellow Path

This is the most popular route at Vestrahorn. This encompasses the Viking Village and walking along Stokksnes’ black sand beach back to the parking lot. 

From the parking lot, you’ll head towards the mountains, through the sand and grasses, and down onto the beach.

From here, your views will be gorgeous and magical. 

the jagged peaks of iceland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Blue Path

The blue path wraps around (over?) Vestrahorn, heading east. However, it sounds like there’s some elevation gain, and you will need to be a little adventurous. Do your research when hiking around here.  

You can hop on this trail from the Viking Village. 

Red Path

The red path is a mild hike along the peninsula’s west side. If you do the entire loop, it’s around 3 miles long, but can be as short as you like. You can also extend it by hiking the totality of the peninsula. If you want to see the lighthouse, this is your route.

You’d be able to see Hofn at the end, but this is likely a double-digit mile hiking day. 

Viking Village

the viking village on the icelandic coastline
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This isn’t an authentic village. It’s a movie set they never took down (which still looks cool), but it isn’t historical. It’s about a 1.5 to 2-mile easy walk to the set. We didn’t go due to time, but it looks cool. (We were going to until we saw it wasn’t historical.)

There are two ways to reach it. You can park at the Cafe and walk there or drive past the gate for a short way, and then turn left (the first road you reach).

Stokksnes Lighthouse

Park and walk out to the lighthouse for epic ocean and shoreline views. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some seals and other wildlife! 

Hofn AFS

This is a relic of the Cold War. It’s a former United States and NATO radar center that is no longer operational for military use. It started in 1951 and ran until 1992. 

For the last 30+ years, it has been used for commercial air traffic control. 

Lastly, you cannot enter this area. 

Icelandic Horses

Before reaching Viking Cafe, some wild horses should be on the right side of the road. If you have a camera, have it ready. (I did not and missed -clarity-wise- some males on their hind legs).

icelandic horses on the coast
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Icelandic Tour Options
Jökulsárlón with Boat Tour
Private Diamond Beach Day Tour from Reykjavik
2 Day Winter Tour to Iceland’s South Coast and Diamond Beach
Full Day Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and Diamond beach tour
Glacier Lagoon Private Tour with Private Zodiac boat ride on the Iceberg Lagoon
3 Day South Iceland – PRIVATE TOUR (Golden Circle & South Coast)

Planning your trip to Vestrahorn

How much does it cost to visit the area?

The Vestrahorn area is not free. It costs 1000 ISK, which equals about $7.20 per person. You pay inside the cafe, which also offers pastries and coffee/tea. Once you pay, you’ll head down the dirt road toward the ocean. 

I don’t believe there are bathrooms past the cafe, so if you need to go, do it here!

How much time do you need at Stokksnes?

This depends on what you’re here for. If you just want to walk around and see the sights, I’d say 90 minutes. But if you’re going to do a longer hike or dial up some incredible photographs, you may wish to do three hours. 

Where is Vestrahorn and Stokksnes Located

The famous mountain range is in East Iceland, just before you start weaving through the East Iceland Fjords. This is about as far east as most tourists will drive if they do not complete the ring road. (Though most stop at Jokulsarlon.)

It’s a 20-minute drive from Hofn, the largest coastal city in the area. 

a hiker stands on the grasses in iceland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

How do I get to Vestrahorn?

Vestrahorn is a mountain range, and Stokksness is the black sand beach below it. You’ll want to take the Ring Road west from Reykjavik to reach this stunning area. Few people do this in one shot, considering all the must-see places along the South Coast of Iceland.

I strongly recommend having your GPS out when you are driving here. There are signs, but you don’t want to miss it. If you go through the tunnel, you missed it, and you’ll need to turn around. 

It does not require any special car or ability to drive. Once you turn right off the ring road, it’s a 2.7-mile (4.4km) drive to the Viking Cafe. 

Where do you park to see Vestrahorn?

There are a few places to park, but most people drive down to the final parking lot on the dirt road past the Cafe. You physically won’t be able to go any further due to a gate, and the parking lot will be on your right-hand side. 

When I visited, it was around 6:45pm, and there was plenty of room to park. Other parking areas are along the dirt road heading to and from the water. 

the backside of vestrahorn viewed from the east
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Distance from Reykjavik?

It’s a six-hour drive from the capital city of Reykjavik.

Distance from Vik?

You should expect a 3.5-hour drive from Vik. 

Distance from Eglisstadir?

Driving west from Egisstadir, you should budget around 3 hours to drive the winding fjords. In the summertime, you may have options to shorten the trip. 

Be prepared for inclement weather

The southern coast of Iceland is one of the windiest places in the country. Be prepared for all sorts of weather when you visit. East Iceland is warmer and less windy than the western side. For our June visit, on one of the days, we actually got hot and wore tank tops on a hike!

What to Pack For Your Visit

I had my down jacket and pants on the entire time. Even though it was beautiful weather, it was still decently chilly. You should anticipate it to be in the 50s (summertime), regardless of whether the sun is out or not.

a traveler raises his hands on the stokksnes beach
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Best Time to Visit Vestrahorn

Is there a time of day that is better?

Sunrise and sunset are always the best time to visit a place in my mind. But that’s obviously not feasible for everyone. 

Because this is on the coast, you may find it less windy earlier in the day. 

Visiting Vestrahorn in Summer

If you visit in the summer, you’ll have long days until past 11:30pm and even some days in June when there’s light in the sky all day. (It was so cool!) Outside of the weather, you shouldn’t have any issues when visiting here. Hopefully, the weather will hold up, and you’ll enjoy every inch of this beautiful landscape. 

Visiting Vestrahorn in the Winter

I’ve only seen photos, but this place looks phenomenal with some snowfall. If you visit in the winter, you may need a 4×4 vehicle to drive the dirt road. 

Where to stay near Vestrahorn

Lodging Options near here

The closest place for lodging is the guest house at Vestrahorn! You even get breakfast included with your rate.

There are various options, including:

  • Family Double Room (3 Single beds)
  •  Budget Twin Room (2 single beds)
  • Deluxe Suite (1 large double bed and 1 single bed) – has a kitchen and TV 
  • Apartment (4 single beds)

The next closest area will be Hofn. There’s a handful of places to stay. 

A campervan in front of vestrahorn in iceland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Can I camp nearby?

Yes, you can. There’s a campground at the Viking Cafe. This is by far the closest camp spot. It’s a pretty rad place to stay, considering you’ll have hot food and beverages 20 feet from where you sleep. 

Camping is also available in Hofn, Stafafell Nature Park, and other nearby areas. 

What else should I do in the area?

Skútafoss

Skútafoss, a hidden gem in the Icelandic landscape, is a captivating waterfall in a secluded area, offering visitors a serene and untouched natural beauty. Its cascading waters create a picturesque scene, surrounded by rugged cliffs and lush greenery, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers seeking tranquility away from the crowds.

Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

kayaking in a glacial lagoon in iceland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon are two of Iceland’s most stunning natural wonders, located side by side. The Glacier Lagoon is famous for its floating icebergs that have calved from the nearby glacier, creating a dynamic and mesmerizing landscape.

Adjacent to it, Diamond Beach dazzles with ice chunks scattered across its black volcanic sands, resembling diamonds, offering a surreal and breathtaking experience.

Hvannagil – The Golden Valley

Hvannagil, known as The Golden Valley, is a breathtakingly beautiful valley characterized by its unique rhyolite mountains that display an array of colors ranging from yellow and pink to green. This geological wonder is a hiker’s paradise, offering trails that meander through the colorful landscape, providing stunning views and a peaceful escape into nature.

Fjallabak

Fjallabak, a nature reserve in the highlands of Iceland, is renowned for its otherworldly landscapes, including mountains of rhyolite, vast lava fields, and hot springs. This remote area offers some of Iceland’s most dramatic and untouched wilderness, ideal for adventurous travelers looking to explore off the beaten path and experience the raw beauty of the island’s interior.

Hvalnes Lighthouse

Hvalnes Lighthouse, standing sentinel on a scenic point along Iceland’s eastern coast, offers panoramic views of the surrounding rugged coastline and the North Atlantic. The lighthouse is a beacon of solitude amidst the wild and windswept landscape, providing a picturesque backdrop for photography and a moment of contemplation for those who visit.

Fauskasandur

coastline views in iceland nearing sunset

Fauskasandur, a secluded beach on Iceland’s eastern shore, is known for its dramatic coastal scenery, steep cliffs, and stunning ocean views. The beach’s remote location ensures a peaceful visit, allowing travelers to enjoy the natural beauty of Iceland’s coastline away from the hustle and bustle, with opportunities for bird watching and hiking along the shore.

FAQ: Vestrahorn and Stokksnes Adventures 

Can I walk on Stokksnes?

Yes! You are more than able, and 100% should go enjoy a walk on the black sand beach. I had a great time photographing the area and soaking in all the sights.  

As always with Iceland, come prepared for inclement weather and ensure it is safe. When we went, it was low tide and very mild weather. 

dramatic views of the mountains in iceland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Should you swim at Stokksnes?

Swimming anywhere in Iceland can be dangerous due to the cold water temperatures and strong currents. I don’t recall seeing any signs prohibiting it, but most people probably won’t. You can always ask the staff at the Cafe if they think it is a good idea. 

How safe is Iceland?

Iceland is extremely safe, especially once you’re out on the road and away from most of the population. Once you leave the capital, you’ll predominately encounter other tourists who are having a great time and have no interest in stealing or committing other crimes. 

wide angle view of vestrahorn
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Is Vestrahorn free?

No. It costs about 15 for two people to visit the mountains and black sand beach. It’s well worth it, though! 

Is Stokksnes accessible to people with disabilities?

It’s not user-friendly for those who require assistance. You’ll be able to drive down to the parking lot, but after that, the area is not developed and is entirely sandy. 

Final Thoughts on Vestrahorn and Stokksnes 

This place lives up to the hype! I was so stoked to visit Vestrahorn and Stokksnes; every second here was incredible. Make sure to put it on your list of places to see when you visit Iceland, and you’re in for a truly great time! 

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside