Vestrahorn in Iceland: Complete Guide To Visiting This Epic Place

Note to my fellow wanderers: This guide was written from my first-hand experiences. I try my best not to over-glamorize any location I travel to because I want HappyWander’s content to be as authentic as possible. My goal is to provide you real information so that you can have the best possible adventures wandering the world. Enjoy!

Are you looking for one of the most beautiful, unique, surreal spots in Iceland? Look no further than Vestrahorn! While knowledge of this spot seems to be gaining traction thanks to social media, I feel a ton of visitors to Iceland still don’t know about it. In this adventure, I review everything you need to know about visiting Vestrahorn in Iceland.

Essentials For Visiting Vestrahorn

In this section I highlight everything you need to know about visiting Vestrahorn.

Why Is Vestrahorn Famous?

Why visit Vestrahorn? Vestrahorn, also known as Vesturhorn and Stokksnes, is a 454-meter (1,490-foot) mountain in southeastern Iceland that’s known for its black sand beach and steep, jagged peaksThe mountain is a popular destination for landscape photographers and travelers, and its outline is recognized across the world. Vestrahorn is also the backdrop for various movie and television scenes, including Game of Thrones. Personally, I think Vestrahorn is one of the most beautiful single locations in Iceland, and one of the most serene locations I’ve ever experienced.

Where Is It Located?

Vestrahorn is located in Eastern Iceland just ~15 kilometers East of Hofn. Before you enter Vestrahorn, you’ll need to stop off at Viking Cafe to buy a pass to enter. Here is the location for Viking Cafe:

I’ve listed more detailed instructions below for paying and entering into Vestrahorn.

Parking

Before you park, you’ll need to visit Viking Cafe to purchase your parking pass for Vestrahorn, which as of May 2024, costs $1000 ISK (or around $7 dollars).

Viking Cafe at Vestrahorn in Iceland

You’ll need to go inside the Viking Cafe to purchase your pass at the counter. They’ll provide you with a piece of paper that can be scanned to open the entrance gate to the road at Vestrahorn.

There are 3 main parking areas at Vestrahorn after you enter past the gate: One parking area almost immediately to your left when you enter, and two parking lots if you continue going straight on the road. I chose to park at the parking lot on the left, which is closest to Viking Village.

Parking Lot at Vestrahorn in Iceland

Cost to Visit

To enter Vestrahorn, you’ll need to pay $1000 ISK (or around $7 USD).

How Long Do I Need Here?

The answer to this question is quite subjective, but I spent around 3 hours at Vestrahorn. This is a great morning or afternoon activity if you find yourself in East Iceland.

Best Things To Do At Vestrahorn

So what is there to do at Vestrahorn? I’ll highlight some of the things I did:

1. Walk Across The Shallow Waters

Walking across the shallow waters was my favorite thing about Vestrahorn because it’s so surreal, it doesn’t seem like real life. The water from the ocean and storms has accumulated on top of an extremely flat area, causing water levels to pretty much be constant at around 1 inch or less. This shallow water creates a mirror effect of the beautiful Vestrahorn mountain, allowing you to walk across it as if you were walking on water. Another reason this area is so amazing is that this shallow beach water goes on for what seems like miles in all directions.

2. Walk On The Beach

The actual beach at Vestrahorn is quite stunning as well. The closer you get to Vestrahorn mountain on the beach, the less people there seems to be. This is because the 2 parking lots are located on the opposite side of the beach from the mountain. Vestrahorn beach’s black sand and stunning backdrop make it a location you won’t easily forget.

3. Hike

Hiking at Vestrahorn isn’t really a formal hike like some others in Iceland, but you can walk quite a few miles around if you so desire. My hiking route started at the first parking lot on the left. I walked about half way up the small mountain, and then proceeded to Viking Village. After Viking Village, I walked through the shallow waters until I reached the beach at Vestahorn. I walked all the way from one side of the beach to the other, near where the lighthouse is. I then walked the entire road and passed the two parking lots back to my original parking lot. All in all, I walked between 3 and 4 miles. This can be extended if you choose to hike around Vestrahorn near the ocean.

4. Photography

Vestrahorn is an amazing place to do photography, whether you’re a professional or an amateur (like me). Sunrise or sunset would be stunning at Vestrahorn, but unfortunately the sun rose before 4 am and set late at night, so I was unable to capture such shots. Even in the middle of a sunny day, you can have fun out there and take some great photos and videos.Photography at Vestrahorn in Iceland

5. Yoga

Without properly preparing to do Yoga, including having no mat, I found myself striking a couple yoga poses with the amazing scenery around me. One of the great things about visiting Vestrahorn is that there just aren’t that many people out there once you walk away from the main couple trails.

6. Viking Village

Viking Village was cool to see, but it’s not an original Viking village: “Vestrahorn’s Viking Village is a replica of an authentic Viking village in East Iceland that was built in 2009 as a film set for a Universal Studios production that was never made.” 

Having said that, it is interesting to get a glimpse into perhaps how Vikings lived long ago. There’s also a replica Viking ship out in front that gives you a glimpse into the type of vessel Vikings sailed across the oceans on (crazy!).

What Are The Best Views At Vestrahorn?

Are you looking for the best views at Vestrahorn? Here are my top 3:

1. Shallow Waters

The best views of Vestrahorn are off the trail to Viking Village into the shallow water. At first you might be a little timid to walk out there, but on a calm day, the waters are extremely shallow (less than 1 inch) in most places. The deepest areas of water I saw were 3-4 inches, so just watch your step.

2. Beach at Vestrahorn

There aren’t many places with a beautiful black beach and a Vestrahorn mountain behind it. For a great view of Vestrahorn, the beach is a top spot in my opinion.

Vestrahorn Beach in Iceland

3. Little Mountain Next to Viking Cafe

For a different perspective, I hiked up the little mountain next to Viking Cafe, which can easily be accessed at the first parking lot after you pay and enter the park on your left. I made it up about half way, but could easily have gone to the top (I think). Still, it provided a unique view of Vestrahorn and the surrounding area:

My Experience at Vestrahorn

In this section, I will review my experience visiting Vestrahorn.

Parking

I chose to park at the first parking lot on the left instead of going straight ahead after Viking Cafe’s gate. There were plenty of spots left, and it was conveniently located near the Viking Village.

Viking Village

Viking Village is a short walk away from the parking lot above. It is a cool representation of what a Viking village may have looked like from many years ago. While the village is only a movie prop, it still was pretty cool and different to see. There was also a Viking ship replica that gives you an idea of what Vikings sailed on across vast oceans many years ago.

Viking Ship at Vestrahorn in Iceland

I imagined myself doing the same, and the thought was quite scary on that small vessel.

Walking on Water

One of the most amazing parts about Vestrahorn is that, because the water is so shallow, you can “walk on water.” When I posted a few of these videos on my personal Instagram, I had several friends tell me that my video was fake. But I assure you, they are very real! This beach seems to go on for miles both width-wise and inland too. The soft black sand feels amazing on your feet, and the water is no more than a few inches in the deepest areas, and typically around half an inch to an inch in most places.

The illusion of walking on water is probably my absolute favorite part about Vestrahorn; It makes for some epic photography and videography!

Walking on Water at Vestrahorn in Iceland

Black Beach

Like many of the beaches in Iceland, the sand is black. Vestrahorn is no different in that regard. What makes it different is that the black beach seems to go miles in every direction. There aren’t many places I’ve seen that rival the aesthetic that this area has.

Black Sand at Vestrahorn in Iceland

Small Mountain Across from Vestrahorn

The final mini hike I chose to tackle was a small mountain right next to the Viking Cafe, which is across from Vestrahorn. I thought this little mountain looked interesting, and may provide a cool perspective of Vestrahorn.

View of Vestrahorn from Small Mountain Nearby

Is Vestrahorn Worth Visiting?

Personally, I loved Vestrahorn. It’s one of the most beautiful, relaxing, other-worldly locations I’ve been to.

Some of the major selling points of Vestrahorn for me were:

  • The Views: Vestrahorn is stunning and not quite like anything else I saw in Iceland.
  • Miles of Black Sandy Beach: One of the best things about Vestrahorn was the miles of black sand far inland from the ocean.
  • The Shallow Reflective Water: The best thing about Vestrahorn (in my humble opinion) is the super shallow waters that create an epic reflection of Vestrahorn mountain. The fact that you can walk on this water creates an other-worldly experience.
  • Quiet and Few People: I like places that aren’t crazy busy. Because Vestrahorn is way out of the way on the far East of Iceland, Vestrahorn is relatively quiet, especially when you walk a away from the designated paths.

So is visiting Vestrahorn worth it? Absolutely! It’s beyond worth spending a few bucks and a few hours of your time.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Vestrahorn in Iceland

Thank you for reading about my adventure visiting Vestrahorn! If you’re on the fence about adding Vestrahorn to your Iceland itinerary, I highly recommend you consider doing it. Vestrahorn is one of my favorite spots ever. There are few places where I find absolute solitude and have to pinch myself because I really am there. Vestrahorn was just that for me. I hope you find it as great of a spot as I did.

Happy wandering!

Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Hello! Welcome to HappyWanders! My name is Anthony, I'm on a mission to live a life full of adventure and to help you to do the same. As an ex-corporate worker and current entrepreneur, I've been working to design a life with more time for adventure and less time for the 9-5 grind. If you're ready for an adventure, you're my type of person!

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