The Majestic Rock Formation of Reynisdrangar

Reynisdrangar Rock Formation is more than just a rock and a beautiful site to visit. Discover its dark past and what legends and stories tell about it.


blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    From afar, these pointy rocks sticking out of the ocean can easily be mistaken for a giant creature with spikes on its back rising from the sea. But this is obviously not really the case and in this article, we delve into what exactly Reynisdrangar is. You'll learn how it was formed, how you can visit this magical place, and give you a few interesting titbits you might win a trivia night with.

    So without any further ado, let’s dig into Reynisdrangar! 

    What is Reynisdrangar?

    Reynisdrangar, near Vík í Mýrdal's Reynisfjara beach, are imposing basalt sea cliffs linked geologically to Reynisfjall mountain. Vik village can be found in the southern part of the island. It is surrounded by what has been officially rated as the 6th best beach in the world: Reynisfjara (the most infamous black sand beach in Iceland).

    How was Reynisdrangar Formed?

    Originally, Reynjisdrangar in Iceland was formed roughly 18 million years ago by lava flowing over the cliffs. It then started cooling down when it reached the ocean to form an extension of the cliffs with its Basalt. But the Reynisdrangar rock formations we see today are the results of a very time-consuming process that already started shortly after the cliffs were formed.

    The process is called Erosion via Hydraulic Action. It is just a fancy scientific way to say that the constant crashing of the waves against the cliffs weaken them, and later collapse. It then leaves us with these protruding rock formations. So, Reynisdrangar is not just random basalt stacks rising from the sea, it is actually the ruins of the original Reynidrangar cliffs! 


    How to get to Reynisdrangar

    Since Reynisdrangar is close to the village of Vik, there are a variety of ways visitors to the island can get there. You can, of course, opt for booking a spot on a tour (whether a day tour or one spread over multiple days that just includes Reynisdrangar as a stop along the way).

    But getting to Reynisdrangar from the capital of Reykjavík is just a 2.5-hour-long drive. By renting a car in Reykjavík, you’ll be in charge of your time and how you choose to spend it. That’s why we’ll always recommend a self-drive, and if you do too, here’s what you need to know:

    Have your Iceland map and GPS close by at all times (an unspoken rule in Iceland, irrelevant of where you intend to go). Check the Iceland weather as well as the Iceland road conditions. Depending on the season you come to visit, the Iceland weather can create havoc that forces the sudden closure of certain roads and routes. You don’t want to excitedly hit the road only to find that you can’t reach the rocks that day unless you grow wings.

    Once you’ve double-checked that the weather is okay and the roads are all clear, you can get going. Take Iceland’s Ring Road 1 and head east for about 2.5 hours. Then you have the prerogative to decide whether to view these rock formations from the black sand beach in the village of Vik. Or, whether you’d like to tick off two of Iceland’s major attractions and watch Reynisdrangar from the Reynisfjara black sand beach.

    Which Vehicle to Rent When Driving to Reynisdrangar

    There are many roads and routes that can only be accessed via a 4x4 vehicle in Iceland. In this case, all 1322 kilometers of Ring Road 1 are paved, so it won’t be necessary. But if you’re planning on exploring the island further, you might need a hardier vehicle. You can discuss your planned route with your car rental agency. The team will be local and will be able to give you the best advice as to which vehicle to rent for your time on the island.

    reynisdrangar iceland

    A Few Important Things to Know When Visiting Reynisdrangar

    There area few things to know when you’re planning on visiting Reynisdrangar:

    • The options to view Reynisdrangar is either Vik or Reynisfjara. You can’t park somewhere next to the main road and start creating your own “perfect spot” to view the rock stacks. Not only is it dangerous, but off-roading is also illegal in Iceland. That's due to the highly valued ecosystem and protected moss growing all over the island.
    • If you are viewing Reynisdrangar from Reynisfjara, please leave your bathing suit behind. It may seem like the ocean is fairly calm, but Reynisfjara is extremely dangerous due to its strong currents and what are called “sneaker waves”. So, also ensure that you keep a proper distance between yourself and the water at all times. It only takes one Reynisfjara “sneaker wave” to drag you out into the ocean. Reynisfjara has many visitor deaths under its belt, so it’s important that you heed this warning. 

    The Myths Surrounding Reynisdrangar

    In typical Iceland fashion, there is plenty of mythology doing the rounds regarding Reynisdrangar. And even though we know how these stacks were formed all these years ago, it’s nice to indulge in the magical and the mysterious. Here are a few myths surrounding Reynisdrangar:

    The Reynisdrangar Trolls & the Ships

    There once were three trolls who tried to pull ships out of the ocean onto the land. Why exactly these trolls were doing this in the first place has been lost to time. As they were pulling the last ship to shore, the sun started to rise. And as the trolls were each touched by the sun’s rays, they were turned to stone. These stones are the Reynisdrangar rock formations one can see protruding from the ocean: the Reynisdrangar trolls.

    rock formations

    The Reynisdrangar Trolls & the Wife

    A man’s wife was kidnapped and killed by trolls. The heartbroken and vengeful husband hunted the trolls down and finally caught up with them at Reynisfjara. There he turned the trolls into stone to ensure that his wife would be their very last victim.

    The Reynisdrangar Trolls & the Trolls in the Faeroe Islands

    Once upon a time, the trolls in Iceland and the trolls in the Faeroe islands decided to pull the two countries together. Unfortunately, their efforts failed as they took too long and were caught by the sunrise which turned them into stone. That’s why you’ll find similar rock formations to the ones at Reydnisdrangar in the Faeroe Islands.

    Interesting Facts about Reydnisdrangar

    The following are a few interesting facts regarding these fascinating rock formations:

    • The Reydnisdrangar rock formations are a bird watchers paradise. Here you can find nesting Arctic terns and Fulmars, and even the Iceland Puffins during their breeding season between May and August.
    • The Reydnisdrangar stacks are 66 meters high.
    • The Reydnisdrangar rocks are a favorite spot amongst photographers.
    • Reynisdrangar was featured in Game of Thrones. In fact, Reynisfjara beach with Reynisdrangar in the background was a favorite location when they shot season 7.

    Reynisdrangar basalt columns

    Where to Stay at Reydnisdrangar

    Even though Reydnisfjara is only a 2.5-hour drive from the capital, we highly recommend that you make a whole day trip. Visit Reynisfjara and the rock formations as well as the village of Vik and then take in a few of the surrounding attractions. If you would like to extend your visit to the area, these are a few places you can stay at:

    Attractions Around Reydnisdrangar

    If you’ve decided to stay over, here are a few of the attractions around Reydisdrangar that are worth a visit:

    • Halsanefshellir Cave (0.69 km away)
    • Black Beach Restaurant (0.81 km away)
    • Solheimajokull Glacier (31.5 km away)
    • Reyniskirkja Church (1.7 km away)
    • Katla Ice Cave (3.9 km away)
    • Crashed DC 3 Plane (24.9 km away) 

    Time to Head Out to Reydnisdrangar

    Are you excited about visiting Reydnisdrangar and the surroundings yet? You should be! These unique rock formations with the surrounding majestic Icelandic landscape will leave you with once-in-a-lifetime photos and memories. So, what are you waiting for? Time to pack those bags and head out to Reydnisdrangar!

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