Is Stokksnes on Your Iceland Bucket List? Here's Why it Should Be

Explore the untamed allure of Stokksnes, where black dunes meet the roaring North Atlantic. Our guide navigates you through the cinematic landscapes, Viking history, and the iconic Vestrahorn Mountain.

blog author By Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Hey there! Have you ever heard of Stokksnes? This breathtaking spot in Iceland is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Imagine a place where majestic mountains meet wild seas and the Northern Lights dance above.

It's not just a photographer's dream; it's a place where every traveler can find a bit of magic. Whether you're a history buff, nature lover, or just looking to add some wow to your Iceland adventure, Stokksnes is a must-visit. So, why not buckle up and let us guide you to this hidden gem? Let's dive into why Stokksnes should top your Iceland bucket list!

What is Stokksnes?

Picture a landscape straight out of your wildest dreams. Stokksnes boasts a dramatic contrast of elements that will leave you breathless. The first thing that captures your attention is the endless expanse of black sand dunes adorned with vibrant green grass. It's like nature's very own canvas. Soft gray waves gently lap against a smooth black shoreline, creating a mesmerizing dance between land and sea.

But that's not all; Stokksnes has more to offer. The iconic Stokksnes mountain, aka Vestrahorn, stands proudly on the horizon, its jagged peaks adding an extra layer of drama to this picturesque setting. This mountain has historical significance, adding depth to the already captivating landscape.

And then, there's the black sand beach itself, a sight to behold. With its unique black sand and towering cliffs, it's no wonder the Stokksnes beach is a popular spot for photographers and adventurers alike. If this piques your interest, wait until you explore more of the best black beaches in Iceland, where every shore tells a different story of nature's magnificent artistry.

The History of Stokksnes

Stokksnes, Iceland, is a place where history whispers from every corner of its dramatic landscape. Nestled on the southeastern coast, its story unfolds like an epic saga. The tale begins in the 9th century, when Irish monks sought solitude in its remote beauty. However, their peace was short-lived as around 860, Viking invaders claimed Stokksnes, marking the land with tales of conquest and change.

Fast-forward to the 20th century, and you'll find the British army establishing a strategic base on the black sands during World War II. These sands have witnessed the ebb and flow of warriors and guardians, evolving with each chapter of history. Today, Stokksnes is home to a vital NATO radar station, a sentinel in the Iceland Air Defense System, safeguarding the skies.

But Stokksnes isn't just for history buffs. Its cinematic landscapes have captured the imagination of filmmakers, featuring in movies like Dilwale and Stardust, and most notably in 2018, the Icelandic movie Viking, which delves deep into the rich Viking tales and Icelandic Sagas.

Stokksnes film set

Stokksnes in Local Legends and Folklore

Every place has its tales and myths that deepen its allure, and Stokksnes is no exception. The black sands of Stokksnes Beach are steeped in local legends, the most chilling of which revolve around numerous shipwrecks that occurred on these treacherous shores.

It's said that the unfortunate souls who perished in these disasters wash ashore, their spirits lingering on the beach to this day. Visitors have reported instances of inexplicable phenomena such as wet footprints leading from the sea with no one in sight and whispers carried by the winds that seem like voices from another realm. 

The eeriness of the beach intensifies at night when, according to rumors, the apparition of a giant, hairy Viking man emerges from the ocean. This ghostly figure, appearing as if rising from his watery grave, is rumored to wander the beach, adding a supernatural dimension to the area's haunting beauty.

Stokksnes peninsula folklore

How To Get to Stokksnes Peninsula

Alright, let's chat about how you can reach the magnificent Stokksnes Peninsula. First off, you've got a couple of options. 

By Bus

If you're up for a scenic adventure, hop on a bus from Reykjavík through Selfoss. It's an 8-hour and 50-minute ride, but trust us, the views are worth every minute. Once you arrive in Höfn, you'll need to catch a taxi to Stokksnes unless you're traveling with an organized tour.

By Car

If you're more of a road trip person, you might prefer renting a car in Reykjavík. The journey from Reykjavík to Stokksnes by car is a bit shorter, clocking in at around 6 hours. You'll want to follow Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, heading south. This route will guide you through the enchanting south coast and past the mesmerizing Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Keep going east on Route 1 until you spot a dirt road veering south towards the Stokksnes radar station. A short drive down this road and voilà, you'll find yourself at the Viking Café, just a stone's throw away from the Stokksnes Peninsula stop before the breathtaking views of the Stokksnes Peninsula unfold before you.

Car rental Iceland

Experience Stokksnes In A Whole New Light

Now that you've made it to Stokksnes let's take a look at how you can make the most of your time here. But first, let us tell you one secret - when traveling to Stokksnes, timing is everything.

Golden Hour

If there's anything better than experiencing the beauty of Stokksnes during daylight hours, it's witnessing the magic during the golden hour. When the sun begins to set or rise, you'll get to see Stokksnes in an entirely new light (pun intended). The warm glow of the sun will paint every nook and cranny with a dazzling radiance that makes this already surreal landscape even more ethereal.

Stokksnes sunset

Midnight Sun

If you're lucky enough to visit Stokksnes during the summer months, prepare to be amazed by the phenomenon known as the midnight sun. From May to August, the sun never truly sets in Iceland; it only dips below the horizon before rising again. This means you get 24 hours of daylight to explore and capture Stokksnes's beauty without worrying about running out of time.

Northern Lights

Stokksnes's remote location and minimal light pollution make it an ideal spot for stargazing. Imagine lying on the black sand beach, looking up at a sky full of stars and the occasional burst of northern lights - now that's a bucket list experience like no other!

Things to Do at Stokksnes

Now that we've covered the best times to visit Stokksnes, let's talk about how you can spend your time there. From photography and hiking to exploring Viking history, Stokksnes offers something for everyone.


With its stunning landscapes, Stokksnes is a photographer's paradise. Whether you're an amateur or a professional, you'll find endless opportunities to capture the area's beauty. Don't forget to include the iconic Stokksnes mountain and its reflection in the nearby lagoon in your shots for that picture-perfect postcard image.


For those seeking adventure, there are various hiking trails around Stokksnes that cater to all levels of fitness. You can explore the black sand beach and its towering cliffs or venture further into the surrounding mountains for a more challenging trek.

Viking Village Movie Prop

No visit to Stokksnes is complete without a stop at the Viking Village movie prop, complete with turf houses, a blacksmith shop, and even an old boat. This impressive set, built for the movie Viking, showcases what a traditional Icelandic Viking village would have looked like in the 9th century

Viking village prop set

Relax at the Viking Café

After a day of adventure, treat yourself to some delicious Icelandic cuisine at the Viking Café. Enjoy a hearty meal while taking in the stunning views of Stokksnes. Plus, you can even stay overnight at the café's cozy guesthouse and wake up to the beautiful sights of Stokksnes right at your doorstep.

Things To Do Around Stokksnes

If you have extra time to spare, there are many other attractions and activities around Stokksnes that are worth exploring. We suggest heading to the town of Höfn. Here are a few recommendations for things to do in and around Höfn:

Explore the Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is one of Iceland's most impressive natural wonders, filled with icebergs that have broken off from the nearby Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. You can take a boat tour or hike along the shore to see the icebergs up close.

Visit Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park is home to Europe's largest glacier and offers endless opportunities for hiking, guided tours, and even ice-caving experiences. It's a must-visit for anyone interested in Iceland's unique geography.

Vatnajokull Glacier

Try Local Cuisine

Don't forget to indulge in some local cuisine while in Höfn. With its proximity to the sea, you'll find delicious seafood dishes on almost every menu. We recommend trying the lobster, a specialty of the region. For the best lobster in town, head to Pakkhus, a local restaurant with stunning views of the harbor.

Take a Dip in Hot Springs

After all that exploring, why not unwind at one of Iceland's many natural hot springs? The town of Hoffell is just a short drive away and offers a hot spring pool with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

When to Visit Stokksnes

Choosing the right time to visit Stokksnes can greatly enhance your experience, especially with the ever-changing moods of Icelandic weather.


Spring breathes new life into Stokksnes, with melting snow revealing vibrant green hues. It's a time of renewal, fewer tourists, and milder weather. Roads and trails become more accessible, making it a great time for photography and hiking. Plan for a day's visit to fully embrace the spring's offering, keeping in mind that evenings still hold a chill.

Spring at Stokksnes


Summer is the peak of accessibility and daylight in Stokksnes. Enjoy long, bright days perfect for exploring every corner of the peninsula. This is the ideal time for birdwatching and hiking, with clear trails and abundant wildlife. However, prepare for more visitors during this season. A full day or even an overnight stay during summer allows you to experience the midnight sun casting golden hues over the mountains.


Autumn cloaks Stokksnes in a palette of fiery colors and dramatic light. It's a photographer's dream, with fewer tourists and a higher chance of Northern Lights sightings. The weather can be unpredictable, so pack accordingly. A visit of a few hours to a full day is perfect for capturing the autumnal beauty and exploring the area's natural wonders.


Winter transforms Stokksnes into a snowy wonderland, offering a stark contrast against the black sand and sea. It's the best time for solitude seekers and Northern Lights hunters. Be mindful of shorter days and prepare for challenging weather conditions. A shorter visit is advisable during winter, focusing on the most accessible areas and ensuring safety in the unpredictable weather.

winter at stokksnes

Tips for Visiting Stokksnes

Visiting Stokksnes is an unforgettable experience, and with a little preparation, you can make your trip smooth and enjoyable. Here are some practical tips:

  • Weather Prep: The weather in Iceland can change in a heartbeat. Pack layers, waterproof clothing, and sturdy shoes. Don't forget a hat and gloves, especially outside of summer.
  • Stay Safe: Always check the local weather and road conditions. Stick to marked paths and respect any safety signs or barriers.
  • Respect Nature: Leave no trace. Keep Stokksnes beautiful by taking your rubbish with you and not disturbing the wildlife.
  • Travel Smart: Choose a vehicle that suits your adventure. Whether you need a rugged 4x4 for those off-road excursions or a comfortable family car, we have got you covered. Our local expertise means you'll get the best advice and the perfect ride for your journey through Iceland.

Stokksnes peninsula visit

Where to Stay Near Stokksnes

Staying close to Stokksnes opens up opportunities for early morning or late evening excursions, maximizing your chance to witness the surreal beauty of this place in different lights.

The Viking Café, as mentioned earlier, provides cozy accommodations right on site, allowing you to start your explorations at dawn or capture the majestic night sky after twilight. 

Alternatively, you can choose to stay in one of the many hotels and guesthouses that Höfn, the nearest town, has to offer. These accommodations provide easy access to Stokksnes and other nearby attractions while allowing you to enjoy all the modern comforts of a city.

Don't Miss Out on Stokksnes

Stokksnes is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and photography enthusiasts. Plan your trip according to the season and prepare for some truly unforgettable experiences. 

From hiking trails and Viking history to stunning landscapes and cozy accommodations, there's something for everyone at Stokksnes. So don't miss out on this hidden gem and add it to your list of must-visit places in Iceland.

And remember, no matter when you visit, be prepared for breathtaking views and a journey filled with unforgettable memories. Happy travels!

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