When you drive through Iceland, you will quickly notice how many weird-shaped rocks there are. You also see outlines of faces everywhere in hills and mountains. Do you know how these rocks got their peculiar shapes? Rumour has it that all of these rocks were once trolls. As folklore goes, trolls are immediately petrified when they are touched by rays of sunlight. So, a lot of uniquely-shaped rocks you see in Icelandic landscapes were once trolls who were just too late with finding a spot to hide from the sun.
In this article, we will tell you more about Icelandic rocks that are worth checking out.
Hvítserkur is a rock of 15m tall in the shape of a dinosaur, dragon, or, as some people say, a giant cow. Folklore goes that Hvítserkur once used to be a troll with the same name living in Strandir in the Westfjords. One night, Hvítserkur wanted to destroy the church bells of Þingeyraklaustur monastery on Vatnsnes peninsula, annoyed by their sounds. Too taken up by its task, the troll was caught by sunlight and petrified instantly.
Where to find it: Hvítserkur is located on the eastern shore of Vatnses peninsula in the northwestern region. It is a 3-hour drive from Reykjavík. It’s located to the east of road no. 711. Walking down to the beach, you might see seals and fulmars, but watch out for aggressive arctic terns in summertime.
Árnesstapar are three rock pillars in sea, close to Árnes in the Westfjords. Folklore says that the pillars once were two trolls and their dog, who were surprised by the sun on their way back from a gathering at Drangajökull glacier and turned to stone in a flash.
Where to find it: Árnesstapar are located in the bay Trékyllisvík, about 300km from Reykjavík. The area in which it is located, is called Strandir.
Reynisdrangar are three large rock pillars standing in the ocean in between the village Vík and Reynisfjara beach on the south coast. Of course, these rocks used to be trolls as well. The story goes that these trolls were just pulling a ship onto shore when the sun came out. They hadn’t noticed the sunrise and were turned into stone on the spot.
Where to find it: They are located just in front of Mt. Reynisfjall, a mountain of 5km long, 800m wide and 340m tall. You can see the rocks from both Reynisfjara beach and Vík’s black beach, as well as from the top of Mt. Reynisfjall. From Reykjavík, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive to Vík.
Dyrhólaey is not a petrified troll but still worth a visit. It is a small promontory on the south coast, and actually the southernmost point of Iceland’s mainland. What makes this rock especially noteworthy, is that it’s a giant arch. The arch is high enough for boats to sail through it. You might have seen this arch before in Game of Thrones season 7, episode 6, when it’s the location of Eastwatch-by-the-sea. In summertime, this is a good location to see puffins.
Where to find it: Dyrholaey is located next to Reynisfjara beach on the south coast of Iceland. It’s difficult to miss when you are in the area. The hike up to the lighthouse is recommended and will offer you a wonderful view over the black beach and surrounding landscape with Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the background.
Elephant Rock is a big rock with an uncanny resemblance to an elephant with its trunk half under water. What makes the rock so lifelike is its texture, the basalt of the rock looks just like wrinkled elephant skin. The rock does not only resemble an elephant, as many people see no one less than Cthulhu in the rock.
Where to find it: Elephant Rock is located on the island Heimaey in the Westman Islands, just off the south coast. The cheapest way to get to the Westman Islands is by ferry. You can also fly to Heimaey from Reykjavík Airport in about 25 minutes. On the island, it’s an easy walk to the Elephant Rock, located west of the golf course. You can also book a boat tour to see it from the water – this will give you the best view.
Lóndrangar are two big basalt pillars resembling towers or a castle on top of a cliff. A lot of people also see a Viking ship about to set sail in it. The area used to be an old fishing centre and remains of camps can still be found there. Folklore says elves live there and to not disturb them, farmers never use the fields near Lóndrangar. In summertime, you will be able to spot lots of seabirds in the area, and in the ocean, you might see a whale or two swimming by.
Where to find it: Lóndrangar is located on the south side of the tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula, not far from Arnarstapi. You have to drive for about 2.5 hours to get there by car from Reykjavík.
Gatklettur (Arch Rock) is a cliff on Snæfellsnes peninsula with a circular arch in it, caused by water erosion. It’s located at the seafront and is very picturesque. And with a bit of imagination, it looks just like two trolls kissing… what do you think?
Where to find it: Just like Lóndranger, Gatklettur is located close to Arnarstapi, on the southern tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Have fun looking for these unique rock formations in Iceland. Just remember one thing while travelling around the country, not all trolls are turned into stone yet…