The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

Last update: 29 May 2021

Klif is the bulky, flat-topped rock with a beacon of light on the top, on the island of Heimaey (Vestmannaeyjar). It stands across from Heimaklettur on the other side of the Eiðið isthmus.

You can haul yourself up the stunning cliffs of Klif along ropes and chains attached to the upper parts. That may sound a bit discouraging, but the hike is actually a lot of fun, and not as difficult as it looks. And well worth the effort!

Náttmálaskarð, sunset through the gap of Klif, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Náttmálaskarð – sunset through the gap between Klif and Dalfjall.

Where is Vestmannaeyjar?

Vestmannaeyjar is a volcanic chain of islands just off the south coast of Iceland, directly across from Eyjafjallajökull. They are also known as the Westman Islands. Heimaey may look tiny on the map, but there’s a lot of spectacular scenery densely compressed into its 13,4 square kilometres. The ferry to Heimaey departs from Landeyjahöfn and takes 35 minutes. You’ll see the turn-off to the harbour near Seljalandsfoss on the Ring Road.

Klif, Heimaklettur and Eyjafjallajökull, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland.
Beautiful views to Heimaklettur and Eyjafjallajökull on the way up to Klif.

Shaped by volcanic activity

Klif rises up at the eastern end of the intricate formation of jumbled rocks and craggy cliffs stretching via the HáHá plateau to Herjólfsdalur, Dalfjall and Blátindur. Together with the harbour kletturs they form the oldest part of Heimaey, forged by volcanic activity from the hotspot underneath the sea about 40.000 years ago.

Lupine lava fields, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Lupine covered lava fields with Klif and Dalfjall in the distance.

Sheep fence and gravel slope

The rest of Heimeay didn’t emerge until about 6000 years ago. It was constructed by a combination of several eruptions, after Stórhöfði and Sæfjall arrived in the south, and finally Helgafell fused them all together. The shifting and changing of the island is still an ongoing process. Only as recent as 1973 Eldfell made its sudden and spectacular entrance, when it erupted out of nowhere in a grassy field next to Helgafell.

Sculpted cliffs and jumbled rocks

Steady erosion on the seaside has resulted in beautifully sculpted cliffs with several nooks and crannies, filled with a multitude of jumbled rocks, tiny beaches and bizarrely shaped spires rising up from below.

Hiking map

This handy interactive map shows the walking route from Heimaey harbour to the top of Klif. You can also zoom in for more details of the track, and click on the icons for pictures of stunning views along the way.

Klif hike & start of the track

The track up to Klif isn’t clearly marked. It starts directly across from the narrow end of the harbour, where you’ll see a gravel road and a parking lot behind a few shacks (and building materials). You’ll see it when you zoom in on the map above.

Heimaey harbour, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Friðarhöfn, the narrow end of Heiamey harbour.

Klif hike, walking track, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The path towards Klif.

Sheep fence and gravel slope

The path leads up from behind the parking lot towards the protrusion of Litla-Klif – that stubby plug jutting up between Klif and the HáHá plateau. After a few hundred meters the path continues behind a sheep fence with a wooden step over it. The first part is still firm and grassy. But shortly after the slope becomes steep, with increasing gravel, loose sand and rocks along the way.

This is where you’ll see the first rope lying in the sand, attached to a rock further up.

Rope hanging down the slope, and more ropes on the upper side of Klif.

Helgafell volcano, wispy translucent clouds, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The view to Helgafell, with some beautiful wispy translucent clouds floating above 🙂

Ropes and chains

From here on, there are ropes at several points to assist you in hauling your way up onto the steep, gravelly slope. Even though you might not need them so much going up, you’ll definitely do on the way down!

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The gravelly upper part of the slope.

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Looking down…

Heimaey harbour view, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Don’t forget to enjoy the views along the way… 😉

At the end of the loose gravelly bit you reach a rocky area on the upper slope, with chains and more ropes attached by helpful islanders.

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Series of chains & ropes and steps carved out in the track.

The last part up to the top. Almost there!

The Klif plateau

And finally, broad grassy & flowery meadows await behind the electricity station on the top. Your efforts will be rewarded by this jaw-dropping view of a multitude of jumbled rocks…

Jumbled rocks of Herjólfsdalur valley, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Top of Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The broad & grassy top of Klif.

There are sheltered spots along the sides of the plateau, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch and a Wilderness Coffee in the thick grass, looking out over Heimaklettur, the hustle & bustle of boats and the ferry coming in to the harbour on the other side of the Eiðið isthmus.

Heimaklettur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Heimaklettur and its hidden beaches.

Eldfell volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Eldfell view.

On clear days you can see Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull looming on the other side, and even the silhouettes of Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar on the coast near Vík towards the east.

Bird cliffs and hidden beaches

Along the sides of the plateau you can take a peek over the edge, to steep drop-offs and crumbly cliffs full of seabirds nesting and floating around. If you’re lucky, you might also spot puffins during the summer months.

Bird cliffs down the north side and towards Dalfjall.

Dalfjall, Herjólfsdalur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

There are great views along the seaside to small hidden beaches behind Dalfjall, some of which may be accessible from the back during low tide.

Blátindur, Surtsey, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Dalfjall and Blátindur, with the youngest island of Surtsey (born in 1964) on the horizon.

Arctic flowers, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Delicate arctic flowers on the top.

Arctic flowers, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland


There’s a small ridge between Klif and Litla-Klif, where you can walk below its crumbly edges. Unfortunately there’s no path up to the top of Litla-Klif – or at least not one I found.

Ridge to Litla-Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The ridge to Litla-Klif.

Heimaey harbour panorama, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Stunning harbour panorama.

A candle on Klif

And yes, Klif has received its own candle at some point too 🙂 On dark nights and foggy evenings, the red light on the electricity station sometimes seems to float in thin air like an otherworldly beacon. It’s a captivating sight.

Candle on Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Klif candle & Wilderness Coffee in the snow.

Beacon light and candle on Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Can you spot the candle…?

Other tracks & hikes on Heimaey

Not sure if Klif is the right track for you? There are plenty of other walking tracks around Heimaey. Not all of them involve ropes and chains or scramblling up gravelly slopes 😉

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

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You can read how to travel to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.

Sunset and winter view over Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Sunset and winter view over Heimaey.

Covid travel restrictions Iceland

In these uncertain times, things can change quickly. Procedures are constantly evaluated and updated. For the current situation regarding Covid-19 related travel advice and restrictions in Iceland, see (in English).

Video – Snowy view from Klif

A snowy surround view from the top of Klif on a blissfully calm & wind-free winter morning, just after sunrise – around 11 o’clock…!

© All photo’s on this blog are my own, and subject to copyright (unless credited otherwise). Please contact me if you would like to use a particular picture you’ve seen in one of my articles. You’re welcome to share a link to my blog articles and pictures on social media.

More to explore & discover

Vestmannaeyjar walking tracks – The best walks on Heimaey

The Hazards – Scrambling up to prehistorical views

Stromboli – The ancient lighthouse of the Mediterranean

Aurora Solaris – The sunset version of northern lights

The opal fields of Lightning Ridge – The mesmerizing draw of luminous stone

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