The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

Klif is the bulky, flat-topped rock with a beacon of light on the top. 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!

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.

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

Shaped by volcanic activity

Together with the harbour kletturs they form the oldest part of the island of Heimaey, forged by volcanic activity from the hotspot underneath the sea about 40.000 years ago. 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.

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.

The 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).

The path towards Klif.

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. More ropes on the upper side of Klif. And 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, walking track, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The upper part of the slope.

Klif hike, walking track, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Looking down…

Klif hike, Heimaey harbour view, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Don’t forget to enjoy the views along the way… 😉

At the end of the loose gravelly bit you come to a rocky area with chains and more ropes attached by helpful islanders.

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

The last part up to the top. Almost there!

Your efforts will be rewarded by this jaw-dropping view of a multitude of jumbled rocks…

A multitude of jumbled rocks

The Klif plateau

And finally, broad grassy & flowery meadows await behind the electricity station on the top.

Top of Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

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.

VIew to Heimaklettur and its hidden beaches from the top of Klif, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandHeimaklettur and its hidden beaches.

Eldfell volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandEldfell 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.

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.

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

Arctic flower, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandDelicate arctic flowers on the top.


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 between Klif and Litla-Klif, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The ridge to Litla-Klif.

Heimaey harbour panorama, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandStunning harbour panorama.

A candle on Klif

And yes, Klif has received its own candle at some point too 🙂

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? 😉

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.

Sunset and winter view from Klif over Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandSunset and winter view over Heimaey.

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

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

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

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