The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

Last update: 11 February 2022

Klif is the bulky and 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.

Scrambling up to Klif

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. It’s not as difficult as it looks, and well worth the effort! In this article I will show you the ropes 😉

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

Shaped by volcanic activity

Klif rises up at the eastern end of the intricate formation of jumbled rocks and craggy cliffs that stretches out 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.

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

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

Shifting and changing on Heimaey

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.

Eldfell volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
View to Eldfell from the top of Klif.

Sculpted cliffs and jumbled rocks

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

Some of these spectacular views can only be seen from the top of Klif.

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

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

Klif hike & start of the track

The way up to Klif isn’t clearly marked. The path starts directly across from Friðarhöfn, the narrow end of the harbour. There is 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 further down in this article.

Sheep fence and gravel slope

The path leads 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.

The first part is still firm and grassy. But shortly after the slope gets very 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 will definitely be happy with those ropes on the way down!

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

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

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Looking down the slope from the top…

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

The last part of ropes and chains up to the top. Almost there!

Spectacular views from the top!

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

It’s one of those incredible views you can only see from here.

Jumbled rocks of Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The jumbled rocks of Klif.

The Klif plateau

There are several sheltered spots along the sides of the top of Klif. Here 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 into the harbour on the other side of the Eiðið isthmus.

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

Top of Klif, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
The broad & grassy top of Klif.

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

Bird cliffs and hidden beaches

Along the sides of the plateau you can take a careful peek over the edge. It reveals 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.

There are great views over the seaside to small hidden beaches behind Dalfjall. Some of these may be accessible from the back during low tide, such as the mysterious ‘Crocodile’.

Dalfjall, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
View to hidden beaches behind Dalfjall.

Bird cliffs down the north side of Klif.

Arctic flowers, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Delicate arctic flowers on the top.
Blátindur, Surtsey, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Dalfjall and Blátindur, with the youngest island of Surtsey (born in 1963) on the horizon.

Litla-Klif

There’s a small ridge between Klif and the stubby plug of Litla-Klif, where you can walk below its crumbly edges. Unfortunately there’s no path up to the top of Litla-Klif itself.

Or at least not one I found… 😉

Klif hike, ropes, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Series of chains & ropes and 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…?

Klif 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.

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 😉

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.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

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.

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Arctic flowers, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

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 Covid.is (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

Stromboli – The ancient lighthouse of the Mediterranean

The Hazards – Scrambling up to prehistorical views

Eldfell erupting a rainbow

Pico del Teide – A volcanic playground

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

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