To me it doesn’t’ matter whether you are travelling or a warm or cold weather destination, if there is a beach there I will visit it! I knew when we were visiting Iceland in March that despite the cold and windy weather, that we would be definitely spending time at the beach – let’s face it – when travelling to Iceland with kids or toddlers, beaches will definitely be on your agenda! Iceland has some amazing beaches, I was particularly keen to see the black sand beach in Iceland and was surprised to find out how many there were! In this guide we round up the best black sand beaches in Iceland, and other amazing beaches that should be on your Iceland bucket list!
Contenders for the Best Black Sand Beach Iceland
Reynisfjara – the most popular black sand beach in Iceland
Of all the black sand beaches in Iceland, the most popular is Reynisfjara by far. The beach is close to Vik and is just off the main ring road which also means that is one of the most accessible beaches in the whole of Iceland. A trip to this beach can be combined with seeing some of Iceland’s best waterfalls! There is a huge car park, and also amenities such as a café and toilets which makes it the perfect beach to visit in Iceland with kids! The main attraction of Reynisfjara is the black sand coupled with the beautiful basalt columns. It is a great place to take photos but be warned the beach gets VERY crowded, even if you are travelling in the off season, like we did in March, so be sure to arrive there first thing in the morning to get to experience the beach without the crowds!
Sólheimasandur beach – the plane wreck beach
You may not have heard of Sólheimasandur beach, but I’m guessing you would have seen photographs of the plane wreck on the beach.
The plane was forced to make an emergency landing here in 1973. No one was badly injured though and it’s left a great place to explore.
Sólheimasandur beach is about 20 minutes from Vik on the South coast of Iceland. When we visited it wasn’t very well sign posted. And you cannot see the plane from the road. In fact, we saw a car park and kind of guessed from the GPS we were there.
It’s a hike to the beach from the car park to the plane. With three kids, it took us around 45 minutes to an hour to get there along a very barren path…and longer to get back I wouldn’t suggest making the trip if the famous Iceland wind is up. I think it would be a pretty unpleasant walk.
If you are get great weather and manage to pick a time without masses of other travellers then this place is magical.
There isn’t much else to see in the area though and it can get very busy. We were lucky and arrived later in the afternoon, so only had to share the area with one or two other people.
Nominated by Travel With Meraki
Iceland Beach -Dyrhólaey
Dyrhólaey is a stunning beach located in Southern Iceland, just to the West of Vik. It is best known for its gorgeous rock formations, specifically the arched rock. From the parking area at Dyrhólaey you can walk directly to the beach or go up the trail to a large rock formation sitting above the ocean. It provides a full view of Iceland’s famous black sand beach as well and from high up on Dyrhólaey you can view the full power of the Northern Atlantic waves down below. If you visit during the later summer months you’ll be witness to the thousands of puffins who make their nests in the grassy areas around Dyrhólaey. Fun fact: Dyrhólaey has a lighthouse, but it’s actually a completed renovated luxury hotel and a tourist photo hotspot. Read more about Dyrhólaey and other unique sites in Iceland at October Acres.
Nominated by October Acres
After a boat tour on the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon head to the beach near by. You can stroll along the Diamond beach for an easy adventure. You can’t miss this black sand beach strewn with icebergs glistening in the sun. You can watch the icebergs as they drift by and out to the Atlantic ocean. The water current is relatively milder than the other beaches in Iceland but still keep an eye on the kids and the tide, waves can suddenly come crashing in. The water is cold – but finding these smaller ice-chunks all over the black sands is fun for adults and kids. You can find these ice diamonds in all sizes and shapes and when the light hits it, it sparkles just like a diamond. There is a parking lot on the south side of ring-road 1, just above the beach and only a few minutes walk down to the beach – it is easily accessible.
Nominated by Outside Suburbia
Other Great Black Sand Beaches
- Stokksnes Beach
Located in East Iceland about 6 hours away from Rekyjavik. This is one of the more deserted beaches in Iceland.
Other Best Beaches in Iceland
Rauðasandur, the Red Sand Beach
If you’re looking for a truly unique beach in Iceland you need to visit Rauðasandur, the Red Sand Beach. Beaches in Iceland are usually characterised by black sand due to high volcanic activity, however Rauðasandur distinguishes itself from other beaches in Iceland thanks to its red sand.
Rauðasandur is located in the Westfjords, Iceland’s most rural region, which is also known as Iceland’s “best kept secret”. Most of the roads in this part of Iceland are gravel roads, and the one that leads to the Red Sand Beach is one of them, so be careful if you’re driving there! The road takes some very sharp turns, but while this might make it a tough road to drive on, it also makes it extremely scenic and it allows you to admire the bright colours of the Red Sand Beach as you approach it.
There are parking areas and camping grounds on both ends of the beach so you can access the beach from either end. While it’s usually too cold at the Red Sand Beach to swim in the sea, the beach is 10km long and a popular spot for winter walks.
Nominated by Greta’s Travel
Djúpalónssandur aka Black Lava Pearl Beach
We loved exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula as part of our 5 day Iceland itinerary. It feels a bit off the beaten track, away from the tour groups of the Golden Circle, and the scenery is even more spectacular. There are many little beaches dotting the Snaefellsnes coastline, but our favourite, and perhaps most interesting, is Djúpalónssandur.
Djúpalónssandur, also known at the Black Lava Pearl Beach, is a black pebble beach facing south to the roaring surf that explodes off the North Atlantic, buffering each pebble perfectly smooth. This is has been unforgiving to many fisherman and on the beach you can see the shipwreck remains of a fishing trawler from Grimsby (Epine GY7), scattered across the beach and left to remember the fourteen men who lost their lives on that tragic day of 13th March 1948.
This beach used to have up to 60 fishing boats and was one of the most prolific fishing villages. The bay is now uninhabited, but you can still see four lifting stones where fisherman would test their strength.
Nominated by Travelynn Family
Why you Should Visit & Top Tips for Visiting the Best Beaches in Iceland
- They are a budget friendly thing to do – and we all know that Iceland isn’t the most budget friendly place! For more Iceland budget friendly tips check this post out!The most you will have to pay for many of the Iceland beaches is car parking, or they are included in admission to larger Iceland attractions.
- They are (well at least some of them at least) are accessible at all times of year – even if you are visiting Iceland in Winter! The beauty about visiting in the Winter, is that you are more likely to get the beaches to yourself!
- But be careful if the weather is bad. If the weather is bad you may not want to visit the beaches on that day and be sure to watch out for errant waves!
- They are a great thing tovisit in Iceland with kids– even with kids as young as toddlers and babies as most are very accessible!
- Be sure to make your waterproofs and wear good hiking boots when visiting Iceland beaches!