The Top 16 Iceland Beaches – A Unique Location For Everyone

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Are you a family, a photographer, a wildlife fanatic or simply looking for the next ultimate adventure? This list of Iceland beaches has you covered!

Iceland may not be very well known for its incredibly seductive beaches littered around the coastline of this wondrous country, but it definitely should be. In a country that has; the geyser that named all geysers, towering mystical glaciers aplenty, thunderous waterfalls and the indescribable Aurora Borealis, you might think that the beaches would take a back seat.

It’s true that you might not be cracking out the sunbed and soaking up some serious rays whilst sipping on a cold beer but after you’ve browsed some of these Iceland beaches you’ll understand why this simply doesn’t matter.

Some have gleaming blocks of ice covering jet black sand. Some have the largest puffin population in the whole of Europe nesting in the cliffs. Some have plane wrecks with the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. One even has a man-made geothermal lagoon protected from the icy sea. If this hasn’t whet your appetite I am seriously running out of adjectives.

If you’re a sceptic then this guide aims to change your mind. If you’re already waist deep in enthusiasm for Iceland beaches, then read on to find the exact type of beach you’re looking for.

I have broken it down into 4 main categories and you can use the links below to navigate directly to the perfect set of beaches for you. Of course, these beaches are not exclusive to the categories I have placed them in so feel free to have a read through all of them.

Iceland Beaches for Photographers

I have put the Iceland beaches for photographers section at the very top because you guys are really spoilt for choice. Iceland is the very best place I have ever been to really let loose my photography passion. Every single place you go and every time you look out of the window you will see utter beauty.

When you go to Iceland, add an hour or two to every place you visit. It might annoy some of the people you are with, especially if they aren’t that keen on photography, but you will be very happy with the results.

These next 4 Iceland beaches are the cream of the crop, which is really saying something. Have a look and see where you fancy getting that next perfect shot.


Diamond Beach – Breidamerkursandur

My personal favourite of the photography spots, Diamond Beach is a photographer’s paradise. You don’t have to choose between glacier, lagoon, wildlife, incredible backdrop or even thousands of glittering ice diamonds because this place has it all.

You can go at any time of the year as the glacier supplying the ice to the beach is constantly breaking away. I would recommend getting there before sunset if you can because this gives you a really nice opportunity for some great pictures of the sunlight through the ice before the crowds turn up.

Newly washed ice diamonds on diamond beach iceland

Get a nice angle and you’ll be very happy with some of the images you can get.

Cost

Your only cost is transportation there and I would say it is roughly $100 in fuel to get from Reykjavik to Diamond Beach and back. Entry to the beach is free as well as parking.

How To Get There

Diamond Beach is on the south-east coast adjacent to Route 1. You do not need a 4×4 to access the beach as it is literally next to the main road.

Pro Tip

If you are getting there before sunset then see if you can stay in a hotel nearby to minimise how much driving you have to do in the dark. The ice on the roads can get quite bad in the winter months and there is no point in endangering yourself for a picture.

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Solheimasandur – The Plane Wreck!

This is a weird one because you really aren’t going for the beach or the ocean. You’re going for the now incredibly famous wreckage of an abandoned US Navy DC plane. In 1973 the plane crash-landed, after running out of fuel, onto the vast black sand plains of Solheimasandur.

Don’t worry, all of the crew made it alive and it is now an incredibly perfect spot for any photographer in Iceland. This could be one of the best places to capture some really cool Northern Lights shots with the plane wreck in the foreground.

An example of the northern lights behind the wrecked plane in iceland

If you can capture the northern lights whilst you are there then that would be incredible.

Cost

There is no cost to be able to enter the area so, again, it is only the cost of fuel to get you there.

How To Get There

This is a little tricker than other Iceland beaches on this list. For starters, you are no longer able to drive down the road to the wreckage. This is because the locals have decided that it is too dangerous as near the wreckage it is all black sand. I would assume that too many people got stuck in the sand and the trouble was no longer worth it for the locals.

This means that you have to park by the road and walk the 4km down to the beach and the wreckage. The walk is 1 hour either way so you have to be prepared for a bit of a hike.

I do not recommend completing the walk in the winter when there is fresh snow on the ground unless you are with someone of good experience. This is because there are very few people in the area and you don’t want to find yourself in trouble. Please see the map below for the coordinates of the path you have to walk down to get access to the beach. There is now a carpark at the side of the road and it is very well labelled on Google Maps so you shouldn’t be able to miss it.

Pro Tip

Very nearby the turning for Solheimasandur (only 8km north) you will pass the mighty Skógafoss waterfall. Definitely take the time to stop here as well as the plane wreck for more great pictures.

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Reynisfjara Black Beach – The Most Popular Black Beach

Reynisfjara is well known to be the most famous beach in all of Iceland. It has drama, beauty and legend all rolled into one incredible experience. The rock formations just off the coast of this huge black sand beach make it a must for photographers. If you have a drone and it’s a calm day then prepare yourself to get some absolute crackers.

Rock formations out to see at the most popular iceland beach

There are so many angles and composition opportunities on Reynisfjara Beach

A little bit of trivia – the rock pillars that make this Iceland beach so incredible are Trolls in Icelandic folklore. The story goes that they waded out to the shore to capture a boat that was sailing past. Before they managed to pull the boat back into the land, the sun rose and they were turned to stone. No matter how the formations got there, they certainly have a way of bringing an almost unparalleled beauty to this beach.

Safety

Safety is paramount at Reynisfjara because fatalities have been recorded as recently as 2017. This is mainly caused by a phenomenon called sneaker waves. Even on a calm day, extremely powerful waves can all of a sudden hit the shoreline and drag unsuspecting people out to sea. It is strongly recommended that you never turn your back on the sea and that you follow the safety notices that are scattered around the area.

Cost

Currently, there is no cost for parking next to the beach, in front of the cafe, so transport costs are all you have to accommodate for.

How To Get There

Reynisfjara is another one of the Iceland beaches in the south-east of Iceland. Take Route 1 until you get to Route 215. Reynisfjara is a short drive down 215.

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Vestrahorn – Stokksnes

This beach really is only for photographers, so if you are having a casual read through all of the Iceland beaches in the list then skip past this one if you’re not a photographer.

You only have to look at the picture below to know why you need to make Vestrahorn mountain extremely high on your photography itinerary. Vestrahorn ends directly into the sea whilst also creating a natural bay where it traps sea water. This means that when the sea is calm then the water inside this natural bay turns calm as glass. The reflective pictures of Vestrahorn into these calm waters are exactly what you’re there to see.

A mountain reflecting into the sea on one of iceland beaches

When the tide is up and the sky is clear, this is the sort of photo you can expect.

Need I say more? I will anyway! If you’re trying to find a truly breathtaking foreground for the Northern Lights then Vestrahorn is one of the very best. The natural drama of its jagged peaks with the serenity of the reflection in the water only adds to the wonder of the sky.

Cost

This is one of the only places in Iceland where you actually have to pay to go and see it. This is because a local landowner has decided to make a little money off of the huge increase in tourism to the area which is entirely understandable. When you arrive you will have to pay 900ISK per person ($7.2).

When To Go

This is a MUST READ. I do not recommend going to Vestrahorn on a cold, foggy, rainy day. The mountain is a fair distance across the bay so a small amount of fog will render any photography you had in mind obsolete.

Also, check the tidal charts for the area before you plan your trip. If you go at low tide then the reflective shot you wanted will just be a large area of mud and sand.

How To Get There

Roughly 7km past Hofn on Route 1, you will come across a dirt track on the right-hand side of the road. This track is not suitable for 2 wheel drive so get yourself down there by 4×4. See the map below for more details on exactly where this dirt track is. It is on Google Maps so you shouldn’t miss it.

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Iceland Beaches for Adventurers

So, you’ve got your 4×4, walking boots, fleece jumper and maybe even a surfboard, and want to find the perfect adventure in Iceland. Well, the next 5 Iceland beaches offer just that. These beaches have the best hikes and views on offer to any budding adventurer as well as some of the most remote areas of the country. So, have a browse through to find out next place where you can really lose yourself to the beauty of Iceland.


Sandvik – Surfing

Sandvik is top of the list for adventure seekers by a good margin, and for good reason. The Eurasian and North Americal tectonic plates are literally pulling apart beneath your feet! You can walk over a bridge and cross onto a different continent.

A bridge that goes over an Iceland beach separating two continents

This is literally a bridge between continents!

If this wasn’t cool enough for you then Sandvik is also a great place to go surfing. Now, I am not a surfer so, if you are, do your research and ensure that you are wearing the appropriate clothes and adhering to good safety measures. The more I read about surfing in Sandvik, the more people recommend talking to the local surfers. Apparently, they are really welcoming and can make the trip that much more memorable.

Cost

There is no cost associated with Sandvik so jump in a car and make your way up!

How To Get There

Sandvik and the continental bridge are actually very close to Keflavik international airport. Just follow Route 44 down to Route 425 and you can’t miss it. The continental bridge is actually very slightly inland of the beach but it is very well signposted is easy to find on Google Maps.

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Djúpalónssandur Beach

Djúpalónssandur is the place to go if you fancy a nice walk around some of Iceland’s coolest natural rock formations. The path down to the beach is known as the path of the bull and will take you directly through some of the best lava rock formations on the island.

Djúpalónssandur is also home to some incredible and versatile history. The area is scattered with the remnants of a fishing boat that crashed in 1948 losing 14 of the crew. This wreckage adds an eerieness to the whole area that is difficult to ignore.

Long thing rock formations going into the air on an iceland beach

This sort of volcanic formation is a normal sight at Djúpalónssandur beach

Then there are the lifting stones which were a right of passage by any aspiring fisherman. They had to be able to lift one of the stones to waist height to be allowed to fish off the village. These stones are still there today and you can have a go to see if you are able.

It’s a nice large area with natural springs, walks and beautiful panoramas for a very pleasant hike.

Cost

There is no entry cost to Djúpalónssandur beach so the only cost is transportation.

Safety At Djúpalónssandur Beach

This is another one of the Iceland Beaches that experience the phenomenon called sneaker waves. This is where a large wave appears as if from nowhere which catches out unprepared people on the beach. This sneaker wave then drags this person out to sea which can lead to death. I do not want to alarm you but please respect the sea and do not play with the waves on this particular beach.

How To Get There

Unlike some of the other Iceland beaches in this list, Djúpalónssandur beach is quite a way off of Route 1. However, it is quite easy to find using any sat nav. Take Route 54 off of Route 1 and carry on for around 100km, there you will see Útnesvegur road on the left side of the road. Take this for 30km and you will arrive at Djúpalónssandur beach. Stick the beach into any sat nav and it should take you directly to the car park.

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Grótta Beach

A small rocky beach that has become very well known for its beautiful lighthouse, which is only accessible during low tide. I have stuck this on the adventurer’s list because you can take a lovely 40-minute hike from downtown Reykjavik, all the way to the lighthouse along the shoreline.

Remember to check whether the lighthouse is open to visitors because the views from the top are beautiful. Grótta beach may not give you the thrill of one of the more wild beaches but I think the nice hike down to it and easy accessibility from the capital, justify it being in this list.

A lighthouse on the coast near Reykjavik in Iceland.

How can you not love this view?

Cost

There is no cost associated with Grótta beach and if you walk down then you won’t even have to pay for transportation.

When To Go

During the month of June, the beach is entirely closed due to the mating season for the local birds. Also, consult the tidal charts as you definitely want to be able to walk over to the lighthouse during your visit.

How To Get There

Grótta beach is a short 10-minute drive from Reykjavik or a short bus ride on the number 11 bus. Remember, you can always get the bus back if you don’t fancy doing the 40-minute walk twice.

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Búðir Beach

Búðir is actually the name of the Hamlet that this beach is next to and it takes remoteness to a new level. I think it’s the best thing that Búðir has to offer. A lot of the most well-known places in Iceland to escape the busy life are further north and not as accessible from the capital in the south. However, Búðir is not at all far from Reykjavik and offers complete calmness and serenity.

The local hotel has literally some of the best reviews in the whole of Iceland so I would recommend a couple of nights with a couple of days just hiking and exploring the incredible nature nearby.

These are some of the views inland near Búðir beach

As the beach is concerned, it isn’t really the main attraction, it’s what surrounds the beach that will blow you away. If you are looking to truly escape for a few days then there aren’t many places better.

Cost

There is no cost associated with Búðir beach.

How To Get There

A simple drive along Route 1 until you come across Route 54 in the west. Around 100km down Route 54 and you will find the small turning off to Búðir.

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Dyrholaey Beach

Dyrholaey beach is most famous for its incredibly large natural arch. The arch is so big that a pilot actually flew a plane through it in a stunt! I agree, some people are proper nutters.

At the top of the hill, you will be able to have incredible panoramic views of the area, including the neighbouring Reynisfjara beach, the most popular black beach in all of Iceland. If that wasn’t enough then there is also a very picturesque lighthouse, built similar to a mini castle, at the top of the hill.

A natural arch spanning into the sea on one of the best Iceland Beaches

So someone flew through this arch?!

Dyrholaey is a fantastic place to have a long relaxing hike around and is also a great place to see puffins during the summer months. In fact, you can see the puffins as early as April so if you’re visiting Iceland in April onwards I highly recommend checking this out.

When To Go

Because Dyrholaey has a high number of important nesting birds during the summer, some of this time there may be limited access to the site. Check before you go as this time changes year to year, however, vehicle traffic to the higher areas will definitely be closed off during the nesting season. So, if you are visiting in summer then it will be a nice hike to the top.

Cost

There is no cost associated with visiting Dyrholaey beach so, again, it is just transportation costs.

How To Get There

Take Route 1 down to Route 218 in the south-east and travel down until you reach the carpark. Again, like nearly all side roads in Iceland, please don’t attempt in a 2×2.

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Iceland Beaches for Wildlife

Iceland is home to some of the most unique and incredible nature in the world. From sea birds, seals, whales and fishing, Iceland has something for anyone. The following list of Iceland beaches is the very best to maximise your chance of seeing your favourite animal.

Be sure to check the best time to go section on each entry to make sure that you definitely see what you want to see!


Ytri-Tunga – Seals

Ytri-Tunga beach is alongside Diamond Beach for the best chance of seeing seals. I personally think it is easier at Ytri-Tunga as when we went to Diamond Beach we only saw them in the water, whereas at Ytri-Tunga beach they can easily be seen above the water on the many rocks out to sea.

A very normal sight at Ytri-Tunga. Have the binoculars ready!

The seals here are the same as all of Iceland. Harbour seals are the most common and grey seals are also about. The rarer hooded seals and ring seals are also here but much less common.

Pro Tip

A lot of the time, the seals are quite a distance from the shore. I highly recommend having a pair of binoculars with you or a camera lens with at least 300mm focal length. This will maximise your chances of seeing and capturing the seals without having to crop the images too much.

Cost

There is no cost to get to the beach, you will, however, have to take transport into consideration.

When To Go

You can see the seals all year round however they are most active and numerous in the summer months.

How To Get There

From Reykjavik, head north on Route 1 until you reach Route 54. Turn onto Route 54 and carry on until you come to Ytri-Tunga which is directly next to the road.

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Rauðisandur Beach – Puffins

Rauðisandur really is a spectacle to behold. I would have put it in the photography section if it wasn’t home to the largest and most spectacular bird nesting cliff in all of Europe. This massive golden/red beach spans for 10km with the Látrabjarg bird cliff nestled in the west of the beach.

Puffins really are incredible birds to photograph.

So Látrabjarg cliff isn’t actually the beach but it is attached to it so has made this list! Take a walk up the bird cliffs and you’ll be able to get so incredibly close to the nesting birds, including the beautiful puffins. This is the best place in Iceland to take pictures of these amazing birds.

The beach itself is a multitude of gold and reds which allow for some stunning pictures as well as the birds.

The beach next to the bird cliffs isn’t half bad either!!

Cost

Like most of the Iceland Beaches in this list, there is no cost for either the beach or the bird cliffs.

When To Go

The best time to see the puffins is from mid-May – late August. I would recommend going in the middle of this time to maximise your times and weather.

How To Get There

From Reykjavik, go north on Route 1 until you reach Route 60 and follow this until you get to Route 62. After travelling Route 62 you will come to Route 612. To get to the bird cliffs of Látrabjarg, follow Route 612 all the way to end. To get to the beach take the fork on Route 612 onto Route 614 to the beach. See the map below for more information.

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Breidavik – Puffins

Breidavik is very close to Rauðisandur beach (above). This means it is also very close to the Látrabjarg bird cliffs for seeing some of the most spectacular collections of birds in the world. If you are already in the area for both Látrabjarg and Rauðisandur then definitely stop off at Breidavik beach.

When you’re not up on the cliffs then try your photography skills on the beach

In the summer I recommend staying at Breidavik beach as it has some nice accommodation options. This means you will be able to spend multiple days up at the bird cliffs trying to capture those perfect shots.

Breidavik beach also has a very nice quaint church by the beach allowing for some really nice landscape photography opportunities.

Cost

There is no cost associated with Breidavik beach.

When To Go

The same as above, go from mid-May – late August. This is because this is when the birds are nesting in the cliffs. I recommend going in the middle of summer to maximise your chances of seeing the most birds.

How To Get There

From Reykjavik, go north on Route 1 until you reach Route 60 and follow this until you get to Route 62. After travelling Route 62 you will come to Route 612. Follow Route 612 round to Breidavik Beach.

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Seleyri – Fishing

If you are an angler then this is the place to be. The shore fishing here is some of the best in Iceland and its relatively close proximity to the capital makes it ideal.

The fish on offer are brown trout, arctic char and salmon. You will need to speak to the local landowners to be able to fish down by the shore. I can’t think of a much nicer place to have to relax and try your hand at catching some Icelandic fish.

Cost

If you are interested in fishing off Seleyri coast then get in contact with any local hotel. They will be able to help you with cost and availability. There are many other places in Iceland to go fishing so having a quick look at fishing tours may be an even better way to get the most out of your trip.

How To Get There

Follow Route 1 – 70km north of Reykjavik and Seleyri beach will be on the right-hand side of the road.

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Iceland Beaches for Families & Swimmers

This is definitely the smallest section in my list. Let’s be honest, if you are looking for a country to come and relax on the beach, soaking up some rays whilst your kids safely swim in the calm warm waters then the land of ice isn’t going to be the place to do it. However, there are a few family-friendly beaches in Iceland where you can have some fun with the whole family. Even one with a naturally heated lagoon…


Nauthólsvík – The Geothermal Beach in Reykjavík

Ok, so let’s start with the coolest. Nauthólsvík beach is so close to Reykjavik centre and literally has a man-made naturally heated lagoon that is protected from the sea by sea walls. This golden sand beach is perfect for families as the water is warm and there are no dangerous waves or currents.

This really is a must if you are visiting Iceland in the summer and want a relaxing day for swimming and playing games on the beach. There really isn’t anywhere else in Iceland that you can do all of that safely and warmly.

The centre comes with changing facilities, a sauna and 2 man-made pools for relaxing in even warmer water.

Cost

This is an excellent free activity in Iceland and one I would fully expect to have to pay for.

When To Go

A lot of the facilities are closed during the colder months and the official opening times are May 15th – August 15th. Some of the facilities have limited opening times during the winter months but I actually don’t recommend wasting the trip down there. There are more interesting things to do and see with the family than going and looking at a closed beach.

How To Get There

Stick this one into a sat nav as it is in the middle of the city so my written directions would only confuse you. It is really easy to get to and will take mere minutes if you are staying in Reykjavik.

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Alftanes Beach & Swimming Pool

Alftantes is a beautiful large white sand beach very close to Reykjavik so perfect for a quick family outing from the capital. The beach has some really incredible history, including being the execution spot for many criminals throughout history.

However, it is not just the beach that makes this a perfect beach for families in Iceland. In the town of Alftanes, there is an amazing swimming pool with a wave machine AND the longest slide in all of Iceland. Surely now I have sold this as the perfect place to take the kids.

Cost

There is no cost to see the beach however to visit the swimming pool will cost 550ISK for an adult ticket. I am unaware if you can purchase family tickets. If you go with a family I would really appreciate you letting me know so I can update this section accordingly.

How To Get There

Down Route 40 from Reykjavik and turn right onto Ảlftanesvegur road. Follow this road until you reach the beach. I recommend using a sat nav for this one as it is in the city so the many raods may get confusing.

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Kirkjubol Beach

If you want to get the family and kids out and about to a nice safe large open area then Kirkjubol beach is the place to go. You won’t be going into the water but there is so much space here for kids to explore and play.

You also won’t have to compete for space with other travellers as not many people really come down to Kirkjubol beach. So rest assured that whatever game you end up playing, you’ll be able to do so without worrying that a stray ball will hit some old lady in the face.

Cost

Guess what! Another beach that is entirely free to enter. Cost of transportation is your only concern.

How To Get There

Be warned, this beach really is out in the West of Iceland. If you are coming to this beach you will have to plan your entire trip around the west of Iceland unless you want to do a cool road trip with the family. Use the map below for directions.

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Iceland Packing List

This packing list was primarily made for visiting Iceland in November. The weather is warmer in the summer but you will still need warm clothes even then.

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Getting To The Iceland Beaches

I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT hire a 2 wheel drive for a road trip to the different Iceland beaches. Seriously, you may have read all sorts of blogs saying how they were able to manage with a 2 wheel drive just fine. These 2 wheel drive vehicles are not allowed on the F-roads in Iceland which will be in your rental agreement. What happens when you get stuck down one of those roads on your way to the beach? You get fined heavily.

I recommend not trying to save a little bit of money and getting yourself a sturdy 4×4. Your peace of mind whilst driving down the tracks will more than makeup for the additional cost.

This was our 4×4 during the trip. Handled everything we threw at it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Iceland Beaches

Will I Need A 4×4 To Get To The Best Iceland Beaches?

Some beaches are accessible right off of main roads, however, some are down F-roads so I recommend hiring a 4×4 for your trip.

Does Iceland Have Beaches?

You may not think so but Iceland beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world.

Why Are Beaches In Iceland Black?

Iceland is a very volcanic Island and volcanic rock is very mineral rich, especially iron. This makes the sand almost completely black.

What Are The Best Beaches In Iceland?

The most popular are definitely; Diamond Beach, Solheimasandur (plane wreck), Reynisfjara (incredible black beach), Rauðisandur (puffin cliff) and Nauthólsvík (geothermal beach). However, there are so many other beautiful beaches in Iceland.

Can You Swim In Iceland Beaches?

There are some beaches that are perfect for swimming such as the Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. However, mostly the water is cold and should only be braved by experienced swimmers. Caution is advised however as some Iceland beaches have dangerous currents and waves so always adhere to local signs and warnings.

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