Best 13 Iceland Beaches

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The Nordic nation of Iceland, is well known for its otherworldly volcanic landscapes dotted with volcanoes, lava fields, geysers, hot springs. Milenia of coastal winds and glacial action have only served to carve even more spectacular scenery into the terrain of this North Atlantic island.

Sitting on the edge of the Arctic Circle one doesn't normally associate Iceland with beaches. Admittedly you probably won't be topping up your tan or splashing in the surf to cool down on any of Iceland's beaches, but that's not why you would be visiting. Like everything about Iceland's landscape the beaches here are all about exploring the incredible scenery.

Black sand, stunning rock formations and dramatic mountain backdrops are what you will find at many of Iceland's best beaches. Crowds and shops selling tourist tat, you won't. And whilst the sunshine isn't guaranteed come here at the right time of year and you may catch the midnight sun or even the Northern Lights.

The Best Icelandic Beaches...

  • 1. Reynisfjara beach // Southern Region

    Reynisfjara beach
    © Felix Lipov

    Reynisfjara is one of Iceland's most iconic and spectacular beaches. Located around 2 hours from the capital Reykjavik, Reynisfjara is near the village Vik in Myrdalur on Iceland's South Coast. To the southern end of the beach is the 120 meter high promontory of Dyrhólaey, Iceland's most southerly point.

    This black sand beach is a geologist's wet dream with hosts of incredible rock formations and features. Rising up out of… read more »

  • 2. Rauðisandur beach // Westfjords

    Rauðisandur beach
    © Fyletto

    Rauðisandur or Red Sand beach is a huge expanse of sand in the remote Westfjords region of Iceland. Unlike many of this volcanic island's beaches Rauðisandur has what we might consider normal coloured sand - most beaches here have black sand. This is probably where the name comes from as the sand does have a reddish hue to it in certain lights. However, it is also possible it is a… read more »

  • 3. Breidavik Beach // Westfjords

    Breidavik Beach
    © Danilo Forcellini

    The pretty little settlement of Breiðavík is located just around the corner from Iceland's (and Europe's) most westerly point, Látrabjarg. Besides the weatherboard church and a clutch of houses there is one thing that draws people to Breidavik - the enormous stretch of white sand beach.

    Breidavik Beach is said by many to be the finest beach in Iceland and it's not difficult to see why. Breiðavík set on a… read more »

  • 4. Vestrahorn Beach // Southern Region

    Vestrahorn Beach
    © Ludovic Charlet

    Vestrahorn, on the Stokksnes peninsula is one of those extremes of natural beauty that make Iceland such a fascinating destination. A wide, flat plain of volcanic black sand, backed by the still waters of a lagoon, suddenly rises up to the phenomenal heights of a series of jagged peaks of snow-capped gabbro rock. This is a photographer's paradise and even if you are not familiar with the name you will… read more »

  • 5. Diamond Beach // Eastern Region

    Diamond Beach
    © Ludovic Charlet

    Diamond beach on the south coast is one of the most visited beaches in the whole of Iceland. About 6 hours from the capital Reykjavik this black sand beach sits at the mouth of the Jökulsárlón lagoon. Here huge chunks of ice gather from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier which in turn is fed by the largest icecap in Europe - the Vatnajökull.

    Whilst the Jökulsárlón lagoon is dominated by the… read more »

  • 6. Sólheimasandur Beach // Southern Region

    Sólheimasandur Beach
    © Sigurdur Bjarnason / CC BY

    In geological terms, the black sand plains of Sólheimasandur are a baby. Formed centuries, rather than millions of years ago the bleak landscape here is the result of glacial action caused by an eruption of one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanoes - Katla.

    However, this uniquely Icelandic landscape is only the backdrop to Sólheimasandur beach's main attraction - the US Navy DC-3 plane wreck. Creating an evocative outline… read more »

  • 7. Djúpalónssandur Beach // Western Region

    Djúpalónssandur Beach
    © Giuseppe Milo / CC BY

    Sitting on the tip of the wonderous Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur. Being Iceland you will not be disappointed by the other-worldly volcanic rock forms including one with a hole in the middle as you approach the beach. There is also a small lagoon set among the pebbles towards the back of the beach.

    Djúpalónssandur has a history of settlement stretching back over a thousand years.… read more »

  • 8. Dyrhólaey // Southern Region

    Antonio Campoy

    Set around 2.5 hours drive from the capital, Reykjavík, is Dyrhólaey, the southernmost point in mainland Iceland. Previously known as Cape Portland this striking promontory features a huge rock arch. Dyrhólaey translates as "the island with the doorway" and this refers to the rock arch, but this is just one of several weird and wonderful geological formations found along this stretch of coast.

    In the distance are the iconic black basalt… read more »

  • 9. Grotta Beach // Reykjavik

    Grotta Beach
    © Smiley.toerist / CC BY

    Grotta is located on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula and is probably best known as the site of Reykjavik's lighthouse which has stood here for the last hundred years. Set on a little island connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of black sand, Grotta is only around 10 minutes from downtown Iceland but a world apart.

    The beach and island are something of a bird watcher's paradise. During the early… read more »

  • 10. Nauthólsvík Beach // Reykjavik

    Nauthólsvík Beach
    © Helgi Halldórsson / CC BY

    Nauthólsvík is Reykjavik's go to beach. A far cry from the wild expansive landscapes of the other beaches on this list Nauthólsvík is in fact a man-made beach. This goes some way to explaining the unusually (for Iceland) golden sand and surprisingly warm water.

    Opened in 2001 Nauthólsvík is a geothermally heated beach constructed within the confines of protective breakwaters. This means both safe and warm(er) bathing for the beachgoers… read more »

  • 11. Skarðsvík // Western Region

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  • 12. Dritvík // Western Region

    Julien Carnot
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  • 13. Búðir // Western Region

    Markus Trienke
    read more »