Top 10 beaches in Iceland

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.

  • Reynisfjara beach // Southern Region

    Reynisfjara beach, Iceland 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... read more »

  • 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... read more »

  • Vestrahorn Beach // Southern Region

    Vestrahorn Beach - Iceland Hansueli Krapf / CC BY

    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... read more »

  • Diamond Beach // Southern Region

    Diamond Beach - Iceland Wojtek Szkutnik / CC BY

    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.... read more »

  • Sólheimasandur Beach // Southern Region

    Sólheimasandur beach DC3 plane wreck 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... read more »

  • Djúpalónssandur Beach // Western Region

    Djupalonssandur beach - Iceland 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.... read more »

  • Rauðisandur beach // Westfjords

    Red Sand (Rauðisandur) beach, Iceland 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.... read more »

  • Grotta Beach // Reykjavik

    Grotta beach - Seltjarnarnes 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... read more »

  • Nauthólsvík Beach // Reykjavik

    Nauthólsvik beach - Reykjavík 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... read more »