When you think about destinations in Iceland, going to a beach might not be on the top of your list. However, Iceland has some of the best beaches in the world! They might not be ideal for sunbathing, but they have something else to offer. Whether it’s black sand, seals, or geothermal hot tubs, do not skip these Icelandic beaches.
Vík and Reynisfjara beach
Reynisfjara is a world-famous beach on Iceland’s south coast, about 2.5 hours from Reykjavík. The wild ocean, jet-black beach and beautiful black basalt columns create a unique setting. Be careful of the unexpected sneaker waves in this area though, and don’t get too close to the ocean to shoot the perfect picture. The lighthouse on top of the arched promontory Dyrhólaey is probably Iceland’s best-known lighthouse. The cute red-and-white building stands in the middle of a nature preserve, and the area is partly closed during bird nesting season in May and June. When the area is accessible, you can go on a nice hike down from the beach up to the lighthouse, which will also give you an amazing view over the area.
Rauðasandur is a red sand beach in the remote Westfjords of Iceland. Most beaches in Iceland are black and some are yellow, but Rauðasandur is one of a kind! The beach gets its colours from pulverised scallop shells. The beach is about 10km long and lies between Látrabjarg bird cliffs and Skorarhlíðar. The drive down to the beach can be nerve wracking, with small roads and cliffsides, but the view of the blue ocean and the red sand is worth it!
Unlike most beaches in Iceland, Langisandur, the beach of Akranes, does not have black but yellow sand, which makes it unique. For those who dare, go sea swimming! Sea swimming is a popular sport amongst locals and on weekends, you can see people swim from this beach. If you are not one of the brave, you can enjoy a nice warm bath in the recently opened hot pool Guðlaug, located right on the beach. You will have a stunning view over Faxaflói bay while soaking in warm water.
Soaking in a hot tub overlooking the ocean is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. And the best thing is, in summertime, between May 15 and August 15, the geothermal beach at Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík is free of charge. At the beach, you find showers, toilets, a small shop, a hot tub and steam baths. You can also swim in a small man-made lagoon, in which hot water is pumped to create an average water temperature of 15-19°C. Trust us, when the sun is shining, you forget that you’re on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic.
Ytri-Tunga seal beach
Ytri-Tunga is a farm on Snaefellsnes peninsula, and on the beach close to it, a large seal colony has their habitat. The golden beach is beautiful and offers a lovely view over Snæfellsjökull glacier. Seals resting close to the beach are harbour seals, one of the two common seal species in the waters around Iceland, the other being grey seals. The best time to spot seals is in the summer months, but be sure to make a stop there if you’re in the area in the other seasons, too!
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake in Southeast Iceland (370km from Reykjavík), formed by meltwater from Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier of Europe. Icebergs drift in the lake, slowly heading towards the ocean. On these big ice blocks, you can often spot seals resting and sunbathing. If you walk along the lake to the ocean, you reach a place called Diamond Beach. There, the ocean pushes small icebergs and ice blocks back onto land. The black beach is therefore covered with ice “diamonds,” both small and large. It’s one of Iceland’s unique locations that should be on your bucket list.
Book your tour to Jökulsárlón here!