If you’re planning on exploring Iceland’s south coast, then a visit is simply not complete without witnessing the enchanting Black Sand Beach, also known as Reynisfjara. Famous for its iconic black sand, it’s an extremely popular tourist spot that sees hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Last year, Reynisfjara was rated the 6th best non-tropical beach in the world!
During your visit, you’ll encounter towering basalt-stone cliffs, smooth pebbles and mystical looking sea stacks, as well as a deep cave under the cliffside.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting Reynisfjara black sand beach, Iceland. And if you have any questions or just want to let us know about your time at this stunning beach, please post a comment below.
Fun fact: Reynisfjara is the filming location for Star Wars, Star Trek and Game of Thrones
How to get to Reynisfjara black sand beach
Reynisfjara is located in Southern Iceland, just over a 10-minute drive away from the town of Vík, or around 100 miles from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. We recommend basing yourself in Vík if you plan on visiting, for a more pleasant and stress-free drive. We personally opted to visit all of the amazing waterfalls of the south coast on the drive from Reykjavik, stopping by the black sand beach at the end of the day and then staying in Vik overnight.
Arriving at Reynisfjara
Upon arriving at Reynisfjara, you’ll drive down a long gravel road that leads you to the purpose built car park. Parking is free of charge here and you should be able to secure a space at any time of the day.
What is there to see at Reynisfjara?
Whilst the main attraction of Reynisfjara is of course, the black sand, there are other things to see and do in the area.
Just on the left as you head down to the black sand beach, you’ll encounter basalt columns that are of a slate grey colour. These cliffside rock formation are volcanic rocks that have formed from the magma that emerges as lava during an eruption. It’s one of the best places to see basalt rock in Iceland. It’s also featured in a scene of Games of Thrones was filmed – very cool!
Right next to the basalt columns, you’ll see this magnificent sea cave that sits beneath the cliff face. The cave is a deep cavern that protrudes under the cliff and you can walk inside to explore further. It makes a great shield from the wind, too!
Reynisdranger sea stacks
The most impressive thing about Reynisfjara, in our opinion, are the sea stacks. These unique rock formations are just off the shore of the beach. They’re the remains of large sea cliffs that are made of basalt and now play a key part in creating this mystical, yet eery feel Reynisfjara.
Is there anywhere to eat or have a drink?
Once you’ve explored Reynisfjara, you can stop off at Black Beach Restaurant that’s located right opposite the car park. The restaurant is very quaint and offers a range of traditional Icelandic dishes for breakfast and lunch. It also has a selection of tasty, sweet treats and warm beverages that are a life saver during the colder months.
Are there any toilets at Reynisfjara black sand beach?
You’ll find well maintained toilets in the car park area, just outside of the café.
What’s the weather like?
Depending on the time of year visiting Reynisfjara, you might experience a range of different weather conditions. During the winter months (November – March) expect cold, icy conditions with heavy snow fall and strong winds. Whilst the summer months may not see snow, it can still be quite windy at the beach, so we recommend checking out the local weather website before your journey.
Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy when we visited in February, with wind speeds of up to 70mph. Due to this, the black sand kept on hitting us in the face and eyes. Be sure to have your sunglasses and head/ face coverings with you at all times, as these accessories will protect you from the harsh conditions.
What’s the best time to visit?
As with most tourist spots, they can get quite busy in the afternoons, so if you’re self-driving, we’d recommend arriving early-late morning, as the tour buses generally arrive early afternoon. In terms of the time of year to visit Reynisfjara, every month will enable you to see this stunning beach in its true glory, however, there’s something quite mystical about the winter with the snow fall.
Top tip: if visiting between April – September, keep an eye out for the puffins, as you might be lucky enough to see them.
If the tide is high and the sea is aggressive, stay well away from the water as the sneaker waves are dangerous (more on those later).
What should I wear when visiting?
Iceland has a year-round temperature that never goes above 15 degrees, even in the middle of summer. The weather can be very unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared for all scenarios just in case. We recommend wearing a pair of hiking boots, thermals (in the winter)/thinner trousers in the summer months, a light top or thermals, a big waterproof coat in the winter/lighter waterproof jacket in the summer. Sunglasses and a face/neck shield are always good to have, and a must for winter travellers!
Safety **very important**
When approaching the black sand beach, you’ll see countless warning signs that tell you not to get to close to the water. There is no swimming allowed at all at the beach, no matter the season. The main reason being the sneaker waves, which are incredibly powerful and dangerous. Many tourists have died on the beach after wading in the aggressive waves or standing too close to the shore and getting swept in.
Be sure to keep well away from the shoreline at all times! Whilst it’s a wonderful place to visit, please don’t risk your life for the sake of a picture near the shore.
What else can I see in the nearby area?
If you’re looking to visit other attractions that are close by, then you’re in luck, as there are some great places to see within a short drive. These include:
Dyrhólaey penisunla view point
Just 20 minute drive around the cove from Reynisfjara black sand beach, you’ll find Dyrhólaey viewpoint. You’ll be presented with some epic birds eye views of the beach and the surrounding area. Top tip: if you’re visiting in good conditions, drive up to the lighthouse for some even more spectacular views.
Sólheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck
Around a 30-minute drive away is the iconic Sólheimasandur, otherwise known as the downed US DC-3 plane wreck. Its isolated location, combined with the mountain scenery makes it a definite must see. It’s a great place to capture some cool photos! Browse our complete guide on this attraction here.
Seljandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls
These waterfalls are located a bit further west, around an hour’s drive from Reynisfjara. If you’re heading back to Reykjavik, check them out on the drive. These waterfalls are an absolute must see!
Guided tour options
For those of you that aren’t self-driving, there are various tours that stop off at Reynisfjara black sand beach. We recommend the following:
Places to stay near Reynisfjara black sand beach in Iceland
When visiting Reynisfjara, we recommend staying in the nearby town of Vík. It’s a quaint village that has some lovely cabins and cosy hotels, all of which are just a 15-minute drive away from Reynisfjara. Check out the following hotels:
Hotel Vik I Myrdal – View on Booking.com
We stayed here for one night and it was the best hotel we visited in Iceland. We highly recommend staying here!
Hotel Kria – View on Booking.com
Hotel Katla – View on Booking.com
Our top tips for visiting Reynisfjara black sand beach in Iceland
- If you want the beach mostly to yourself, be sure to arrive early – late morning. You’ll beat the crowds and tour buses arriving from Reykjavik.
- If you have the chance, be sure to stop off at the viewpoint Dyrhólaey before heading down to the Black Sand Beach. If the weather permits, and you’re self-driving, head up to the lighthouse for some epic views.
- Pack a pair of sunglasses and a balaclava – especially if you visit during winter. It can get really windy here and the sand will get in your eyes.
- Keep a close eye on the weather by checking the official Icelandic weather website. Avoid visiting on a really windy day if possible, or when snowfall is heavy.
- Stay far away from the shore as possible to avoid those sneaker waves.
- If you want a good chance of seeing the Icelandic puffins, be sure to visit during the months of April – September.
- Reynisfjara black sand beach Iceland is a great place to see the Northern Lights if the conditions are right. Stay in Vik for the night and head down to the beach around 10pm for the best chance of seeing the aurora.
We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to visiting Reynisfjara black sand beach and have been able to take some useful tips on board to help plan your trip. If you have any further questions, then be sure to leave a comment down below 😊 This attractions can’t be missed when visiting the south coast of Iceland. You won’t be disappointed!
Be sure to check out our other Iceland travel guides below:
By SusieAuthor bio:
I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.