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Our Complete guide to Sólheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck in Iceland

Whilst visiting the South Coast of Iceland, no trip would be complete without stopping off at the iconic Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck. This popular attraction is an American DC-3 plane that ran out of fuel and crashed on the beach of Solheimasandur back in 1973. Since then, it’s become a forever growing tourist hot spot and makes an excellent photo stop off point. Be sure to pack your camera!

If you’re touring the South Coast and want to stop off at Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck, you may have some questions about the site and want to know everything from getting there, to walking distances, any costs and other important information. We visited Solheimasandur in February, in the depth of Iceland’s winter. We personally found it to be an incredible experience! Continue reading for our full guide to this unique plane wreck attraction.

What is the Solheimasandur DC plane wreck?

The Iceland US DC-3 plane crash is an abandoned plane wreck that crashed on Solheimasandur beach in 1973. Fortunately, everyone on board survived and it is now merely now a tourist attraction for visitors. The barren beach wasteland and surrounding mountains make the wreckage a unique site attraction that you won’t see anywhere else.

What makes it a truly eery, sci-fi like experience is the fact it’s located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles of nothingness and black sand. It looks completely different in summer compared to winter!

Image showing the downed Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck in Iceland

Where is the Solheimasandur DC plane wreck?

Solheimasandur is located in South Iceland around a 20-minute drive away from Vik and a 12 minute drive from Skógafoss Waterfall. Other attractions include Solheimajökull glacier and the black sand beach of Reynisfara. If you have time, then we’d recommend stopping off at the plane wreck after visiting Skógafoss, and before you venture further east.

You’ll need a car to get there and it can be quite tricky to locate, as Google Maps isn’t 100% accurate. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as to not miss it!

Google map image showing the location of Solheimasandur from the town of Vik

How to get to the plane wreck

To reach Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck you’ll first need to drive to the nearby car park. You can do this by hiring a car yourself, or asking a private guide to take you there. Unfortunately, not many guided tours include this attraction as part of their itinerary. If you enter the attraction car park into your sat nav or Google Maps app, you’ll be directed straight there.

Once you arrive at the purpose built car park, there are two options to reach the DC-3 plane crash site and each of these will factor in the time of year you visit. Below is a breakdown of both options to be considered:

By foot

If you’re a bit of an adventurer and don’t mind walking 4km there and back, then this option might be for you. It’ll take around one hour to walk to the wreckage from the car park, and then another hour back. The time it will take you depends heavily on the weather conditions when visiting, such as wind, snow and rain. On the way to Solheimasandur, it’ll feel like you’re walking to the middle of nowhere as there’s not much in the surrounding area (apart from snow if visiting in the winter months). Having said that, it’s a good way to stretch your legs and spend time outdoors!

If visiting in winter, you can still walk to the site, but we strongly recommend the next option, catching the shuttle bus. The walk can be very exhausting and it’ll use up a lot of exploration time for other sites.

Image showing people walking to the plane wreck - the ultimate guide to Solheimasandur, Iceland
Travelling by shuttle bus

The alternative to walking to the plane wreck is to catch the organised shuttle bus. The shuttle bus runs approximately every 25 minutes directly opposite the car park. The shuttle is a minibus that’s run by local company and it’ll take around 8 minutes to reach the plane wreck.

The shuttle bus costs 2500 ISK per person and whilst this may seem quite expensive (we’re in Iceland after all), it was worth every penny in our opinion. The shuttle will drop you off just outside the plane cash site and will wait for 30 minutes whilst you take pictures and explore the area, before bringing you back to the car park.

You can view the latest timetable for the shuttle bus here.

The ride can be a bit bumpy so be sure to remain seated and enjoy the surroundings!

Note: you can no longer drive directly up to the plane wreck by car. The route is considered dangerous and many tourist cars have got stuck, so it has since been closed. Don’t be put off by this, as you can easily reach the wreckage using the options listed above.

Image showing a red shuttle bus: the complete guide to Solheimasandur, Iceland

Where can I park if coming by car? How much does it cost to park?

If you are on a self-drive trip around Iceland, you can park your car in the car park that’s located at the start of the hike to the plane wreck. There are plenty of parking spaces available and it will cost you 750 for the day.

You can pay using the Parka app, which is very handy if you aren’t carrying much cash. Debit/credit card is accepted almost everywhere in Iceland.

What else is in the nearby area?

Solheimasandur is located just off the main road down to the South coast, with many attractions along the way. However, there isn’t anything else apart from the plane wreckage in this particular location.

If you’re planning on hiking to the wreckage, we strongly recommend bringing food and water/hot drinks with you. There isn’t anywhere nearby to purchase food and drink, unless driving 20 minutes down the road to the town of Vik.

How much does it cost to visit Sólheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck?

There is no cost involved to visit Solheimasandur, unless you’re catching the shuttle bus and paying for car parking. Please refer to the information above for more details. Most visitors only pay the 750 ISK parking charge.

Image of the red shuttle bus and sign on how to pay for parking - Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck

What’s the best time to visit the DC plane wreck?

As this particular location is extremely popular amongst photographers, there can be quite a lot of people arriving at the car park and starting the gradual walk to the beach. However, visitors don’t tend to spend too long there once they’ve taken some cool photos. As the distance is so far to the wreckage, everyone is spaced out and the site never feels too busy. Patience is key when visiting, especially if you want to take a solo shot of you next to the plane.

As with most of the Iceland’s most popular sites, we recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the larger crowds, especially during the warmer summer months. In winter, going at any point of the day never really gets overly busy. Try to visit on a day with clear weather.

Image of someone walking into the plane

What should I wear when visiting the DC plane wreck?

Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll need to ensure you come prepared. In the winter months, you’ll need to wear a big, thick coat that’s ideally water and wind proof. We also recommend thermals, a decent pair of walking boots with a good grip, gloves, a hat, scarf, a balaclava, and a pair of sunglasses.

In the summer months, temperatures a much milder and whilst there’s no need for thermals, we still recommend a good pair of walking boots, trousers and the same accessories on hand just in case the weather decides to turn.

Image showing the front of the downed plane

Safety

It’s always a good idea to be extra prepared for visiting places like Solheimasandur, as you really don’t know what to expect until the actual day. Be sure to check the local weather ahead of visiting, follow other tourists (if you decide to walk from the car park), and turn back if the wind or snow becomes too much to bear.

Tours

For those of you that aren’t hiring a car in Iceland, it can be quite tricky to visit Solheimasandur. Therefore, we recommend looking into various tours that stop off at the plane wreck amongst other attractions. Here are a few tour options that are worth considering if you aren’t renting a car:

  1. https://adventures.com/iceland/tours/activities/sightseeing/south-coast-airplane-wreck-tour/
  2. https://www.re.is/tour/solheimasandur-atv-and-waterfalls/  (this is a great option for those that fancy riding an ATV over the rugged beach terrain. It’s looks extremely fun!)

The best places to stay near the Sólheimasandur DC-3 plane wreck

If you plan on visiting this iconic site and are looking to get there as early as possible, then we recommend staying in the quaint town of Vik. Vik provides you with a good base for visiting Solheimasandur, but also the sites of the South coast in general. Here are a few hotels we recommend:

  1. Hotel Vik I Myrdal (This is where we stayed for one night in Iceland and can honestly say that the hotel over exceeded our expectations. We highly recommend staying here!)
  2. Hotel Kria
  3. Hotel Katla
Image showing people looking at the Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck

Our top tips for visiting Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck

  • Ahead of visiting, we strongly recommend looking at the local weather forecast *insert link here* to ensure the weather conditions are good enough for the long walk. It also needs to be fairly clear to see the wreckage properly. It’s no fun in a blizzard or snow or rain!
  • Be sure to pack snacks and drinks, especially if you decide to hike to the plane wreck.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to walk there and back, as it might take a little longer depending on the weather conditions on the day. Allocate at least 2hrs 30mins for the whole visit.
  • We strongly recommend arriving in the morning, or early afternoon. It’s not advisable walking to the wreck when it gets dark, especially during the winter. Bring a torch if visiting close to sunset. It might always come in handy!
  • Solheimasandur can be a bit tricky to find and Google Maps is a little inaccurate. Be sure to keep an eye out for any signs as you approach the car park area, as it can be easily missed.
  • The wreckage site often has a few people hanging around taking photos, so you’ll need to be patient if you want a solo photo of the plane wreck.
  • We highly recommend catching the shuttle bus to the plane wreckage. It’s quick, easy and drops you off right outside the plane wreck. It’ll also save you plenty of time to see other nearby sites (a full 1.5-2 hours!). This option is especially great in winter as the weather can change within an instant.

We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to Solheimasandur DC-3 plane wreck in Iceland. If you get the chance to visit this stunningly unique location, be sure to send us your photos. We’d love to see them! Please let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below, or alternatively, you can email us!

By Susie

Author 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.

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