If you're planning a trip to Europe, you have a very long list of potential destinations to choose from. You could visit major capital cities like London or Rome, for example, or check out Scandinavian nations like Sweden and Denmark. You could relax in the Black Forest of Germany, walk the streets of Prague, investigate key historical locations around Eastern Europe or bask on the beaches of the Greek islands. There are so many options to choose from, it can be very difficult to pick between them. If you're looking for an 'off the beaten path' destination, however, why not book a trip to Iceland?
Located in the North Atlantic, not far from Greenland, Iceland is the most sparsely populated European country of them all. It's home to less than 350,000 despite covering an area of around 40,000 square miles. Renowned for its very welcoming vibe, friendly people, unique cuisine, and stunning natural and man-made landmarks, Iceland has a lot to offer for the modern day traveler in need of a relaxing getaway or a simple backpacker in search of something new. Believe it or not, Iceland is also home to some of the prettiest beaches you could ever hope to see.
Best Beaches in Iceland
Many people make some big misassumptions when thinking about Iceland. They look at the country’s name and geographical location and assume that it must be the sort of place when big coats and lots of layers need to be worn at all times of year to help people stay warm. It's true that temperatures in Iceland never get too high, but the country has a lot of options for outdoor recreation, especially in the summer months, and one of Icelandic people's favorite activities when the sun is shining is to head down to the beach with friends or family. Arctic swimming and surfing can be enjoyed here if you're bold enough, but many of Iceland's beaches are best-suited for shelling, beachcombing, relaxing, and admiring the picturesque, pristine views all around. Read on to learn about the best beaches in Iceland.
Many of Iceland's beaches are filled with black, wet sands and rocky areas, but if you're looking for something a little more traditional, check out Breidavik. Located in the Westfjords area of the country, Breidavik is surrounded by cliffs and mountains, as well as flat grassy spaces and a large stretch of golden sand. Camping is popular in this area, with activities like fishing and birdwatching being very enjoyable at Breidavik too, and the large sandy expanse is ideal for picnics, strolls, and beach games for visitors of all ages. Another unique aspect of this beach is the fact that North Atlantic Puffins gather here each year through the summer months for breeding, so it's an awesome spot to see some wildlife.
Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Sandvik is a black sand beach that is one of the best surfing spots in all of Iceland. Of course, you'll need to be a brave soul to try riding the waves up here due to the fact that the waters are exceptionally cold and the winds can be very rough, but if you think you're up to the challenge, Sandvik is the place to be. For non-surfers, this Icelandic beach is a lovely spot to admire the views or simply sit and watch surfing enthusiasts doing their best to stay on their boards out at sea. There's a lovely old wooden bridge to walk across too that provides some breathtaking views of the local cliffs and landscapes, ideal for nature lovers and photography fans.
Located out in the untouched east fjords area of Iceland, Vestrahorn is one of the country's most magnificent beaches. The landscape here looks like something from a fairy tale, dominated by stunning snow-capped mountains and shimmering icy waters. There's a local Viking-style village that was actually used as a film set and left abandoned afterwards, so that can be a fun place to explore too, and the beach is also home to a little lighthouse and a very old shipwreck, making it a terrific spirit for adventurous souls. Wet sands and marshy green areas can be explored on this beach, which is a wonderful spot for people of all ages to come and feel a million miles away from civilization.
The first major advantage of Álftanes is that it's only 15-20 minutes away from Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik, so it's very easily accessible for most tourists in the country as many people tend to stay in this city when visiting Iceland. Álftanes is a very unique beach, unlike any you might have seen elsewhere in the world. Sand and volcanic rock cover the landscape here and there's a lot of history in the area, with an old fort being built here and a spot near the beach once being used to execute pirates and outlaws. The nearby Álftaneskirkja church is a must-visit location and the beach is filled with interesting rocks and shells to gather up and take home as souvenirs.