Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland - your guide

July 15, 2022

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland - your guide

July 15, 2022

Iceland’s striking volcanic landscape sets it apart from nearly every other country on Earth. Over aeons, the island has been bubbling with seismic and volcanic activity, creating the ethereal landscapes people come to admire. The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the island’s iconic volcanic landscapes, where sparkling black sand slips away to the sea and basalt rock formations twist and turn. Photographers flock to this part of the island to capture dramatic pictures of the foaming sea against the black sand and it’s been the backdrop of many films and TV series. You can visit Reynisfjara beach on the South Coast of Iceland yourself by joining a tour from Reykjavik. Here’s everything you need to know about this beautiful sight.

Where is Reynisfjara beach?

Along the south coast of Iceland, you’ll find the picturesque fishing village of Vik. Just outside Vik is Reynisfjara Beach. There’s no mistaking the craggy rock formations (sea stacks) that sit in the haze just off the coast. You know you’re in the right place if the sand is black, twisting basalt columns create a cave, and two towering, pointed rocks stand out at sea.

Reynisfjara Beach is 187km (about 115 miles) from Reykjavik and it takes around two and a half hours to drive here. It’s another two-and-a-half-hour drive to Jökulsarlón Glacial Lagoon, so makes for the perfect halfway stop between the two. The closest town is the fishing village of Vik, 4.6km (about 2.8 miles) away, where you’ll find a handful of restaurants and places to stay.

How to get to Reynisfjara beach?

As the black-sanded beach is just off the main ring road that loops around Iceland (Route One), it’s easy to navigate there yourself if you’re hiring a car. There are plenty of beautiful waterfalls, glacier look-out points and natural roadside wonders to stop at along the way to break up the two-and-a-half-hour journey from Reykjavik.

However, in winter especially, the wild weather in Iceland can affect road conditions and driving along the south coast yourself might not be the best option. A small group guided tour with an experienced Icelandic driver can take the hassle out of getting to the black sanded beach, and you can stop at some of the south coast’s natural wonders along the way. Tours leave from the centre of Reykjavik and all you have to do is sit back and watch the view of the south coast. Check out our ultimate guide to the south coast of Iceland for an idea of activities to pair with a trip to Reynisfjara Beach.

Why is Reynisfjara beach black?

reynisfjara myndir3

Reynisfjara is not the only black-sanded beach in Iceland, but it is probably the most iconic. As an island simmering with volcanic activity, some of Iceland’s beaches have black sand because the sand is ground down from black volcanic rock formed when lava cools and solidifies. In the case of Reynisfjara, the famous Katla volcano erupted centuries ago and, when the molten hot lava clashed with the freezing cold North Atlantic Sea, black rock was formed and eventually eroded away into the shimmering sand you see today. The result is beautiful black sand stretching for miles of coastline.

Reynisfjara beach’s basalt columns

Apart from the black sand and towering sea stacks, the other geological phenomena that attract visitors to Reynisfjara Beach are the basalt columns. The twisting hexagonal shapes look impossible and like they must be man-made, but they are actually formed by cooled lava, just like the black sand. Stacked against each other, the basalt columns look like stepping stones and twist into the form of a cave which looks like a troll dwelling or something from a fantasy book. Sea birds nest here, so this can be a good place to spot Arctic terns, guillemots and even puffins nesting.

Why is Reynisfjara dangerous?

reynisfjara myndir

Crashing waves can rush up towards the sand and sweep people out to sea in a heartbeat, so it’s best not to get too close to the shore. Check where the waterline appears to be in the sand, and make sure you stand well back from this to take photos. There have been times when tourists have been taken away by the sea here, so it’s important to stay safe, stay well back and don’t climb on the rocks close to the sea.

Reynisfjara Beach stretches for miles, and there’s plenty of room for a stroll along the black sand without tempting fate by getting too close to the water.

Can you swim at Reynisfjara?

As you can probably tell from the danger of Reynisfjara that swimming here is absolutely not possible. The tide can change in a second, and people have been swept out to sea just by getting too close to the shore. Not only is the current here too strong for swimming, but the temperature of the water is freezing-cold year-round so swimming would not be a pleasant experience even if it were possible.

Reynisfjara beach in Game of Thrones

reynisfjara-game-of-thrones-scenery

Game of Thrones fans might recognise the striking basalt columns and black sand as Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. In the show, the men of the night’s watch were seen guarding this outpost. But the Game of Thrones location scouts weren’t the only ones taken by the black-sanded beach. It also appeared in Vikings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Noah. So you can see that the beach has a definite other-worldly vibe, used in Sci-Fi and Fantasy series and films to represent distant planets and fantastical realms.

How much time do you need at Reynisfjara?

Most people spend around half an hour at Reynisfjara – enough time to take a few pictures of the basalt column cave, sea stacks and wild ocean waves and breathe in the scenery. But the black sand stretches for kilometres, so you can take a long, leisurely walk for over an hour here if you want to. There’s also a café serving warming soup and Icelandic lunches so you can linger longer if you’re using Reynisfjara as your lunch stop.

Avid photographers tend to spend longer here – around 45 minutes to an hour, capturing close-ups of puffins nesting and getting the perfect shot of the sunset beyond the sea stacks.

When is the best time to visit Reynisfjara Beach?

reynisfjara myndir4

The beach is open all day and tends to be most crowded with visitors in the middle of the day. If you want the beach to yourself, you’ll have to arrive early in the morning, definitely before 10am. The later hours of the afternoon can also be a lot quieter.

The “golden hours” at sunrise and sunset provide the best light for photographers when the landscape is tinged gold and the sand shimmers in the light.

If spotting puffins is your thing, the summer months between May and August are the best time of year to visit Reynisfjara Beach, especially at sunset when the birds dive off the cliffs to catch their dinner.

Is Reynisfjara beach free?

The short answer is: yes. There is no fee to access the beach. Parking is also free and there’s plenty of room for all sizes of vehicle.

However, you may want to visit the café to fuel up for the rest of your road journey.

Tours to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland

reynisfjara myndir2

Reykjavik Excursions offers a variety of tours that stop at the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Most of the South Coast Tours include time at the beach to admire the scenery and stretch your legs. If you want to experience the black-sanded beach alongside the south coast’s other natural wonders, nature lovers should consider the South Shore Adventure, which stops at the beautiful waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, and takes in glacier views too.

If you have a little more time and want to experience some of Iceland’s incredible glaciers and ice caves first-hand, the two-day South Coast Tour combines the black-sanded beach with the deep blue of an ice cave, the Jökulsarlón Glacial Lagoon and the Diamond Beach. This tour also offers the chance to spot the Northern Lights in winter.

Those that want to see the highlights of Iceland without the hassle of driving and organising it themselves should consider the three-day Golden Circle and South Coast Tour which takes you to the thundering waterfalls and explosive geysers of the iconic Golden Circle, while also hitting the natural wonders of the South Coast, including Reynisfjara Beach, Jökulsarlón Glacial Lagoon, the Diamond Beach and a session unwinding in a secret geothermal lagoon.

Although there are a few black-sanded beaches scattered along the coast, Reynisfjara is considered THE black sand beach of Iceland. There are few other places on Earth where you can see the other-worldly basalt columns, sea stacks marooned out in the Atlantic and shimmering black sand all in one place. Join a tour from Reykjavik to make the most of your visit to the black-sanded beach and combine it with the other natural wonders of Iceland’s south coast. So, now that you know everything there is to know about the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, there’s nothing left to do but come and see it for yourself.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Read Blog

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland - your guide

July 15, 2022

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland - your guide

July 15, 2022

Iceland’s striking volcanic landscape sets it apart from nearly every other country on Earth. Over aeons, the island has been bubbling with seismic and volcanic activity, creating the ethereal landscapes people come to admire. The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the island’s iconic volcanic landscapes, where sparkling black sand slips away to the sea and basalt rock formations twist and turn. Photographers flock to this part of the island to capture dramatic pictures of the foaming sea against the black sand and it’s been the backdrop of many films and TV series. You can visit Reynisfjara beach on the South Coast of Iceland yourself by joining a tour from Reykjavik. Here’s everything you need to know about this beautiful sight.

Where is Reynisfjara beach?

Along the south coast of Iceland, you’ll find the picturesque fishing village of Vik. Just outside Vik is Reynisfjara Beach. There’s no mistaking the craggy rock formations (sea stacks) that sit in the haze just off the coast. You know you’re in the right place if the sand is black, twisting basalt columns create a cave, and two towering, pointed rocks stand out at sea.

Reynisfjara Beach is 187km (about 115 miles) from Reykjavik and it takes around two and a half hours to drive here. It’s another two-and-a-half-hour drive to Jökulsarlón Glacial Lagoon, so makes for the perfect halfway stop between the two. The closest town is the fishing village of Vik, 4.6km (about 2.8 miles) away, where you’ll find a handful of restaurants and places to stay.

How to get to Reynisfjara beach?

As the black-sanded beach is just off the main ring road that loops around Iceland (Route One), it’s easy to navigate there yourself if you’re hiring a car. There are plenty of beautiful waterfalls, glacier look-out points and natural roadside wonders to stop at along the way to break up the two-and-a-half-hour journey from Reykjavik.

However, in winter especially, the wild weather in Iceland can affect road conditions and driving along the south coast yourself might not be the best option. A small group guided tour with an experienced Icelandic driver can take the hassle out of getting to the black sanded beach, and you can stop at some of the south coast’s natural wonders along the way. Tours leave from the centre of Reykjavik and all you have to do is sit back and watch the view of the south coast. Check out our ultimate guide to the south coast of Iceland for an idea of activities to pair with a trip to Reynisfjara Beach.

Why is Reynisfjara beach black?

reynisfjara myndir3

Reynisfjara is not the only black-sanded beach in Iceland, but it is probably the most iconic. As an island simmering with volcanic activity, some of Iceland’s beaches have black sand because the sand is ground down from black volcanic rock formed when lava cools and solidifies. In the case of Reynisfjara, the famous Katla volcano erupted centuries ago and, when the molten hot lava clashed with the freezing cold North Atlantic Sea, black rock was formed and eventually eroded away into the shimmering sand you see today. The result is beautiful black sand stretching for miles of coastline.

Reynisfjara beach’s basalt columns

Apart from the black sand and towering sea stacks, the other geological phenomena that attract visitors to Reynisfjara Beach are the basalt columns. The twisting hexagonal shapes look impossible and like they must be man-made, but they are actually formed by cooled lava, just like the black sand. Stacked against each other, the basalt columns look like stepping stones and twist into the form of a cave which looks like a troll dwelling or something from a fantasy book. Sea birds nest here, so this can be a good place to spot Arctic terns, guillemots and even puffins nesting.

Why is Reynisfjara dangerous?

reynisfjara myndir

Crashing waves can rush up towards the sand and sweep people out to sea in a heartbeat, so it’s best not to get too close to the shore. Check where the waterline appears to be in the sand, and make sure you stand well back from this to take photos. There have been times when tourists have been taken away by the sea here, so it’s important to stay safe, stay well back and don’t climb on the rocks close to the sea.

Reynisfjara Beach stretches for miles, and there’s plenty of room for a stroll along the black sand without tempting fate by getting too close to the water.

Can you swim at Reynisfjara?

As you can probably tell from the danger of Reynisfjara that swimming here is absolutely not possible. The tide can change in a second, and people have been swept out to sea just by getting too close to the shore. Not only is the current here too strong for swimming, but the temperature of the water is freezing-cold year-round so swimming would not be a pleasant experience even if it were possible.

Reynisfjara beach in Game of Thrones

reynisfjara-game-of-thrones-scenery

Game of Thrones fans might recognise the striking basalt columns and black sand as Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. In the show, the men of the night’s watch were seen guarding this outpost. But the Game of Thrones location scouts weren’t the only ones taken by the black-sanded beach. It also appeared in Vikings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Noah. So you can see that the beach has a definite other-worldly vibe, used in Sci-Fi and Fantasy series and films to represent distant planets and fantastical realms.

How much time do you need at Reynisfjara?

Most people spend around half an hour at Reynisfjara – enough time to take a few pictures of the basalt column cave, sea stacks and wild ocean waves and breathe in the scenery. But the black sand stretches for kilometres, so you can take a long, leisurely walk for over an hour here if you want to. There’s also a café serving warming soup and Icelandic lunches so you can linger longer if you’re using Reynisfjara as your lunch stop.

Avid photographers tend to spend longer here – around 45 minutes to an hour, capturing close-ups of puffins nesting and getting the perfect shot of the sunset beyond the sea stacks.

When is the best time to visit Reynisfjara Beach?

reynisfjara myndir4

The beach is open all day and tends to be most crowded with visitors in the middle of the day. If you want the beach to yourself, you’ll have to arrive early in the morning, definitely before 10am. The later hours of the afternoon can also be a lot quieter.

The “golden hours” at sunrise and sunset provide the best light for photographers when the landscape is tinged gold and the sand shimmers in the light.

If spotting puffins is your thing, the summer months between May and August are the best time of year to visit Reynisfjara Beach, especially at sunset when the birds dive off the cliffs to catch their dinner.

Is Reynisfjara beach free?

The short answer is: yes. There is no fee to access the beach. Parking is also free and there’s plenty of room for all sizes of vehicle.

However, you may want to visit the café to fuel up for the rest of your road journey.

Tours to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland

reynisfjara myndir2

Reykjavik Excursions offers a variety of tours that stop at the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Most of the South Coast Tours include time at the beach to admire the scenery and stretch your legs. If you want to experience the black-sanded beach alongside the south coast’s other natural wonders, nature lovers should consider the South Shore Adventure, which stops at the beautiful waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, and takes in glacier views too.

If you have a little more time and want to experience some of Iceland’s incredible glaciers and ice caves first-hand, the two-day South Coast Tour combines the black-sanded beach with the deep blue of an ice cave, the Jökulsarlón Glacial Lagoon and the Diamond Beach. This tour also offers the chance to spot the Northern Lights in winter.

Those that want to see the highlights of Iceland without the hassle of driving and organising it themselves should consider the three-day Golden Circle and South Coast Tour which takes you to the thundering waterfalls and explosive geysers of the iconic Golden Circle, while also hitting the natural wonders of the South Coast, including Reynisfjara Beach, Jökulsarlón Glacial Lagoon, the Diamond Beach and a session unwinding in a secret geothermal lagoon.

Although there are a few black-sanded beaches scattered along the coast, Reynisfjara is considered THE black sand beach of Iceland. There are few other places on Earth where you can see the other-worldly basalt columns, sea stacks marooned out in the Atlantic and shimmering black sand all in one place. Join a tour from Reykjavik to make the most of your visit to the black-sanded beach and combine it with the other natural wonders of Iceland’s south coast. So, now that you know everything there is to know about the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, there’s nothing left to do but come and see it for yourself.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Read Blog