Iceland may be known for its cold weather and the Blue Lagoon, but the country is also home to some of the most breathtaking beaches. Some Icelandic beaches have volcanic black sand, many are naturally rocky, and if it's not warm enough for bathing, these beautiful beach locations still offer great photo opportunities. In some places, you can even ride Icelandic ponies on the beach. Read on for the best beaches in Iceland.
Nautholsvik Beach in Reykjavik (Greater Reykjavik Area)
Nautholsvik is a popular sandy beach in Reykjavik. The nice thing: it's a thermal beach heated by hot water flowing into the bay, so you can actually enjoy bathing here. There are two freshwater pools and public facilities if you decide to stay out of the saltwater. This beach is well suited for families, but surfing is not allowed here so don't expect to hang ten.
Kirkjubol Beach (West Iceland)
If you're visiting the western parts of Iceland—especially the county of Strandir—visit the beach at Kirkjubol, which is well suited for outdoorsmen and for family travelers. The drive from Reykjavik is rather long, but there are bus and airplane services to Strandir county available. You can also take a tour to this area.
Álftanes Beach (Greater Reykjavik Area)
Álftanes Beach is a pretty stretch on the peninsula of Álftanes, and one of the few white sand beaches in Iceland. Part of the Greater Reykjavik Area, visitors can find this Icelandic beach just east of the Reykjavik city center, on the Alftanes peninsula. Unlike some other beaches, it's not hard to reach, especially for a quick day trip.
This beachy area can also be found near Snaefellsnes and is called Djúpalónssandur. The Icelandic beach consists of lots of pebbles and rocks created and formed gently by nature (aka don't expect to lay out and tan like you would on a softer beach). Bring your camera for the unique rock sculptures found at this beach in Iceland and water shoes that are equipped for sharper (rock or shell) surfaces.
Approximately 110 miles (180 km) from Reykjavik, you'll find the Icelandic town of Vik with a beautiful beach area. Reynisfjara Beach is a natural black sand and pebble beach with some larger boulders. Don't forget to look into the interesting basalt caves by the beach while you're there. The strange basalt formations almost makes it look otherworldly.
Budir Beach (West Iceland)
Budir Beach is located on the scenic peninsula Snæfellsnes. To get to the beach, drive to Snaefellsnes peninsula and then go along the south coast of the peninsula to Búðir to be surprised by one of the very rare light-colored beaches in Iceland, strongly contrasted by black basalt lava.