Reynisfjara Beach is one of the most visited sites in Iceland, and it's not hard to understand why. Considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in the country, National Geographic even ranked it among the most beautiful beaches in the world!
Numerous films and series (Game of Throne, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) were set here, so that's enough to tell you Reynisfjara is a real must-see.
The local sites were all named after the same man, a Norwegian settler by the name of Reynir. Reynisfjara literally means “Reynir Beach”, while Reynisfjall is “Reynir Mountain”, with the town of Vik on the other side, and Reynisdrangar or “The Pillars of Reynir” are the famous rocky peaks in the distance rising out of the sea.
The Vik region is famous for its fantastical black sand beaches, its arches, and eroded stone formations rising from in the sea, and Reynisfjara is where you find the best of them.
Midnight sun in Reynisfjara
Reynisfjara is the most beautiful beach in Iceland. Standing on this shore, you will have the famous Dyrholaey Arch to the west and Reynisfjall to the east, this beautiful mountain with superb basaltic organ columns, and just on the other side the town of Vik.
The beach is best known for the color of its sand, black as night due to the volcanic ash and dotted with pebbles that unlike the grays and pastels of most pebble beaches remain a glossy jet black as this part of Iceland is particularly humid. This magical color scheme is as usual in this country due to cataclysmic eruptions that took place nearby, in this case the Katla volcano.
In addition to the stunning black color of this beach, what elevates the picture is the scenery that surrounds it. Bordered to the east by towering stacks of basalt with the Reynisfjall cliff, and the Reynisdrangar's pillars of lava rising out of the water.
These rocky pillars, the source of many a myth and legend. In one local legend, the Reynisdrangar are in fact the frozen bodies of trolls who failed to escape the deadly sunlight. Geologists, however, think they are the remains of collapsed cliff faces from the nearby Reynisfjall mountain.
At the foot of Reynisfjall there are absolutely magnificent basaltic columns with picture-perfect geometry. There is also a small cave which is only accessible at low tide.
Winter sunset in front of the Reynidrangar in Reynisfjara
To the west, the horizon offers a breathtaking view of the fantastic Dyrhólaey arch that juts out into the sea. This unique scene comes alive with the often impressive waves that crash on the rocks and leave a magnificent white foam that contrasts perfectly with the black color of the sand.
The silence of the place is broken only by the crashing of the waves and the cries of countless seagulls and other Arctic terns flying over the beach.
In winter and summer alike, photographers from around the world come to set their camera tripods on the beach to capture this masterpiece of nature in the light of the setting sun. In winter, many can be found waiting in their heated cars in the parking lot for the Northern Lights, hoping to see the cosmic dance above the Reynisdrangar.
Reynisfjara beach can also be seen from Dyrhólaey for a completely different perspective (see last photo).
Many visitors simply enjoy wandering the beach, one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the place is in the Icelandic tradition with a horseback ride on the beach.
Like Dritvik beach, Reynisfjara is not a beach for casual swimming, and there have been more than a few accidents.
The currents are incredibly strong, and the waves can be colossal. The swell can be treacherous, with waves coming inland several tens of meters closer than the previous, which can take people by complete surprise, as you can imagine.
This is why extreme caution is required on this beach, especially with children. Swimming is of course prohibited.
Reynisfjara in the evening
Getting to Reynisfjara beach is very simple. Coming from the West (Reykjavík), take Road number 1 and branch off just before arriving in Vik on route 215. It is very well maintained, and you have to drive to the car park for about 5.5 km (5 minutes). For visitors coming from Vik, you have to take the same road, and you reach the car park in 10 minutes from the center of Vik.
By bus, lines 12, 20 and 51 pass through Reynisfjara. On site, there is a large car park (often full in summer!) and a fairly well known café and restaurant: the aptly named Black Beach Restaurant.
Reynisfjara beach seen from Dyrhólaey
You can come to Reynisfjara at any time of year, it has a lot of charm in winter and summer alike. Fans of the Northern Lights choose this site because it is easy to access compared to others in winter, in addition to being very photogenic.
You won't soon forget the absolutely unique sunsets with the Dyrhólaey Arch in the background in summer. Warmer months mean sitting back on the beach, waiting for the midnight sun to approach the horizon with its silvery light. It can get crowded, however, so we recommend you arrive there in the late afternoon or even in the evening, or early in the morning.