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How To Find Iceland’s Famous Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

Airplane Wreckage Iceland
Sólheimasandur Beach, Iceland

I’m sure you’ve seen photos before. Twisted wreckage from an old airplane crash in Iceland on Sólheimasandur black sand beach. Here are the directions to find it.

[su_note note_color=”#F5DCDC” text_color=”#333333″ radius=”3″ class=””]
UPDATE: Since writing this post, local landowners have banned access to vehicles driving on the beach. You now have to walk 4km to the plane from the road. So not quite as easy as it used to be.[/su_note]

It’s one of Iceland’s most iconic & haunting photography locations. If you’re looking for some great travel inspiration, you’ll find it at this cool spot!

On Saturday Nov 24, 1973, a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach in the south of Iceland after experiencing some severe icing.

Luckily all crew members survived the crash, but the airplane’s fuselage was abandoned. Now it’s become a travel photography dream location.

If you don’t know where to look, it can be a difficult place to discover on your own. Below you’ll find driving directions to the plane.

Airplane Crash Iceland

Airplane Wreckage In Iceland

The 40-year-old weather-beaten aircraft has become one of Iceland’s most dramatic photography spots due to its remote location on a desolate black sand beach. It looks like a scene out of some post-apocalyptic zombie movie!

The wings & tail are missing, it’s full of holes, and the crumbling fuselage is covered with wind-blown black sand. You can see a photo of the plane before the crash here.

I spent a night at this airplane crash site in my Happy Campers Van to capture photos of the Northern Lights. Luckily the aurora activity was very strong that night with clear skies, which can be rare in Iceland.

Photographers traveling through Iceland shouldn’t miss this spot!

To capture Northern Lights above the airplane wreckage, face North (inland), dress warm, and keep your eyes to the sky all night. Check out my guide to photographing the northern lights in Iceland.

Northern Lights Iceland

Directions To Crash Site

The Sólheimasandur airplane wreckage is located on Iceland’s Southern coast between Skógafoss waterfall and the town of Vik. After driving past Skógafoss going East on Route 1, you’ll cross a bridge with blinking yellow lights and a dirt access road to Sólheimajökull Glacier on the left.

The road sign here [PHOTO #1] marks the glacier access road. From this point, keep driving East for about 2 kilometers and keep your eyes open for another dirt road turn off with a gate on your right [PHOTO #2].

It should be the only opening in the fence after the bridge. If you end up driving over a 2nd bridge, you’ve gone too far.

Plane Wreckage Directions Iceland
Plane Wreckage Directions Iceland
Plane Wreckage Directions Iceland

Driving On The Beach

Once you pass through the small gate, you’ll see a yellow sign that indicates the track is recommended for 4×4 vehicles only. However unless the road is covered with fresh snow, you should be fine without it.

This beach road is packed down pretty well, (more gravel than sand) and a two wheel drive car will make it if driving slowly. There are some big potholes, so just be careful and take it easy.

The drive out to the plane from the main road is about 4km long.

[su_note note_color=”#F5DCDC” text_color=”#333333″ radius=”3″ class=””]
UPDATE: Since writing this post, local landowners have banned access to vehicles driving on the beach. You now have to walk 4km to the plane from the road.[/su_note]

Left At The Fork

There’s one fork on the dirt road, and you’ll want to stay left here. It’s only a few hundred yards past the gate. After that, the road heads straight onto the barren black sand beach towards the ocean.

Someone has actually installed road markers on each side of the track, so it’s easy to follow even at night. Keep driving until you see the crashed airplane, about 4km.

You won’t spot the wreckage until the last minute because it’s hidden behind a sand dune near the edge of the ocean. Happy airplane hunting! ★

Turnoff GPS Coordinates

63.4912391,-19.3632810

Airplane GPS Coordinates

63.459523,-19.364618

Map From Skógafoss Waterfall

Travel Planning Resources For Iceland
Location: Plane Crash Map
Packing Guide
Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.
Book Your Flight
Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.
Rent A Car
Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.
Cheap Accommodation
Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.
Protect Your Trip
Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.

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READ MORE ICELAND TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the Sólheimasandur plane crash! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:


Any questions about visiting Iceland’s plane crash? Are you traveling to Iceland anytime soon? Drop me a message in the comments below!

stan loona

Thursday 31st of January 2019

a member of the girl group Loona used this plane in her music video named Let Me In. You should check it out & stan loona!

Azmeen Ansar

Tuesday 15th of January 2019

Hey - Thanks so much for the detailed instructions on how to get there. Wanted to know if this is open all year long, at all times? We are planning to visit Iceland in July and are doing a road trip. I just wanted to check if there is any timing we need to keep in mind for this.

Thanks!

Maya

Saturday 3rd of February 2018

Do you know of any tours that stop here? I unfortunately just learned that I cannot rent a vehicle in Iceland and it's thrown quite a wrench in my original plans (I was still at the beginning of the planning stages, but it still cute like a knife to learn that XD ).

Josh

Saturday 28th of July 2018

why can't you rent a car?

Janeice

Monday 8th of January 2018

We're going to Iceland in February. If we want to see the plane wreckage, should we book a tour to do so?

Matthew Karsten

Thursday 11th of January 2018

You don't have to book a tour, but you would have to hike out there on foot.

Barbara L.

Saturday 30th of December 2017

We've been there this year in September, and man, this location is not a secret nor is it hard to find. Don't make the effort to follow the description above . There is a huge parking lot, ready to hold up to 150 cars and double deck busses. The road you have to walk on is marked with yellow posts every few meters and we couldn't miss the direction since there were about 400 people walking there and back. Or you just book one of the quads that will drive you there for money. Sad to say, but it was quite dissappointing - no chance at all to get a picture with no strangers on it :( I guess if one wants to be alone there it needs really really bad weather or it must be late at night :(

Carrie

Saturday 30th of June 2018

We definitely agree, Barbara. It was one of the most overrated attractions we visited in Iceland. It might've been great before it was on every tourist's itinerary, but now it's just overrun with gobs of tour groups streaming out for their cliche Instagram pic of them posing on one of the wings. We actually sat and watched one couple for about 30 minutes while the guy posed on the plane wing and a gal snapped his photo from every possible angle. She then hopped up for her own pic, and when she got down, we heard a big chunk of metal fall off the wing. Really killed the experience for us. Had we known what it's like now, we would have skipped it to spend more time exploring some of the incredible glaciers nearby.

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