How To Find Iceland’s Famous Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

Airplane Wreckage Iceland

Famous Plane Crash in 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.

UPDATE: Since writing this post, local landowners have banned access to vehicles driving on the beach. You have to walk 4km to the plane from the road.

It’s one of Iceland’s most iconic & haunting photography locations. 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 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

Mysterious Airplane Wreckage

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.

Need a place to stay in Iceland? Click here for accommodation deals.
Northern Lights Iceland

Epic Spot For Northern Lights!

Directions To Crash Site

The Sólheimasandur airplane wreckage is located on Iceland’s South 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 turnoff 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

PHOTO #1: Road Sign After 1st Bridge

Plane Wreckage Directions Iceland

PHOTO #2: Gate & Turnoff that Leads to Plane

Plane Wreckage Directions Iceland

Four Wheel Drive Only? (you don’t need it)

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.

UPDATE: Since writing this post, local landowners have banned access to vehicles driving on the beach. You have to walk 4km to the plane from the road.

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


Airplane GPS Coordinates


Map From Skógafoss Waterfall

More Information

Location: Sólheimasandur Beach, Iceland [Map] Car Rental: Happy Campers
Accommodation: Click Here For Deals in Iceland
Useful Tips: Check the weather forecast for clear skies & spend the night if you want shots of the Northern Lights. The plane is in the middle of nowhere though, make sure you don’t run out of gas or lock your keys in the car. It’s a long walk back to civilization.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Iceland

READ NEXT: Iceland Photography: Land Of Fire & Ice

Do you want to visit Iceland anytime soon?


    1. Yes but watch out for time as it gets VERY dark on the beach during winter and be prepared to cross an ice cold stream (no bridge) if you choose the wrong route (as we did) its only a foot deep though.

  1. Hello Matthew.
    I’ll be visiting Iceland next summer for two weeks. I’m hiking from Hella to Vik i Myrdal and Solheimsandur lies perfectly on the way. My question is, at the plane crash site, or somewhere around it, is it allowed to build a tent and spend the night there?
    Thank you.

  2. I was in Iceland two weeks ago for 5 days and visited only the south eastern part of rind road from Raykjavik till Glacier Lagoons. Each place I visited turned out to be spectacular. Silfra snorkelling, Geysir (Gloden Circle), Spectacular water falls, Glacier walk through blue caves, Wrecked plane, Glacier Lagoons, Geo Thermal Station Exhibit and the Blue Lagoon (I came to know it is the waste water from Geo Thermal Station ☺). Good thing about Iceland is even if you mistakenly deviate from your route, they turn out to be beautiful places and you won’t regret. It was July and I could not see the Auroras, but I have seen them in Sweden and Norway.

    1. We’re planning on being there within two weeks… Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to walk 8km… Can you let me know if the road is open. I keep reading that the road is now closed… We’re you able to drive to the wreck? Thanks.

      1. Hi Sally, the road is still closed. I visited the plane site yesterday and you will need to walk that 8 km to get to the plane.

        1. 8km is round trip? how long will it take for a slow walker during end of sep or oct? will we lost out of track while walking or is there any sign to indicate how long more to reach the destination?

  3. Hi! Do you know what is the name of the mountain or volcanoe you can see while walking going to the solheimassandur site? Thank you! :)

  4. I was stationed at Naval Station Keflavik in the early 1970s and actually took parts of the wreck for our other C-117 (super DC3) back at the base. The adventure to get to the site was fun. Back then the entire fuselage was intact and the tail section was still attached. Looks like someone cut the tail off and took it. We used large air bags and a compressor to lift the fuselage to remove some brackets under the tail section.

  5. Just came back from stunning Iceland and made it a point to go to the crash site, walked the 8kms round trip & it was so worth it! Our motive was to see where our favorite Bollywood actor filmed the popular song from his movie! My friend stood on the plane and posed like the Bollywood actress. It was great fun to share those photos with our friends & family! The site was easy to find- there were quite a few cars parked there :)

    1. You “stood on the plane and posed like the Bollywood actress”???!!!
      It’s THIS sort of inconsiderate behaviour that’s spoilt access for us all! Tourism is NOT about clambering all over – and possibly damaging – locations for ego-stroking selfies.

      Next time you holiday somewhere, THINK about others too please! Save your selfies for in your hotel room, posing in front of a mirror! :-S

      1. People have been climbing that plane for years. The Irish government allowed those bollywood actors to climb up on the plane and film it. Justin Bieber also skateboarded on that plane in his music video. It increased tourism as people come flocking and spending money to see that spot.

  6. hey matthew, thank you for the inspiring article! figure this would be a great place to do some light painting. im wondering how cold was it when you spent the night at the plane wreck??

  7. OMG, We always follow your amazing page, unfortunately we flew to Iceland a week after they close the access to the DC3…We walked about 6 miles roudtrip from the entrance to the plane spot. Ouch!
    Keep Rocki’n with this amazing travel blog!!

  8. Great tips! I am heading to Iceland in a couple of weeks with my best friend, we will be sure to check out the plane! I can not wait, thanks so much for all your posts!

  9. We visited the site with a 4×4 on March 9th. The first 100 yards is where you need the 4×4 as it is just mud and deeply rutted. Once you get to the “beach” it’s fine as it’s solid-though has lots of potholes. The location is now printed on the tourist maps found in hotels\B&Bs etc. Surprised the land owners have not cashed in on this and charged a fee to access it.
    Your directions were great-however once we got near there were loads of cars coming\going so not easy to miss TBHO.

  10. Just wanted to send a little note that the site has been closed to all traffic as of today. The landowners are citing environmental reasons because people are driving off road and are leaving the area a mess. So, the road is closed.

  11. Hi Matthwe
    I have not read your website yet.I will do that later this evening.
    Anyway my question is : If i leave the car (not 4wd) afer the Gate & Turnoff that Leads to Plane is it possible to walk there?.Yes of coarse , but how many km are there to get the wreck?I ave a child and I would like to find something interesting for him.
    Than you very much

    1. Hi Larry, i just got back from Iceland today, me n my husband with our 2 babies walked a total of 8km to and fro the plane wreck site. It was a looooooooooong and tiring walk, as we babywear our kids with a carrier, weather wasnt great, it was raining througout the walk, and it was FReEZING!! But we MADE IT!!! I posted a video and some pictures on my instagram @luluism87 u can check it out too ;)

    1. While some driving is possible make sure you get 4X4! We hit 2 blizzards driving on the ring road last week. The weather constantly changes and roads ice over and become almost impassible with 2WD in a matter of minutes. One day the roads were clear and later that evening we were having a hard time driving with 4WD. Spend a little extra money and protect your safety. Also there is a lot of gravel even on the paved roads, so make sure you get gravel, dirt, and ash protection. We would have had to pay the entire amount of the car if we didnt have it and we were on the ring road the entire time!

      1. haha, this person works for a car rental service in Reykjavik. Ignore that. You do not need all that extra protection, especially if you book with a credit card which will cover it for you.

      1. I just heard that the crash site has closed. Are you sure that walking to the site is allowed? I am going in a month and would like to know if I am allowed to park the car on the side of the road (near the access road gate) and walk to the site from there. Was thinking of contacting the farmer who owns the property and was cited in many of the articles…Thoughts?

  12. I hadn’t had a chance to write you when I had used your directions for my Iceland trip back in September. I had driven passed the opening and couldn’t find where the break in the fence was as I had gone too far. I pulled over and came across your blog when looking for directions. While sitting there, I noticed a car duck in, spotted the opening.

    Thank you for the informative site, I had the BEST time! :)

  13. Thank you so much for the detailed info on how to find the plane crash! Because of you we found it! At night, without a 4 wheel drive :))) And it was beautiful with a full moon and all.

  14. Penultimate day of a sensational drive around the whole country. Arrived at the wreckage half an hour before sunrise this morning; not a soul around. Had the entire site to ourselves for an hour and it was sublime.
    I could not imagine being there with people here, let along climbing all over it – you need solitude both to respect it and to photograph it without having your shot spoilt.

    Worth finding and worth getting there before everyone else’s alarm clocks go off.

  15. Hello All…. So if I travel to the site and tell them I flew aircrew on this plane when it (and I !) were stationed at RAF Mildenhall (1969-1971), do you suppose they’d give me a ride out to it for free?? You know, pay homage to an old friend!! LOL! There is another C117D at Keflavik (buno 17191) that lies derelict on the base somewhere! It too was stationed out of Mildenhall…flew all over the UK and northern Europe in these planes. These are great images, thank you for sharing them!


  16. Instructions worked out (almost) fine. We went there the other day in a 2WD. Someone had removed the little poles at the beginning of the fork, so we ended up on a track next to the path. Was a bit dodgy for a while but managed to join the path without getting stuck. You really have to steer left to find the path. The plane was awesome, really very cool with the surrounding martian like landscape. However, beware, this is not the truly abandoned apocalyptic place as described. There were actually quite a few tourists driving up there every few minutes, kids climbing all over the plane and inconsiderate people obstructing every single photo. Some of the locals also try to make a few bucks and drive people up there in their SUVs. One such person complained he would call the police because people were “not allowed” to drive there in a 2WD (there were a few by now). Of course, he had charged the 5 or so tourists with him 50EUR to take them there and was annoyed his story didn’t play out so well. So plane wreckage is cool but it is not so secluded and special anymore i’m afraid. Take under advisement.

    1. It really depends on the time of day and season I think. I’ve heard from others that had the spot to themselves recently. Get there around sunrise or sunset if you want to avoid crowds.

      1. I went there on wednesday 28th october and we had the entire place to ourselves for the 30 minutes or so we were there. Great instrcutions, found the site with ease, and in a 2WD.

  17. Hi Matthew, thanks a lot for sharing your great and haunting photos of the spot as well as for posting the route directions and other tips.
    I´ve learned about the existence of this plane via the official vid of the band Sólstafir, song Fjalla and was just searching for some further info on that.
    Some nice shots of the spot in the vid here – search betweet the min. 3:50 – 5:03 :)
    Hoping to have a chance to visit the place once…

  18. We were just to the site a couple of hours ago, and I’m posting this from our guesthouse near Hella. Your directions were perfect. I just punched the position of the turn off from 1 into the GPS and followed the track back. We passed two vehicles on the way in, three were there, and five on the way out. Most were small CUV/SUVs like ours, a couple of wagons, and one small car came in as were leaving. I told the driver that he’d probably be OK – if he was very careful and slow. The track is fairly easy to see if daylight for most of the way, alternates between rocky, washboard, and relatively smooth, and consists of compressed black sand and rock. Like you said, climbing back onto the cow guard at the gate when leaving was a little steep. Well worth the visit just to see the miles of moonscape with a few hardy tufts of green. The plane is the icing on the cake. Thanks again.

  19. Your directions were spot on. Thank you. They changed the first sign you see after you turn off the main road. A 4×4 is not required. The sign is in Icelandic and English and tells you the plane wreckage is 4km away, also to follow the marked road.

  20. Hi, thank you for the directions with the pictures, they were spot on and we found it easily. We had a 4×4 and it was good. There were some in normal cars though. Well worth a visit as it is an amazing site and walking to the sea was great in all the black sand. It was not crowded (3 cars )and suddenly we were alone. On the way there and back you can visit all the beautiful waterfalls on the way!

  21. Thanks so much for these directions, I was there earlier today and there were only two cars. I had to be quick with some of the shots though as the other guy and his girlfriend headed straight for the plane to climb into it and who knows what else, but I’m not usually one to linger. Btw, I drove there in a standard 2WD rental. It’s not ideal, especially due to the sharp-ish rocks and the entrance through the gate that’s quite tricky to navigate without scraping the bottom of the car, and in all fairness had I not been driving on some pretty gnarly dirt roads over the previous 5 or 6 days, I would probably not have attempted it. It is possible though.

    I agree about Iceland getting very touristy. I headed out into the west fjords, and aside from Laterbjarg I hardly saw anyone, also up north around Raurerhöfn. Anything near or close to the ring road is packed with tourists, even at Dettifoss, with the roads there in terrible condition due to heavy rain, there were quite a lot of people. However, it is possible to get some nice shots that don’t include other people – you have to be both patient and quick.

    Just one other thing that annoyed me a little was at the glacier lake the conditions were perfect, amazing reflections off the still water…until those damn zodiac tour people started tearing through the water, killing the reflections. You could see so many of the more serious photographers just shaking their heads. Again, be patient, be quick, if you can afford it rent a car that can at least take the punch from all the dirt roads you’ll want to travel on, and get gravel insurance.

    Thanks again for these directions. I did not get to see the Northern Lights this time, but at least I got to see the plane.

  22. Hi Matthew!

    Just want to say takk for the precise directions and add that the road to get there is ok for bicycles, in case some mad man (or woman) like me want to know. I’m posting one of the photographic results of the detour tomorrow morning on my Facebook page. Just got back home after 5 weeks on the road so it will take me some time for the rest of the photos.

    Should any of your followers need info on cycling around Iceland I’ve covered about 6,000km in 3 different trips so, please, do not hesitate to get in touch!

  23. Btw, I did the whole Ring Road and a lot of other spots, off the beaten tracks(never offroad, don’t get me wrong) in 6 weeks, and there’s just 1 word for Iceland: beyond natural (magic) !!!
    I didn’t see the airplaine but I wasn’t focused on it. Maybe next time.
    Maybe… because I know these kind of spots are often a disappointment in july or august, with (lots of) people parking their car almost IN the plane, so that they have the best spot as in “ladies making a picture and returning the 5 meters to their car on their high heels” :-b Not real photographers, not hikers, not nature lovers, no respect for others,… bweih!!!

    2014… Iceland is more and more touristic… that’s right. BUT! If you leave the beaten tracks, in 5 minutes you don’t see anyone anymore and you’re alone with nature. Like in Landmannalaugar (Mt Everest base camp :-b), Gullfoss, Dettifoss….

    Problem for photographers who can’t make beautiful pictures of these spots: many people arrive by plane, rent a (very) expensive car,
    hurry to touristic sites, picture here picture there, and hurry up to the next ….
    Because the rental car must yield the money. Been there, done that..:-/ with no respect for all the rest. In Iceland, you must take your time.
    I’m staying and sleeping there in my own car and I think next time I’ll stay all night at the spot, to make pictures. Dream on….;-)

  24. I just wanted to say thanks a million for this post. Your directions were spot on! We visited in late June 2015. My hubby and I were there for over an hour and had the place to ourselves. It was like being on another planet. We never saw another vehicle or person coming or going. One of our favorite spots in Iceland. I think early visits might be the key. We stayed in Vik that night and were there by 9:45 or 10am? I think with the midnight sun a lot of people sleep in and start the day later. I will say we had a 4wd and I was glad. That is one rough route out there. They have a tiny sign inside the turn off from the road now that says 4wd only and no veering off the (faint) path. Thanks for this post! Keep up the good work!

  25. Thank you for your post. Was here on 11 Jun 2015 and was easy to find the path based on the info you provided. We were there in the evening, and there were only three cars (including ourselves). Hence we have plenty of time to have the ‘plane’ to ourselves. The road condition is ok for 2WD cars as I’ve seen one on the way out and one parked near the plame. Just need to drive slow and watch out for some big stones and pot holes.

  26. Thank you so much for posting this! My fiancé and I are heading to Iceland for our honeymoon, and was worried I wouldn’t find the wreckage! Thank you for the directions. Cannot wait to officially see this beaut in person.

  27. my friend and I will go to Iceland next month.
    and I’m so glad to find this page b4 we get there.
    Thank you for the infos in detail.
    I’m thinking of renting a compact car.
    Do you think it’s ok to drive there on mid-june by compact car?

    1. Hi Sujie,
      May I asked when you are planning to Solheimasandur?
      I am planning to go there on June 26 and I’m looking for travel buddies, or even just to share the ride/car rental with someone. If you’re interesred, please drop me a line. I’d be happy to provide more info about myself and my travel plan.

      1. Hi there.
        Sorry to reply this late.
        My friend and I are planning to go there on 23rd.
        We will stop by Solheimasandur before we are heading to Dyrholaey.
        If your schedule fits ours, feel free to email me.

  28. I’ve known about this site for several years and desperately wished to photograph it. I finally had the chance to visit it recently. What a disappointment. This formerly remote spot is rife with selfie stick wielding, drone-flying tourists. Some respectful, others less so. In two hours of being there, I was the only serious photographer out there. About twenty car loads of tourists, about fifty people and three drones between them came and went, often driving right up to the wreck, destroying any decent shots of the site for anyone, so they could hop out and shoot a few selfies with their phone before driving away in a cloud of dust. I shot what I could and finally departed in disgust, never once having had the place to myself for even one minute. On my drive back to the main road, I passed mini-vans loaded with more tourists from three different tour companies heading out to the wreckage. Like many things in life, the fantasy is far better than the reality.

    1. Sorry to hear that Michael, that was not my experience at all. I visited the site 2 different times, and only ran into one couple with their guide. Not sure what time you went, but early morning was good for me.

    2. How far past the gate is the plane? Was thinking on my trip in September to park my car at the gate and hike down but not sure how far it is? HELP! I need to go there!

    3. I’m a travel blogger located in Iceland and I’ve always kept it in mind to tell people about things that are a little bit off the beaten path (to encourage people to explore more than just the Golden Circle – as amazing as it is).

      I made a few attempts to find this plane a few years ago when it was still relatively unknown but I never had enough time or the right car etc. to properly pursue it. I have to say that the journey of trying to find the plane wreck was much more gratifying than when I actually found it and I feel like that’s the case with many secrets spots. I have deliberately never given people exact directions to get here because I think it ruins the experience of trying to find it on your own. I tell people it’s in Sólheimasandur but then they’ll have to figure out the rest.

      There are actually many places in Iceland that I would never write about because sometimes it’s good that the places remain a secret until you meet someone on the ground who can either show it to you or you get vague directions that send you on a crazy journey. I’ve also been shown places by locals in their area and specifically asked not to share it’s exact location with the world.

      I understand why you and many other travel bloggers have written a post about this place, you want to help and it’s probably good for SEO since many people are looking for this information. But I really wished you hadn’t. Especially when I read comments about it being over-crowded.

      1. I agree with this comment wholeheartedly.
        And I say that after having gotten to this website by trying to find a way to get to the wreckage site myself.
        My trip to Iceland is next month and I came across the wreckage pictures by accident and wanted more information on them, but I agree with the comment above and it made me rethink the reasons on why I was trying to find the information on line.
        Sometimes the best part of an adventure is the path to the place you are going and not the place itself.

        Maybe you should re-think your article a little and leave a bit of adventure and mistery to the last steps towards finding the site.

        I however, respect and appreciate what you tried to do regardless, so thanks for that.

        1. If you want an adventure, don’t look up the directions. Faulting me for publishing information is ridiculous. For each person unhappy that I posted this, there are 20 others who are thankful. That’s the great thing about opinions. Everyone has one.

    4. Michael,

      That sucks that was your experience, I was there at sunset and had the whole place to myself. As a serious photographer also, I hope that if you go back you’ll take the time to shoot it in good light when tourists and most others wouldn’t be there anyways.

      Golden hour in the summer tends to be late and everyone else is sleeping ;)

  29. Hi There,
    I will be in Iceland in March 2015 for the solar eclipse but really really want to see and photograph this plane. I don’t drive and can’t find any tour that goes there. Private guides are a fortune for just me….Any ideas?

  30. Iceland in July 2015 for me, can I drive to the site directly or does it involve any small parts of river crossing by foot at or near the site.

  31. Planning a trip to Iceland in July, renting car. Single woman and non mechanical. How are the roads and if breakdown is there usually other Travellers who could assist along the roads?

    1. If you have the time and want an adventure, hitchhiking would be great. But out of convenience renting a car is probably best. As a photographer I’d go crazy not being able to stop everywhere I wanted to if hitching a ride with someone else…

  32. I wish I’d read this before my trip to Iceland in June. I tried looking for the wreckage but found nothing and continued to Vik instead. Now, does this mean I have to go back? ;-)

    1. Yes, I believe it does! But don’t worry, you won’t get bored in Iceland. I’m planning to return soon too. You can’t see the wreckage from the road, and there are no information signs at the gate, so it’s tough unless you know where to look.

  33. So convinced that Iceland is the one place that I really must tick off in 2015, and photos like the one with what’s left with the plane and the light above only make me wish we’d made this trip this winter.

    1. After seeing photos & hearing stories from other travelers all year, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to go. Best decision ever! It’s a crazy cool country — especially for photography. There always seems to be beautiful & dramatic light there.

    1. Thanks Jeremy! Yeah, having the clear skies & strong aurora activity on the same night I was at the plane was pretty lucky for sure. But it’s also important to stay up all night (in the cold) gazing at the sky, something not everyone will do. Many hours of waiting for that single photo…

  34. I hitched around there 2 years ago and had a mission finding it until a local pointed it out. I was then walking across the black sands in search when a tour truck pulled up and gave me a lift (stood on the edge step and held on tight with the wind in my face and hair like a pirate spotting land) What a marvel…heard bear grylls lived in this for an experiment?!?!?! A must discover when in iceland :)

    1. I didn’t know that Bear Grylls lived in it, that’s kinda cool. Would make a great TV or movie location for sure. I picked up some hitchhikers in Iceland while I was there, it seems to be pretty popular.

    2. He didnt ‘live’ in it really. he did a program about surviving if you got caught in the icelandic wilderness and getting the safety (head to the coast) and i think he spent one night in it for shelter.

      1. That was a ridiculous program and no one should copy what he did in that episode.
        Read the site and just don’t do silly things in Iceland.

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