Best time to visit Iceland

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck in Iceland

The wreck lies solitary on vast, cold black sand beach, waiting for occasional visitors

Best time: April–November

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

The carcas with missing tail and wings dotted with holes, and covered with wind-blown sand represent a kind of post-apocalyptic scene and attract curious travellers and photographers.

The accident happened in November of 1973. The United States Navy DC plane made an emergency landing at Sólheimasandur Beach in the south of Iceland. The crew miraculously survived, but the twisted fuselage was doomed to be abandoned. The accident itself is a mystery to some extent. At first, it was reported that the plane ran out of fuel, later it was announced that it was the pilot who twisted to the wrong fuel tank.

The wreck is located close to the southernmost village of Vik, on the way to Skógafoss waterfall. Some time ago one could get there by car, but local landowners banned the access. Therefore, you have to leave your vehicle at the parking lot and walk across a seemingly endless black sand desert for 4 km, but the hike makes it an even more exciting adventure.

Since winter in Iceland can be rather cold, plan your trip for the warmer time of the year.

Practical info

When did the plane wreck accident happen?

The United States Navy DC plane made an emergency landing close to Sólheimasandur Beach, southern Iceland, the details of which remain something of a mystery. The Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck occurred in November of 1973, with initial reports suggesting it was due to fuel exhaustion although incorrect fuel tank selection was later cited as the cause. Show more

Where is the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck located?

Found on the way to Skógafoss waterfall, visitors to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck must embark on a signposted hike through a rather dramatic black sand desert approximately 4 km from the parking lot to the site of the crashed plane close to the southern Icelandic village Vik. Show more

What happened to the missing tail and wings of the plane?

Though the twisted fuselage of the crashed United States Navy DC plane remains, the wings and the tail of the aircraft have since been removed by salvage companies, leaving only the main body behind. The site is covered in sand blown by the wind, and the barren landscape creates a dramatic setting that feels almost post-apocalyptic in nature. Show more

What is the best time to visit the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck?

The months between April and November are often considered the best time to visit the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck due to more favorable weather conditions. The Icelandic climate can be unpredictable, so visitors must be prepared for colder temperatures despite it being the warmer season. Choosing suitable clothing and footwear is essential since the trek through the black sand desert to the plane can be challenging. Show more

How far do visitors have to walk to reach the site of the plane wreck?

Provided visitors park their car at the designated lot, they will need to walk approximately 4 kilometers, correlating to around 5 miles, for a round trip to reach the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck site. As the route passes through the black sand desert, the ground can be tricky to navigate, and proper footwear and clothing are strongly advised to avoid discomfort and injury. Show more

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