The Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland is a popular hike.

Hiking to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck in Iceland

The hike to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland is a little bit of a boring hike. It is also an easy hike though as it is a flat pathway to the airplane and back. Don’t let the flat path fool you though – the hike takes a little while to complete.

The plane crash is a popular photo spot in Iceland. The remains of a United States Navy DC-3 were left on the black sand beach where it crash landed onto a black sand beach after running out of fuel. Apparently it wasn’t actually out of fuel though – the pilot just switched it to the wrong fuel tank. Thankfully everyone survived the crash.

This guide will help you with everything from the plane wreck location in Iceland to what to wear and take with you on the hike to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck. Hiking out to the plane wreck in Iceland was one of the highlights of our Ring Road road trip.

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A drone shot of the Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland

FINDING THE ICELAND PLANE WRECK LOCATION

The Sólheimasandur plane wreck is located on the southern coast of Iceland. If you stay in Reykjavik, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive from Reykjavik to the parking lot for the plane wreck.

The plane wreck is located about 9 km (10 minutes or 5.5 miles) past Skogafoss when coming from Reykjavik. If you are coming from the opposite direction, the parking lot for the plane wreck is 24 km (20 minutes or 15 miles) from Vik. 

There is a small parking lot off to the south side of the road (right side if you are coming from Reykjavik). A small sign marks it as parking for the plane wreck. There used to be a shuttle to the plane wreck, but now you park and walk the rest of the way.

If you use Google Maps, here is the exact location for the plane wreck. If you use Apple Maps, search for Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck. Note that the Apple Maps location is the actual location of the plane wreck, but you will park just off of Ring Road and then continue on foot.

A woman standing on top of the Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland

The Sólheimasandur plane wreck on a black sand beach in Iceland

If you plan to make the day trip from Reykjavik, make sure to see some of the other nearby waterfalls and attractions including Seljalandsfoss (and the hidden Gljufrabui), Skogafoss, the Dyrholaey lighthouse and puffins, and Reynifsjara (the famous black sand beach). Get tips on these locations and more in our full itinerary.

If you are taking a road trip around Iceland or looking for somewhere closer to stay, we loved the Solheimahjaleiga Guesthouse located just a few minutes from the parking lot for the plane wreck. Our room for the night was about $130 and included a large buffet breakfast. We ate more than our fair share of the breakfast after hiking to the plane wreck that morning.

The Sólheimasandur Iceland plane crash

The abandoned plane in Iceland

HOW LONG IS THE HIKE TO THE
ABANDONED AIRPLANE IN ICELAND?

The hike (or walk) to the plane wreck in Iceland is 7 km (4.3 miles) round trip. Since we both run, the distance did not sound too bad. However, it felt like it took forever, especially on the way to the airplane. In the end, it took us about 35 minutes to hike out and about 40 minutes to hike back without rushing.

The path you follow is a wide road that is marked on both sides. The path is black sand and pebbles and is fairly hard packed. Overall the path feels pretty flat. It does drop from 40 m (130 ft) to 9 m (30 ft) on the way to the plane making the way back a slight uphill.

Follow this path to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck
The hiking path to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck

The main reason it feels like a longer hike is because you cannot see the plane until you are very close. The whole way you are walking, if the weather is clear, you just see flat black landscape. If you look off to the left, you may be able to see the Black Arch Rock at Dyrholaey.

Because the path is slightly downhill, you do not really notice it. There is a bigger drop off (nothing crazy) just before the airplane. This keeps it out of sight until you are very close to it. Because you cannot see it during the majority of the hike, it feels like you will never get there.

You can see from my route below that we walked around at the airplane some and ended up with closer to 5 miles (8 km). This is the course from my Garmin watch. If you have a Garmin Connect account, you should be able to send it to your Garmin device to track your own hike.

 

A woman looking out at Dyrhólaey and the Sólheimasandur plane wreck
This is when you first see the famous Iceland plane crash (the arch rock at Dyrhólaey is to the left)

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE
SÓLHEIMASANDUR PLANE WRECK

The best time to visit the Sólheimasandur plane wreck depends on the season you are in Iceland. In the winter, the hike would be cold and miserable for us, so we would want to go at the warmest part of the day. However, that means others are likely to have the same idea.

With fewer daylight hours in the winter, try to hike to the plane crash near sunrise or sunset. There are typically less people near sunrise and sunset at most places. If you take flashlights, you could even start or finish the hike in the dark as it is an easy trail.

We visited Iceland in June when the sun was up nearly 24 hours a day. Even when the sun set, it did not get dark. We originally planned to do the hike in the later evening hours. When we drove by the parking lot at 9 p.m., it had a decent number of cars parked in it.

A woman standing in the doorway of the Sólheimasandur plane crash in Iceland

The Iceland plane wreck is usually empty in the morning

We opted to head to our room for the night and try again in the morning. We ended up starting the hike just before 6 a.m. There was one person ahead of us and two people not far behind us on the hike out. No one else was at the plane crash site when we arrived other than the one guy ahead of us.

We stayed at the plane wreck for a while to take pictures and then started the hike back. On the way back, we passed a few larger groups and lots of smaller groups on their way to the airplane. We arrived back at the parking lot around 8 a.m.

If you want to get photos of the plane wreck without anyone in them during the summer, be done by around 7:30 a.m. That seemed to be when the pathway became more crowded with people walking out to the plane.

The Sólheimasandur plane crash location when it is empty

A drone shot of the Iceland plane crash

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE FAMOUS
ICELAND PLANE WRECK

Iceland’s unpredictable weather means you might get a little of everything on your hike. We experienced a mix of sunny skies, low clouds, and light rain when we went.

Take some water as it is possible to dehydrate without realizing it thanks to the cooler temperatures. If you are like my husband, make sure to take some snacks too. While it is not a difficult hike, plan to be out for at least an hour and likely longer.

Most people do not stay very long at the plane wreck site, so be patient. Otherwise, get creative with using the plane to hide the others who are also there. Think of others around you while you are there too. For example, the guy who was ahead of us waited for us to catch up on the hill leading down to the plane so that we could get pictures from a distance without anyone in it.

We flew our drone there and so did several others. One guy was reckless with his, flying fast and crashing a few times. Don’t be that guy – he almost hit me at one point, and his girlfriend (the owner of the drone) was not happy when he broke the drone hitting the plane.

A drone shot of a man on top of the Sólheimasandur plane crash

The inside of the Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland

There is not much to see at the plane wreck site itself. You can walk around what is left of the plane and even climb inside of it, but there is not much to see or do. I’m glad we hiked out to the plane wreck, but I can see why others would find it a waste of time.

One thing to note is that you are not supposed to climb on the plane. We did not stop to read the sign on the way out to the plane because we wanted to beat the other car turning in to the lot. We did read it when we finished the hike and saw it on the sign then.

If you do climb on the plane, it is definitely a climb at your own risk situation. I did not feel safe at all on top of the plane as it did not feel sturdy. My husband is braver and walked around some, but I climbed up and stayed in one spot.

On the way down, I sliced my pants open in the back on a piece of medal sticking out from the plane. Thankfully it was only my pants and my jacket kept me decent. That’s what I get for breaking the rules.

A drone shot of a woman on top of the Sólheimasandur plane crash

A woman on top of the Sólheimasandur plane crash

GEAR + WHAT TO WEAR ON THE HIKE TO
THE ICELAND PLANE CRASH

No matter the season, wear layers for your hike to the famous Iceland plane crash. Because the weather changes quickly in Iceland, you want to make sure you stay warm but can also remove layers to cool down if needed.

We went in the summer, but it was still cold to our Florida blood. With temperatures in the 40s (4 – 9 C), I wore my hiking pants, a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket. I ended up taking the jacket off for part of the hike though.

Waterproof clothing and shoes are strongly suggested throughout your Iceland trip. We ended up dealing with rain for a few minutes of our hike despite sunny skies at the start. Thankfully we had on waterproof jackets, waterproof pants and waterproof shoes.

In addition to wearing waterproof gear, comfortable hiking or walking shoes are a must. With the path made of sand and pebbles, wearing flimsy shoes on the hike would not be fun and may cause an injury.

A couple in front of the Sólheimasandur plane crash

Moody clouds at the Iceland plane crash since the weather changes quickly

Because my hands get cold easily thanks to Reynaud’s Syndrome, I wore my thickest gloves but took them off as I warmed up hiking out to the plane wreck. From there they were on and off as I got colder or warmer throughout our time at the plane wreck. Take gloves if you can as they are easy to throw in a backpack.

If you plan to take photos with you in them, take a tripod with you. There is nothing around to set the camera on other than the ground and the plane itself. Even with the plane, there aren’t many places to set the camera and get the plane in the shot. 

Because there are not always other people around, it is better to take a tripod and not need it than need it and not have it. We were able to trade out photos with another couple, but we had the tripod just in case. We also ended up using the drone to get a couple of photos together before the other couple showed up.

For the same or similar gear as ours, here is my jacket, his jacket, my pants (find a much cheaper pair here as I got mine in a sample sale at the outlet for significantly less – I do not pay this much for pants!), his pants, my shoes, and his shoes.

A couple in front of the Sólheimasandur plane crash

A woman sitting on the famous Iceland airplane crash

SHOULD I VISIT THE FAMOUS ICELAND PLANE WRECK?

This one depends. I enjoyed visiting the plane wreck. We enjoy hiking and knew what the plane wreck looked like already. It was worth it to us to take a couple of hours to visit the plane wreck.

However, it is not for everyone. If you do not want to take the long walk or are not able to walk that far, skip it. There are plenty of other amazing things to see in Iceland without seeing the plane wreck.

For more Iceland tips, check out our full 6 day Iceland itinerary, our favorite waterfalls in Iceland, and our little trick to seeing the Blue Lagoon for free even when it is closed.

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Click here for the ultimate guide to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Iceland including how to get there, what to expect, when to go, and what to wear. #iceland #travel #adventure #hiking | Iceland things to do in | Iceland plane wreck black sand | Iceland plane wreckage | Iceland plane crash photography | Iceland abandoned plane | Iceland hikes | Iceland things to do in summer | Iceland travel guide | Iceland travel tips | Iceland Instagram pictures | Iceland Instagram photo spots

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43 Comments

      1. It really is a neat and unique thing to do in Iceland. I haven’t seen anything like it!

    1. We didn’t do the hike because we were visiting in winter and had our 2 small boys with us, but I would love to return to do it one day. I’ve really enjoyed your photos in the meantime!

      1. Thank you! It would definitely be a much harder hike in the winter with the cold and with small children. Hope you can go back and give it a try next time you go!

    1. this is an interesting experience that I would definitely try! However, I doubt I can make this 7km round trip done :DDD

      1. You can do it – it is not a hard hike, just a longer walk 🙂 Just plan in plenty of time for it and take your time.

    1. Wow this looks so eerily beautiful! Thanks for the tips, I’ve seen pictures of this but I had no idea it was such a hike.

      1. Totally agree with your description. I did have to look up and find out that everyone lived before we went. It’s definitely longer than you would think, especially since you can see the water from the start of the hike but not the plane.

    1. I’ve seen pictures of this before and it always looks so epic! I had no idea it was such a long, boring hike to get there though. Now I don’t know if I’d want to spend the time doing that or just appreciate everyone elses’s pictures instead haha. Also, I have Reynaud’s too!!! I totally sympathize with the always needing gloves thing!

      1. It isn’t too bad if you know going in, but depending on how much time you have in Iceland, you might want to skip it. I’ve found so many people who have it when I didn’t know anything about Reynaud’s a couple of years ago. Have you found good gloves for keeping your hands warm? I’m still trying to find some that will really work since I live in Florida where we don’t really do winter 🙂

    1. Sounds like a ineteresting hike. Do you mind sharing why this airplane is famous for?

      1. Just for crashing (everyone survived) and being left there – it is a common Iceland photo spot and common in photos of Iceland, but it’s really only famous as a photo spot.

    1. What an unusual but interesting attraction in Iceland! Thank you for the realistic info on the hike to get there and the cool pictures!

    1. I don’t think visiting the Sólheimasandur plane wreck would be a priority for me but it is an unusual sight that must make the place feel even more remote and isolated! Great guide.

      1. Thank you! It’s definitely a unique thing to do/see.

    1. I can’t believe how long of a hike it is! Good to know it’s an easy one though. I have to add this to my list when I visit Iceland!!

    1. Iceland is so on my bucket list And this plane wreck is so intriguing. I really want to visit it, I see it on IG so often. But I swore it had wings or a partial wing before. Or maybe I’m remembering a different plane site. Great photos though! The black sand looks cool

      1. Thank you! I hope you get to visit Iceland sometime soon!

    1. When I went to Iceland, it was before I went on Instagram to check for cool places to visit. So I had no idea about this until after my trip! Looks really cool and this blog post is very helpful.
      I definitely want to go back to Iceland some day so I might check it out then!

      1. Thank you! I want to go back too – 6 days in Iceland was not enough!

    1. Nice photos; didn’t even know this existed until your post – so I have learnt something new. Sounds like a wonderful memory to have made as a couple.

    1. I really wish I knew all this before we embarked on this hike without doing research (thinking it was just a quick walk!)

      1. It felt SO much longer than it was too since there wasn’t really anything to see.

    1. I really appreciate your honesty that its a bit of a boring hike. So often people write that this kind of thing is amazing, just to get the extra clicks. I mean, the plane itself does look pretty fun, but I think I would prefer a hike with a bit more variation or to a waterfall or something.

      Having said that, the miles of black sand do seem pretty otherworldly. It might be cool to run in…so you could see it, without spending *too* long there… That might help with the cold temperatures too. 😉

      1. Thank you! I agree – I want to know what it is really like. I read a lot about Pamukkale in Turkey before we went only to find out it wasn’t what I expected based on blog posts/IG posts.

        And not a bad idea about running, but I don’t know that I would have done well running on the soft-ish pebble/sand path 🙂

    1. This is awesome. Thanks for writing this as I had no idea it existed.

      1. Thank you! Hope you can hike out to the famous Iceland plane wreck sometime!

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