Iceland is renowned for its stunning landscapes and untamed nature, but among its numerous natural wonders lies an unusual attraction that draws visitors from around the world: the abandoned plane at Sólheimasandur.

This article takes you through the history, location, and how to get to this unique destination, providing helpful tips for travelers planning a visit.

Remains of Iceland's crashed plane

What happened to the abandoned plane in Iceland?

On a cold November morning in 1973, a US Navy Douglas DC-3 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing on the sandy beaches of Sólheimasandur in southern Iceland. The plane ran out of fuel due to confusion in handling the reserve tank, forcing the crew to land in a completely desolate environment.
Incredibly, all crew members survived the incident without serious injuries, leaving the plane where it still rests today as a stark reminder of survival against extreme odds.

DC3 abandoned plane in Iceland

Where is the crashed plane in Iceland?

The skeleton of the DC-3 is located on Sólheimasandur beach, a vast stretch of black sand that provides a dramatic backdrop to the sun-bleached fuselage. This location not only offers an incredible view of the plane against Iceland’s wild nature panorama but has also become one of the most photographed sites in the country.

How to get to the abandoned plane in Iceland?

Getting to the crashed plane at Sólheimasandur can be an adventure in itself. There is no direct car access to the site; visitors must park at a designated parking area and undertake a approximately 4-kilometer hike to reach the plane.

  • Parking: The start of the trail is clearly marked from the parking lot.
  • Hike: The route is relatively flat but can be challenging due to strong winds and the vast open landscape. It is recommended to wear good wind protection and suitable footwear.
  • Best time to visit: Summer months offer longer days and warmer temperatures, though the site holds a special charm even during winter, especially when covered in snow.

Tips for visiting the plane at Sólheimasandur

Visiting the abandoned plane at Sólheimasandur is a unique experience that requires proper preparation:

  • Clothing: Make sure to layer clothing as Iceland’s weather can change rapidly.
  • Equipment: Don’t forget your camera as the photo opportunities here are exceptional. Also, bring snacks and enough water for the hike.
  • Respect for the environment: While it’s tempting to explore inside the plane, it’s important to treat the site with respect, staying within designated areas and following local guidance to preserve the area.
  • Remains of Iceland's crashed plane

Getting to know the abandoned plane in Iceland

The abandoned plane at Sólheimasandur is not just a reminder of a past event but has transformed into a symbol of the desolate and mysterious beauty that characterizes Iceland.
A visit to this site not only satisfies curiosity about its intriguing history but also offers a unique perspective of Iceland’s powerful nature and isolation. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, adding this destination to your itinerary will provide an unforgettable and deeply moving experience.