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Exploring Rauðisandur: Iceland's Red Sands

Updated: Apr 3

Have you ever taken a stroll on a beach that isn't your typical, run-of-the-mill golden or white sand? A beach that's as unique as the land of fire and ice itself? Welcome to Rauðisandur, a hidden gem nestled in the majestic Westfjords.

We at Campervan Reykjavik are always on the lookout for unique, off-the-beaten-path destinations to share with our customers. And Rauðisandur definitely fits the bill! In this blog post, we will dive deep into what makes this beach so special and why it should be on every traveler's bucket list when visiting Iceland. Intrigued? You should be!


The Unique Characteristics of Rauðisandur

Rauðisandur, or Red Sand, is a captivating attraction in Iceland that breaks the monotony of the regular beach paradigm. A visit to Rauðisandur in Iceland reveals sprawling expanses of crimson-hued sands, truly living up to its name and emerging as one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland.

Unlike the typical golden or white beaches, Rauðisandur's sand varies in color - from yellow to red - offering an eye-catching contrast against the backdrop of cerulean sea waters and verdant grasslands.

Its vast size, extending over 10 kilometers (6 miles), further adds to the scenic allure, providing a panoramic spectacle that leaves visitors spellbound. It is these characteristics that lend Rauðisandur its unique charm and make it a must-visit on an Icelandic tour.

The Rich History of Rauðisandur Beach

The history of Rauðisandur is not merely a tale of red sands and panoramic beauty, but is also deeply entwined with the tragic love story of Bjarni Bjarnason and Steinunn Sveinsdóttir, residents of the Sjöundá farm.

This site became the backdrop for one of the darkest chapters in 19th-century Icelandic history - the infamous Sjöundá murders. Bjarni and Steinunn engulfed in an illicit affair, were accused of killing their respective spouses in 1802. Despite the ban on executions in Iceland, both were sentenced to death. Steinunn, however, passed away in prison before she could be transported to Norway for her execution.

Bjarni faced his grim fate in Norway in 1805. This chilling tale inspired Gunnar Gunnarsson's novel 'Svartfugl (The Black Bird).' Steinunn's descendants, believing in her innocence, recently honored her with a tombstone at her burial site in Hólavallagarður, Reykjavík.

Tourist at Raudisandur, Iceland

Where is Rauðisandur Located?

Embarking on a journey to Rauðisandur takes you to the secluded Westfjords of Iceland, a region renowned for its untouched beauty and tranquil landscapes.

This expansive red beach, a unique spectacle in a country famed for its diverse and stunning geographical features, is situated near Látrabjarg, Europe's westernmost point.

Rauðisandur, with its vast, russet-hued sands, stretches gracefully along the coastline, offering a stark yet beautiful contrast to the typically black sand beaches found elsewhere in Iceland.

It's a serene escape where the gentle lapping of the waves and the distant cries of seabirds are your only companions, providing a peaceful retreat into nature's embrace.

How To Get to Rauðisandur Beach

Getting to Rauðisandur Beach is a bit of an adventure! Follow the asphalt road 612 heading west towards Látrabjarg, then turn left onto route 614 about 38 kilometers (24 miles) before reaching Látrabjarg.

Continue on this gravel road for about 11 kilometers (7 miles) before you reach the scenic stretch of Rauðisandur. As it involves some steep drops and hairpin turns, we recommend a trusty 4x4 vehicle for a smooth (and safe) ride!

At the beach, the road forks: take the east route for Melanes campsite, or head west to find Saurbæjarkirkja, a charming wooden church near Saurbær farm.

Camper rental Iceland

What Other Activities Can Be Done at Rauðisandur?

On our last visit to Rauðisandur Beach, we explored all the hidden gems this unique beach offers. Here are some of our top suggestions:

  • Hiking: The beach's vast expanse offers ample opportunities for hiking. The scenic trails, laden with diverse flora and fauna, are a hiker's paradise.

  • Bird Watching: For avian enthusiasts, Rauðisandur is a delight. The secluded location is home to various seabirds, providing excellent bird-watching opportunities.

  • Photography: The stunning landscapes of Rauðisandur are a photographer's dream come true. Don't forget your camera!

  • Beach Strolling: Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the red sands. The color of the sand changes constantly, and the beach is laden with crabs, jellyfish, and stones.

  • Eating: Franska kaffihúsið is a small French Cafe overlooking the beach that serves delicious pastries and coffee, perfect for a quick snack or meal. Try the waffles with rhubarb jam, a local favorite.

Essential Tips for Visiting Rauðisandur

Visiting Rauðisandur is a thrilling experience, but to make the most of it, some pre-planning is necessary. Here are some handy tips to ensure your visit is nothing short of amazing:

  • Best Time to Visit: The summer months (June to August) are the perfect time for a Rauðisandur escapade, as the weather is pleasant and the wildlife is abundant.

  • What to Bring: Pack warm clothing, a good pair of hiking boots, and a refillable water bottle.

  • Local Amenities: Besides the charming Franska kaffihúsið café, few amenities exist, so bring your own snacks.

  • Safety Tips: Adhere to marked paths and be cautious of the changing tides and Icelandic weather conditions.

Visiting Rauðisandur

Get Ready To Plan Your Trip To Rauðisandur Beach

In conclusion, Rauðisandur's ethereal beauty and dramatic allure are simply unparalleled. The enchanting red sands, the serene melody of the waves, the rich history, and the tranquility that this secluded hideaway offers is a feast for the soul, a retreat from the world's hustle and bustle.

But where will you stay since there are no hotels in the area? The answer is simple. Rent a campervan in Reykjavík! With no nearby hotels, your campervan becomes a cozy home-on-wheels, allowing you an intimate connection with nature, a front-row seat to the Northern Lights, and the freedom to journey at your own pace.

And guess what? The Melanes campsite is just a 10-minute drive away! So, why wouldn't you want to elevate your Icelandic adventure with a campervan rental?



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