Information about Myrdalssandur

Mýrdalssandur is an outwash plain located between the rivers of Kúðafljót, in the east, and Múlakvísl, in the west, both of which carry water down from the glacier, Mýrdalsjökull. Mýrdalssandur has a 35km (22mi) long coastline which includes Kötlutangi, the southernmost point of the Iceland's mainland. 

Culture

Around the year 1000, many farmers set up shop on Mýrdalssandur. By the 15th century, however, most of these farmsteads were abandoned due to violent eruptions originating from Katla volcano. Today, the area is a 700 square kilometre desert of black sand, made up of the deposits from Mýrdalsjökull ice cap and the sudden glacial floods (or jökulhaup) that run from the glacier down to the sea. Evidence of these prior floods can be seen throughout Mýrdalssandur, be it the washed out bridges or the peculiar rock erosions. Even today, farmers close to Mýrdalssandur worry that receding glaciers will cause rivers to change direction and overflow. It’s no wonder Icelanders left this region a long time ago.

The barren landscape of Mýrdalssandur has done much for folklore and superstition, with many still claiming (albeit, with a twinkle in their eye) that the black sand desert is haunted by ghosts and witches. Birdlife and arctic foxes are a relatively common sight in the region.

Attractions 

There are a number of attractions to preoccupy oneself with in Mýrdalssandur. At the beginning of the western edge, visitors can head to Sólheimasandur beach to see the famous Navy DC plane wreck. The plane crashed in 1973 after the pilot, incorrectly, assumed the plane had run out of fuel. Still, he managed to land the plane on the black sands with no casualties. The plane wreck still exists today and makes for a great stop for photographers. 

Roughly 15km east of Vik, visitors will arrive at the inselberg mountain, Hjörleifshöfði. Rising 221m (725ft) above sea level, Hjörleifshöfði was once an island though by the time of the settlement of Iceland, it was already connected to the mainland. Today, it offers a well-paced trail hike with sweeping views across the Mýrdalssandur region.

The mountain is named in a number of sagas, particularly that of Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, of whom the mountain is named after. The brother of Ingólfur Arnarson, it was told that Hjörleifur settled at the base of the mountain in the 9th Century, but was eventually murdered by his Irish slaves. Vengeance was swift as Ingólfur pursued the assailants to Vestmannaeyjar, where they were eventually killed. Hjörleifur is said to be buried at the summit of Hjörleifshöfði. 

Driving across Mýrdalssandur will take approximately an hour, with stunning views of Vatnajökull glacier and regular picnic stops. Recently, Mýrdalssandur was used as a filming location for the opening scenes of Star Wars: Rogue One, depicted as the planet Lah’mu. 

Services near Myrdalssandur

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Attractions nearby Myrdalssandur

South Coast

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Vík i Mýrdal

Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik. Vik is important as a ...

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Iceland's coasts

Almost everywhere where there is old lava by the Icelandic shores, there are also spectacular waves, particularly in the southwest parts of the countr...

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Black Sand Beach - Reynisfjara

The world-famous Reynisfjara shore, near the village Vik in Myrdalur on Iceland's South Coast, is widely regarded as the most impressive black-s...

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Dyrhólaey

  The 120 meter high promontory Dyrholaey is the southernmost part of the mainland, only a short drive south of the Ring Road. It offers a ...

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Katla

Katla is an active volcano situated under the glacier Myrdalsjokull in South Iceland. It is one of Iceland's most well known volcanoes. Katla...

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Katla volcano

Katla (meaning “Kettle”) is one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanos. Situated in south Iceland, Katla is partially buried un...

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Mýrdalsjökull

  Myrdalsjokull is a glacier in the south of the Icelandic highlands. It is the country's fourth largest glacier,  covering nearly 600 ...

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Sólheimasandur

Solheimasandur is a vast area of sand and gravel along the south coast of Iceland, between the cliffs of the interior and the modern shoreline. It was...

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Eldhraun

The vast Eldhraun lava field (“Fire Lava“), in the south of the Icelandic highlands was created in one of the greatest eruptions in reco...

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Sólheimajökull

Solheimajokull is a beautiful outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull icecap. Solheimajokull is a rugged glacial tounge riddled with crevasses and specta...

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South Iceland

South Iceland is the most popular part of the country and contains some of the most beautiful natural attractions in Iceland, among them the Golden Ci...

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South Shore

From Reykjanesta and the next 100 km onwards, the south shore is characterized by lava formations constantly battered by the wild ocean waves (‘...

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Skógar

Skogar, in South Iceland, is a popular destination for travelers. It has a population of about 20 people, features a regional museum and and is close ...

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Skriðuklaustur

Skriduklaustur is a culture and learning institute in the valley of Fljotsdalur in East Iceland. It is a historical site and home to the Gunnar instit...

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Skógafoss

  Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls of the island with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters...

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Magni

  Magni is one of the two youngest craters in Iceland, along with Modi. The craters are situated between glaciers Myrdalsjokull and Eyjafjalla...

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Móði

  Modi is one of the two youngest craters in Iceland, along with Magni. These two craters are situated between glaciers Myrdalsjokull and Eyjaf...

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Fimmvörðuháls

  Fimmvorduhals is one of Iceland's most popular hiking trails. It made the world news when the Eyjafjallajokull eruption started there in 2...

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Bláfjöll

  The Blue Mountains are a beautiful mountain range of the tuff type, located around 20 km from Reykjavik, by the lava plateau of Hellisheidi. T...

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Tours near Myrdalssandur

Ring Road Tour - Winter Adventure with Northern Lights Hunt

Zip up your warmest jacket and embark on this winter adventure of the one and only ring road of......

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Five-day Highland hiking tour | Volcanic trail part 2

Hike through the incredible wilderness of the Strútur trail on this five-day trekking tour......

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