Every island is guaranteed to have at least one lighthouse. But there are many impressive and historical lighthouses in Iceland. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “how many lighthouses are there in Iceland?” and where to find them, this article is for you. This article delves into the details of those Iceland lighthouses you need to have on your itinerary with your next visit.
How many lighthouses are there in Iceland?
The lighthouses in Iceland serve as a wonderful reminder of exactly how adventurous this sea-faring nation and its ancestors were as well as how wonderfully innovative the human race can be. Most who dare to ask the question “how many lighthouses in Iceland?” are pretty shocked by the reply – there are roughly 104 lighthouses lining the 5000-kilometre stretch of Icelandic coast!
While some of them can easily be accessed by driving on paved roads with a small 2WD car or with a minivan rental from Reykjavik, other lighthouses are in more remote areas. So if you want to get there, you'll have to rent a 4x4 in Iceland or have your own 4WD vehicle, otherwise you will not be legally allowed to travel on certain roads.
If you are an avid lighthouse visitor just aching to get on the road and discover these majestic beacons of hope, you’ll be disappointed to know that you will struggle to find a lighthouses Iceland map exclusively dedicated to Iceland lighthouses, but you can use this map of all important national landmarks in Iceland which also include lighthouses. Alternatively, Google Maps is your next best solution as a lighthouses Iceland map.
Top 10 must-see lighthouses in Iceland
Now, without further ado, here are the top 10 lighthouses you need to stop by on your next visit:
This lighthouse is the oldest in Iceland. If it wasn’t for the earthquake that destroyed the original structure in 1886 (a mere 8 years after it was built), it would be even older.
Nonetheless, the current structure has withstood the tests of time since 1929. It is located in the Reykjanes Peninsula and served as a lighthouse for both Reykjavik and Keflavik. And what makes this structure even more impressive is that the 2-story lighthouse keeper’s residence still has a keeper residing there to this day (something not often seen in modern day).
This lighthouse looks like the fun one at the party with its stubby little stature and bright orange colour. But this lighthouse in the East Fjords wasn’t always like this. In fact, after it was decommissioned in 1917 it was left to go to ruins. It was only in 1959 that the lighthouse was revived, but 100 metres from its original site.
Today it is managed and maintained by the National Museum of Iceland. What makes this one of the lighthouses in Iceland with an interesting backstory is the fact that this is the only lighthouse that was built by an entrepreneur, a ship owner called Otto Wathne. It’s very clear that Otto was looking out for his own business interests by doing so.
This is one of the lighthouses in Iceland that looks like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie. This lighthouse which looks like it consists of 2 cubes, is more of an architectural art piece than just a practical tool. It was designed by a civil engineer called Axel Sveinsson who found his inspiration in a famous Icelandic architect called Gudjón Samúelsson’s work. That pretty much makes this lighthouse a piece of functioning art nouveau.
The lighthouse is located 5 kilometres from a small town called Stokkseyri in Southwest Iceland and although the tower itself, standing 26 metres tall, is not open to the public, visitors are welcome to come and view its interesting exterior and explore the rest of its site.
This is one of the lighthouses in Iceland that can be found in the capital of Reykjavik. Technically, this specific lighthouse has been there since 1947, but there has always been a lighthouse at Grotta since 1897. What makes this lighthouse so special is that the biggest change it has seen in its entire existence is joining the electrical grid in 1956. So, for the most part, you can still experience this historical building in its original form.
To some, this lighthouse might seem more fort-like than a traditional lighthouse. This prestigious lighthouse near Vik in South Iceland marks the southernmost point of Iceland. What also makes this lighthouse a popular attraction is the fact that it offers magnificent views over the south coast (especially its black beaches), the cliffs and the distant mountains.
If you strike it lucky during the summer months you might even spot a Puffin or two. Unfortunately, the tower itself, clocking in at 13 metres in height, is not accessible to the public. But with so much else the site has to offer, it’s not really a deterrent to visitors.
This is one of the lighthouses in Iceland that caters to lighthouse enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Bjargtangar forms part of the Westman Iceland lighthouses that offer much more than just rich history.
As the lighthouse is situated on the notorious Latrabjarg cliffs, visitors can look forward to various bird species sightings which include Puffins during the summer months. And although the lighthouse tower itself is closed to the public, one can boast by saying that you’ve been to the westernmost point of Iceland, and, in fact, Europe when visiting this landmark.
This is another Westman Iceland lighthouse (also known as one of the Pindrangar lighthouses or the Thridranger lighthouse should you ever attempt to Google this landmark), and definitely one of the most dramatic. Situated on top of a gigantic 120-foot basalt stack about 1.6 kilometres from the mainland, this lighthouse makes for an impressive sight.
The lighthouse was built in 1938 but was a treacherous mission that required mountaineers and hikers who had to scale these cliff faces to create a makeshift trail. When one takes the Icelandic winds, slippery rocks and incredible heights into account, this was quite a feat. Today, this is one of the Iceland lighthouses that are open to the public, but the only way to reach it is via helicopter (a trip that’s also not for the faint of heart).
This is one of the lighthouses in Iceland with a very rich history. Situated on top of the Reykjanes Peninsula (directly above the Keflavik International Airport), it was originally constructed out of timber by the Danish Lighthouse Commission in 1897. It was renovated in 1933 (but this time concrete was used) before finally being decommissioned in 1944 because of landslide fears. The current structure was built as a replacement. It stands a staggering 26 metres high and looks like something out of a landscape painting with its bright red and white paint.
The Hopsnes lighthouse site serves as a stark reminder of why lighthouses in Iceland were so essential as a shipwrecked fishing boat, broken in two, lies just a few metres away from the lighthouse itself. The lighthouse situated close to the small town of Grindavik in Southwest Iceland was built in 1928 and is still open to the public to this day. Most who visit the landmark will remark on the amazing views and beautiful scenery.
To reach this lighthouse you’ll need to do a bit of climbing (only about 5-10 minutes though), and we can assure you that it’s worth it. You will be rewarded with amazing 360-degree views with the seaside town resting below it. The interesting thing about this lighthouse is that it was once located at Grótta, but was moved to Súgandisey.
If you really want to take your time with discovering lighthouses in Iceland (some active whilst others have been decommissioned), you can also add the following lighthouses to your must-visit list:
- Selvogsviti (15-meter high tower)
- Krysuvikurviti (5-meter high tower)
- Stafnesviti (11-meter high tower)
- Sandgerdisviti (11-meter high tower)
- Hólmsbergsviti (13-meter high tower)
- Hafnarfjördur (6-meter high tower)
- Alftanesviti (4.7-meter high tower)
- Akranesviti (13-meter high tower)
- Straumnesviti (10-meter high tower)
- Nordfjardarviti (8-meter high tower)
- Faxaskersviti (6-meter high tower)
- Skaftárósviti (20-meter high tower)
A beacon light by the sea
As you can see there’s no short supply of lighthouses in Iceland. And with the beautiful structures and the surrounding scenery, it’s no wonder that photographers simply cannot get enough of these photographic landscapes.
Visiting any of the lighthouses on our top 10 list is pretty easy. And whether you’ll need a normal vehicle or a 4x4 (especially in the Westfjords), the lighthouses in Iceland can be reached after a quick drive from one of the towns. Most lighthouses offer parking on-site, whereafter it’s just a short walk to the actual lighthouse.
Just remember to check the conditions of the road before setting out and ensure that you’ve booked your Iceland car hire in advance (especially during the busy summer months).