Nestled on the rugged coastline of Iceland sit roughly 104 lighthouses, all varying in size, colour and style. Standing tall against the elements, the lighthouses in Iceland have long been the silent guardians of the coastal waters. From the remote  Westfjords to the cliffs of the East, the structures have witnessed countless ships navigate Iceland’s shores. 

Today, many travellers include a visit to Iceland’s lighthouses in their itineraries. In our guide, you’ll uncover everything you need to know about these iconic structures, from their historical background to where to find them.

History of Iceland’s Lighthouses

The lighthouses of Iceland have a deep history, which ties with its maritime heritage. Dating back to the late 18th century, the lighthouses were used to guide ships through the challenging waters of the North Atlantic. Over time, Iceland underwent modernisation, constructing more sophisticated lighthouses with advanced lighting systems and technological advancements. 

Today, Iceland has a great network of lighthouses, both old and new, covering much of its coastline, ensuring a safe passage for maritime traffic. Not only do they serve a practical purpose, but the lighthouses of Iceland also hold great cultural significance.

Let’s take a look at just some of the many lighthouses you can see in Iceland.

Grótta Lighthouse -  Reykjavík

Grótta is a nature reserve on the tip of the  Seltjarnarnes Peninsula and is most famously known for its thriving birdlife. There has been a lighthouse there since 1897, with the one currently standing dating back to 1947. Visiting the Grótta Lighthouse is simple as it’s roughly a 10-minute drive from downtown Reykjavík, and there’s a small yet accessible car park. 

As you explore Grótta, you'll be greeted by the smell of fresh salty air, the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore, and a landscape covered with rock formations and weathered anchors.

Grótta Lighthouse in Iceland

Akranes Lighthouse - Akranes, West Iceland

Whether you’re into photography or just have an interest in exploring new things, Akranes Lighthouse promises a great experience. Located by the harbour sit two lighthouses, the larger of the two being used in recent years to host concerts and art exhibitions. You can spectate the Northern Lights dancing in the night sky during the winter from the lighthouse - a great experience for all to enjoy. In the summer, you can find locals enjoying a picnic outside the lighthouse, watching the choppy waves of the sea. 

The lighthouses are open year-round and can be found in Akranes, on the West Coast of Iceland. Tours are available by the lighthouse keeper.

Dyrhólaey Lighthouse - Vík, South Iceland

The Dyrhólaey Lighthouse can be found on the central south coast of Iceland. The lighthouse here has an uncommon square shape with keeper's quarters located on either side, making it look like an old castle. The tower was completed in 1927 and looks over the lava arch in the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse guides ships with a single white light which flashes every 10 seconds. 

From Reykjavík, the drive time to Dyrhólaey is about 2 1/2 hours. However, there are many amazing sites you can visit along the way. Being near the coastal town of Vík, you can have a full day of sightseeing in South Iceland. 

Dyrhólaey Lighthouse in Iceland

Þrídrangaviti Lighthouse - Westman Islands

Þrídrangaviti is an active lighthouse, around 7.2 km off the southwest coast of Iceland. Regarded as the world's most isolated lighthouse, it’s an introvert's haven!

Þrídrangar translates to “three rock pillars’, referring to the three sea stacks at that location. The lighthouse was originally built by hand, and it was only accessible by scaling the tallest of the three rocky stacks. Since then, a helipad has been added for easier access for maintenance engineers.

Sadly, the lighthouse is not open to the public, however, you can admire it from afar or take some great pictures of it with a good camera.

Þrídrangavit lighthouse from afar, sitting on a sea stackImage Source - Wikipedia

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, be sure to include stops at some of the lighthouses in your schedule. Opting for a self-drive tour provides the ideal chance to tailor your experience, ensuring enough time to explore. If you’re driving, take a look at our wide selection of vehicles and start planning your journey!