Golf is a relatively new sport in Iceland, compared to the rest of the world. The first golf club in the country, the Reykjavik Golf Club, was founded in 1934 and the second, a year later in Akureyri in north Iceland. Here’s a list of must-play golf courses in Iceland.
But being a bit late to the party has never stopped Icelanders from taking to a new fad like a duck to water and today there are 65 different golf courses in Iceland. The country’s dramatic nature and inherent extremes make this an experience no golfer can miss out on. Whether you fancy playing 18 holes under the midnight sun or a quick 9 beneath the dancing northern lights, Iceland’s golf courses have everything you need to make your dreams come true. Here are our favourites.
This beautiful course opened in 1993 as a 9 hole course but in 2005 was expanded to a full 18 holes. Located in the south of Iceland, just an hour‘s drive from Reykjavík, the course runs right next to the glacial river Hvita, the most famous feature of which is the world famous Gullfoss waterfall, part of the Golden Circle. Playing the course sometimes demands some light hiking but the spectacular view it affords over the river and the nearby area make the extra effort well worth it.
The Grafarholt golf course is the oldest 18 hole course in Iceland, built in 1963, and still one of its most popular. The course is set in rugged and fascinating terrain and offers a great view over all of Reykjavík. All golfers who play the course agree that it is among the most unique in the world as no two holes are alike, and the surrounding lave and heather forces golfers to use their imagination to get to the green. Regarded as Iceland‘s premier championship venue, the Grafarholt golf course has hosted many European and Nordic tournaments, as well as Icelandic ones of course.
Located only around 20 minutes from Reykjavík, playing this course still feels like you‘re in paradise. Surrounded by nesting birds and mossy lava formations this 18 hole course is considered one of the best in the country. It opened in 1997 and was designed to be more of a fun club course rather than a competitive course. That doesn’t mean it’s without its challenges of course, with some holes distracting players with the gorgeous views over the nearby area and one hole completely enmeshed in the surrounding lava field.
Vestmanneyjar is a place everyone should visit on their Iceland trip, due to its rich history and unique landscape. For avid golfers it‘s the perfect place for a spectacular round. Originally a 9 hole course set inside the crater of a volcano, the course was expanded in 1994. The catastrophic volcanic eruption in 1973 that disrupted life on the island for several years made its mark on the golf course as well. A temporary course was instated while the ash was being cleaned off the old one, which took four years. The old course has been left intact as the first 9 holes, which can be challenging but the incredible views along the way make it a must play.
Víkurvöllur – Stykkishólmur
This 9 hole golf course is located on the stunning Snæfellsnes peninsula. What it lacks in length it more than makes up for in breathtaking scenery and wildlife. Located just a five minute walk from Hotel Stykkisholmur part of the course is actually within the grounds of the campsite, meaning the course is truly a part of the town life in this charming fishing village. Where else can you heat up the barbeque, play a round of golf and come back just in time to put the steak on?
Katlavöllur – Húsavík
This 9 hole course in this small town in north Iceland is not for the faint-hearted. While offering fantastic views over the bay, where whales can be seen frolicking in summer, the course itself crosses streams and navigates awkward slopes, calling for a certain resourcefulness from its golfers. It also boasts of the world’s northernmost putting green. The course itself was opened in 1971 but sources from the area tell of local farmers finding strange white balls in their hey and tracing them back to an Englishman visiting the previous summer who had been seen wielding strange sticks to hit balls with. This is the oldest mention of golf in Iceland.