The Most Epic Photography Locations in Iceland
Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Iceland’s landscapes and the sheer drama of nature here create some of the most spectacular photography locations in the world. The wild and changeable weather in Iceland means that the views shift by the hour. The different colours and the quality of light combine to stunning effect. Really there is no need for filters when you are photographing Iceland.
Capturing these amazing views sometimes takes a little practice though. For certain subjects such as the Northern Lights you will need a manual camera set up and a little know-how. There are some locations however where you can’t help but take an impactful shot. The Icelandic landscape just does it for you! Here is our guide to the most epic photography locations in Iceland.
Top photography locations in South Iceland
South Iceland is probably the best area for photography in Iceland. Especially around the south coast along which many road trip itineraries wind their way. Hiring a camper van in Iceland and taking a photography safari through this stretch of Iceland is ideal. You simply take the Ring Road east from Reykjavik and drive off into the sunset. Read on for our favourite photography locations along Iceland's South coast.
The Golden Circle
This mind-blowing trio of sights within easy reach of Reykjavik very much lends itself to a photography tour. The Gullfoss Waterfall with its two tiers of raging waters is best photographed in the spring or early summer. This is when the waters will be at their most thundering.
Then there is the incredible geyser field with its bubbling mud pots and huge plumes of water spray. The final member of the Golden Circle trio is the Thingvellir National Park with its beautiful expansive landscapes and lake.
This famous sight is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland. In summer it is possible to walk all the way around behind the falling curtain of water. This yields some stunning shots out across the landscape beyond. Especially if you capture it at sunrise or sunset under the rosy glow of the Midnight Sun.
Skogafoss Waterfall marks the edge of Iceland’s former coastline. It has a sixty-metre drop down into the river below. The black volcanic shingle of the riverbed contrasts beautifully with the surrounding deep green moss and grassland during summer. In winter it has a stark beauty all its own.
Vik’s Black Sand Beach Reynisfjara
Near the town of Vik in the southeast, you will find one of the most dramatic beaches in Iceland. Swathes of black sands stretch down to a churning ocean. Out in the bay, huge rocky outcrops are battered by the waves. While on land dark basalt column cliffs rise up steeply from the sands. Vik's black sand beaches are truly a sight to behold.
Eldhraun Lava Fields
The lovely Eldhraun Lava Fields surround a section of the south Iceland Ring Road. Mossy hillocks stretch out around you creating an almost alien landscape. Do be sure not to step onto the delicate moss here as it is very easily damaged.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
On the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park you will find the wide Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. In summer you can head out onto the waters on an iceberg boat trip. Bergs of all shapes and sizes drift across the water towards the ocean. They create a veritable gallery of floating ice sculptures that are irresistible to photograph.
The nearby Diamond Beach is another treasure trove of icy photo opportunities. The waves wash grains and pebbles and boulder-sized pieces of ice onto the shoreline. In the right light, they glitter like diamonds across the sands. The low light of the Midnight Sun makes it one of the best times of day to photograph the spectacle.
Vatnajökull Glacier ice caves
If you are driving through Iceland in winter then don’t miss a visit to the Vatnajökull Glacier ice caves. The refraction of the light and the deep blue and turquoise of the ice are exceptional. It is almost like you are exploring a crystal cave.
The iconic Kirkjufell Mountain is located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula around a two-hour drive west of Reykjavik. If you are photographing Iceland in winter this is a great place to come. It is usually very accessible and has some characterful fishing villages in which to base yourself. The Kirkjufell Mountain is truly iconic. The most sought after shot combines the mountain at night with a nearby waterfall and the Northern Lights.
The Blue Lagoon
With is glowing blue waters, wafting steam and dark volcanic rock the Blue Lagoon is very photogenic. In winter with a blanket of snow all around it is even more magical. This is one of many other beautiful hot springs in Iceland. So don’t forget to pack your swimming costume alongside your camera gear.
Top photography locations in North Iceland
North Iceland is, in general, less explored than the south. This is partly because in winter it becomes much more difficult to travel around. The snows come down heavy here, blocking roads and disrupting transportation. There is so much to see and to photograph though. We’ll need to write a whole article to do it justice. Here though are just a few of our standout photography locations in the north.
Offshore from a black sand beach along the Vatnsnes Peninsula sits a striking rock stack. Fifteen metres high this hulking black basalt rock makes a big impact. With two voids undercutting the rock it looks like a dark dragon or grumpy troll depending on whom you’re talking to.
Just off of the Ring Road in North Iceland Godafoss is a dramatic horseshoe-shaped waterfall. You could use a wide-angle lens for this one!
The prime time to photograph the immense Dettifoss Waterfall is in early summer. This is when the flow of this colossal waterfall will be at its fullest. This is one of the largest waterfalls in Europe when it comes to the volume of water per second. It is located down a rough track accessed from the Ring Road. Visiting it forms part of the famous Northern Diamond Circle road trip. If you hire a 4x4 camper van you will have no trouble. But if you are driving a regular camper then you will need to go easy. It is still possible to visit you just need to allow plenty of time and drive carefully.