You have made the right decision to book a trip to Iceland. This island nation is a photographer’s dream and will leave you feeling in awe of nature’s bountiful beauty. Iceland photography is an adventure and a story waiting to be shared with friends and family. In Iceland, there are molten hot volcanoes, shiny diamond beaches, powerful waterfalls, icy glaciers, historic national parks and more. When you visit Iceland, at every bend in the road you will want to stop to take a picture of the views.
Photographs in Iceland always look regal and like a dreamy postcard. The perfect shot will allow you to treasure your epic voyage through this contrasting and mysterious land. Don’t hesitate, grab your camera, extra batteries, and delve into this ultimate guide on the most scenic places for photography.
Best Places in Iceland for Photography
If you are driving through Iceland on a road trip, you will surely come across many epic photo opportunities. The landscape of Iceland is simply that beautiful where at every corner you discover something new. But the best places in Iceland for photography include Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the very famous Golden Circle, the stunning South Coast and more. Start your journey from Reykjavik on the Ring Road and head over to Road 54 towards Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Other photography locations include the Golden Circle and the big three and the South Coast.
Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Iceland in Miniature
Snow Mount’s Peninsula or Snæfellsnes Peninsula is aptly called Iceland in Miniature. This small but dynamic peninsula has all of the features that make Iceland so appealing. These attractions include picturesque coastal towns, mesmerizing waterfalls, vibrant beaches, hot lava fields, and more.
The first location you should visit is the romantic black sand beach called Djúpalónssandur, which means Deep Lagoon’s Sand. This beach has beautiful black sands and round black pebbles across the shoreline. You can set up a great photo shoot with this background and breathe in the crisp air. This beach is lovely however do not try to swim in the waters. Djúpalónssandur beach and like many of the other beaches in Iceland, the water is quite dangerous.
When you are ready to go to your next destination you must visit the famous Mountain Kirkjufell. This mountain is known for its distinctive triangular shape and being featured in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. The most photogenic spot of this mountain is from the side where you can see the petite Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. Ideally, the triangular top of the mountain will be in the background framed by the beautiful Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall.
The Golden Circle: Visit the Big Three
The Golden Circle should be on everyone’s list of places to go when traveling to Iceland. There are three historic locations, sometimes called the Big Three, that you have to visit. They are Þingvellir or Thingvellir National Park, the steamy Geysir Geothermal Area, and the spectacular Gullfoss Waterfall.
Thingvellir National Park has earned the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can see a geological wonder up close and personal by standing on a bridge to witness the shifting of two tectonic plates. These plates are North America and Eurasia.
Thingvellir National Park is also a site of great historical importance to Iceland. It was said the original settlers of Iceland created the first form of parliament in this park. That is why the name Þingvellir roughly translates to the “fields of parliament.”
After your voyage through the park, you can drive over to the Geysir Geothermal Area. On your drive, you can see the landscape shift as volcanic and geothermal activity increases. The Great Geysir was the first noted geyser in European history. The area is now mostly dormant because of low tectonic plate activity. But the steam rising from the ground will create an amazing photo to capture.
The last stop of the Big Three is the impressive Gullfoss Waterfall. The waterfall is only ten minutes away from the Great Geysir Area and it will startle you with its beauty. The best time to see Gullfoss Waterfall is during summer on a walking tour to see everything up close. But make sure your camera is in a waterproof case to avoid water damage from the spray.
South Coast of Iceland
The South Coast of Iceland is absolutely breathtaking. The majestic Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is filled with crystalline icebergs that look like ice sculptures. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is the deepest glacier lake in this island nation and draws travelers in all seasons. You can also see these icebergs up close by going on a Zodiac boat tour. You will also get to see the friendly grey seals. Then there is the blue ice cave inside Vatnajökull glacier, which is very close to the lagoon. Booking an ice caving tour is a wonderful way to feel surrounded by nature’s glory.
The next place on your list should be a trip to the iconic Diamond Beach. Like the Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach has a shoreline peppered with jewel-like pieces of ice glaciers. The varying colors are clear, blue, crystalline, and even a little grey. The beach looks different everyday because new ones come ashore and melt in the sun. Overall, the South Coast has stunning locations for photography.
Iceland Northern Lights Photography
Many people come to Iceland to capture the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, with their cameras. Fortunately, the locations in Iceland to see the Northern Lights are easy to find and beautiful. You can go to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and visit national parks like Thingvellir to see the dazzling lights at night. The best time to see the Northern Lights is when the Midnight Sun is gone. This is typically during the last part of August all the way to April.
When you are searching for the Northern Lights, you can download a phone app to track when they should appear. Then travel to an area that is far from city lights and on a night without a full moon. Essentially, you want to minimize the surrounding light. Light pollution can drown out the vivid colors by making them look grey instead of rich. The perfect combination of factors is clear dark skies, no rain, and high Aurora Borealis activity. If you don’t feel confident you can find the light on your own you can always book an Iceland Northern Lights Photography tour. It is an experience of a lifetime and a great opportunity to capture the sheer beauty of this natural phenomenon.
Drone Photography Iceland
Drone photography in Iceland is fairly new but it is quickly becoming a popular method of photography. The footage you can get of the majestic landscape is unreal. You can capture views and angles not possible from the ground. You can easily purchase a drone in Iceland if you decide last minute this is something you need to try.
However, please be respectful of the regulations that are developing in Iceland due to the backlash against drone usage. There have been noise complaints and accidents that have now prohibited drone usage in certain areas. For example, no drones are allowed in any of the national parks in Iceland, which are Vatnajökull, Snæfellsjökull, and Þingvellir.
Photography Iceland Tips
What are some great photography Iceland tips that will help you line up the perfect shot? One, make sure you prepare for the unpredictable weather patterns. Two, pack waterproof clothing and bring a waterproof camera bag or case. You don’t want to get sprayed by a waterfall or get caught in the rain and inadvertently damage your camera.
After you take care of that, bring extra batteries because in extreme cold, batteries lose their charge faster. Also bring a spare memory card to have space for all of the pictures and videos you want to take. There are no electronic stores aside from in large cities.
You should bring a wide-angle lens and tripod to shoot colossal waterfalls, the Northern Lights, and sweeping mountain views. When you take long exposure shots, which means low shutter speed, you need a neutral-density filter and tripod. This is great for waterfalls to capture the movement of the water.
Follow these tips and you are guaranteed to capture beautiful images of Iceland. When you come to this Land of Fire and Ice you will not leave unchanged. The landscape and beauty of the countryside will become memories you will always cherish.