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Iceland is an incredible place for stunning photography. Find our top 10 recommended spots in the country for Iceland photography opportunities.
Whether you’re after the Icelandic snap essentials or something a little off the beaten track, we’ve thought of it all.
Iceland’s landscapes are truly something that must be seen to be believed. And once you have seen them, you might want a little reminder of the incredible scenery you discovered during your time on the island. It’s no wonder that Iceland has become and remains an immensely attractive holiday destination for avid photographers. We’re here to tell you exactly why.
Why are Iceland’s landscapes such great photography subjects?
Everything about Iceland, from the attitudes of its people to its very creation, is like nowhere else on earth. With the island perched across the gap between two tectonic plates, volcanic activity is prevalent in Iceland’s past, present, and certainly future. Hardened lava rock formations, unique flora and fauna, and stunning glacial waterfalls all found in one place are an unmissable combination.
Reynisfjara Black Sand beach in South of Iceland
String lines of volcanic rock, bright blue waters, red hues of minerals in mud and bright snowy landscapes come winter all combine almost artistically for other-worldly landscape shots. After all, there’s a reason countless TV and film scenes have selected the rocky alcoves or rough shores of Iceland as their dramatic backdrops. And did you know, some astronaut teams have even chosen these same areas to train for missions to outer space?
But just where should you be setting your sights?
Best Photography Locations in Iceland
It’s safe to say that the majority of people will be spending just a handful of days in Iceland. If your time is limited but you still want to capture breathtaking imagery while on your trip, it’s well worth prioritizing some shots that you know you’ll never forget. That’s why we’ve curated a list of 10 top places in Iceland for professional and budding photographers.
Búðakirkja (Black Church)
Vatnajökull Ice Caves
Colorful hills of Landmannalaugar
Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
All year round, this iconic black church sitting in front of the Snæfellsjökull glacier is a landmark well worth adding to your must-photograph list. The church stands alone on a straggly lava field near the coastline of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, making for a stark shot. If you happen to visit in spring or summer when wildflowers bloom on fertile lava field soil, capturing the dark church contrasting with these colors is a feat well worth capturing.
Búðakirkja, the black church near the coastline of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Some important landmarks found on the Golden Circle route are the geysers of Iceland. While the Great Geysir, formerly putting on a show regularly, has become relatively inactive in the past few years, Strokkur remains a reliable showman. If you can time your shot right, you’ll be able to capture a truly special moment from your time in Iceland. And who knows, you might even capture an incredible rare burst of energy from the Great Geysir!
Strokkur geyser geothermal site in Iceland
Without even knowing it, you might have already come across a sunny shot of Seljalandsfoss on social media or even a screensaver on a laptop. Iceland is infamously littered with beautiful waterfalls of all sizes, but this one is a little special. The rocky path allows careful visitors to tiptoe around the back of the curtains of water, offering a totally new camera angle. You’ll capture the otherwise rolling landscape ahead if you’re careful with your composition, a great stop on the Golden Circle self drive route. Remember to take your waterproofs for this one!
South Coast gem - Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is able to walk around in the summer
4. Vatnajökull Glacier
The glaciers and ice caps of Iceland are other elements that make the land of ice and fire such a special place to visit, particularly with a camera. As the largest ice cap on the continent, Vatnajökull is an excellent photography subject. If you’re up for a little adventure to get a great shot, it’s time to get your crampons on! Glacier walks and ice climbing at Vatnajökull offer a totally new experience for many, with stark white ice against dark basalt cliffs creating dramatic almost monochrome compositions to take advantage of. Discover the top tips and tricks for photographing an ice cave.
Crystal bue ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier
5. Colorful hills of Landmannalaugar
Despite the travel time from the capital, the rolling hills of Landmannalaugar within the country's highlands should definitely make your “to shoot” list. Multiple popular hiking trails (all of the different difficulty levels) wind around the hills, with rivers, mountains and hot springs sprinkled amongst the colorful peaks. A Landmannalaugar day tour will provide ample time and the best photo opportunities, as well as plenty of spare hands to get a shot that captures your time there. Shots of Landmannalaugar are sure to be unique too, something to treasure forever - or to show off to jealous friends on Instagram!
Colorful Landmannalaugar mountain range in Iceland
6. Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
Another shot you might have already seen replicated will be the Sólheimasandur plane. Easily accessible from Iceland’s ring road by an hour-long hike or a faster trip via thrilling ATV across black sand beaches, the plane wreck sits on a sprawling area of black volcanic sand. This is an incredibly popular destination for photographers hoping to capture something a bit special - and with the history of the plane to discover on-site, there’s plenty of reason to see this for yourself.
Remains of the plane crash at Sólheimasandur beach
7. Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach is a place well-known by photographers worldwide. Other than the incredible black sand of the beach, which already makes for something to stand out on any social feed, lumps of ice large and small break away from the glacier and float picturesquely across the water. Some even wash up onto the sands, as if positioned purely for your camera lens. You should take extra care when on this beach as the waves have a habit of sneaking up on unsuspecting visitors.
Floating icebergs across the water at Diamond Beach, Iceland
Hraunfossar is one of Iceland’s lesser known waterfalls, but nonetheless one of the prettiest. Here, blue glacial water trickles from the Hallmundarhraun lava field and into the Hvítá River. When the local flora is in bloom or as the leaves change color in Autumn are when the area is at its most gorgeous, but the bright water and artful water directions make it ripe for photo opportunities.
Hraunfossar waterfall and Hvita river in Iceland
Another convenient stop on the Golden Circle is Vik, one of the quaintest towns you’ll visit on the south coast of Iceland. The iconic red-roofed church is what makes it so recognizable, but the surrounding dramatic cliffs and black sandy coastline also make the stop worthwhile for you and your camera.
Church with a red pointed roof in the town of Vik, Iceland
10. Vestrahorn Mountain
The dizzying heights of Mt Vestrahorn in the South East can also provide you with the perfect shot for your portfolio. Black sand dunes, rolling tides, and snow-tipped peaks - what more could a camera lens ask for? Whether you just capture the mountain from the roadside as part of your self drive trip as the very tips of the mountains come into view, or you decide to get up close and personal to the rock faces, Mt Vestrahorn should not be missed.
Mt Vestrahorn in the South East Iceland
Looking to start your 2023 with a bang? Check out our range of self drive tours for a flexible adventure, perfect for adventure-thirsty families in the new year.