Chris Romans is the co-blogger on the photography & business education website Formed From Light and one half of the husband & wife photography duo Hand and Arrow Photography. Chris is dedicated to educating and inspiring new and established photographers to enhance their skill and turn photography into a successful career path. While his creative focus has been on weddings and portraits, he loves to explore the world through travel and document the beautiful landscapes he encounters in places like Iceland and the Pacific Northwest.
In the fall of 2017, my wife and I visited Iceland as a sort of second honeymoon getaway. We spent 10 days traveling around the entire country in a campervan, and to date, it remains one of the best experiences of our lives. While our memories are plenty vivid on their own, having a collection of photos to look back on makes us feel like we’re back in Iceland frequently.
In the lead up to our trip to Iceland, we spent a lot of time collecting information on must see places. All of that extensive research paired with our hands on experience visiting the country with our cameras in tow just meant we were made to write a post sharing with you our top 10 photo locations that any photographer will want to visit in this amazing, beautiful, and otherworldly country!
My Top 10 Spots to Photograph in Iceland
1) City Life in Reykjavik & Akureyri
Most people visiting Iceland, especially photographers, are in it for the landscapes. I was one of those people – having a real passion to see with my own eyes and document with my camera the interesting and alien environments going on in nature. To my surprise, the capitol of Reykjavik and the 2nd largest city (if you want to call it that) to the North – Akureyri – were quite beautiful to photograph.
One of my few regrets from my own trip was not spending more time in either of these places. The city streets are bustling with interesting people, a lot of art work, and cool architecture. While really scenic and tourist hotspots like Hallgrimskirkja (the big church in Reykjavik) are cool to take pictures of, it’s the random side streets that turn up with the most interesting things to document in my experience. So, set aside some time and explore a little!
2) Berserkjahraun Lava Field
In all my research into Iceland, this place never came up. I happened upon it by chance, and it turned out to be my absolute favorite location in all of Iceland!
Located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (in Western Iceland), it’s a relatively easy day trip from Reykjavik or can be worked into a trip around the Ring Road pretty simply. This region takes you off the regular paved road, and sees you driving onto black volcanic sand. In the heart of the lava field, you are surrounded by black sand, volcanic craters in the distance, waterfalls, volcanic moss, and even some sheep as I saw (it was very surreal). This place feels plucked straight out of a science fiction movie.
If ever there was a place to suddenly improve your landscape photography, this is it!
3) Svinajokull Glacier
Svinajokull is a pretty popular glacier stop off in the South of Iceland. One trouble I had with this one was actually finding the name of the place (I honestly just drove until I stumbled across it!). You know it’s popular when it shows up in shows like Game of Thrones (albeit in bits and pieces).
The amazing thing about this glacier is the scale of it all. Some of my favorite shots incorporated people in front of the glacier – which goes far to showcase its size.
I drove on some pretty terrifying cliff side roads for several hours to reach Dynjandi – the “thunderous” waterfall of Iceland’s Westfjords. I look back on the drive in the rain, fog, and even a little snow – and I get anxious just thinking about it. But – the end of the road was worth it.
Dynjandi is an amazing attraction that few visitors to Iceland actually get to see because it is so remote. In fact, only about 2% of tourists make their way into the Westfjords – so you are virtually guaranteed some peace and quiet up there.
The actual region is stunning and feels like it was plucked out of Jurassic Park. While the waterfalls there are great, it was the views from the base of Dynjandi of the surrounding fjords that really stole the show for my landscape photos.
As a side note…it was here that I learned it’s a good idea as a traveling photographer to have a good external hard drive to back images up on after shooting.
Maybe the most popular Iceland landscape photography destination is Vetrahorn – a unique mountain on a black sand beach. I actually saw a picture of it right as I walked off the plane when I arrived – and knew that I had to make my way there.
While there is a fee to access the area and you will most likely see a lot of other photographers, this is a must visit. The area is beautiful, and extremely photogenic at any time of day. I arrived in the middle of the day after some light rain – and love my photos. Of course, I’ve seen other photos taken during Golden Hour and with the auroras overhead – all amazing compliments to this place.
One of the easiest locations to access on this list, Gulfoss (in South Iceland) is a popular tourist destination. It is a picturesque waterfall that you’ve likely seen 100 times online while researching trips to Iceland. With that said – sometimes the simplicity makes it a worthy stop off.
One thing that surprised me (and apparently is common there) is that, when you get close to the falls, you can see a double rainbow. I managed to capture this on camera as well – a pretty cool extra!
7) Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Iceland’s famous “glacier lagoon” is another touristy hotspot that you need to visit.
I had been on the road for about 8 days before I arrived to this area of the country, and it was the first time I was exposed to seeing a glacier in real life. It’s freakin’ incredible. The photography opportunities are HUGE from little shots of the ice to wider shots showing off multiple ice chunks and the glacier in the background.
8) Dimmuborgic Lava Field
Dimmuborgir is located in North Iceland and was on my list, in part, because of a band I listen to that shares the same name.
In real life, this is a really unique spot to visit that has some interesting photography opportunities. It is filled with black lava formations throughout a large park. Dimmuborgir opens up into a straight walk to the base of Hverfjall – a really cool volcanic crater. You can even scale it if you want!
Dettifoss was made popular when it was featured in a scene in Prometheus, but this location is more than just a film set. It is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland by volume, and standing at the top of it allows you to really experience the power of nature.
There are 2 roads to drive on to access Dettifoss – one leads to the south view, one leads to the north. Both have their own unique photography opportunities. You can also do some hiking in the surrounding area and incorporate it into wider landscape shots.
Go ahead, try to pronounce this one! 🙂
One of the easiest yet most incredible photos you can take in Iceland is from Dyrholaey cliffs in Southern Iceland. It provides a really simple view of the country you won’t forget. As a bonus, you can also see the Dyrholaey Arch and Lighthouse here – both cool for some extra photo ops.
Even a complete beginner photographer can make an awesome photo here!
Last up – Kirkjufell is another popular destination for landscape photographers, but one I can’t help but include on my list.
While many capture a similar ultra wide angle perspective that incorporates some waterfalls with the iconic mountain, my preference was a shot I managed to take from a campground across the bay it is situated on. Highly recommended!
These were some of the standout locations from my personal trip through Iceland. I covered a lot of ground in my 10 days in the country, but there are absolutely plenty of other locations to explore, particularly those in Iceland’s Highlands like Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar, that are impressive and awe inspiring while also being a bit more challenging to access.
I rarely feel the need to revisit places I’ve journeyed too – but Iceland really grabbed me and never let go. I often think back on my trip there, and am hoping to visit again in the near future. As a traveler who really enjoys nature – this is a great place to visit. But as a photographer? It’s a wonderland. While there are plenty of top spots to visit in the country, what amazed me the most was just how often I had to stop the car on the side of the road to get out and grab a photo. The place is that beautiful!
If you haven’t been to Iceland, you must plan a trip there soon!
For more photography advice – check out Formed From Light.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.