Iceland is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. This mysterious land covered by icy glaciers & fiery volcanoes provides many opportunities for stunning photography.
In October/November 2014 I spent 3 surreal weeks on an Iceland photography mission, exploring the country for the first time with my Sony A7 camera. The results are beyond my wildest expectations.
Iceland impressed me so much that I didn’t want to leave!
How many locations on the planet can you crawl into bright blue glacial ice caves, fly over an erupting volcano bubbling with lava, AND stay up all night transfixed by magical Northern Lights?
My experience in Iceland was overwhelming and almost spiritual — reminding me why I started traveling in the first place.
For such a small nation, Iceland is absolutely packed with beauty and diversity. Vast, dramatic landscapes stretch out for miles, sprinkled with a handful of old farmhouses and fishing villages.
It’s seriously a travel photographer’s paradise.
My favorite part of the trip was driving Iceland’s Ring Road.
Below you’ll find travel photography from my adventures in Iceland, along with a short video I produced for the iPhone case company LifeProof.
I hope my Iceland photography inspires you to visit this wonderful country!
City Of Reykjavík
Most of Iceland’s population is concentrated around the capital city of Reykjavík. I was surprised at how big and modern the city is, fascinated by the vibrant art & music scenes too. Alcohol is expensive in Iceland, but nightlife in Reykjavík still gets pretty wild. After tourism, fishing is Iceland’s biggest industry, and the city has a large seaport. This photo was taken from the top of Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík’s famous Icelandic church.
The Blue Lagoon
This man-made geothermal pool in South West Iceland is the country’s most popular tourist attraction. Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad traveled with me through Iceland, and one day we decided to spend an afternoon soaking in the Blue Lagoon’s milky blue water full of silica, algae, & minerals. The warm water & white mud is supposed to be good for your skin. It’s also a great place for photography.
Green Volcanic Moss
In many areas of Iceland you’ll find large ancient lava fields of black rock covered with a thick green carpet of moss. This special volcanic moss takes hundreds of years to grow, and experts can determine how old a lava flow is by how thick the moss is. Icelandic legends say that trolls & elves live under the moss. Sounds reasonable to me! Walking through this crazy landscape feels like walking through a Dr. Seuss book.
Crystal Ice Caves
Wow. That’s all I can say about Iceland’s stunning blue ice caves. If you’re traveling to Iceland for photography, you can’t miss these. Melt water flows under Vatnajökull glacier creating these insane natural caves, with sunlight filtering through the ice from above giving them a blue tint. The crystal caves collapse or move every season, and can be difficult to reach, so you need an experienced guide. They are only safe to visit in the winter.
Holuhraun Volcanic Eruption
On August 29th, 2014 a volcanic eruption broke through the surface at Holuhraun lava field in the Northern Highlands of Iceland. It’s been spewing rivers of hot lava ever since with no signs of stopping. Driving to the eruption site is currently not allowed for safety reasons (possible flash floods & toxic gas), however you can fly over it. Helicopter flights are expensive, but if you fly in a small plane like I did, it’s pretty reasonable.
Driving The Golden Circle
Did you know that the general term geyser is named after a particular geothermal fountain in Iceland? Strokkur Geyser erupts every 5-10 minutes near the Hvítá River, one of many stops on our day-long road trip around the Golden Circle. We rented a cheap car and drove the Golden Circle under blue skies, rain, and a snowstorm! Iceland’s weather changes quickly.
Waterfalls In Iceland
Exploring Lava Tubes
Iceland is covered in volcanoes, both old and new. Many of them have underground lava tubes, formed when molten lava flows down channels and cools at the edges, eventually creating a tube of solid volcanic rock. When a section of the tube eventually caves in, it creates an entrance to this underworld. Hiking through dark lava tubes is a lot like caving, with slightly different formations and colors.
Do You Believe In Elves?
The small but sturdy horses in Iceland may look like ponies, but don’t call them that in front of a local! Iceland’s horses have a long and proud history dating back to the 9th century. Breeding & natural selection have made them super tough, able to withstand long & brutal winters completely outside with the help of thick fur. You’ll find the horses on many farms throughout Iceland — they are very friendly too!
Emergency Mountain Huts
Remote East Iceland
Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
At the bottom of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier sits a large lake, created by melting ice from above. It’s full of blue-tinted icebergs that have broken off the base of the glacier. Some of the ice collects on black sand shores the lake, other pieces float out to sea through a channel nearby. Located on Iceland’s south coast, Jökulsárlón is a wonderful spot for photography.
The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are breaking Iceland apart at Silfra, creating a fissure flooded with crystal clear 35°F degree glacial water. Ice from nearby Lángjökull Glacier melts and travels into an ancient lava field, filtering underground through porous volcanic rock over 50 years before it emerges where you can go snorkeling or scuba diving in it for a very unique (but cold) experience.
Photographing the northern lights was the highlight of my photography adventure in Iceland. I lucked out with 3 solid nights of clear skies and strong aurora activity while driving around the Ring Road. Including one particularly spectacular evening on Sólheimasandur Beach next to an old US Navy plane that crashed years ago. ★
Accommodation in Iceland
If you decide to base yourself in Reykjavik, here are my recommendations:
Loft Hostel – Luxury dorms with en-suite bathrooms and excellent wifi. Centrally located next to the bus station.
Check prices on: Booking.com
Rey Apartments – Modern, affordable apartment in the heart of Reykjavik.
Check prices on: Booking.com
Traveling To Iceland Soon?
Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
Watch Video: Amazing Adventures In Iceland
(Click to watch Amazing Adventures In Iceland on YouTube)
Accommodation: Click Here For Deals in Iceland
Useful Notes: I was traveling through Iceland during the fall months of October and November. There’s a risk of occasional snow storms then, but generally the main roads are pretty clear. Most people visit Iceland during warmer high season months of June – August.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Iceland
Suggested Reading: The Little Book Of Hidden People
READ MORE FROM ICELAND
Do you want to travel to Iceland for photography? Do you have any questions? Drop me a message in the comments below!