Iceland Photography: The Land Of Fire & Ice

Iceland Photography

Iceland Photography

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 LifeProof Cases.

I hope my Iceland photography inspires you to visit this wonderful country!

Iceland Photography

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.

Iceland Photography

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.

Iceland 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.

Iceland Photography

Geothermal Energy

Ice Cave Photography

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.

Iceland Photography

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.

Iceland Photography

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.

Iceland Photography

Waterfalls In Iceland

Iceland Photography

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.

Plane Crash Iceland

Do You Believe In Elves?

Iceland Photography

Icelandic Horse

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!

Iceland Mountain Cabin

Emergency Mountain Huts

Iceland Glacier Photos

Incredible Glaciers

Iceland Photography

Remote East Iceland

Iceland Photography

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.

Iceland Photography

Icelandic Art

Iceland Photography

Silfra Fissure

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.

Iceland Photography

Icelandic Architecture

Plane Crash Iceland

Northern Lights

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.

Traveling In Iceland

Planning a trip to Iceland soon? Read all my posts about Iceland here. ★

Watch Video: Amazing Adventures In Iceland

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new Adventure Travel Videos!

(Click to watch Amazing Adventures In Iceland on YouTube)

More Information

Location: Iceland
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 NEXT: Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle

Do you want to travel to Iceland for photography?



  1. Matt, your photographs are stunning, so much so, I just booked a 12 day trip to Iceland at the end of October to include Ring Road and Golden Circle. I was there last December and took the same photo you took of Skólavörðustígu (street) from the Hallgrimskirkja except mine was not as colorful as yours. Thanks for getting me so excited.

  2. Such a great Country. I travelled around Iceland the last 3 Weeks. There are so many more places to visit. For Example the Westfjords are even more remote than the Eastfjords.

  3. Awesome pics. I came across your blog while planning my trip. I am in Iceland and today is the second day. Loving every minute of it. Taking the short golden circle tomorrow and hope weather will be good. Keep posting more from your travels to help us in our planning as well

  4. I am so happy you posted this because I am SUPER obsessed with Iceland. I went there in February and loved every moment. But now I am very eager to go back in another season and experience a whole new side of Iceland. Honestly, I can’t get enough of the place.

  5. Wonderful article about Iceland. You obviously visited many of the most important natural wonders. There are though so many other places. Hveravellir in Kerlingafjoll and Laugarvellir natural pool and warm shower to name two in the Highland. Studlagil in the East Region. But I am sure you are coming back. If so, fell free to contact me for more information.
    Einar Páll

  6. WOW. Just W-O-W! Iceland is high on our list and this really makes me want to go. Would be in heaven with all the fun taking amazing photos too. WOW!

  7. Fantastic photos, Matt! I love how you highlighted the wide variety of things that you can experience while in Iceland. I, myself, will be headed there next week and will certainly be taking some of your advice. I’m particularly looking forward to visiting Sólheimasandur, even if you do have to walk quite a ways from the road to get to the site these days… Is there anything that you were unable to photograph/visit while there that you wish you would have been able to?

  8. Hello Matthew.
    Wow wow amazing awesome images, you did a fantastic job bro. I mean like me who never thought to visit now change the perception totally, great :). Really worth visit.

  9. Amazing pictures. Northern lights look unreal and amazingly beautiful. i have been wanting to go to iceland to see northern lights but couldnt go. Why dont you come to India. And write a blog with some amazing pictures someday? would really love to see that.

  10. My god, you are an amazing photographer! I can imagine that Iceland is beautiful but to capture it like this is truly amazing. I should go there as well;)

  11. Hello Matthew,

    I just wanted to tell you that I loved this post and your whole blog! I was just in Iceland last summer and what can I say… It was the best trip ever!

    Just like you, I love traveling and writing about it. I recently created a blog and I would love to have your opinion. I’d really appreciate you advice if it’s not too much trouble!

    Thanks and keep traveling!

  12. Wow… It is really beautiful!! I’ve never been to a place with so much ice like this. But I’ve been to Atacama desert, in Chile, and visited the geysers…. and it was so cold, that I was almost unable to take pictures, because the canon battery just froze.

    1. Did you get to explore the plane wreck? I love the photo (all the photos actually) with the northern lights above it, but would really like to know more about plane!

  13. Iceland has got to be the most disgustingly beautiful place on earth. I love the tiny turf houses! Your photos are amazing and the best I’ve seen of Iceland. Keep up the great work!

  14. Awesome, this country is in my bucked list also. I can t wait to get awesome pictures, learn more about their culture, food, habits and visit amazing spots. Thanks a lot for the post/tips!

  15. Each country has its own heritage and culture. It is amazing to know how different it is from others. Iceland stands tall because of its unique diversity.

  16. Great post – loved the pics. I will be honest – main motivation for me is to see and photograph northern lights. Phenomena looks totally out of this world.

    I am planning a trip in the later part of 2016 (July / Sep). Hope to catch a lot of pics. Hoping English is widely understood!!!

  17. Matt,

    The photos you’ve taken of Iceland on this post are truly incredible! My girlfriend has been trying to convince me to visit Iceland but for some reason I never thought it was really worth exploring. Even on Google Images, the photos are ok..but WOW your photos really blew me away.

    Iceland is now definitely high up on my list of the places I want to travel to next. Mountains…Glaciers…the Northern Lights…Iceland has it all!

    I can’t wait to visit and you’ve definitely inspired me, Matt!

  18. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve never seen such stunning and breathtaking pictures. they definitely inspired me to go to Iceland and to see everything live. I think you a very talented photographer and writer!

  19. Flabbergasted! I have no words to describe the beauty of Iceland! What an amazing place on earth. Showing life in Iceland tempts me to visit and experience it. Also, I can fulfill my passion of photography by capturing the beautiful landscapes.

  20. WOW! The photos of Iceland are absolutely breath-taking! This place is moving further up my ‘to go to’ list – thanks for the inspiration and information :)

  21. Wow! Loving this blog! Such diverse countryside. Some bring to mind Lassen National Park in California and Yellowstone. Loved the elf houses, too.
    I have a friend who has been to Iceland and I will definitely be sending this to him. He is always posting photos of Iceland on his FB page.
    The video is fantastic! I need to do some videos for my blog promoting travel to Oregon, especially the beautiful Oregon Coast. Your video has given me some ideas. Thanks for this one!

  22. Wow!! Stunning photos, Matthew!! I have to go to Iceland. How do you think the driving will be for a Norwegian Girl? I think that is the best way to see the Iceland with a rental car or what will be option B?

  23. Beautiful pictures! So inspired. We went to Iceland in May and of course I got some great photos, but we’re going back in 1 week, end of October-November for 2 weeks, looks like the same time you went and I can’t wait to get a different look at the country (and maybe do a little more exploring like checking out the ice caves! I think that’s a MUST). Especially now that we’ve been already once, I want to take this a bit slower! Hope I get my pictures to come out as great as yours!

  24. The quality of these pictures is incredible. I literally feel like jumping on a flight right now! Another year to go though and this is really helpful for planning. Those ice caves look beyond breathtaking. Again, thank you for sharing such breathtaking shots!

  25. Hey Matthew,
    I accidently stumbled upon your blog when my colleague sent me a link to websites about cold areas of the world. I was mesmerized by the pictures and the beauty of Iceland and long to go there now. I was planning a vacation and now I know where I will be heading.

    1. Awesome Anoop, this is why I love running an adventure travel blog. To inspire people like you to travel more, and to areas of the world they maybe wouldn’t have thought about. Beaches are nice if you’re looking to relax in the sun, but colder destinations like Iceland have a lot to offer too!

  26. As usual, fantastic photography. Curious: did you process any of them as HDR? If not, I’m impressed. If you did, I’d still be impressed by how you kept them so natural.

  27. Awesome photos!! I was inspired to visit Iceland by the goofy Ben Stiller movie ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. Movie not so great — scenery spectacular! Your pics helped reinforce Iceland as a destination!

  28. Wow…this is perhaps the best ice and photography I have ever seen. Just Brilliant! I can only imagine how much cooler it would have been to be there in real flesh and blood to experience these sights!

  29. I have been postponing my Iceland trip but after reading this article I can’t wait anymore…great article with amazing facts…will wait for you to disclose how you post-process the photos :)

  30. Iceland was a dream for me; seeing all the breathtaking landscapes, swimming in the Blue Lagoon, watching the Aurora Borealis dancing in the night sky…… the last time I was there, my kind host in Reykjavik gave me recommendations for the rest of my trip (I stayed in a Roomorama apartment). I rented a car with my friends and started exploring, and made so many beautiful memories!! If you haven’t been to Iceland, you definitely have to visit at least once in your lifetime. It was one of the most memorable trips in my life xx

  31. I fully agree that Iceland is one of the most beautiful place in the world. Your photos are very nice. I want to visit one more time to witness Northern lights as well. And for everybody who is going to visit Iceland – don’t forget about puffins, they are so smart.

  32. Matt,
    Stunning pictures! And a very informative blog. I’m traveling to Iceland this September..want to visit almost every place you photographed :-) Can you please post locations for the cairns on the Golden Circle and those adorable turf houses for elves.

    Thank you!

    1. Hey Abhi, I don’t remember the exact location of the cairns, but they are on the side of the road. You can’t miss them. The little elf houses are a common thing in Iceland. These ones were near Hofskirkja Church.

  33. Hey Matt,

    As always, your posts continue to awe and inspire. Its funny to see how many other people will be travelling to Iceland in October 2015.

    I can’t wait to spend there a full month! Your advice is priceless.

  34. Hello , awesome photos and story . I’m traveling to Iceland for photography October 25th – November 6th. What should I expect that time of year ? Is it more fall or winter ? I live in the Colorado Rockies so I’m use to both . Just wondering if I should go with 4×4 truck while there .

    1. That’s the same time period all these photos were taken. Winter is just starting in Iceland. Plenty of snow up North, in the South it would snow but wouldn’t stick. There were a couple of times when I wished I had 4×4, but you can make do without if you’re staying on the Ring Road. Most rental car tires are studded anyway.

  35. Loved the photography. The ice caves though… wow. Iceland has been on my radar for a while now and I think i I might make it out there this November. I’m even more excited about it after this post! REALLY hoping to catch the aurora..

  36. Gorgeous photos! I went to the Westfjords in Iceland back in November and I cannot recommend the place enough- definitely the most rugged and wild part of the country.

  37. Amazing photo’s Matthew, they have a real pop to them! Looking forward to a trip to Iceland later in the year to practise some photography. Out of interest, which software do you use for your editing? And do you spend a great deal of time editing each photo, or do you have some specific ‘go to’ settings that you use for everything?

  38. Great article Matthew. The full width layout really does justice to the photos! I imagine that being so sparsely populated the country gives a refreshing sense of calm and openness, hope to visit someday.

  39. Matthew,

    Your pictures are gorgeous! I enjoyed seeing some of the highlights of your trip.
    I have been going back and forth as to which season to visit Iceland in – spring or fall. It is top of my bucket list right now – so I am planning for later this year. I look forward to reading about your experiences.


  40. Hi,
    these photos convey the spectacular beauty of Iceland (I visited many years ago, in my black and white film phase).

    I am curious about the Silfra Fissure photo and snorkeling itself. The photo does not show the usual GoPro fish eye curvature. I sold my GoPro because i did not like that effect, but I have to say it was way more waterproof than m Nikon AW1 and AW110 that both leaked (unlike an old Pentax P&S that was always dry). I would love a GoPro that would shoot without the fisheye effect and raw files.

    Anyway great info and images on your blog, makes me want to travel more!

  41. The colors in these photos- all I can say is wow. A friend of mine just went to Iceland as a part of her bucket list, I think I am going to have to add it to mine too. So many interesting activities. She really had a blast!

  42. Wow absolutely incredible photos! Iceland was high up on our hit list but think this has just secured it a top spot! Can’t wait to experience it for ourselves and hopefully get some great shots/video like these too!

  43. Fantastic photos Matthew! Just wow! As an avid photographer and traveler I’m beyond excited to,be spending a few days in Iceland this July on a stopover from Norway (another amazing place you really should visit with your camera) and after seeing your Images I can’t wait to get driving the golden circle! Where did you discover those adorable little elf houses ? ( I think I’d rather come upon those than the plane :).

  44. Hi there!

    Your photos are amazing! Wow I am also thinking of going to Iceland but I am not sure what time of the year is best? Summer or winter to see the “winter lights” ;) Did you find Iceland expensive? Because everywhere I read it says expensive food, hotels etc, (compering to other countries from Europe)?


  45. The quality in the Sony camera is amazing. I bet you’ve got a few people buying photos of Kiersten? haha

    Would you say that October is the best time of the year to go? I’ll be in East Coast of the states in September, so working on my timing right now.

  46. Incredible images Matthew! We didn’t get to that ice cave at Vatnajökull Glacier. I’m wishing we were more organized to make it happen because it looks awesome. Thanks for sharing such an amazing visual journey.

  47. Enthralling place, your photos are just spectacular ;)!
    And it comes to my mind again… why do we call Iceland, “ice-land”, when it’s so green?
    We should call it “Greenland”! Thing is, there already is a Greenland, which is far from being green, it’s full of ice!

  48. I am glad you liked my country Iceland, I just moved back to Iceland after staying abroad for few years and I can understand when you say that Iceland is a great place for nature photography. Pretty much everywhere I go there is something amazing going on: Glaciers, volcanoes or northern lights.

    Iceland truly is an amazing place, I’m glad you guys liked it.

  49. Hey Matt,

    As insparing as always. Iceland has been added to my bucket list now (along with more places) thanks to you. Have you made any video with the Sony a7? How do you like it?


  50. Visited Iceland July, 2014. Your photos revived my memories, and now I want to go back there so badly! What an amazing place, coming back to Europe was like returning from a space trip to moon surface. Amazing pictures! Thank you!

  51. Fantastic post Matthew! Just got back from Iceland and can’t wait to go back myself! Question for you: are you shooting with only your GoPro? The Northern Lights pics? Just got the Hero4 Black and was so disappointed by my pictures… :(

    1. Thanks Melanie! Only one of these photos was shot with my GoPro, the underwater Silfra shot. Everything else was shot on my Sony A7. You can see all my travel photography gear here.

      I also post-process my images using software. They don’t come out of the camera looking exactly like this. Years of experience helps too! Good photos of the Northern Lights are particularly difficult, requiring specialized camera settings. I’ll be sharing details about those in a future article.

  52. Lovely round-up of this fabulous country. I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland for the Northern Lights, but always felt it might get too crowded or touristy around that time and take away from the experience of the open landscapes. Now that I see your pictures I can tell that it doesn’t happen–no matter how large the crowd it’ll always appear tiny in the face of such vast splendour!

  53. aah. I visited this beautiful country last year, in December, as a treat for completing med school. It was spectacular if not downright freezing. I stayed a week and the whole time most of Iceland was a blanket of white snow. It was magical and celebrating Christmas in the unique Iceland tradition was amazing. The magical experience of witnessing the Northern Lights was the highlight. however, I know I must go back in the summer, spring or fall to see the whimsical colors that make the name Iceland a complete misnomer. Last month I was in Norway, saying the same: must come in summer for the fjords. I don’t know why I always end up in Scandinavia and Nordic countries in Winter. No more!

  54. Your pictures look amazing. Iceland was already a place that was on my bucket list need to make it there sooner than later. Favorite pic Sunrise at Jökulsárlón Lagoon.

  55. Your images always make me gasp Matthew and these ones certainly did not fail either (not that I ever expect they would)! Such an incredible country. We are leaving Australia on Christmas Day for 6-12 months in the UK and beyond with our daughters… I have flight scanner open right now to check flights over the next few months and definitely want to add Iceland to the list of ‘absolute must do’s’. Will be looking out for you next articles about travel there! Thanks!

  56. Ah, how your post makes me miss Iceland!! I too feel like it’s the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to. I visited Iceland earlier this summer and I was just in awe. Missed the ice caves because it wasn’t winter and definitely need to return for the Northern lights. Must have been quite the experience. Really stunning pictures! :)

  57. Beautiful photos…hard to pick my favorite, but I think it would be the ice caves. I never thought of visiting Iceland because I do not like cold weather, but you pictures make it very tempting.

  58. Matt, I continue to be in awe of your amazing adventures around the world! Absolutely phenomenal photos, videos, descriptions and tips. Your “road partner” in Iceland looks like she was a super cool addition as well!

    Much love to you, brotha.


    1. Yeah, the Crystal Cave was a highlight for sure. They actually call that particular one the “Northern Lights” cave because in one area it kind of looks like blue aurora surrounded by black volcanic ash.

  59. Uh, those are kind of the best pictures ever. I’ve always been on the fence about Iceland, but you’ve convinced me. I’d love to hear your tips for how to plan a photo-centric itinerary in the country.

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