Hallgrímskirkja Church - Buy an elevator ticket in the church’s gift shop to be able to ride to the top. This is the best place to get a panoramic photo of the Reykjavik’s colorful rooftops from above.
THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK
Gullfoss Falls - Venture toward the interior of the island and see this gigantic crystal blue waterfall. It is one of the biggest on the island and provides for so many awesome photography angles. Follow the trail that runs down along the side of the waterfall and you’ll come to various viewpoints that create tons of photography opportunities. It does get pretty misty and wet as you get closer!
ON THE WAY TO VIK
Seljalandsfoss - There is obviously the unmissable iconic spot that provides for an epic photo of you standing in front of the waterfall, but be sure and continue past that spot to go behind the waterfall. Having an incredibly dense sheet of water falling behind you in a picture is always going to be epic! Also, there is a small pathway that leads down to where the waterfall hits the water and that spot also makes for some really awesome photos because it’s as close as you can get to being almost under the water. Don’t forget a heavy duty rain jacket and possibly waterproof pant covers because the mist will drench you in a hurry!
Gljúfrabúi - After seeing Seljalandsfoss, leave the parking lot and continue on the side road until you reach another little parking lot. This beautiful waterfall is tucked away inside cave formed from a split in the cliffside. There shouldn’t be many tourists at this waterfall because it isn’t as well known as Seljalandsfoss so people skip it. Be advised that if it has been raining a lot the little pathway into the cave can become a small knee-deep stream that is only passable by wading through the water.
Skógafoss - This is one of our favorite waterfalls because of its size and insane water flow. You can also walk right up to the bottom of it as close as you want! Rainbows can often be seen in this waterfall as well so be ready to whip your camera out when they appear!
Reynisfjara Beach - Known as Black Sand Beach, this is the windiest beach ever!! Lots of movies/shows have been filmed on this beach such as Game of Thrones, Rogue One, Star Trek and many others. This beach has beautiful black sand, very majestic rock formations in the ocean, and it also has a towering Basalt Column wall that create a perfect contrast for some stunning portraits. We recommend going a little before sunset because the mist and white foam washing on the black sand almost absorb the gold and purple hues from the sun and create a really beautiful haze for your photos.
Eldhraun Lava Fields - These fields are the biggest lava flow site in the world. The area has one of the most unique landscapes you will ever see because of the vibrant green moss covering rolling lava rocks for miles. There are many pathways that will take you deep into the moss covered fields so be sure and walk in the designated areas instead of random patches of moss. You can receive a very hefty fine for walking on the moss! On the map, we placed the camera icon in an area that has parking, walking paths and very few tourists because it is not the designated tourist attraction parking lot and lava walkway area, but it’s just as good.
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon - This canyon looks like it is from a fantasy movie set. It was formed at the end of the last Ice Age and is presumed to be around 2 million years old. There is a trail that you can follow around the rim of the canyon, but we found that our best pictures came from right at the beginning of the trail where you can see down through the length of the canyon.
Vatnajökull Glacier - There are many different views that you can get of the glacier. We tagged on our map the two best spots to get up close to the most scenic parts of the glacier. The Vatnajökull Glacier view in the Fjallsárlón Lagoon was our favorite view of the glacier.
Note: If you want to get one-of-a-kind photos up close to the glacier then you should seriously consider booking a hiking tour. We recommend Icelandic Mountains Guides. They offer a great tour on the ice and you learn a lot about the glacier as well! Getting a photo of you holding an ice axe while wearing crampons, standing on crystal blue ice with a mountain in the background is as epic as you can get!
JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIER LAGOON AREA
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon - Pull into the Glacier Lagoon parking lot and venture down to the water where you can get really close to the giant blue icebergs floating in the lagoon. There are lots of great shots you can get from the shore or you could do a boat tour to get even closer! If you check the forecast and the wind is low or nonexistent then you might be able to get an iconic photo of the nearby glacier, mountains, icebergs, and sky reflecting perfectly off of the water.
Diamond Beach - Just on the other side of the bridge that took you to the Glacier Lagoon is Diamond Beach. When the wind carries icebergs from the lagoon and into the ocean, they slowly break apart and wash up on the shore of this black sand beach. The small and large chunks of crystal clear ice scattered all along the black sand look just like huge diamonds!
BETWEEN JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIER LAGOON AND FÁSKRÚÐSFJÖRÐUR
Vestrahorn Mountain - Typically when you look up Iceland photography on Instagram you will find tons of amazing pictures of this majestic mountain and rightly so. It looks like something from another planet and makes for an incredible backdrop for your photos.
Stokksnes Beach - This is the beach that lies below the Vestrahorn Mountain. Mixtures of dark brown, gray, and black sand along with mounds of tall yellow grass. Plenty of great photo opportunities of you standing on one of the gras mounds or walking along the beach with the mountains in the background.
Note: You do have to pay to gain access to the beach and view the mountain. You cannot view the mountain any other way because the road ends at a large hill that blocks the view and the ticket booth is at the top.
FÁSKRÚÐSFJÖRÐUR TO HUSAVIK
Gufufoss - This spot is right off the road on the way to Seyðisfjörður. If you didn’t get good enough photos at Skógafoss because of weather or too many tourists then this waterfall should make up for that. It’s not as large as Skógafoss, but the it’s very similar in flow and shape. There wasn’t a single tourist at this waterfall when we went!
Seyðisfjörður - Around the area of Gufufoss is a wide panoramic view going down to this small village. It’s a perfect spot for a sweeping panoramic shot of you or someone looking down at the village and mountains below. Also, the winding road that you follow from the waterfall down to the town was the same spot in the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” where Ben Stiller’s character looks out over a town before longboarding down to it. Once you are in town, go find the small church with the long rainbow colored walkway leading up top it. A few shots of you walking down this path will make for some of the happiest photos you’ll take on the trip :)
Dettifoss - Allegedly the most powerful waterfall in Europe, you can feel the power of the water coming off of this waterfall while you are walking up to it. There is a little bit of a walk to get to the waterfall from the parking lot, but it is an easy walk.
Note: Unless you are an incredibly dedicated photographer and don’t mind driving a lot, we recommend choosing which side of the waterfall you want to view before going. Highway 864 will give you the east side view which gives you the chance to see the full height and width of the waterfall. This is the most popular view. Highway 862 will give you the west side view and while you’re way closer to the waterfall from this side, you won’t be able to see the full height of it. If you want to do both then you will have to add about an hour to you driving time and the roads are VERY bumpy. It’s a choice between a panoramic shot of you in front of the full waterfall (Hwy 864) or a shot of you with a full sheet of rolling water making up the entire background (Hwy 862).
Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss - While the main attraction is Dettifoss, these stunning waterfalls are in the same canyon and you can access both of them from the network of walking paths around Dettifoss’ viewpoint. These are more secluded so you’ll have better chances of avoiding crowds.
HÚSAVÍK TO HELLNAR
Goðafoss - Emerald green and crystal blue water flow in the river of this beautiful waterfall. As you walk from the parking lot there are two options to take. Go to the right side or left. The right side will give you epic panoramic views of the entire series of falls while the left side paths will give you an option of going down to the riverbank at the base of the waterfall to get a view looking up to the falls. You can simply do both if you can’t decide.
Kirkjufell Mountain and Falls - Easily one of the most photographed spots on the island. Kirkjufell is a photographer’s dream! The uniqueness of the mountain and the waterfall that flows just to the side of it is breathtaking. During winter months the northern lights have been known to dance above the mountain making for a truly stunning photo. It can be busy here early in the day so either go around the golden hour just before sunset or be patient and wait for the crowds to clear out.
Arnarstapi Cliifs - These cliffs go on for miles, but we found an amazing photography spot near our hotel Fosshotel Hellnar. Follow the walking paths down from the hotel to the little dock/bay area and you’ll see black caves, tunnels, and cliffs covered with vibrant green and yellow moss. Go through the arches and caves or go up top to get some awesome coastal views!
Búðakirkja Church - Known as the Black Church to most, this church is a stark contrast to the scenery it sits with. This church is also a very popular elopement spot because it is wildly photogenic and beautiful!
Additional Photography NOTES
Other than hitting up all these hot spots, we would like to note that the Eastfjords and the drive out to Hellnar on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula are absolutely filled with amazing photography opportunities. Our first trip, we were so focused on getting from point A to point B that we didn’t stop to look around and take in the scenery. Our second trip there we made sure and stopped literally anytime we saw something interesting. Some our favorite pictures of all time came from simply pulling over and hopping out for a quick photo on the way to one of the main tourist sites!