9 Epic Locations to Photograph in Iceland

9 Epic Locations to Photograph in Iceland

Iceland was at the very top of my bucket list for years. It’s likely I would have made it there much sooner, but COVID… need I say more?! Last year, when we were planning our next trip to the UK to see my husband’s family I was hoping to add on some time in Iceland during the trip, but then we unexpectedly lost my darling mother-in-law to cancer very suddenly. It was after this that my hubby said this was just another reminder that life is too short and that I should just book my own trip to Iceland so that’s exactly what I did.

skogafoss sunrise close up iceland

With a couple of photography friends in tow, we headed over to Iceland in March 2024, with some unexpected adventures along the way. As a huge fan of waterfalls, I had a number I wanted to visit, not to mention the hope of seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) during the spring equinox when activity can often be higher than other times of the year.  Even though I’d done some research into the weather in March, we certainly got more than we bargained on with some pretty wintery conditions which all added to the experience …. though I’m still a little bit traumatised from driving in an unexpected blizzard in the dark for 2 hours after a snowstorm came on suddenly after a calm and golden sunset. 

iceland diamond beach sunrise

Ultimately, the individual experience you have of a specific location can significantly influence your opinion of whether it is an epic landscape photography location. This can be impacted by many different things: the number of people you have to share the location with, the time of day you visit, not to mention the specific weather and lighting conditions you experience. Now I personally think we experienced pretty challenging conditions during our trip, with rain, snow and wind a constant companion, and only a few days where we actually saw sunshine or clear skies. This could be partly down to the time of year we visited, I had thought that with 12 hours of daylight in March it would be more springlike, but the whole country felt firmly in the grips of winter based on how much snow and ice we encountered. Regardless, each of these locations mentioned below are incredible in their own right and worth exploring in any season in my opinion! 

iceland road rainbow

1. Skógafoss & Kvernufoss

You’d have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard of Skógafoss - arguably one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls and within easy reach of a day trip from the capital, Reykjavík which explains why it can be incredibly busy here. The first day we visited here it was snowing - huge fluffy flakes and not much visibility, which wasn’t very conducive for any photography. However, it did give us a chance to scope out compositions for the following morning, including the stream and waterfalls above the main waterfall - finding and trying to pronounce Fostorfufoss gave us all a giggle. 

skogafoss waterfall golden sunrise iceland

We returned the next morning for sunrise, and with very few people around (at least to begin with), we were able to create some lovely compositions among the rocks and river further back from the waterfall. Skógafoss, at 60 metres high and 20 metres across is HUGE - and it defies belief that you can almost stand right underneath it - though you will likely get soaked for good measure, thanks to my friend Jen (Backyard Travel Family) who was willing to oblige for the shot!

skogafoss person scale iceland waterfall

During golden hour, we headed up above the waterfall to shoot some of the higher waterfalls and river of Fostorfufoss. I loved shooting these smaller falls with a long zoom lens to really hone in on the flowing water. We were also rewarded with a beautiful rainbow over the hills on our way back down.

close up fostorfufoss skogafoss waterfall iceland
rainbow skogafoss river iceland

Kvernufoss is a lesser known waterfall that's almost right next to Skógafoss but hidden away in a valley so it's not actually visible from the road. What I love about this waterfall is that there are lots of compositions options: shooting with a long lens standing waaaay back which is another place to add in the human element, shooting down at the river to include a nice flow in the foreground, shooting side on up close to the waterfall, and even getting behind the waterfall if you are brave enough to combat the spray!

kvernufoss waterfall person iceland
kvernufoss close up waterfall iceland
kvernufoss waterfall river iceland

Even though it's not too far down the road, I didn't add Seljalandfoss into this list - mainly because it was snowing heavily the day we visited and the ice made it impossible to get behind the waterfall for the famous composition looking out, and I also didn't think the compositions were anywhere near as varied as the other two waterfalls.

2. Dyrhólaey & Reynisfjara

The view from the cliffs above Dyrhólaey is something else - watching the waves ebb and flow on the black sand beach below is quite mesmerising. While I generally think the composition of the Dyrhólaey rock itself is a little limited, the extensive views from up on the cliff top in all directions make it worth the effort to visit.

dyrholaey cliffs iceland black beach

Zooming in with a telephoto lens to capture the white waves contrasting with the black sand is really worth it too, I loved that a fulmar flew right through my shot a the right time as well!

dyrholaey black sand beach waves iceland

The day we were here it was very moody, and it started sleeting just as we were leaving, you can see the incoming weather out to sea behind Dyrhólaey.

dyrholaey cliffs iceland

Reynisfjara is slightly further up the coast but it pays to be VERY careful planning a trip here - and if there are warnings out about large waves - pay attention! We didn't get down to the beach on our visit as there were warnings in place the whole time we visited. I've seen some crazy videos of people being knocked down by the sneaker waves here and people have died so it is a place to heed warnings seriously. You can shoot some great shots with a long telephoto lens even from a distance though, the shot below is taken from the road looking across the lagoon on the way up to Dyrhólaey. If you look closely, you can see a person for scale on the beach, there's always some crazy enough not to heed advice!

Driving inland around the cliffs, you'll come to the other side where the township of Vik is, and the view of Reynisfjara from the hills above Vik is also spectacular, not to mention safer on days with huge waves (though I still nearly got knocked over up here by wind gusts in excess of 100km/hr!).

I think you can see from these images just how WILD the afternoon was - it was hard to believe only a few hours earlier we'd been in stunningly calm conditions in Múlagljúfur canyon (see point 5 below).

vik reynisfjara storm waves iceland

3. Diamond Beach & Jökulsárlón Lagoon

These two locations go hand in hand since you can park at one and access both by walking between the two. A sunrise at Diamond Beach is certainly a must-do for any Iceland itinerary. It can be a little overwhelming trying to find the right piece of ice to use in your foreground though - look for interesting shapes and the waves to flow right around in front of the iceberg and back out again during the exposure - but be warned the iceberg bits do move constantly in the waves - one minute you have a good composition and the next minute your iceberg might have drifted away!

diamond beach icebergs sunrise iceland
diamond beach iceberg flow iceland

The day we were here the waves were WILD - you can see in the image below just how incredible the surf was - it made a great backdrop during golden hour.

diamond beach golden hour waves iceberg iceland

From the beach it's only a short walk back under the bridge to shoot at Jökulsárlón lagoon. It is ever-changing with iceberg bits breaking off the glacier - if you are lucky enough to find some calm water, there are great reflection images to be had, or using the mountains behind as a backdrop to the scene works well for depth as well.

jokusarlon glacier lagoon iceland

Different weather conditions here create very different moods - we also visited the lagoon on a different day just after it had snowed and the calm, quiet mood was very peaceful, and we saw a seal swimming in the lagoon too which was a bonus!

jokusarlon lagoon iceberg snow

4. The twin mountains - Vestrahorn & Eystrahorn

The eastern coastline north of Höfn has two incredible mountain ranges that dominate the skyline - Vestrahorn is the most well known, with Eystrahorn located about another 45 minutes north. There is an entry fee for Vestrahorn (1,000 ISK per person) and a gated barrier so you do have to pay to get a ticket to enter - the ticket lasts for 24 hours though so you can enter more than once if you want to shoot sunrise and sunset or come back after dark for aurora.

vestrahorn golden sunset iceland

Compositions abound amongst the raised sand dunes and with reflections on the beach. Like most locations we visited in Iceland, it was blowing a gale and I spent a fair amount of time trying not to eat sand.... all part of the experience though right?! It wasn't as cold as some of the other locations we went but I definitely felt buffeted around even just walking around the beach.

vestrahorn sunset sand dunes iceland

We came back again during the night to shoot the Northern Lights (Auroa Borealis) around 2am, what a place to experience them for the first time! We also saw an arctic fox when we arrived outside someone's campervan which was totally unexpected, but he was gone before we could capture a shot.

vestrahorn iceland aurora reflection

Eystrahorn is different in compositions in that you can capture the waves coming into the rocky shoreline with the incredible mountain peaks above. We started our night of chasing the Northern Lights here and experienced some great action up until midnight. Both of these locations also suit drone photography, however we experienced pretty intense winds here (over 60km/hr), so there was not much chance of getting our drones airborne without them blowing away!

eystrahorn waves beach sunrise iceland

We experienced a fairly clear sky sunrise at Eystrahorn so I decided to make use of the minimal tones and create a black and white image from early on in the shoot, though later we had some lovely clouds above and a hint of golden tones appear over the peaks.

eystrahorn golden sunrise iceland

5. The unpronounceable canyons - Fjaðrárgljúfur & Múlagljúfur

There are two canyons worth a visit along the south coast, both of which have names almost impossible to pronounce!

During our first visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, we encountered knee deep slushy snow, thank goodness we all had gumboots! This made even getting up the hill to look down into the canyon a challenge. The snow made the contrasts very minimalistic - but also a little challenging to shoot. This was the one place I did manage to fly my drone successfully - albeit with scary warnings coming up which made me panic a a bit. Even though the top down view looked cool, I preferred the view with my camera from the bridge looking up into the canyon more than the views taken in the canyon itself. We actually visited here twice - the second time the snow had all melted - our visits were four days apart and it looks so different!

fjardrargljufur canyon snow winter iceland
fjadraragljufur canyon morning iceland

I had all but given up hope of getting to Múlagljúfur during our time in Iceland. Every day we had driven past the turnoff while in the area, the canyon was shrouded in cloud, or it was raining. So you could have knocked me over with a feather when on our return trip from Vestrahorn, we drove past and conditions looked perfect, especially as just down the road the wind was gusting over 100km/hr! It's a decent hike up to the viewpoint (about 400m of elevation and 5km return) and you do have to cross a river so waterproof footwear is a must unless you are OK with wet feet! It was pretty muddy when we did the, though not too icy which was a bonus given a lot of other places had been. I absolutely loved this day and this place - even without taking photos just experiencing the canyon is very magical.

Múlagljúfur canyon view iceland

It's a place that suits both wide and telephoto shots - depending on whether you want to capture the entire canyon (including the waterfall on the right) or focus more on the waterfall that flows directly below the peak.

Múlagljúfur canyon waterfall iceland
Múlagljúfur canyon close up

The view back down the river that flows from the canyon is also spectacular and worth capturing, it winds its way down the valley with some fantastic S-curve bends!

Múlagljúfur river canyon iceland

6. The coastline at Lóndrangar & Arnarstapi

The cliffs at Lóndrangar ended up being one of my favourite locations of the trip, we were able to shoot both sunset and some amazing Aurora Borealis action here. The fulmar colony that nest in the cliffs here made for a noisy but amazing experience while shooting sunset, I don't think I've seen so many birds flying in one place! 

longdrangar cliffs iceland

It's hard to believe that half an hour after I took this lovely, serene golden sunset shot I was driving in total white out blizzard conditions, but that is Iceland for you, definitely keeps you on your toes!

londrangar cliffs sunset iceland

The following evening we were back again at midnight to shoot the Aurora Borealis and it was remarkably quiet, the birds were all asleep nestled into the cliffs and they definitely weren't as excited as we were about capturing the magnificent light display that was going on overhead.

londrangar aurora borealis iceland

The rock of Gatklettur in Arnarstapi is another well-known coastal location on the Snæfellsnes peninsula and although our timing dictated that we shot sunset here rather than sunrise, it would potentially be a better option for sunrise based on the sun angles. That being said, it was nice to capture the reverse sunset hues over the mountains in the background as the light faded.

gatklettur arnarstapi iceland sunset

7. Kirkjufell

This location needs no introduction, and it is pretty incredible. We got far more than we bargained on at Kirkjufell with thick snowfall on the northern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula - I certainly hadn't expected to shoot the mountain with white everywhere and half the waterfalls frozen!

kirkjufell dawn winter iceland

Despite promising forecasts we had more cloud cover than was ideal here, and my favourite shots ended up being mid morning on the last morning when we were leaving the Snæfellsnes peninsula for good. We ended up staying an extra night here with the prospect of good aurora action and clear skies, but the fickle nature of the aurora meant that the big display happened during the day and fizzled out by the time it got dark so it was a wasted opportunity.

kirkjufell morning light waterfall winter iceland

You can shoot both at the top or bottom set of waterfalls at Kirkjufell, though with a lot of snow and ice around it was a bit sketchy even just walking safely on the path up/down between the two compositions - the black and white image below is taken from the lower set of falls. The compositions are quite similar but ever so slightly different.

kirkjufell black white waterfalls iceland

Whilst I would have loved the chance to shoot a reflection shot in the small pond nearby, this was also fully frozen over - that will have to wait until next year! Below are some images from a 2019 September trip that my friend Laurie shot - incredible difference! If you look closely, you can see a cabin at the base of the mountain which is where we stayed on our last night - and where we found ourselves shovelling snow in the long driveway at 2.30am after the wind blew snow drifts so high we couldn't get the car back home! The streets around Grundarfjörður while we were staying here were also covered in huge piles of ice and snow over 2 metres high that defied belief - hard to imagine living in those conditions all through winter.

laurie winter kirkjufell sunset
Credit: Laurie Winter Photography

8. The churches - Búðakirkja & Ingjaldshólskirkja 

If there is one thing that Iceland has in spades, it's churches in beautiful locations. On the Snæfellsnes peninsula you'll find two of the most photogenic churches in Iceland - the black church of Búðakirkja and the white/red church of Ingjaldshólskirkja  - try saying that one quickly!

 Búðakirkja church mountains iceland
budakirkja black church iceland snow

We were lucky enough to have some snow on the hill behind Búðakirkja - and with a bit of compression with the long lens it looked amazing. This location is great as you can photograph the church from all angles, though I prefer the compositions that have a mountain background rather than just a flat horizon.

budakirkja black church iceland

This location was also fantastic for capturing the Northern Lights and we had our strongest display here just after dark one night at 9pm. We deliberately timed our trip to coincide with a full moon so that we would have a good amount of light in the foreground which meant we could shoot at a lower ISO (800 vs astro shots which will often need to be as high as 6,400).

 Búðakirkja northern lights iceland

Despite having Búðakirkja mostly to ourselves, Instagram vs Reality kicked in when we arrived late afternoon at Ingjaldshólskirkja . Unlike Búðakirkja, where you can wander round quite close to the church, this church really suits a long road shot - but when we turned up there was a queue of cars waiting and people standing in the middle of the road taking shots. While we politely waited our turn, other cars just ignored common courtesy and the fact there was an orderly queue and just drove right into the composition, going further forward which basically ruined the shot for everyone else. There was a REALLY cold and bitter wind blowing sideways across the land here, and I have to admit to nearly giving up on the location altogether - especially as we still wanted to go somewhere else for sunset so we couldn't wait around all day.

Ingjaldshólskirkja church road iceland winter

I will admit to getting quite testy with a car full of people who drove straight in front of us and took a few shots while we we clearly standing waiting further back on the road for our turn, that was bad enough but they then proceeded to just stand in the middle of the road talking to each other - not even shooting - the mind boggles! I like to think that I have enough courtesy that I wouldn't be caught dead doing something like that.... in any case after we had gotten so fed up that we said 'Excuse us please' rather loudly, (not me, I was just seething internally!) they finally took the hint and left. And you know what.... a couple of these shots turned out to be some of my faves, despite me wanting to give up on the whole idea a few minutes earlier. So it was worth the frustration!

Ingjaldshólskirkja church snow road iceland

9. Brúarfoss

This was the very last location we visited on our travels, and what a spot to leave till last! Earlier in the day we had make a quick visit to Gulfoss but the light was harsh, the crowds were eye-watering (the worst location yet in terms of people, there were hundreds milling around including multiple tour buses!), so I didn't have high hopes for Brúarfoss. The great thing is that it is much less known, and so we turned up for sunset to find very few people around.

bruarfoss waterfall aqua iceland

The light in the sky was really lovely as the sun set and how could you not be WOWED by the colour of that water! It was mesmerising watching it disappear into an underground canyon near the bridge and then pop out again further downstream.

bruarfoss waterfall sunset iceland

Getting right down near the river provided some unique perspectives of the waterfall from a close up perspective as well, not to mention how stunning it was to stand in a place like this just drinking in the scene too!

bruarfoss waterfall river iceland

And so ends my whirlwind tour of Iceland's 9 most epic locations!

Tips for Iceland Travel


You'll need to pay for parking at most of the above locations in Iceland, and there are cameras there to make sure you are paying - I can tell stories of accidentally entering the incorrect licence plate and getting a non-payment fine which I then had to try and sort out with the rental car company who added a hefty admin fee on top of the fine to boot. And then there was the time we thought we could park just outside the main carpark in the middle of the night and got a $100 fine for our troubles (that one we did have to pay) - the lession here is that it's much simpler just to pay the money correctly at the time!

Safe Travel

Another app you'll want to check out is the Safe Iceland Travel app - going in winter was certainly more risky that roads would be closed than if you were to visit in summer but it is still a really useful app to use anytime of year. I was checking the site daily to see if any of the roads we would be travelling on were affected, it was invaluable information to have, though it didn't stop us getting stuck driving in a couple of unexpected blizzards.


If you love the idea of visiting all the locations in this list, why not join me to capture them! 

I'm hosting a 10 day photography tour to Iceland in September 2025, check out my Iceland 2025 Landscapes & Northern Lights Photography Tour page.

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