If you have followed my work for even a short while, you’ve probably picked up that I have a lot of love for Iceland. I first visited this unique country almost fifteen years ago. Every year it’s becoming more and more popular as a tourist hotspot. You can easily see why; the unique and starkly beautiful landscapes are popular in many feature films, the picturesque swimming holes, the gigantic and awe inspiring waterfalls and the Northern Lights dancing through the sky on those long winter nights. Every corner of this country is stunning and it’s a photographers dream. But what are the best spots to photograph in the winter in Iceland? I’ve listed out some of my favourites to share with you guys.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The great thing about Snæfellsnes is that whilst it’s only a couple of hours from Reykjavik, there is a distinct lack of tourists compared to the hot spots. But the whole peninsula is incredible beautiful. It’s mountain passes, coastlines and small villages are all worth exploring. Also, its northerly position also means it’s a lot more likely to have a nice layer of snow in the winter.
One of the top photo spots on Snæfellsnes is Kirkjufell. It’s still no way near as touristy as major waterfalls like Gullfoss or Skogafoss but you will often find a row of photographers with their tripods set along the river bank nowadays. It’s iconic shape landed it a spot in the latest series of Game of Thrones as ‘Arrowhead Mountain’, North of the Wall. It’s a great spot to photograph in the winter, just be careful along the steep edges of the waterfall, it gets very icy and slippery.
Gullfoss waterfall is one of the classics and is one of the main stops of the ‘Golden Circle’ tour. This does make it a busy one but there’s plenty of room and with its layers of ice it makes a great winter photo.
Making our way along the South Coast now, Seljalandsfoss is another classic waterfall. In the summer months you can walk right behind it but with the amount of ice in the winter, it’s too dangerous. At night the falls are lit up by huge spot lights which makes it a great time to photograph, especially if the aurora is out.
Named after the god of thunder, this highlands valley is almost always covered in thick snow in the winter. It’s not very accessible as you have to cross multiple frozen rivers en route, so you will need to take a super jeep tour. It’s a great days adventure though.
This is another classic and it not far down the road from Seljalandfoss. This one is particularly tricky to photography without 100 people standing in front of you (so make sure you visit out of peak times). I don’t have a winter shot from here so here’s one from the summer –
Frozen braided Rivers
You can find these all over the place in Iceland. Water flowing down from the mountains splits into dozens of shallow streams instead of one deep river forming a ‘braided’ appearance from above. In the winter these freeze over and make for some artistic shots. You’ll need access to a drone, or to take a scenic flight to capture them.
Glaciers & Ice Caves
There’s a lot of different glaciers along the South Coast of Iceland and they are all great to photograph. Some you can drive up to, but you’ll need a guide and some proper gear (helmet, crampons and ice axe), to climb them. Most of them also have Ice Caves to explore. These can be very dangerous so make sure you always take a proper guide or tour to them. They change every year depending on what melts and freezes so ask Google for some up to date information.
This glacial lagoon is littered with giant icebergs that break off of a nearby glacier. They flow out to the ocean and wash up on the beach nearby. It’s about 6 hours along the South Coast from Reykjavik and a great place to stop and photograph, especially at sunset and at night when theres usually no one around.
Last up is Stokksnes Beach near Hofn. This is right across on the East Coast and is quite a way from Reykjavik. It is one of my favourite spots to photograph though. The beach is bordered by sand dunes, and the epic Vestrahorn mountain looms ominously in the distance. It is far enough away from the city that its almost always really quiet as the hordes of tourists don’t make it this far.
Just down the road from Stokksnes you will find Hvalnes. There’s a beach and a lighthouse and a really interesting piece of road to photograph from the sky –
I hope you have found this blog about the best winter photo spots in Iceland insightful. If you have any questions about any of those spots, please do comment below and I’ll get back to you. Check out my blog on Summer in Iceland if you’d like to see more.
If you are looking for a tour company, I highly recommend Hidden Iceland. I’ve used them several times, they are super friendly and knowledgeable. Check out their Ice Cave Discovery Tour.