September 28, 2016

Exploring Iceland: Do Not Miss These 11 Spots

Words + Photos : Colin Murtagh

There must be one million articles about Iceland online. And it feels like, in order to plan the perfect trip, you have to read through at least twenty of them.

Not anymore! Now you can stop getting FOMO before you even arrive. We took the liberty to create a one-stop-shop for Iceland photography recommendations.

Here are the 11 Must-See Photo Spots in Iceland.



Skogafoss

You have seen this waterfall in thousands of photos, but nothing can prepare you for seeing it in person. The thunderous roar of the water crashing down and the powerful spray will stop you in your tracks. Keep in mind that it will be very crowded here; large tour buses pull through regularly. But if you time it right, you can get some shots without people in your frame. Arrive late in the afternoon for sunset, and then set up camp at one of the sites below the falls. Plan to get up early the next morning to shoot sunrise. For the whole experience, make sure to climb the ladder at the top viewpoint to see the river on the other side before it plummets over the edge.



DC Plane Wreck on Sólheimasandur

The road to the plane is now closed because tourists have disrespected the land by driving off-road, but you can park on the side of the ring road and walk 2.5 miles to this legendary crashed plane. Again, you will have a some difficulty getting a photo without people in it. Patience is key. If you compose your shot and wait, you can make it happen. If you are not patient, a little familiarity with the clone stamp tool will help make those people disappear in post processing.




Jökulsárlón

It’s so difficult to choose a favorite location in Iceland, but this area is definitely in the top tier. A trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without a stop here. Give yourself a few hours, and make sure to explore both the lagoon and the beach. From the cracking sounds of collapsing icebergs, to the roaring of waves crashing in on the beach, this place is truly magical. If you have a tripod, slow your shutter speed to get some photos of the waves swirling around the icebergs.




Friðheimar

This one might seem out of place, but if you are like me, you prioritize good food and drink. If you think it sounds boring; you’re wrong., Definitely take a couple of hours to visit the tomato farm. We went in the afternoon and sat outside in the sun. This farm produces one fifth of all tomatoes in Iceland, and they are quite creative with their cocktails and food. The greenhouses also have plenty of photo opportunities, and you’ll probably find a few friendly horses nearby.




Moss Rocks

As you drive along the ring road, it often feels like you are on another planet. Nowhere is that more true than when you pass through miles of moss covered rocks between Vik and Hofn. There are plenty of places to stop along the way which helps to disperse the crowds. There are several paths already, and the moss is extremely delicate, so do your best to stay on designated areas.




Godafoss

Hopefully you will get better weather than we did when visiting Godafoss. This waterfall looks like something straight out of Lord of the Rings. The bright green color of the mossy rocks paired with the blue water is amazing. You can view this from both sides of the river, but I would recommend the East side. You can also get unique views from above by taking the trail down to the water’s edge.



Stokksnes

Mount Vestrahorn towers above the black sand beach below. You can get a great view from pretty much anywhere along the beach near the sand dunes. As you leave, you can also check out an old viking village that was created as a movie set.




Reykjadalur Hot Springs

A beautiful hike through rolling green hills leads to this valley with an incredible hot spring. Just be prepared for the sulfur stench on the way up. The hike itself is worth doing, but to be rewarded at the end by a steaming turquoise river that you can relax in?? It just doesn’t get better than that!




Haifoss

This waterfall takes a little time to reach, and the road will test any low clearance cars. The detour is very worthwhile when you step up to the edge and see both waterfalls plunging down the side of the cliff. Chances are you will also find more solitude with this spot. For the more adventurous, you can cross a couple of small streams and end up directly above both falls. Watch your step though — a slip-up here would most likely be your last.




Kirkjufellsfoss

I have heard it said that this is the waterfall that made the mountain famous. It is easy to see why. With a two-tier waterfall flowing right in front of you and Kirkjufell soaring in the background, it is hard not to get a good photo here. Make sure to walk back to the lake behind the fall. If you are lucky, you will get a good reflection of Kirkjufell from this spot. As a bonus, most people don’t seem to walk over here, so you might just have this view all to yourself.



Blue Lagoon

Plan to visit the Blue Lagoon on your last day. After so many early mornings, late nights in search of the northern lights, the Blue Lagoon is exactly what you’ll need. If you arrive early, it is less crowded and better for photos. Between photographs, grab a beer or freshly-made smoothie at the swim-up bar. After leaving, journey around to the outside area of the lagoon. This area has a walking trail around it, and people are not allowed to get into the water. It is the perfect spot to get a few pictures before wrapping up your trip.



The list could go on and on, but I will leave you with a final piece of advice: create a detailed plan before you go to Iceland, and then accept the fact that you will not stick to it at all. Allow yourself time to be spontaneous and to discover the hidden secrets of Iceland. Around every turn there is something for you to discover and explore. Enjoy!




Suggested Posts