After spending a week traveling around this amazing island I wanted to share an easy photographic guide with some of my favorite locations for anyone planning a trip to Iceland themselves.
1. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss is one of the tallest and most popular waterfalls to see in southern Iceland and I suggest to make it the first stop along the Ring Road drive. With its grandness and beauty, it will just take your breath away! Visiting Seljalandsfoss is the perfect place to kickstart your road trip around Iceland if you’re driving the island counter clock-wise.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is easily located just a few steps away from a parking lot and visitors can walk around and behind this beauty. But although the hike to this waterfall is super shot, it is also very slippery and muddy so make sure to bring a good pair of hiking shoes with you to Iceland. My favorite hiking shoes are these Vasque boots that are very comfortable and slip resistant.
The parking lot at Seljalandsfoss costs 700 Króna /$7 USD for the day.
2. Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
The Gljúfrabúi waterfall is hidden in a cave just a few minutes walking distance from Seljalandsfoss. The cave has a wide opening where visitors can enter and explore it but if you do, make sure to wear a waterproof jacket and hiking shoes as you’ll get pretty soaked entering the cave.
Photographing Gljúfrabúi can be quite difficult because the mist from the waterfall will get everything wet within seconds. If you don’t want to get your camera wet, my tip is to bring a zoom lens and photograph the waterfall from outside the cave or bring some type of rain proof gear for your camera.
While I packed for my Iceland trip very light and brought along only a few pieces of clothing, I did bring along my favorite Northface yellow rain jacket. Not only it kept me warm and dry, but it also added a nice color pop to my photos.
3. Seljavallalaug Hot Pool
One of the most popular photographic locations in the Instagram travel world is the Seljavallalaug hot pool. Located in the wilderness, its iconic look is a hot pool surrounded by soaring mountains. But because this hot pool is very popular, you might end up sharing it with many other people. Get there early if you want to avoid the crowds! And the best part, this pool is completely free.
4. Skógafoss Waterfall
Who wouldn’t get excited to go up close to a waterfall to experience it’s grandness as it soars down a cliff? I sure do!
At the Skógafoss waterfall, visitors can hike around it, above it or walk up to it as close as they wish. The Skógafoss waterfall is very easy to access which makes it a highly popular travel stop along the Ring Road drive.
One of the coolest parts of this waterfall is the campsite located right next to it. Although I had a campervan rental on this trip that I could sleep in, for around $30 you can also set up a tent in the grass area right in front of the Skógafoss waterfall. What a better way to start the day than waking up to the sound of a waterfall?
5. Kirkjufjara Black Sand Beach
Most of Iceland’s beaches are filled with beautiful volcanic black sand. A popular beach in Iceland to observe this black sand is the Kirkjufjara beach. At this beach, visitors can check out the black beach from a viewpoint, hike around and even see the cute Icelandic puffins up close.
Kirkjufjara beach is a protected wilderness area which means that access to most places along this beach is restricted to preserve it. If you wish to photograph the cute puffins up close, you’ll want to bring a powerful zoom lens to get the best shot.
6. Scenic Green Lava Walk
A quick stop along the Ring Road is the Scenic Green Lava Walk. The Lava Walk is a viewpoint and a short hike through mossy lava rocks. Although it’s not exactly a “wow” spot like some of the waterfalls or iceberg lakes you will see along the drive, it’s a worthy stop to stretch out your legs and go for a quick walk.
7. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Iceland is the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. This canyon is so breathtaking, it’s almost hard to describe in words.
The canyon consists of a short hike along steep cliff walls that are overgrown with green moss and a river running through it on the bottom. Hikers can choose to hike on top of the cliffs or also walk down through the river. The entrance here is free so make sure to set aside a few hours to fully enjoy this place.
8. Svartifoss Waterfall
With its basalt columns, Svartifoss waterfall is a must-see stop in the Skaftafell National Park. This was one of my favorite waterfalls because it reminded me of its twin version Abiqua Falls from my time living in Oregon. The landscape in Iceland is actually quite similar to Oregon and during my trip, I was able to spot 10 similar attractions in Iceland that looked just like Oregon.
The Svartifoss waterfall in Iceland is located at the end of a 30-45 minute hike up a steep but well-traveled path. The waterfall has a viewing platform located next to it for visitors since hiking on the rocks and vegetation is highly discouraged.
For photography, this waterfall is best visited early in the morning. Try to get there by 8 to avoid the harsh shadow lines from the sun.
It costs 600 Icelandic Króna /$6 USD to park at the visitor center in order to hike this waterfall unless you stay overnight at the campground in which case the parking is complimentary.
9. Svínafellsjökull Glacier Lake
If you are a movie geek, you might want to note that some scenes from Batman Begins were filmed at the Svínafellsjökull Glacier Lake. Within a few minute walk, visitors can hike through the path that Batman himself set his foot on!
During the summer season, this glacier lake gets filled with brownish colored water and many of the glaciers floating in the water are covered in black volcanic sand. Although the Svínafellsjökull Glacier Lake can look muddy, it has its own unique charm with big glaciers floating around in it.
10. Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Much of Iceland’s southern part is filled with glaciers and glacier lakes. Another amazing glacier lake along the Route 1 drive is the Fjallsárlón Glacier lagoon. Within a few minute walk, visitors can walk up to the glacier lake and observe pieces of ice floating in the water.
If you have time to only see one glacier lake in Iceland, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon should be it. Jökulsárlón is the deepest glacier lake in Iceland but it is also fairly new. This lake only started forming in the 1930’s from a receding glacier and over time it has filled into a huge glacier lake with pieces of bright blue glaciers constantly breaking off and floating through a river out to the ocean.
If you look closely at this lake, you might even spot a few seals swimming around in it that have made their way in from the ocean.
One of the least visited places in the South East section of the island is the Fauskasandur black sand beach. It’s not a popular tourist destination, but it’s great just because of that. You can spend a few hours hanging out by the beach, take a walk and even dip your toes into the freezing water with nobody else around.
13. Klifbrekkufossar Waterfall
Klifbrekkufossar is a multi-tiered waterfall that requires a long detour off Route 1 to visit. The drive to this waterfall is slow and bumpy but it’s well worth it. The Klifbrekkufossar waterfall is located right off the road but viewers can also hike up to it and even walk behind the lowest waterfall tier.
Klifbrekkufossar’s top waterfall tiers are not accessible by hiking so I used my DJI Mavic Pro drone to capture the full essence of it. Overall I found Iceland to be very drone friendly but always check for “No Drone” signs before launching your drone.
14. Bustarfell Red Houses
Another detour off the Ring Road is the Bustarfell Red Houses museum. These red mossy houses have been converted into a museum showcasing how Icelandic people used to live between the 18th-20th centuries.
It costs $10 to enter the Bustarfell museum but the best photo spot is located off a grass field in front of the houses that showcases a humongous mountain in the back for scale.