Iceland has become one of the hottest travel destinations in the past few years.
With so many amazing photos being shared of Iceland on social media it is very easy to get inspired to travel to Iceland and see it for yourself.
This summer I finally gave in and I bought an airplane ticket to Iceland. A few days before my trip I started to panic because I had put off the trip planning until the last minute and I had no idea what to see or do on my trip.
Thankfully most of Iceland’s attractions are located along its main highway called the Ring Road, also known as Route 1, and don’t require much detouring off the Ring Road in order to visit them.
After spending a week traveling around Iceland’s Ring Road in a campervan rental I wanted to create an easy photographic itinerary with the top things to see and do in Iceland for anyone who is planning their trip or finds themselves in the same situation as I did.
Map of the top destinations in Iceland:
29 Amazing Places To Visit On A Vacation To Iceland:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
- Seljavallalaug Hot Pool
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Kirkjufjara Black Sand Beach
- Scenic Green Lava Walk
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
- Svartifoss Waterfall
- Svínafellsjökull Glacier Lake
- Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake
- Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall
- Kirkjufell Mountain
- Saxholl Volcano
- Lóndrangar Cliffs
- Hellnar Viewpoint
- Gatklettur Arnarstapi Arch Viewpoint
- Búðakirkja Black Church
- Landbrotalaug Hot Springs
- Strokr Geysir
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Kerid Crater
- Blue Lagoon
1. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss is one of the tallest and most popular waterfalls to see in southern Iceland and is located just steps away from the parking lot. Visitors can walk around and behind Seljalandsfoss but this waterfall will get you pretty soaked so make sure to wear a waterproof jacket.
The parking lot at Seljalandsfoss costs 700 Króna /$7 USD for the day.
2. Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
This beautiful 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 shoes.
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 waterproof gear for your camera or phone.
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!
4. Skógafoss Waterfall
Who doesn’t get excited to go up close to a waterfall?
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 about this waterfall is the campsite located right next to it. For around $30 you can set up a tent in the grass or car camp in the parking lot. 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.
But Kirkjufjara is a protected wilderness area which means that access to most places along this beach is restricted to preserve it.
6. Scenic Green Lava Walk
A quick stop along the Ring Road is the Scenic Green Lava Walk. The Lava Walk 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 it 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.
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.
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.
Fjallsárlón Boat tours amongst the floating glaciers are an option for visitors.
11. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake
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. Over time it has formed 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.
Jökulsárlón boat tours are also available for those who wish to have a closer look at the floating glaciers.
12. Fauskasandur Black Sand Beach
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. It’s a beautiful waterfall to visit if you can spare the extra time.
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.
15. Dettifoss Waterfall
Dettifoss is a huge wide waterfall that has two roads leading up to it. Each road will lead to a different viewing platform and unfortunately, the roads don’t connect.
Make sure to wear sturdy shoes on the walk around Dettifoss waterfall. During this walk, you will need to hike over sharp lava rocks scattered along the path.
16. Namafjall Hverir Fumarole and Mud Pot Geothermal Area
Similar to something you might see at Yellowstone National Park, Iceland has its own geothermal area in the North East part of the island.
At the Namafjall Hverir viewing area visitors can walk between boiling mud pots and steam vents in the ground. The hills behind this area are also colored in various beautiful colors and look like they would belong on another planet.
17. Goðafoss Waterfall
Goðafoss waterfall is a wide and beautiful waterfall right off the Ring Road that can be approached from two sides. This waterfall has multiple viewing areas and stairs that lead down closer to where the waterfall meets the river.
Interestingly, Goðafoss earned its name “Waterfall of The Gods” after a famous pagan chief threw his idols into the waterfall once Iceland adopted Christianity in the year 1000. Icelandic folks are very fond of historic tales and just about anything in Iceland has a story associated with it.
18. Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland is the Aldeyjarfoss. This waterfall is located off an “F” road which is illegal to drive on unless your rental car is a 4×4. If you have a regular passenger car, you can park at the turn-off and hike 2 miles in to see this waterfall.
The Aldeyjarfoss waterfall has beautiful basalt columns and a huge canyon leading up to it. At the end of the canyon lies this beautiful waterfall soaring from a river and plunging far down a cliff.
One of the coolest spots for viewing and photographing Aldeyjarfoss is at a pointy cliff end just right in front of it.
19. Kirkjufell from Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
Mountain Kirkjufell and the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is one of the most photographed spots in Iceland. Driving along the road of Snæfellsnes peninsula you would never guess that this is a great photography spot unless you have done some research ahead of time.
If you arrive at Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall for sunset don’t be surprised to see it packed with rows of tripods and other photographers. The most popular photography spot is located in front of the waterfall with the Kirkjufell Mountain in the back.
20. Saxholl Volcano
The Saxholl volcano is a quick stop along the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Within a few minute walk up the volcano stairs, visitors can look down into the center of the volcano where it erupted 3000-4000 years ago. It can get windy and cold at the top so make sure to bring along a warm jacket.
21. Lóndrangar Cliffs
Most of the Snæfellsnes peninsula is surrounded by an ocean filled with jagged rocks and cliffs. One of the best spots to view these cliffs is at the Lóndrangar Rocks viewpoint. The Lóndrangar Rocks viewpoint has a few trails, viewing platforms and tons of epic views of cliffs and rocky shores.
22. Hellnar Viewpoint
Hellnar viewpoint is a scenic area along a rocky beach. It starts off by a cute café that overlooks the ocean and continues along a walkway into mossy rocks. Hikers can continue along the rocky hike to the Gatklettur viewpoint or just head back to the café for a cup of coffee and some hot soup.
23. Gatklettur Arnarstapi Arch Viewpoint
The next viewpoint along the Snæfellsnes peninsula is the Gatklettur Arch viewpoint. This is an area with a huge “octopus” looking arch in the ocean and a platform where visitors can view it and snatch a few photos. Just like the other areas, additional hiking is available along the cliffs.
24. Búðakirkja Black Church
This unique church is not like most. While Búðakirkja church is very small compared to most churches, it looks very gloomy painted in black color. On top of that, to add a creepy feel, wild sheep roam around its cemetery ground eating grass from old tombstones. But it makes for some awesome gloomy photos if that’s your thing.
25. Landbrotalaug Hot Springs
With so many hot springs in Iceland, it can be hard choosing which ones to visit. A favorite along the Ring Road drive is the Landbrotalaug Hot Springs. The first pool at this location is small and can fit only 1-2 people in it, but it is very cute and considered the smallest hot spring in Iceland.
The second hot pool is just a minute walk away and is also very scenic overlooking a river, but only knee deep at the most and much muddier. At this pool, a pipe delivers hot water right to your back but the hot springs can be shared with a lot more people.
26. Strokr Geysir
Geysir is a geothermal area full of geysers and one of the main attractions in an area called “The Golden Circle”. Strokr geyser is the largest of the geysers and similar to Old Faithful in Yellowstone, it blows a huge amount of water into the air. Strokr erupts pretty frequently at every 8-10 minutes and puts on quite the show.
27. Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss is an enormous, wide waterfall that flows down a cliff and plunges into a wide canyon. From the viewpoint, it almost looks like the earth devours this waterfall as it’s making its way into the canyon and all you can see at the bottom of the canyon is a huge white cloud.
28. Kerid Crater
The last stop along the “Golden Circle” is the Kerid Crater. The entrance fee is 400 Icelandic Króna /$4 USD per person to walk around this crater. From up above, it looks like a bright blue pool surrounded by soaring red soaring walls. A staircase leads down to it, but the best viewpoints are along the ridge walk on top.
29. Blue Lagoon
One of the most popular places to visit in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon Spa. The spa is quite expensive, but visitors can also stop by the lagoon and just check it out for free or walk around the outside which is equally beautiful.
If you just want to check it out for free without actually going in the water, there are stairs next to the café that lead to an outdoor balcony or you can simply walk onto the patio next to the café and walk right up to the water. You can also grab a sandwich and a drink at the spa’s café or restaurant, both of which have glass walls and overlook the lagoon.
For anyone who wishes to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon Spa, the tickets can be purchased in advance on the Blue Lagoon website and if you’re visiting in the summer, purchasing in advance is a must because it sells out quickly.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but not even thousands of words or any amount of pictures can truly capture the beauty of Iceland.
I hope my Iceland photography guide has helped you prepare for your upcoming trip or at least inspired you to add Iceland on your travel bucket list.
If you are looking for additional tips on what you need to know before your trip to Iceland, check out the Ultimate Guide To Conquering Iceland In A Campervan post that covers tips and things to know in order to best prepare for a road trip through Iceland.