You’ve probably heard about the spectacular beauty of Iceland. After spending a week roadtripping around the country, I’m convinced that it’s the most condensed concentration on natural beauty that I’ll ever see. Iceland is a relatively small island, but every corner is crammed with swoon-worthy sights. 80% of the landscape doesn’t even look like it belongs on this planet. Here are my favorite 25 pictures that will put visiting Iceland in winter on your bucket list.
We were incredibly lucky to have this ice cave in the Vatnajökull glacier to ourselves for a few short minutes. The blue light filtering through the ice was incredible. We visited as part of a snowmobiling and ice caving tour that left from the Jökulsárlón lagoon. It was one of my favorite things to do in Iceland – read about our adventure here.
Ice caving in Iceland
This one looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. The ice caves are only accessible during the winter and were flooded for most of January, so our visit to Iceland in March was perfect.
The entrance to this ice cave looms at the base of the Vatnajökull glacier under the pink skies of sunset.
Iceland’s West Fjords
Sunset over the water from Borgarnes was the perfect way to end our first day in Iceland. The pinks and purples on the snow-covered mountains were spectacular. Don’t miss the fjord region on your visit.
The Northern Lights in Iceland
Seeing the Northern Lights has been on my bucket list for the longest time. We got incredibly lucky and saw them on four different nights on our trip to Iceland. We relentlessly refreshed cloud tracking maps hoping and hoping for clear nights, and on this evening driving along the Ring Road, we appeared to be in the only pocket of clear sky in the whole country. Want tips to snap photos like this? Check out my Amateur’s Guide to Photographing the Northern Lights.
A tripod and a slow exposure are key to getting good Northern Lights pictures, but don’t forget to enjoy the show yourself while snapping pictures.
We stayed across the road from the famous Geysir area one night and were treated to some spectacular Northern Lights. The geyser Strokkur erupted several times as we watched the dazzling show in the sky. It was an incredible Iceland experience. The hotel was my favorite place to stay in Iceland, so check out a non-sponsored review of our hotel here.
The Northern Lights weren’t as bright when we passed by this lesser-known, but still beautiful waterfall called Foss á Siðu, but they make for a perfect backdrop.
Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
This zebra striped iceberg floating in the Jökulsárlón lagoon was my favorite. The black stripes come from volcanic ash deposited by long-ago eruptions.
I could’ve spent an entire day just taking pictures of Jökulsárlón.
Jökulsárlón is just as magical at dusk.
After the icebergs leave Jökulsárlón, some of them make it out to sea. Others get washed up on the shore at Diamond Beach. The black sand there is covered with blue ice boulders that have been pushed in by the relentless waves. It’s a stunning scene.
Gljúfrabúi, Iceland’s “secret” waterfall
Gljúfrabúi, the “secret” waterfall hidden behind a rock ledge peeks out through the opening carved out by the stream flowing away. In order to see the whole waterfall, you have to wade through the water to enter the cavern or climb up the front of the rock wall. Gljúfrabúi is accessible in winter for the most part. Read about exploring it here.
Getting to see all of Gljúfrabúi is worth getting a little wet.
Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. You can walk behind it along the edge of the cavern in the rock wall during the warmer months, but the rear area is chained off during the winter.
Iceland’s plane crash beach
In 1973, a US Navy plane crash landed on this stretch of black lava desert – don’t worry, all crew members survived – and the wreckage has sat here exposed to the elements ever since. It’s about a 4km walk from the Ring Road, but it’s an eerily beautiful sight. This picture wasn’t black and white – it’s still in true color. The winter sky was perfectly grey that day making for some dramatic photography.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s top attractions. It’s not the ultimate experience, but it’s still a lot of fun. I enjoyed the swim-up bar and the relaxing artificial cave. If you visit the Blue Lagoon in the winter, make sure to explore the whole lagoon to find the warmer spots as the water temperature does vary a bit. Check out this post to read about our time at the Blue Lagoon.
Horseback riding on Vik’s black sand beach
The adorable Icelandic horses can be spotted all over the country, and what better way to get up close and personal with them than by taking a horseback ride? I think we found the best spot possible when we stumbled across riding stables in Vik. Trotting along the black sand beach with the iconic Reynisdrangar rock formations just offshore was incredible. Read about our horseback riding in Iceland experience here.
Iceland’s Golden Circle
The Geysir area is covered with steaming pools and geysers that give it an unearthly feel. Though the famous Geysir rarely erupts any more, the smaller geyser, Strokkur, right next to it shoots water into the air every few minutes. Visiting the Golden Circle in winter is especially gorgeous as the colder air makes the steam even more dramatic. Here’s a guide to a winter visit.
The snow and ice surrounding Gullfoss in winter make it somehow more beautiful.
This road, part of the popular Golden Circle route winds through the Icelandic country side. I love this picture because it gives a sense of the vast, snowy expanses that you encounter in Iceland in the winter.
This waterfall, found in the Þingvellir National Park tumbles down into the rift valley formed by the North American and Eurasian continental plates separating.
This broad flat valley formed by the continental rift was also the site of the first Viking parliaments, giving it both geological and historical significance.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to see the beautiful Icelandic horses while you’re visiting. You’ll want to spend hours photographing them.
What would you most like to see on a visit to Iceland?
Looking for an itinerary that encompasses all of these photo spots? Look no further. Here’s my perfect 6-day southern Iceland roadtrip itinerary.
Read more about Iceland here:
- 15 Pictures to Put Diamond Beach on Your Iceland Bucket List
- What to Pack for Winter in Iceland
- The Best Spot to Ride Icelandic Horses
- Top Tips for Viewing the Northern Lights
- The Amateur’s Guide to Photographing the Northern Lights