25 Pictures to Put Iceland in Winter on Your Bucket List

Ice caving in Iceland in winter

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

Blue ice cave in the Vatnajokull glacier 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.

Entrance to an ice cave in the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland

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 fjords in Borgarnes, Iceland

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

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.

Northern lights in Iceland

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.

Northern lights over the Geysir area in Iceland

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.

Northern Lights over the Foss á Síðu waterfall in Iceland

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

Icebergs in the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon in Iceland

This zebra striped iceberg floating in the Jökulsárlón lagoon was my favorite. The black stripes come from volcanic ash deposited by long-ago eruptions.

Icebergs in the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon in Iceland

I could’ve spent an entire day just taking pictures of Jökulsárlón.

Dusk over Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon in Iceland

Jökulsárlón is just as magical at dusk.

Diamond Beach

Ice boulders on Diamond Beach in Iceland

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

Entrance to the cavern hiding the Gljufrabui waterfall in Iceland

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.

Gljufrabui, the

Getting to see all of Gljúfrabúi is worth getting a little wet.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland in winter

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

DC-3 plane wreckage in Iceland

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 in Iceland

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

Horseback riding on a black sand beach in Vik, Iceland

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

Steaming earth and an eruption of Strokkur geyser in the Geysir area, part of the Golden Circle in Iceland

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.

Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland in winter, part of the Golden Circle

The snow and ice surrounding Gullfoss in winter make it somehow more beautiful.

Winding road through the Golden Circle during winter in Iceland

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.

Waterfall in Þingvellir National Park in Iceland, part of the Golden Circle

This waterfall, found in the Þingvellir National Park tumbles down into the rift valley formed by the North American and Eurasian continental plates separating.

Rift valley in Þingvellir National Park in Iceland, part of the Golden Circle

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.

Icelandic horses in Iceland

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:

25 photos to put Iceland on your winter bucket list. Includes the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, Jokulsarlon, ice cave, and the Northern Lights25 photos to put Iceland on your winter bucket list. Includes the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, Jokulsarlon, ice cave, and the Northern Lights25 photos to put Iceland on your winter bucket list. Includes the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, Jokulsarlon, an ice cave, and the Northern Lights

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47 Comments

  • Lula Aventura May 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm Reply

    These photos are incredible! Seriously some of the best I’ve seen on a blog in a while 🙂 it’s on my mum and I’s to do list! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm Reply

      Thanks so much! I visited with my mom, too and we had a blast. I hope you get to see it soon.

  • thelifeofasolivagant May 6, 2017 at 12:37 pm Reply

    These photos are stunning. I have been wanting to go to Iceland for awhile but can never seem to work it into my travel plans. I can’t decide whether to see it during winter or summer, I hate the cold but have lived in northern Canada so I can bear it, just don’t like it haha

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:26 pm Reply

      Thanks! The weather there really wasn’t that bad, so don’t let that deter you. It was oddly warmer than it was back home in Michigan the whole time we were there. We flew out of Toronto, and it was about 35F in Reykjavik when we left and 17F when we landed in Toronto. The whole first week back, I kept saying that I wanted to go back to Iceland where it was warm. Whether you pick winter or summer though, you really can’t go wrong.

      • thelifeofasolivagant May 8, 2017 at 2:33 am Reply

        Haha fair enough. I lived in the Yukon for a year, and it was usually warmer there than it was back in Toronto. I think we assume its colder in the north just cause its north but it’s a different kind of cold.

  • LenaAmeri May 6, 2017 at 3:20 pm Reply

    Every photo is more gorgeous than the last! I’ve already been dying to go to Iceland but thanks to these photos I want to be there NOW!

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:26 pm Reply

      Thank you! That’s how I felt when I was there. Every day seemed to somehow top the next.

  • Meg | MeanderWithMeg May 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Goodness, these pictures are stunning! It seems like you managed to see and do a lot. I’m very inspired to visit Iceland one day. I would love to see the Northern Lights.

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm Reply

      Thanks! The Northern Lights were the main reason we decided to go in the winter. I’ve had seeing those on my bucket list since before the phrase “bucket list” was even a thing. They’re so worth sitting out in the cold for a while.

  • Lauren - #ljojlo May 6, 2017 at 6:33 pm Reply

    I am off to Iceland later this month 😄! Thank you for these photos and inspiration, I can’t wait to get there!

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:28 pm Reply

      Have fun! You’ll have a blast, I’m sure. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone return and say that Iceland disappointed them.

      • Lauren - #ljojlo May 7, 2017 at 9:49 pm Reply

        I have no doubt we will love it 😄

  • erynmacgillivray May 6, 2017 at 6:41 pm Reply

    UGH! I’ve been wanting to travel to Iceland for a while now, and this post is so not helping haha! Might just have to book a ticket and go for it! Love your photos as well 🙂

    Eryn, Diaries From The Window Seat
    https://www.diariesfromthewindowseat.com/

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:29 pm Reply

      You totally should! It’s one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken. I need to make another visit in the summer so I can see and do even more.

  • rhiannontravels May 6, 2017 at 8:30 pm Reply

    Iceland (specifically, the Blue Lagoon) has been at the top of my bucket list for such a long time! Your photos are so beautiful, definitely makes me wanna go even more now! 😀

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Thank you! I hope you get a chance to visit soon. Iceland is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen.

  • storiesofadventureblog May 7, 2017 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Simply beautiful. I am desperate to go!

  • Momma To Go May 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm Reply

    How can one small place have such beautiful wonders? I need to get in that lagoon!

    • nomadbytrade13 May 7, 2017 at 9:31 pm Reply

      It’s a mystery to me! It doesn’t seem possible to pack that much stunning scenery into such a small space. It’s less than half of the size of my home state, Michigan, and manages to pack in at least 50x the scenery.

  • Campervans Iceland (@CampersIceland) May 8, 2017 at 7:05 am Reply

    Jökulsárlón is just gorgeous to visit any time of the year as can been seen in your lovely pictures and almost in any weather, almost! 🙂 You can read more about the lagoon here:
    http://www.rent.is/blog/jokulsarlon—the-glacier-lake
    Safe travels!

  • Eleonore May 10, 2017 at 2:48 pm Reply

    Ummmm so these photos are AMAZING – I definitely wouldn’t say you are an ‘amateur’ photographer by any means! Just got back from Iceland and loved reliving it a bit through you photos.

    Xx

    http://www.EleonoreEverywhere.com

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:44 pm Reply

      Thank you! I hope you had a fantastic time. I’m dying to go back for another visit already.

  • The Wanderful Me May 10, 2017 at 3:13 pm Reply

    These pictures are amazing! It truly makes me yearn to visit Iceland (even though it’s been on my list for YEARS!). I absolutely love the pictures of the waterfalls and ice sculptures. You really captured the beauty of this amazing island!

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm Reply

      Thank you! I hope you get a chance to visit soon.

  • Leanne - Rave & Review May 10, 2017 at 4:59 pm Reply

    I seriously could sit and look at your Iceland pictures all day long. Seeing the Northern lights is on my must-do list this year and your pictures of your adventure are absolutely stunning. I especially love the zebra iceberg – I’ve never seen anything like that before!

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm Reply

      Thanks! I loved that one iceberg so much. The stripes of ash made it so beautiful.

  • Rebecca Brianne May 10, 2017 at 6:45 pm Reply

    I mean I knew I wanted to visit Iceland anyway but this just makes me want it 1000x more!! I always seem to be flying over it but have yet to actually take the time to know it. Definitely worth stopping at!

    Best,
    Rebecca
    http://bexpeditions.com/

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm Reply

      Flying past it was the first way I saw Iceland too! It’s an awesome place to visit, especially since it’s easy to do stopovers now.

  • Carly Heyward May 10, 2017 at 9:01 pm Reply

    I’m so incredibly jelly of your trip. I went in December and it was nothing but clouds and wind and snow and sleet :9 i still saw some cool stuff, but I only saw blue sky on one day. I did manage to see the Northern Lights but they were sooooo weak. I guess I’ll have to go back!

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:48 pm Reply

      Oh, that’s so disappointing. We got incredibly lucky with the weather the week we were there, but I heard that there was a major blizzard just a few days after we left. I’m glad you got a chance to see the Northern Lights even if they were faint, though. That was tops on my bucket list for the trip.

  • Sara MacIntosh (@smacintosh15) May 10, 2017 at 11:51 pm Reply

    These photos are taking my breath away! Each photo is absolutely stunning and is so unique. How long were you in Iceland for?

  • justinesalonzo May 11, 2017 at 2:38 am Reply

    It looks beautiful! I’ve been wanting to visit Iceland, ever since I heard about the cheap airplane tickets. Thanks for sharing

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm Reply

      Thank you! It’s definitely a great place to fly to cheaply, but just be prepared to spend a LOT on food and everything else. Things are really expensive once you make it.

  • Megan Elliott (@LushtoBlush) May 11, 2017 at 7:50 am Reply

    These photos are absolutely amazing!! I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland and these pictures just add to my wanderlust. How incredible! Such natural beauty.

    • nomadbytrade13 May 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm Reply

      Thank you! The amount of natural beauty really is mind-blowing.

  • Ro May 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm Reply

    I’m sold! These photos are gorgeous. You’ve really captured the beauty of Iceland, better than most travel magazines!

  • Becky May 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm Reply

    Yes I want to see the Northern Lights… That would be fun and experience sleeping in an igloo.

  • 🌻🌻🌻 (@feliciabroccolo) May 13, 2017 at 11:07 am Reply

    WOW yep this definitely makes me what to go back to Iceland! I loved your picture of the zebra glacier! And the northern lights! ahhh so bummed that we didnt see the northern lights!

  • Agness of eTramping May 13, 2017 at 2:05 pm Reply

    Iceland is already on my bucket list but you convinced me to visit it in winter. Awesome post!

  • findingbeyond May 15, 2017 at 12:19 am Reply

    Such great photos. The scenery is breath taking but my favourite pictures are of the horses. 😂 They are so cute. Like you said, I would be photographing them all day.

    Did you find it to touristy. I am so divided as I know it is so beautiful but with the the expense and crowds it’s a place I have to really think about.

  • Brittsworld May 28, 2017 at 12:37 pm Reply

    Love the pictures! I just came back as well! So photogenic!

  • Helen Shelvey May 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm Reply

    Hi, I’m going to Iceland this January and wondered if you could recommend any tours? We will only have 3 days/ 4 nights all in Reykjavik and probably don’t want to be driving so will be taking tours from the capital. I want to see as much as possible but know we are limited by time. Any thoughts?

    • nomadbytrade13 May 29, 2017 at 9:59 pm Reply

      We didn’t take any tours out of Reykjavik because we rented a car, but I know there are tons available. Getting a bus to the Blue Lagoon is supposed to be really easy, and there are definitely tours to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Golden Circle, and all the way to Vik or Jokulsarlon. There are also boat tours that you can take to see whales, puffins, and the Northern Lights. There are driving Northern Lights tours, but our snowmobiling guide said that they’re kind of a waste. My little brother flew into Reykjavik the night before we did and he was able to see the lights right from the city by walking to a park along the harbor. I can’t really recommend any specific tour companies since I didn’t do any of the Reykjavik ones, unfortunately. I have a couple of Iceland boards on my Pinterest account that have some good suggestions from other travel bloggers though. Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a fantastic time! It’s a spectacular country.

  • Kevin's Travel Diary September 27, 2017 at 10:22 am Reply

    Great article to come across, I’m headed there in Novemeber. This has been very helpful thanks.

  • Ada September 27, 2017 at 10:40 am Reply

    Wow I am so jealous now! I can’t wait to go to Iceland for road trip! Looks like you’ve seen everything the country has to offer! Love your photos!

  • Ryan September 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm Reply

    I went to Iceland November of last year and I’m basically reliving the experience through your photos. Thanks for sharing!

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