If you’re a passionate nature photographer, visions of Iceland likely dance in your head. With its geological wonders and rugged beauty, this small island nation offers boundless opportunities for capturing nature’s unscripted moments, whether it’s the glitter of a black-sand beach or a snuggle between Arctic foxes.

What to Expect on an Iceland Photo Expedition

Intended for photographers who wish to test their skills in such an intense landscape, our Iceland Full Circle: A Photo Pro Expedition ticks all the boxes. You’ll make a full circuit of the island to discover all that the land has to offer in varying light and weather conditions. Wondrous photography awaits, from stark mountains and lava fields to thundering, ice-fed rivers and steaming craters. Watch from behind the lens as shaggy Icelandic horses graze and puffins play.

This thoughtfully designed Iceland photo itinerary was created to give you the most comprehensive, all-encompassing encounter with Icelandic nature that you’ll find, and in quieter destinations relatively unknown to other travelers.

When you join us (with a maximum of just eight other avid photogs), you’ll:

  • Have the chance to photograph the world’s largest Atlantic puffin colony as you explore the secluded Westfjords and Westman Islands.
  • Gain unparalleled views of the waterfalls, gorges, volcanic plains, fjords and more on helicopter and small plane flights.
  • Land on a glacier for up-close ice photography.
  • Access off-the-beaten-path destinations throughout Iceland, including fishing villages and farms on the little-visited east coast.
  • Photograph a volcano crater while out on a 4×4 Super Jeep safari that descends to the crater floor of the Askja caldera.

Intrigued? Read all about the Iceland Full Circle photo trip and what you can expect each day.

For now, we hope to pique your photo curiosity with these 14 must-take Iceland photos. Read on, too, for a few tips and tricks from one of our favorite Nat Hab Expedition Leaders and photographers, Court Whelan.

Can’t-Miss Photo Ops in Iceland

1.    Cracks in the Earth (and More) in Thingvellir National Park

Aerial view of Thingvellir National Park - famous area in Iceland right on the spot where the Atlantic tectonic plates meets. UNESCO World Heritage Site, western Iceland, and site of the Althing. High quality photo

Get an aerial intro to Iceland on a two-hour “Fire and Ice” helicopter tour that takes you over Glymur, the highest waterfall in Iceland. Land on Thorisjokull Glacier to walk on the ice, then continue over the park by air, witnessing the continental drift of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Land in the Hengill geothermal area and photograph hot springs and boiling mud pots.

Öxarárfoss Waterfall in Thingvellier National Park in Iceland

Öxarárfoss Waterfall in Thingvellier National Park

Then, it’s on to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the place where Iceland continues to form geologically. See and capture on camera the very fissures where Earth’s curst is separating. Later, Thingvellir continues to impress us with its Oxarafoss and Thorufoss waterfalls and the country’s largest lake.

2.    Puffins, Puffins … and More Puffins

Flying Icelandic puffin with beak full of sardine fish

Taken by Nat Hab Expedition Leader & Photo Pro © Eddy Savage

Spend hours with one of the world’s most charming seabirds—the Atlantic puffin! In the remote, seldom-visited Westman Islands, you and your camera will get cozy with the planet’s largest colony of these cuties.

Set out by ferry to the main island in the Westmans: Heimaey. These islands were formed by volcanic activity between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago and the land remains very dynamic. (There was another eruption in 1973.) Our focus here is the Atlantic puffin, so we take a walk to Storhofoi to photograph the massive colony. You’ll see razorbill, guillemot, northern fulmar, northern gannet, shearwater, storm petrel, great skua and black-legged kittiwakes, too. Few predators exist on the island, lending to the size of the colony.

Colony of Atlantic puffins in Iceland

© Lianne Thompson

Later during your trip, visit Vigur Island in the Westfjords, a small outpost that is home to thousands of seabirds and a colony of 100,000 Atlantic puffins. Get your fill of puffin photos here, where we may even see them carrying fish back to their nests.

3. Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

Travelers photographing each other in front of Iceland’s Skogafoss

This Nat Hab travel couple loved photographing Skogafoss! © Lianne Thompson

After departing the Westman Islands, we’ll return to the mainland to photograph the spectacular waterfalls of the south coast. Feel the spray as you walk behind the powerful Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. The latter is fed by the glacier-capped Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which plummets 206 feet into the Seljalands River. Later, we’ll make our way to the Dyrholaey lighthouse and the Reynisdrangar Rocks in golden-hour light for some moody photo moments.

4.    Fire and Ice Perspectives in Katla Geopark

Panoramic view on Reynisfjara beach, Katla Geopark, Iceland

Along Iceland’s south coast, we examine the dynamic relationship between fire and ice as we visit Katla UNESCO Global Geopark, which contains roughly 9% of Iceland’s landmass. The massive glaciers and active volcanoes in this region have shaped the land for millennia, and as recently as the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull and 2011 Grimsvotn eruptions. Awe-inspiring photo angles are everywhere as you train your lens on the glacial rivers, lakes, purple lupin, black-sand beaches, vast lava fields and caverns of the park.

5.    Black Sand and Seals

Skaftafell glacier, Vatnajokull National Park in Iceland.

Skaftafell Glacier

Set off on a fixed-wing airplane flight over Skaftafell National Park for a bird’s-eye view of the black-sand and ash plain of Skeidararsandur. Don’t miss the chance for striking shots of the Skeidararjokull Glacier, draining off Vatnajokull, Iceland’s largest ice cap.

Woman traveler poses on icebergs and ice chunks washed up on Black sand beach in Iceland

Diamond Beach

Later, we head to Diamond Beach, a pro photographer favorite for the natural sculptures created by icebergs from the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. These fantastical bergs wash up on shore, creating a glittering contrast with the volcanic black sand. Look, too, for seals on the beach and orcas just offshore.

6.    Coastal Photography in Stokksnes and East Fjords

Beautiful scenery of Vestrahorn mountain and grass mound on black sand beach in sunny day at Stokksnes peninsula, Iceland

Beautiful scenery of Vestrahorn mountain and rolling black sand dunes.

Moving toward the older regions of Iceland, along the east coast and on the Stokksnes Peninsula, we stop to take bucolic shots of livestock grazing in green pastures, the double cascade of Skutafoss waterfall, jet-black sand beaches, 10-foot-high sand dunes carpeted with lime-green beach grass, and the stark Vestrahorn mountain. This striking feature is made mostly of rare gabbro rock, a plutonic magma nearly 11 million years old.

Small icelandic beauty fishing village - Djupivogur


In the East Fjords, we visit the picturesque fishing village of Djupivogur, where you can capture local life, as well as the whales, seals and dolphins that frequent the mouth of narrow Berufjordur Fjord.

7.    Mjoifjordur, the “Narrow Fjord”

Fishing boat wreck rusts away in the fjord at Mjoifjordur in Eastern Iceland

Fishing boat wreck rusts away in the fjord at Mjoifjordur in Eastern Iceland.

One of the most photogenic of the East Fjords, the slender finger of Mjoifjordur has surprisingly calm water, making for beautiful reflection photography. It’s likely we’ll see whales here, as well. This truly remote destination feels super special as we access it via a road that is only open about four months a year, when it is snow-free. We continue down the steep, winding gravel road to the end of the 11-mile fjord to find the basalt Dalatangi Lighthouse. We then overlook the nearby Klifbrekkufossar, a seven-step waterfall that flows down a chasm lined with green vegetation, just another of the many captivating contrasts that define Iceland’s geology.

Klifbrekkufossar Waterfalls on the Eastern Coast of Iceland


Hoping for more puffins? You’ll find them today when we visit the tiny settlement of Borgarfjordur Eystri, known for its Atlantic puffin colony (and numerous “elfin communities” that thrive in Icelandic mythology).

8.    Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss Waterfalls

Scenic icelandic waterfall Litlanesfoss


From Egilsstadir, we travel inland along Lagarfloit Lake (local lore suggests that a sea monster lives within its waters) to two distinctive waterfalls. Take time to get the perfect angle on Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss, one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, as they cascade down between dark columnar basalt cliffs.

Aerial view Icelandic summer landscape of the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in north Iceland. The waterfall is situated in the northern part of the Sprengisandur Road within the Highlands of Iceland.

Aerial view of Aldeyjarfoss, situated in the northern part of the Sprengisandur Road within the Highlands of Iceland.

Nearby, we visit Hafrahvammagljfur Canyon, one of Iceland’s most dramatic geological features. This narrow gorge, hemmed by vertical walls towering more than 650 feet high, stretches almost 5 miles from the Vatnajokull ice cap toward the Jokuldalur Valley.

9. Modrudalur Farm

Walk pass to the church of Modrudalur at right and traditional turf houses at left in Eastern Island. Fljotsdalsherad municipality of Austurland.

Church of Modrudalur and traditional turf houses.

Set seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the Modrudalur Farm is one of the oldest farms in Iceland and the country’s highest inhabited place. After driving through the rugged surrounding wilderness, the highlands farm feels oasis-like as you approach.

Modrudalur’s resident farm dog is good friends with the local wildlife! Arctic fox

Modrudalur’s resident farm dog is good friends with the local wildlife! © Heather Chrystie

There is evidence of the farm’s presence since the original settlement by the Vikings and it sits where two historic cross-country trails intersected. Spend two nights in a guesthouse in this area, providing plenty of opportunities for pastoral photography in a setting very few tourists ever visit.

10. Askja Crater

Askja caldera Amazing nature landscape, Viti crater geothermal lake and Oskjuv

Take an exciting 4×4 “Super Jeep” adventure down to the crater floor of the Askja caldera for a close-up look at a dormant volcano. From here, we’ll hike up to the rim for the ultimate panorama. Photograph Lake Askja, which fills part of the crater and is one of the deepest lakes in Iceland at nearly 700 feet. Come away with stunning photos of this stark, open, lunar-like landscape. It’s so reminiscent of the moon that U.S. astronauts conducted moon-landing exercises here in the 1960s!

Super jeep ride on volcanic sand in Iceland

© Court Whelan

11. Dettifoss, Selfoss and Lake

Dettifoss Waterfall in Iceland

Dettifoss Waterfall

We can’t miss Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall by volume and the most powerful in Iceland. Typically, you’ll be able to get a dramatic photo of the falls with a rainbow over them. Take a moment away from the lens to feel the spray of this churning, thundering curtain of water 330 feet wide and 150 feet high.

From here, we move on to the striking Selfoss waterfall before stopping at Lake Myvatn. Alive with geothermal activity, the lake has seen lava flows as recently as 1984 when Krafla volcano erupted. Photograph the pseudocraters of Skutustadir, which are formed when lava flows over wet ground, pushing it down and trapping steam.

Myvatn geothermal area, northern Iceland. Geothermal power station near the blue lake

Myvatn geothermal area.

Look around for the incredible birdlife in the area and photograph nesting ducks, horned grebe, great northern diver, common loon, red-throated loon, whooper swan, Barrow’s goldeneye and other seasonal visitors.

12. Godafoss

Iceland, Godafoss at sunset, beautiful waterfall, long exposure

Godafoss At sunset.

Capture the melancholy mood of the beautiful Godafoss, one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Shaped like a crescent, it drops 40 feet over a sheer volcanic cliff. The cascade is known as the “Waterfall of the Gods” and you’ll soon see why as you soak up the ethereal atmosphere here. In the summer months, you’ll notice the lush green grass around the falls, while in the winter, this area is covered in snow. The falls may even freeze, making for even more eye-catching photography.

13. Westfjords

eautiful Icelandic Vibrant Summer Landscape with Fjord, Isafjor

Fjord Isafjor

We’ll travel by mini bus in the Westfjords, allowing us to stop when the spirit of photography moves us. Gain insight into local life as we pass through small fishing villages and quintessential Westfjords communities. Get a fantastic panorama from the Bolafjell Lookout, a viewing platform that juts out from a 2,100-foot-high vertical cliff. And capture a golden-light view of the Dynjandi Waterfall, the largest in this region of the country.

A girl walking through flowering meadows over Hornbjarg cliffs,

Hornbjarg cliffs

Delve deeper into the Westfjords to see the scenic Reykjafjordur and the Drangajokull Glacier, the northernmost in Iceland, which lies next to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, an uninhabited wild area.

 14. Svalvogar Circle

Pingeyri town, Westfjords, Iceland

Pingeyri town, Westfjords.

We set off on another Super Jeep tour, this time in the Westfjords’ wild hinterlands. Drive the Svalvogar Circle route, with frequent photo stops here on the Fjallaskagi Peninsula. Observe rich birdlife at Onundarfjordur, see the village of Thingeyri, and ascend the pass to gain views of the highest mountains in the Westfjords. All the while, keep an eye out for the Arctic fox.

Iceland Photography Tips from the Expert

We promised photo tips, and here they are, from Nat Hab Expedition Leader extraordinaire, professional photographer and our Chief Sustainability Officer Court Whelan. He calls Iceland “quite possibly one of the best places for landscape photography on the planet.” Here’s what Court carries with him when photographing Iceland:

  • Wide-angle zoom lens: Your primary go-to during your adventure, with classic 24-70mm and 24-105mm varieties
  • Zoom telephoto: Ideal for landscape photography, in the 70-200mm class (his favorite for Iceland is the 100-400mm f/4-5.6)
  • Ultra-wide lens: Particularly for the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and for northern lights photography
  • Tripod: While not absolutely necessary, can come in handy for silky waterfall photos, the aurora borealis, and sunrise and sunset photos
  • Filters: Specifically, a polarizing filter (for fickle light conditions) and a neutral density (ND) filter for silky waterfall shots
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra memory
  • Waterproof gear bag
  • A dry bag for camera when you’re wearing it
WWF & Nat Hab photography pro wearing wwf panda shirt poses in front of Icelandic basalt column waterfall

Join Court Whelan in Iceland!

This is just a starting point for your Iceland photo trip prep. Read Court’s full article about what he packs in his camera bag and some of his stories from the field.

Have your sights set on Iceland? We hope you’ll join us on our Iceland Full Circle: A Photo Pro Expedition soon! Not a photo buff but still want to explore Iceland? Check out our Iceland: Circling the Land of Fire & Ice nature adventure.