Grotta Lighthouse at Seltjarnarnes

Grótta Lighthouse at Seltjarnarnes

Home » Iceland Photo Locations » Landscapes and seascapes » Grótta Lighthouse at Seltjarnarnes

Seltjarnarnes peninsula

The lighthouse at Grótta sits on a small island at the tip of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula.  The town of Seltjarnarnes is easier to visit than to say.  The town is bordered with Reykjavik and is one of the oldest settlements in Iceland.

Just a few hundred years ago, Seltjarnarnes was much bigger and more important than Reykjavik.  If you are staying in Reykjavik, there is a pathway from the Grandi harbour that goes all the way along the Seltjarnarnes peninsula. This is known as the Seltjarnarnes Jogging Path.

Grotta Island is accessible at low tide.  It is possible to follow the rocky breakwater and explore the island with its picturesque lighthouse.  The lighthouse is sometimes called the Seltjarnarnes lighthouse.  The lighthouse has a rounded structure and is now fully automatic.  Its light warns ships of the rocky coastline at the entrance to Reykjavik Harbour.  It has a pattern of three short flashes followed by a long flash, then a pause.

Seltjarnarnes Sunset
Seltjarnarnes peninsula -Sunset colours at low tide.

Between the car park and Grotta Island is a bay of water, which is separated from the channel by a row of breakwater boulders.  Sometimes the water in the bay can be still and reflective.  At high tide and windy weather, the sea can crash against the boulders.  Both scenarios are good for landscape photography.


Airport to Reykjavik and back

Jogging Path

I never jogged the jogging path, but I was a habitual walker in 2008 when I lived in Downtown Reykjavik.  Each way was about 40 minutes at my walking pace.  Along the path, there are areas where you can get down to the shore among the rocks.  There are a surprising number of decent coastal scenes to be photographed before you get to the lighthouse. At some point, you will come across a wooden fish shack.  Very close to here is a fairly unknown geothermal pool.  You can take your socks and shoes off and bathe your aching feet in the tiny hot tub.  There is room for two pairs of feet, so a couple can get all natural together.

Northern Lights

Yes,  Grótta Lighthouse can be a great place to photograph the Northern Lights.  Some minibus tour companies started taking customers here.  There were lots of complaints because it was just a 2-minute drive from Reykjavik and they had paid lots of money.  The car park on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula was a local secret for evening romances until the Northern Lights photos emerged, making Grotta a popular tourist spot.  Testing the Canon 5D at Grotta Lighthouse LINK.

Aurora lighthouse
Northern lights at Grotta lighthouse.


The end of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula is fantastic for birds.  There are a huge variety of sea birds, gulls, and waders.  If you follow the jogging path around and past the lighthouse, you will come across a small lake with reed banks.  This is a great place to explore with a 400-mm birding lens.  It is important to note that access to the Grotta island is restricted in the spring to encourage nesting.

oystercatcher has a bath
An oystercatcher has a bath at the lake.

This photo of the common Oyster Catcher bird was taken with a Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens.  This lens is a monster to carry around, and I fully recommend using a strong monopod.

Grotta Lighthouse and Northern Lights
Click to buy a print!!
Landmannalaugar – Central Iceland
Iceland Summer adventure

Landmannalaugar is a volcanic hotspot in the country’s southern highlands, famous for the multi-coloured mountains caused by the interaction of rhyolite rock…

Top 10 Aurora Locations in Iceland
Namaskard Northern Lights

This guide discusses some of the best locations for photographing the Northern lights.  My top ten locations are from the North, South,…

Ice Caves – Iceland Glaciers
ice cave photo tour

The ice caves under the Vatnjökull glacier are the real deal. These are caves sculpted by melt water during the Summer months….


Landmannalaugar Tours
Iceland Summer adventure

These tours takes you to the mountains of colour at Landmannalaugar. Colours greet the visitor all at once in a magnificent panorama.

Golden Circle Tours
Photo bus day tours

The Golden Circle tour is a nicely paced, adventure filled, photo tour in South West Iceland. The tour visits Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall…


Multi-Day Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Summer night photo tours

Multi-day Iceland Tours with erupting geysers, waterfalls & sea cliffs & then stay in a fishing village waiting for auroras on…

South Iceland Multi-Day Tours
Iceland glacier lake

A multi-day tour of South Iceland will give you incredible photo opportunities. The South coast is rich with, glacier ice, towering waterfalls…