Arctic Wilderness

Touring South Iceland can give you amazing photo opportunities. Iceland’s South Coast is made of black sand beaches as well as huge cliffs. The waterfalls along the Southern Iceland route are some of the most impressive in the country.  At Jökulsarlon you can photograph glacier icebergs and the Vatnjökull glacier reflected in the stillness of – the glacial lagoon.  Get intimate with the Öræfajökull glacier which hides Iceland’s deadliest volcano.  The surrounding area will enrich your sense of adventure.  The diversity of the landscape at these great locations will give you portfolio some amazing variety.  Every photographer makes something different out of the Icelandic landscapes.

These locations could give you fantastic Northern lights photo opportunities if the weather complies.  Some of the famous Iceland locations, such as Jökulsarlon or Vestrahorn mountain are unbeatable for Northern Lights photography. You can book your hotel near these locations to make sunset and sunrise very convenient.

Best Locations:

I would recommend 3 days or more to explore South Iceland.  In 2 days you catch some of the major sites on the way to Jokulsarlon and back, but this is a bit rushed and no time for errors or getting lost.  A tour of South Iceland could include SeljalandsfossSkogafossReynisfjaraFjaðrárgljúfur, SkaftafellJökulsarlon & Ice beachFjalsarlon, Höfn, Vesturhorn Mountain.  All these locations can be interesting for sunset, sunrise and Northern Lights.  Around the glaciers it is possible to book glacier hiking and climbing activities.  The big glacier lagoons often offer  boat trips.   Many of the towns and villages along the route have exhibitions and restaurants.   It may be possible to include the Golden circle and Snæfellsnes peninsular with the South coast and Glaciers over 4 or 5 days.

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Day tours

On a single day tour you could tour as far as the black sand and Sea-stacks at Vik and Reynisfjara.   You might be able to push further if you have an abundance of driving energy.  Vik takes just over two hours to drive from Reykjavik.  If you stop to photograph Skogafoss waterfall, Sólheimajökull Glacier, Dyrholaey cliffs, two black beaches, the town of Vik and Seljalandsfoss waterfall, this will be as much as 10 hours before you are back in Reykjavik.  In mid-winter a single day trip along the South Coast has to planned carefully.  The limited daylight is incredible quality, but doesn’t give you a lot of time.  Ideally, you would want to be at Seljalandsfoss waterfall just before Sunrise at 11.00 and get to Vik in time for the sunset at 15.30 (3.30 p.m.).  This way you will have four and a half hours to explore a couple of locations.

Reynisdrengur - vik south Iceland

Winter sunset – Vik, South Iceland

Two days

Exploring the South coast and Jökulsárlón over two days.

Day 1

Depart from you Keflavik or Reykjavik Hotel and follow the #1 road East for a couple of hours. After a lot of fairly flat farmland, you will come across the first of the South coast waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss.  In most cases, Seljalandsfoss water should be left as the final stop on your return journey.  This is because the waterfall gets no light in the mornings (or mid-winter).  Skogafoss Waterfall is only another 20 minutes drive.. If the days are long enough, you could leave the ring road to explore Dýrholaey. Then photograph a sunset at Vík with the black sand beach. Vik is just past the half way to Jokulsarlon.  From Vik, you have a bit more than 2 hours drive to the glacier lagoon.  You could stay in Vik and then double up on the driving on day two.  I recommend driving further and maybe staying close to Jokulsarlon.  Recommend Hali Country Hotel.  This is easily the best hotel in the area with comfortable rooms and quality breakfast.

Day 2

The benefit of staying in this area is that there is very little light pollution, so Northern Lights can be intense.  If you are lucky, you could photograph the Auroras over the Glacier Lagoons. If you stay at Hali or nearby, you will be able to photograph sunrise at the glacier lagoon or ice beach,  In mid-winter, you can catch the sunrise after breakfast.  In the Summer, you can catch it before breakfast.  Then drive back along the South Coast with stops at any waterfalls and landscapes you skipped on day one. If you get to Vik in the afternoon you should be able to get to Seljalandsfoss for the Winter sunset.  On longer days you can take your time to explore.

Driving Time 10-12 hours total.

Golden light ice beach

Extra days

Add an extra days to do more.

The extra day could be spent around Vatnjokull Glacier to enjoy activities on the glacier lagoon or an Ice cave adventure. The Diamond Ice Beach has incredible photographic opportunities. Giving yourself an extra morning on this beach should give you a stunning photo shoot. Both the Glacier lake and beach can be very rewarding.  An extra day makes a trip to the Vestrahorn mountain and the town of Höfn.   Vestrahorn is an excellent sunset location.  The town at Hofn has some good places to eat.  Having two nights at the Hali hotel could yield more Northern lights photo opportunities is the weather is clear.  You could stay in Hofn if you want to capture Northern Lights at Vestrahorn.  Extra days can allow you to take more time exploring the South Coast and taking photos. Staying at a Vik Hotel can also be good for sunrises.  Or booking a hotel close to Skogafoss waterfall can be great for auroras.

Northern lights at Jokulsarlon

Northern lights at Jokulsarlon


Tours & Activities

These are tours and activities that include Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

Arctic Shots Photo Tours