OK, let's face the truth.
A trip to Iceland isn't as much fun as it was once. Too many tourists are overcrowding the best spots, well known through Instagram.
But there is also good news: if you 1. don't only focus on (the admittedly easy reachable) spots in the South and 2. if you dare to visit Iceland during the harsh winter time, you will experience
an atmosphere which is truly unforgettable! And as more as you venture up North - as less tourists and photographers and more locals you will meet.
The best time to travel will be end of February/Beginning of March.
The days are short to have a reasonable time for sunrise, but already long enough to shoot several hours a day.
The winter is still there but not as harsh as in January. And the North is already (most of the time) accessible. And if you are lucky - you can see some amazing Northern Lights.
So let me introduce you to the wintery side of this well photographed island!
We will leave a lot of "typical" photo spots - particularly in the South - behind us since I think you all know them anyway. But of course feel free to stop on your way also in Reykjavik, Gulfoss, Skogafoss etc. It is a different world between summer and winter and always more relaxed.
pHOTO SPOT 1: VIK
On your way around the island it is always nice to stop at Vik i Myrdal with its red roofed church and the iconic sea stacks.
While this spot is heavily crowded in the summer months - you can dare to go there in winter.
There are some good spots for Vik.
First of all of course the Dyrhólaey view point with great views over the black Reynisfjara beach and the sea stacks.
And of course the hill above the church.
Since the weather is often grey in winter on Iceland - the photos almost look like being processed with selective colours. But no - the colours are for real...
PHOTO SPOT 2: VATNAJOKULL/JOKULSARLON
Besides the lovely Diamond Beach (best at sunrise) and the glacier (which is in winter so much more filled with icebergs), you can visit an ice cave (depending on the temperatures until mid March). You have to book a guided tour though which you can do at the Jökulsárlón Glacier parking.
PHOTo spot 3: STOKKSNES
For sure a highlight for every landscape photographer is the peninsula Stokksnes.
Especially in winter with the sugary white in contrast to the black beach.
Both work well - sunset and sunrise. But I preferred definitely sunrise.
Try to get there when the tide is out to get some lovely reflections in the water.
photo spot 4: DJUPIVOGUR
If you venture towards the rough and wild East, not far from Stokksnes you will enter the untamed region of Djupivogur and the fjord Berufjodur. In winter it is quite likely that you will meet
hardly anyone else. Enjoy the rugged landscape and the sharp contrast of black and white. Make sure to have a 4WD though - the streets are often covered with snow and ice.
And inform yourself about possible (temporary) road closures due to snow drifts.
You are now in the "real" Iceland - not the touristy Instagram Disneyworld.
photo spot 5: Aldeyjarfoss
While this is a popular spot in the summer - it is not reachable with normal vehicles during winter - which means only a handful of people go there in winter.
But it is so, so worth it! It was my favourite spot of wintery Iceland! It is an enchanting experience with the frozen basalt stacks.
Make sure to book a driver who will take you with one of the super trucks to that place.
You can combine this tour with photo spot no. 6 (see below).
You will do some rough off road driving through high snow drifts.
Arrived at the waterfall - you will have to hike down to the platform. Be careful - depending on the weather it can be very icy. Have your spikes with you!
photo spot 6: Grenjadarstadur
And again a spot which is usually only known during summer - but a real adventure in the winter: the turf farm Grenjadarstadur!
With the same super truck you hired for Aldeyjarfoss, you can go to this farm and admire it totally on your own!
photo spot 7: HUSAVIK
A great stop to watch real local life in Iceland and to take some scenery shots is Husavik, a town up North.
photo spot 8: Kalfshamarsviti
A beautiful, not so often photographed, lighthouse is Kalfshamarsviti with its horseshoe shaped basalt stacks. Particularly nice if you have a bit of snow.
You can drive in winter to the end of the unpaved road and have to walk a path approx. 15 mins down to the view point.
Don't forget your wide angle lens to capture the basalt formation!
PHOTO SPOT 9: SNAEFELLSNES
Ok, Snaefellsnes is not really the secret spot.
Years ago it was heaven to photograph there - nowadays rather horror due to the crowds.
And even in winter you won't be on your own at Kirkjufell - the famous mountain.
But if you look a bit left and right and don't follow the flocks to the obvious and over photographed photo stop (close to the waterfall) - you can even be on your own at Kirkjufell. The photo with the frozen puddle was taken close to the water (on the other side of the road) and no one else was there.
At the other photo spots (Hellnar church, Budir black church and Arnarstapi) - there was literally no one else and it was so nice and relaxing to take photos. I know Snaefellsness from other seasons and I tell you - it is a real nice difference in winter. Especially the black church looks great with some snow.
I recommend to spend 4 days minimum on the peninsula to make sure to get all the spots you want.
You could do it in one day theoretically. But the weather won't be on your side all the time...
photo spot 10: AKRANES
Akranes is an often forgotten place on the island which I don't understand. Because it has so much to offer for photographers.
Be it old, decayed boats, be it churches, lighthouses etc.
And it is super easy reachable from Reykjavik.
You can stop on your way to Snaefellsnes (coming from Reykjavik) or on your way back. It is still very authentic Icelandic and for me better than the stops in the South.
OK, this was a short trip around the winter island of Iceland - I hope you enjoyed it!
Of course there is so much more to see - please have a look at the links to see more photos of each photo location.
Please leave a comment about your thoughts. And of course you may also share this post.
All Fine Art photos of ICELAND you may find here:
ICELAND PHOTOS FINE ART
Editorial photos of ICELAND you can see here:
ICELAND PHOTOS EDITORIAL
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