Iceland: Ice Caves and Aurora
Join us on an immersive photography adventure to see one of the most incredible landscapes in the world transformed into a winter wonderland.
Iceland boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery during winter including magnificent frozen waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, dramatic volcanic beaches, glistening ice caves and the elusive Northern Lights.
During this 10-Day workshop, we will capture these natural wonders as we explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, Vatnajökull National Park and Golden Circle.
Aimed at photographers of all skill level – whether you are a beginner, amateur or a professional, you’ll be sure to come away from this workshop with a diverse portfolio of images of Iceland in one of its most beautiful seasons.
- A focus on Landscape, Northern Lights and Golden Hour photography
- Observing the dynamic nature between ice and fire in Iceland, a country forged through the combined forces of glaciers and volcanic activity
- Exploring ice caves hidden within Europe’s largest glacier
- Visiting the unforgettable Diamond Beach
- Capturing the unique geothermal and geological sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Golden Circle
- Going on the chase of a lifetime for the Northern Lights
- Learning new photography skills, such as tips for shooting during golden hour, sunrise/sunset and night
- Learning advanced photography techniques to make the most of lighting and locations such as bracketing, focus stacking and long exposures
- A small workshop so your experience is truly personal, and you get to know your guides and fellow photographers
- 10-day workshop with 9 nights accommodation double occupancy
- 2 award-winning, professional Photo Guides who will provide a combination of instruction, masterclasses and in-field guidance
- Transportation during the workshop in a comfortable vehicle with ample room for you and your photography gear
- Welcome and Farewell dinners on Days 1 and 9
- Breakfasts at the hotels during the workshop
- Post-processing sessions with Photo Guides
- Travel to and from Iceland
- Airport transfers
- Single room supplement (contact us for price)
- Food and beverages (other than breakfasts, Welcome and Farewell dinners)
- Items of a personal nature including (but not limited to) laundry services, clothing, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges.
- Gratuities for Photo Guides, local guides and/or drivers
A 3% charge is added using this service. Please contact us if you prefer other payment options.
Day 1 – Arrival
The workshop starts in the capital city of Reykjavik, where we will meet over a welcome dinner to get to know each other and discuss the workshop itinerary together.
You can use your free time before dinner to explore this vibrant capital and its abundance of photo opportunities. Be sure to visit the Sun Voyager with its picturesque views towards Mount Esja, the kaleidoscopic Harpa Concert Hall – a visual wonder from every angle, the incredible street art scattered throughout the city, and the iconic Hallgrímskirkja with its unparalleled 360° views over the colourful capital.
Day 2 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Today we will set off early to start our adventure, making our way to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This area is fondly known as ‘Iceland in Miniature’, as here you can get a taste of all the natural wonders Iceland has to offer – waterfalls, volcanic craters, lava fields and black sand beaches. It is especially beautiful in winter with the rugged, volcanic landscape draped in a soft blanket of snow and ice, under soft winter light.
We will stop at Hraunfossar, where water from an underground spring seeps through a lava field, emerging as if out of nowhere.
We will visit the coastal village of Arnarstapi, where nature has carved magnificent arches and jagged rock formations from the black lava cliffs.
A highlight today will be Kirkjufell Mountain – one of Iceland’s most famous landmarks. With its distinctive shape like a church steeple, it sits by itself on the edge of the sea, towering above its surroundings. We will spend sunset here, exploring its many composition options. Should the Northern Lights appear, our expert guides will be on hand to help capture images of the aurora dancing over the mountain.
Accommodations: Snæfellsnes Peninsulat
Day 3 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula
We begin our day with sunrise at the Black Church of Búðir. This picture-perfect building sits alone on an expansive lava field, framed by the incredible backdrop of the Snæfellsnesjökull glacier on one side and the sea on the other. It can be particularly picturesque during the winter months, contrasting dramatically with the snow.
We will then continue our exploration of the peninsula, whose landscapes formed during the eruption of Snæfellsjökull. Throughout the day we will stop at many of these volcanic vistas, for example, Lóndrangar – the remains of a crater that eroded into a magnificent pair of rock pinnacles towering over 60 meters above the waves, and Djúpalónssandur – a beach covered in shiny black pebbles that look like pearls. Surrounded by strange rock formations that appear to emerge from the ocean, this beach is excellent for unique seascapes.
Our final stop will be back at Búðir to photograph the iconic church under a winter sunset and the Northern Lights.
Accommodations: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 4 – Golden Circle
We will return to Kirkjufell to capture the mountain at sunrise before we say goodbye to the peninsula and head to the Golden Circle, the route known for its three famous, natural attractions.
The first is Þingvellir National Park where we can walk along the Almannagjá gorge – the rift valley between the European and North American tectonic plates where Iceland is tearing apart. Flowing into this valley is the stunning Öxarárfoss falls, often covered in dazzling icicles during winter.
The second is Haukadalur, a geothermal area shaped by the forces of earth and fire, with bubbling mud pits, hot springs and steaming fumaroles. We’ll have our cameras at the ready to capture the extraordinary activity of Strokkur, a geyser that spouts jets of scalding water over 20 metres into the air every 10 minutes.
The last is Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall. Here the water cascades over two tiers before dropping dramatically into a narrow, deep canyon. We will spend the afternoon and sunset exploring the viewpoints above the falls, where it can appear as if the river is disappearing into the earth!
Accommodations: Golden Circle
Day 5 – Vatnajökull National Park
Throughout the day under changing light, the landscapes of Iceland can appear dramatically different. To ensure our portfolios are varied, we will return to Strokkur to capture the shooting water at sunrise.
The rest of the day will be spent travelling through the south coast along the foothills of the Vatnajökull glacier, past majestic mountain ranges and incredible glacial tongues that stretch down from the ice cap towards the sea.
There are countless places we can stop to stretch our legs and capture the incredible vistas. One of these is Fjaðrárgljúfur, a magnificent canyon with deep, unusually shaped walls that twist and turn. It is especially epic viewed from above, where it resembles a zipper ripping along the earth.
Our final destination will be Jökulsárlón. At this beautiful lagoon, icebergs in an array of shapes and sizes calve from the nearby glacial tongue and slowly drift towards the sea. It is a magical experience to see them float by in their palette of colours – turquoise, frosted white, deep blue and even black. We will stay here to capture the sun setting over the lagoon and will hopefully have an opportunity to shoot it beneath the Northern Lights.
Accommodations: Vatnajökull National Park
Day 6 – Vatnajökull National Park
Within the south and eastern regions of Vatnajökull National Park we can observe the historical interaction between ice and fire in Iceland, as this area was created by the combined forces of glaciers and volcanic activity.
The landscapes here are diverse and almost surreal, dotted with waterfalls, glaciers, rivers, lava fields, forests, snowy mountain peaks and dramatic beaches. It is a photographer’s paradise, and we will spend our next three days here, taking our time to explore the unique sites and capturing them in a variety of conditions.
Today is sure to be one of the highlights of our adventure. We will travel on a super-jeep to Europe’s largest glacier to explore the frozen underworld of the ice caves hidden within. You’ll be amazed by their intense colours, remarkable structures and the textures in their glistening walls. As they are always changing, we will be able to capture some truly unique images.
Accommodations: Vatnajökull National Park
Day 7 – Vatnajökull National Park
We will begin the day early with sunrise at one of the most extraordinary locations in Iceland, Diamond Beach – the final resting place for the icebergs that have calved from the nearby glacier and made their way out to sea. The icebergs are pounded by the waves and smashed into smaller chunks of ice that then wash up onto the black sand where they lay, glistening like diamonds. We will have plenty of time to photograph this spectacular beach – the memories of watching the ice glow in the Golden Hour light will last a lifetime.
We will then continue along the Ring Road to Vestrahorn, the strikingly photogenic mountain that sits alone on the shore of the wild Atlantic Ocean. This vista is even more spectacular in its winter coat, surrounded by ice shards that have formed over the shallow pools at low tide, and the undulating black sand dunes capped with snow.
We will spend the afternoon exploring the many composition options, staying to photograph the jagged peaks against the backdrop of a winter sunset. We will also keep an eye on the Northern Lights forecast so we are ready to capture the reflection of the aurora blazing above the mountain.
Accommodations: Vatnajökull National Park
Day 8 – Vatnajökull National Park
Diamond Beach has endless photo opportunities, so we will head back for another sunrise and practice our long exposure skills.
As this is our last day in the area, we will return to sites the group wants to photograph under different conditions, or to places where they would like the opportunity to improve on images previously captured.
We will then start our journey back along the south coast to Vík, where we will spend the afternoon and sunset capturing Reynisfjara Beach with its tall basalt columns, dramatic black volcanic sand, and impressive sea stacks.
This will be our last opportunity to chase the Northern Lights, and there are many amazing locations nearby we can go to photograph them, should they appear.
Day 9 – South Coast
Today will be our final day of shooting, and we will spend it exploring the wonders of the South Coast.
We will rise early to capture the sea stacks from a different vantage point and in sunrise light before visiting the promontory of Dyrhólaey with its massive arch, historic lighthouse and spectacular views over the coastline.
We will then slowly head back towards Reykjavik, exploring some little-known gems along the way.
Our last stops will be at two of Iceland‘s most picturesque waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss – with its path that leads behind the veil of falling water, and Skógafoss – a waterfall so mighty you will feel the mist before you reach it. Snow and glittering icicles will add an extra touch of wonder, and if the lighting is right, we will be able to capture rainbows in their spray!
Once we reach Reykjavik, we will share one last dinner together. This will be a special night, where we will fondly reminisce about our adventure, sharing stories and talking about our favourite places.
Day 10 – Departure
After breakfast you will make your way to the airport to fly home, with memories to last a lifetime, new friends and memory cards full of amazing images of Iceland as a winter wonderland.
We will not say goodbye, but “see you later”, because it’s very likely we will cross paths again.
We will be staying in clean, comfortable hotels throughout this workshop.
Hotel accommodations will include breakfast and pricing is based on double room occupancy.
For an additional cost you may request a single room - please note this is subject to room availability, and at the discretion of Viking International Phototours based on workshop attendees.
We will check daily for Northern Lights activity and weather forecast and plan our day based on these predictions. If conditions are not favorable for Northern Lights photography, we will use the time for post-processing sessions.
Iceland is absolutely stunning from the ground, and just as amazing with a birds-eye-view of the landscape. There are drone-friendly places, so if you own a drone, you are welcome to bring it along to the workshop.
Please note that you are solely responsible for your equipment, and are expected to adhere to all rules and regulations as specified by the Icelandic Transport Authority (which can be accessed here). Viking International Phototours and our Photo Guides will not be liable for any injury or damage caused to equipment, environment or people caused by you operating your drone during our workshop.
Please also note that the wind and weather in Iceland can be sudden and hazardous, so use your judgement and be mindful of conditions.
Iceland is extremely rugged and harsh. Strong winds, rain, mud and the terrain are real dangers when photographing on location. You will be expected to follow instructions to ensure you are kept safe and out of harm’s way.
You must also advise Viking International Phototours in writing of any illness, injury or pre-existing medical conditions that might reasonably be expected to affect your attendance and participation during the workshop.
The itinerary for our workshop is subject to change at the discretion of our Photo Guides depending on the Icelandic weather, which can be highly unpredictable. We will check the weather forecasts and road conditions and plan our day to optimize shooting conditions. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to visit all the locations on the itinerary.
As this workshop focuses on landscape and Northern Lights photography, we will aim to shoot in the best light to get the best possible photos for your portfolio. This means on some days we may be shooting between sunset and sunrise, and sleep during the day.