Shutter Iceland: An Instagrammer’s Guide

Getting Around By Stefan Zechner December 21, 2017

A recent report by Iceland’s Tourist Board found that the number of visitors to Iceland has nearly quadrupled since 2010, growing at a rate of over 24% per year. Maybe it’s the Aurora Borealis, maybe it’s the emergence of cheap flights to a place where volcanoes and glaciers live side-by-side; or perhaps it’s the eye-popping shots all over Instagram. But the secret is finally out.

Here are the must go — and must ‘gram — spots in the land of fire and ice.


1. Blue Lagoon

Number of Hashtags: 854,998

Claiming their spot at the top of the list are the steamy waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, one of National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world. Bring a waterproof phone case to capture yourself floating on top of this geothermal spa.

2. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Number of Hashtags: 198,987

White sand beaches have had their time in the screensaver limelight. Surrounded by basalt sea stacks, lava formations, and towering cliffs, this black beach has plenty of Insta-worthy material to fill your feed.

3. Geysir Geothermal Field

Number of Hashtags: 116,214

While the great Geysir isn’t active anymore, the lively Strokkur (which has 29,715 hashtags alone) is still a sight to see. This spring spouts water 100 feet into the air every few minutes, making for an epic boomerang.

5. Gullfoss Waterfall

Number of Hashtags: 100,663

Literally meaning “Golden Waterfall” in Icelandic, Gullfoss appears golden-brown on a sunny day because of the glacial sediment in the water. With good weather, you can walk close enough to feel the water spray your face. If you’re lucky, you may find a rainbow crowning the majestic sight.

5. Harpa Concert Hall

Number of Hashtags: 77,980

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Harpa ? #iceland

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Harpa’s glass facade scatters reflections of Reykjavik’s surrounding sea and mountains so there’s #NoFilter necessary.

6. Jökulsarlón

Number of Hashtags: 77,621

If you’re looking to pose with glaciers, this is the place to go. Also known as glacier lagoon, Jökulsarlón is like a natural art museum filled with beautiful, translucent ice sculptures. For the ultimate ‘Gram, take the Amphibian Boat Tour among these massive icebergs — and keep your eyes peeled for seals!


7. Hallgrímskirkja Church

 Number of Hashtags: 44,963

Hallgrímskirkja may not be one of Iceland’s natural wonders, but it was clearly inspired by one. Architect Guðjón Samúelsson designed the church to resemble the shape that forms when lava cools into basalt rock. Try the vertical panorama trick to shoot the full structure in all its glory.

8. Thingvellir National Park

Number of Hashtags: 38,885

Thingvellir National Park sits on the tectonic-plate boundary where North America meets Europe, so you can literally see the rift in the Earth’s crust. Bring smartphone lenses to enhance your photos with a fisheye or wide-angle view.

9. Landmannalaugar

 Number of Hashtags: 28,608

With volcanic-rock mountains, a cobalt-blue lake, and geothermal bathing pools, it’s no wonder Landmannalaugar is the pearl of the Icelandic Highlands. Add lava fields stretching as far as the eye can see, and you’ll easily fill Instagram’s 10 picture album limit.

For Insta-inspiration outside of Europe, check out our guides to Mexico City, Tokyo, and New York City.