Iceland is a simply unparalleled destination for engaged couples looking for romantic locations. With over 100 waterfalls, many of them secret, and stunning backdrops including pristine beaches, glacial lagoons brimming with sea life, bubbling hot springs, and charming towns to visit throughout your journey, Iceland is one country that never disappoints.
I love taking couples on once-in-a-lifetime adventures and working with local vendors, including florists, bakers, make-up artists, and hoteliers to ensure their elopements are everything they imagined and more.
Here are 4 of my favorite itineraries to choose from that will make you fall in love with Iceland and want to go back again and again. Read on and find the trip that fits your style, then let me help you map it out and make it happen.
1-2 days at Snæfellsjökull National Park
If you and your partner are adventure enthusiasts with a short timeline and you’re craving epic scenery let’s bypass the capital Reykjavik and head directly to “Iceland in miniature” on the west coast’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, about a 3-hour drive from the international airport at Keflavik. For an expansive range of scenic landscapes, Snæfellsjökull National Park has it all including Djúpalónssandur with pristine black sand beaches, Lóndrangar featuring epic sea stacks along the rugged coastal cliffs and crashing surf, and the charming historic fishing villages at Arnarstapi and Hellnar. Eldhraun, the largest lava field in the world (chosen for its “moonscape” as a training ground by Apollo astronauts), can also be seen from afar but is too geologically sensitive to be walked on. Use the looming Snæfellsjökull Glacier as your anchor as it is always within view as you visit these sites and more. You’ll find a variety of hiking trails and jaw-dropping waterfalls while crisscrossing the park.
If you are set on sunrise or sunset photos at the famously photogenic Kirkjufell mountain on the peninsula’s north coast, you’ll want to stop overnight at the town of Grundarfjördur, since the park’s most popular photo and adventure destinations are on the peninsula’s south coast.
1-2 days at Víkí í Myrdal
About 3 hours south of the Keflavík Airport, quaint Vik and its impressive surroundings are a less wild but equally epic destination. The primary and highly photogenic attraction in this harborless 19th century coastal town is the outstanding Víkurkirkja Church, its spectacular situation on the apex of a hill is a wonderful place for elopement photography.
Encircled by the Myrdalur Cliffs to the east, Reynisfjall Tuff Mountain to the west, Katla Volcano to the north, and Reynisfjara Beach to the south, Vik is a beautiful and tempting destination. Travelers might even choose this location for Reynisfjara Beach alone, considered by professional travel writers to be the most spectacular black sand beach anywhere in the world. White sea foam and pristine blue water crashing against pitch black sand is not to be missed.
5-days at Snæfellsjökull, Víkí í Myrdal, plus Vestrahorn and Jökulsárlón2-3 days for only Vestrahorn and Jökulsárlón
If you can add 2 or 3 more days to your itinerary, I suggest driving along the south coast to the Stokksnes Peninsula to explore the spectacular Vestrahorn area in eastern Iceland, about 6 hours from Reykjavík. Adventurers heading east to this area separately from the Snæfellsjokull destinations will want to plan for one overnight. Moody and craggy, Vestrahorn Mountain rises an imposing 454 metres and, facing the sea on its south side with more black volcanic beaches, is an impressive location for elopement photos that capture the reflection the mountain casts upon the surrounding waters, and as a backdrop for wintertime northern lights and summertime midnight sun.
Vatnajökull National Park embraces the legendary Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, the “crown jewel of Iceland”, that sparkles with countless floating icebergs in the clearest of blue waters against a black sand beach. Here one arrives at the aptly-called Diamond Beach, for which the Icelandic name is Breiðamerkursandur or Fellsfjara, plus either “Eystri” or “Vestri” depending which side of the river Jökulsá you are on. The beach is one of the most beautiful places on earth for elopement photos and is protected within a wilderness park with the marvelous Vatnajökull glacier inside, the second largest in Europe covering almost one tenth of the entire country.
For those with still more appetite for the wow factor, visit the nearby Svartifoss waterfall, framed in dark basalt columns that make stunning platforms for portraits, along with several smaller cascades along the way. The jumping off point for all this wonder is the park’s entrance at Skaftafell where you can choose hikes of all levels and visit the historic turf farms and houses. And for more coastal beauty at your fingertips from there, the East Fjord region is an epic destination on its own.
6-7 day. Add a detour to Southern Highlands / Landmannalaugar on the way to Vestrahorn and Jökulsárlón after Snæfellsjökull and Víkí í Myrdal;1-2 days for only Southern Highlands / Landmannalaugar
For mountain enthusiasts, hikers, and lovers of natural color, venturing into Iceland’s interior is a must. Landmannalaugar, at the edge of the Laugahraun lava field formed in an eruption around the year 1477, creating an exquisite valley of colorful mountains and geothermal pools known as the “pearl of the highlands.” Here is where the 51 km hut to hut Laugavegur Trail begins, one of the top 20 hikes in the world — but if you aren’t ready for this much exertion you can appreciate the magical mountainous landscape from the floor of the valley or from a modest ascent.
Landmannalaugar is one of my favorites because of volcanic landforms and its amazing colors ranging from light greys to pinks to reds in the igneous rhyolite with tints of purple, blue, and green. The special color effects of the rock are enhanced by the glassy sheen created by their extremely fine texture.
About 3 hours drive from Reykjavik, Landmannalaugar is located in the Southern Highlands inside the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, a highly rugged area best visited in summer. This spectacular valley can be enjoyed as a day trip from Reykjavik but its location not far from the Ring Road, passing the stunning Hekla volcano along the way, creates a tempting day or overnight detour on the way from Reykjavik to the Vestrahorn area.
For optimal viewing and stunning photographs, follow one of the hiking trails to a mountaintop. For example, via the Bláhnjúkur trail from the Landmannalaugar campground, you can summit the 940 meter Bláhnjúkur Mountain for epic views over the Laugahraun lava field and environs, and return to the campground through the lava field. This moderate hike will take 2-3 hours for walking, with plenty of time for great photos. Highland weather is highly unpredictable so photographers and hikers need to be well prepared for the high winds and rain that may alternate with sunny skies and rainbows.
While late spring and early fall are the best times to travel, Iceland’s weather can change multiple times a day depending on the pattern. It is not unusual to see clear sunny skies, rain of all kinds, and glittering snow all in the same day and sometimes in the same hour. This is one of the things I love most about this part of the world because it offers changing light and beautiful rainbows.
Note: While every travel guide will tell you about the Golden Circle that starts in Reykjavik, and ends at Gullfoss waterfall, it has become so popular with tourists that I suggest skipping it for one of the itineraries found above.
With so many amazing places to choose from, I would love to help you design your itinerary, find trusted vendors, and ensure your elopement is epic in every way. Reach out, and let’s get going!