Fine Art Created In Iceland
Iceland is called the land of Fire and Ice because of its geographic diversity. The Iceland Landscape is stunning and, at times, feels like somewhere on another planet. Godafoss, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Kirkjufellfoss, and Haifoss are waterfalls worthy of large prints. The icebergs on Diamond Beach at Jokulsarlon are striking as fine art prints. Geysir and the Ice Caves add another dimension. Iceland offers landscape photography at its best.
Visiting and Photographing Iceland
Iceland is one of the greatest places for taking landscape and nature photographs. In the interior, Iceland has mountains, lava fields, glaciers, and incredible canyons. The coast has sea stacks, mountains, and icebergs.
Iceland is called The Land of Fire and Ice. Godafoss, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Kirkjufellfoss and Haifoss are just a few of the amazing waterfalls. The ice on the black sand beach, known as Diamond Beach, of Jokulsarlon, is not to be missed. The mountain called Vestrahorn is spectacular. There is more to see and photograph than I could possibly list in this short paragraph. If you get the chance, make the trip!
Fun Facts About Iceland
Iceland is an island country founded more than 1,000 years ago during the Viking era and was settled primarily by Norwegian seafarers and adventurers. One of the first questions you might have about Iceland is “do people in Iceland speak English?” Their primary language is Icelandic and is considered to be one of the hardest languages to learn. But good news… English is taught as a second language in Iceland and most Icelanders are fluent in English.
Another question that may be floating around in your mind is “is Iceland cold?” or “does Iceland get snow?” The truth is—Iceland is warmer than its name suggests. Even though you might think Iceland is always covered in ice and is bitter cold, the mean annual temperature for the capital city, Reykjavik, is 40° F with the mean January temperature being 31° F and the mean July temperature is 51° F so as you can see, it is not a frigid place. They do get about 100 days a year of snow in Northwest Iceland and 40 days of snow in the southwest.
Speaking of the capital city Reykjavik, did you know the city is heated by hot water piped from nearby hot springs and many of its public outdoor swimming pools are geothermal in nature. The name Reykjavik means “Smokey Bay” which refers to the columns of steam that rise from the hot springs in the area. Icelanders love their swimming pools and hot tubs and enjoy gathering in the geothermal hot tubs as they unwind from the day.
Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland and about 60% of Iceland’s total population live in Reykjavik or the neighboring municipalities. Another fun fact about Reykjavik is that it is the northernmost capital in the world.
There are a wide variety of things to do in Reykjavik such as signing up for a whale watching tour where you will learn more about these incredible mammals. Whale watching boats often have several outdoor viewing platforms and you will also enjoy the magnificent landscapes while watching for whales to appear.
But whales are not the only wildlife attraction in Iceland as this small country is also known for the Icelandic horse. Why is the Icelandic horse so loved and what makes it different from other breeds? It looks small so why is it not called an Icelandic pony? It is thought that this breed arrived in Iceland aboard Viking ships. In 982 AD the Iceland parliament passed laws that prohibited importation of other horse breeds into the country and thus, the Icelandic horse that has been kept in complete isolation within the island and is a very pure breed.
The Icelandic horse is extremely healthy and could live up to 40 years. It has a spirited but gentle temperament which makes it a favorite of families as they can enjoy riding the horse but also the Icelandic horse can be trained in activities such as carriage pulling and barrel racing. Regarding the pony question…. technically ponies are smaller and stockier than horses and I would suggest that most Icelanders would not be very happy about your calling their beloved animal a “pony”.
Are you a beer lover? Yes? Then you will be interested in the answer to this question “Can you drink beer in Iceland?” The answer is: you can now but in 1915 beer, wine, and other alcoholic spirits were banned in Iceland. The ban on wine and other spirits was lifted in 1922 and 1935 but the ban on beer was not lifted until 1989. Looking to buy beer in Iceland to take home? It is only sold in government-run liquor stores. That said, since the ban was lifted, there has been a rise in micro-breweries and craft beers and you can find craft pubs where you will have a choice of the kind of beer you could have. If visiting Iceland, you might enjoy dropping in a pub, ordering a beer, and chatting with the locals.
Of course, one important fun fact to consider is: where are the best waterfalls in Iceland? If you are planning a trip to Iceland, then waterfalls must be on your Ring Road Itinerary. Ah-ha, you may ask, what is the Ring Road in Iceland? For the travel newbie, the Iceland Ring Road is a circular touring road that starts and ends in Reykjavik and mostly follows the coast as it takes you around the entire island and is 822 miles long (not counting any tourist detours you may want to make.) It is also known as Route 1 and is a standard two-lane highway where you will find many opportunities for hiking, caving, and at the right time of the year, you can see the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights do not occur throughout the year in Iceland so when is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland? The perfect time to visit may be either late November or early April. As you would be spending the majority of your time outside watching for the light show, you need to make certain you are wearing very warm clothes.
Besides the Northern Lights, Iceland is known for its waterfalls. So, where are the best waterfalls for photography? One of the most famous is Gullfoss (nickname: Goldarn Waterfall). What catches your eye is that it looks like the earth is swallowing the water but that is just an illusion created by the river flowing perpendicular to the waterfall through a narrow canyon.
Some Icelanders would cast their vote for Bruarfass as the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland but it is a two-mile walk from the official parking lot to see the waterfall. (Some tours will take you directly there).
One of the most photographed waterfalls is Seljalandsfoss which is the Iceland waterfall you can walk behind. You have most likely seen iconic photos of sunset taken from behind the waterfalls with the sun slowly setting behind the horizon.
Iceland’s rugged and sometimes desolate terrain has made it a popular destination for movies and television series. Most recently, the television series Game of Thrones had many scenes filmed in Iceland. The Game of Thrones storyline is set in a harsh and brutal area called North of the Wall and thus, needed a location with a rugged and dramatic landscape to support the storyline. Iceland was perfect for this.
What movies have been filmed in Iceland? Certainly, it would be no surprise to learn that many action movies have been filmed here in various Iceland locations and include well known Star Trek and Star Wars films such as Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013); Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015); and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). The scene in the James Bond movie, Die Another Day (2002) featuring Pierce Brosnan, involving a high-speed car chase across a frozen lake was filmed in Iceland and the film was also set in Iceland. The scenes from Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2001 with Angeline Jolie) were also shot in the same areas.
And, of course, one cannot list movies and Iceland and Norse mythology without mentioning Thor, one of Iceland’s most well-known heroes. The Avengers movie, Thor: The Dark World (2013) contained scenes that were shot around Reykjavik and the Skogafoss Waterfall. If you are an Avengers fan, you might even want to consider taking a Valley of Thor Tour and learning more about that area and the Thor mythology.
In short, Iceland’s Viking heritage… the myths and legends that include elves and trolls … mixed with the diverse landscape… its hot springs, geysers, active volcanoes, glaciers, fjords, and waterfalls….its outdoor activities from hiking to whale watching to landscape photography…. All of these combine to make Iceland not just a destination to visit but an adventure to experience… and one you should add to your Travel Bucket List.