Special thanks to Kelly Chan for this informative summary and beautiful photos!
The best time of year to go to Iceland is from June through August, where nighttime in Iceland felt nonexistent.
Throughout my trip from the end of June into July, the sun would set at 10:30 p.m. and rise again at 3:00 a.m., with mostly clear skies and temperatures staying in the 50-degree Fahrenheit range.
While many travelers plan to go to Iceland during the winter months with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights, I found that the summer weather made it the perfect time of year to explore the most romantic engagement locations in Iceland, specifically the Northwest region and Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
And consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, Iceland is a go-to spot for a proposal, as well as a destination wedding.
Below are the best locations to explore North Iceland with that special someone — from waterfalls to a hidden oasis to some of the most amazing black sand beaches. Many of these places are also along Iceland travel guides for Ring Road, an 825-mile-long circular route that covers most of Iceland.
On top of these places, I also included a wide range of fun activity ideas for your romantic adventure in North Iceland, which will create great photos to show off your trip and your engagement to those back home.
Here are my Top 5 engagement spots in northeast Iceland:
1. Snæfellsjökull National Park
Snæfellsjökull National Park is one of three national parks in Iceland and is one of the major sightseeing spots on Ring Road. It lies at the westernmost edge of the peninsula, a region often referred to as “Little Iceland,” as it features a variety of the natural landscapes that are seen throughout Iceland.
This park surrounds the volcano of Snæfellsjökull, which is 700,000 years old, covers 170 square kilometers, and is 1,446 meters high. Around the volcano and along the coastline, there is a large combination of craters, beaches, and rocky structures, allowing visitors to truly explore Iceland and its topography.
Here are a few locations within and nearby the park that must be on your North Iceland travel itinerary:
Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík
One location that stood out at the park was the black sand beach of Djúpalónssandur, which translates to “Black Lava Pearl Beach.”
This beach is smaller than the famous Reynisfjara black sand beach, but is highly trafficked in the park with tour buses filling the parking lot. The black beach is quite vast and beautiful, especially in the summer, with glimmering black pebbles and deep blue waters, and is surrounded by rocky cliffs.
The enchanted path to the beach is also lush with greenery amid the unique lava rocks. With many high lava formations to climb and a glistening beach, this one stop (of the many in the park) is a perfect place for you to get down on one knee.
It also connects to a nearby cove called Dritvík, a place that used to be Iceland’s largest fishing station throughout the 1500s to the 1800s.
Another site to see here is Skarðsvík, a golden sand beach, and it is less crowded than other spots like Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík. This more secluded spot still has lava rocks to climb on the shoreline and a picnic table overlooking the beach to enjoy a meal with your significant other, or even just the view.
There is even a tiny rock cave by the cliffs!
Near Snæfellsjökull, there is also Búðakirkja, a famous black wooden church about a two-hour drive northwest from the capital city of Reykjavík and right before the entrance of the park. While the church itself is not open to the public on a daily basis, its structure and surrounding views are popular to tourists and also as a wedding destination venue.
Click here to see more wedding photos at Búðakirkja.
With such a variety of terrain, Búðakirkja’s beauty is unmatched for a proposal. It’s set against the perfect backdrop of mountains and Snæfellsjökull volcano and leads to a nearby lava-rock-filled beach along a path in rolling grass hills.
Down the hill from the church, there is also Hótel Búðir for you and your partner to stay as you explore the region and the nearby park.
2. Súgandisey Island
After the park, I drove along the northern coast of the peninsula and stopped at the small fishing town of Stykkisholmur. While small with a population of a little over 1,000, this town has a beautiful spot that overlooks the entire town with Iceland’s mountainous terrain behind it: Súgandisey Island.
On the very top of the island is a lighthouse, the endpoint of a long set of stairs leading up from the docks. You may not be able to go into the lighthouse, but you can still see an unbeatable view of nearby islands, mountains, and the colorful, quaint town of Stykkisholmur.
It’s one of the lesser known locations in Iceland, compared to the popular waterfalls and other natural attractions, but this island is a more intimate choice for an engagement and photo session because of the many trails that surround the entirety of the island.
Along them, you can walk to several lookout spots that are spread out and thus more private, allowing for a breathtaking experience and stunning photos to cherish your proposal.
Then you can celebrate after with a fresh batch of fish and chips on the docks!
Near Stykkisholmur, there are also some popular sites, including Kirkjufellsfoss and Mt. Kirkjufell, also known as “Church Mountain” for its peak that resembles a church steeple. For the “Game of Thrones” fans, this site is featured in the show as Arrowhead Mountain!
The two sites are right next to each other, so you’re able to get both the falls and the mountain in one beautiful landscape photo.
But if you hope to climb Mt. Kirkjufell, it is a difficult hike and only recommended to experienced hikers. Kirkjufell, on the other hand, is easily walkable and has a pathway to where the waterfall meets the river.
If you like lamb or seafood, I’d recommend Bjargarsteinn Mathús nearby in Kirkjufell for a post-engagement meal with an eclectic interior and award-winning food.
After, I headed further east toward the “Silver Circle” of Iceland. Iceland is divided into different circles that loop around the region’s top places to visit, with the most popular being the “Golden Circle” that includes Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring Area and Gullfoss Waterfall.
But along the way, I headed to Selvallafoss, or “Sheep’s Waterfall.” When my GPS told me I arrived at the waterfall, I was confused and thought it had dropped me at the wrong location. At first, all I heard was silence, so I was inclined to drive away. As I walked further, I realized that the massive waterfall was muffled by the surrounding rock and mountains.
When I walked closer, I could hear the water rushing and ringing through my ears!
With nearly no visitors, it was easy to explore without interruption and would be ideal for your photographer to capture the perfect proposal. There’s even a trail that leads behind the waterfall, with a view of the mountains.
It was much less crowded than Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in the south coast of Iceland, so if you’re looking for a magical waterfall view with some privacy, this would be a great place to propose underneath.
Near Selvallafoss, there are some unique rocky landscapes at two other must-see natural sites:
Berserkjahraun Lava Fields
A five-minute drive away are the neighboring Berserkjahraun lava fields, with rock formations over 4,000 years old. It spans for a long stretch of the highway, and there are couple areas to pull over to explore the fields. You even can walk far into the fields to get a shot of the unique bumpy texture of the terrain along with the mountains behind it.
Less than 30 minutes away from Selvallafoss is Gerðuberg Cliffs, a vast wall of basalt columns. There are multiple trails to reach the top of the cliffs — some for the newbie climber and others who want a challenge. But the hike is worth the trip.
For either the lava fields or the cliffs, their large expanses allows you to find some privacy for your engagement and some magical photos with the mountainous terrain surrounding it. One rock for the ring finger, and another set of rocks to propose on.
Before I hit the “Silver Circle,” I headed to the Bifröst region, nearly two hours northeast of the city and the “Golden Circle.” It was much less crowded than the sites in the Golden Circle, making it more appealing for photographers like me.
The stop I intended to see was Glanni Waterfall, a smaller waterfall in the midst of a river. Along with the lookout spot across the falls, there are also thin paths that lead to the shoreline for a closer view.
Right as I was about to turn around from the waterfall site, I decided to walk further as I saw a family come back from what looked like an endless rocky path. Little would I know that I’d find a hidden gem on my journey: Paradísarlaut, or “Paradise Hollow.”
It was a small oasis with a patch of grass — perfect for a sunset picnic — along the edge of the water. Here, the river from the waterfall pooled in a magical blue pond and then trickled again into a smaller river.
The serenity of this location makes it an amazing proposal spot that is great for photo opportunities.
Note to self: You never know where a path might lead!
Near Paradísarlaut lies Grábrók crater, which had so many stairs I thought it would lead to heaven. The 170-meter-high crater is about 3,400 years old and was formed by a fissure eruption.
The stairs lead to a circular footpath that lines the top of the crater, which has a spectacular view of the region from every angle. This also creates an opportunity for stylistic engagement photos from a distance, where you and your partner are enveloped by the mountains and farmland.
Iceland has an estimated 10,000 waterfalls. And Hraunfossar is one of the most magnificent of them all. Rounding up my list of Top 5 engagement spots in northeast Iceland, this was my favorite stop in the “Silver Circle” and is one of the dreamiest locations for photographers.
Translating to “Lava Falls,” this series of waterfalls spans about 900 meters, starting from the Hallmundarhraun lava field down the river of Hvítá. This is a beautiful site for an engagement shot that sets you and your partner in front of the massive flowing waterfalls and river that leads into the horizon.
Hraunfossar is also most popular to visit during autumn as the waterfalls are hugged by bright red and orange foliage, adding an amazing amount of color to your images. And any chance to see it during the sunset is a must!
There is even a hidden steep path from the lookout spot that led me down by the riverside, where I walked along a narrow black sand beach and was able to see the vast waterfalls up close.
Hraunfossar also connects to Barnafoss, or “Children’s Waterfall,” which was historically named after a tragic old tale where two young boys died in attempt to cross the waterfall on a natural stone bridge. According to legend, their mother then destroyed the bridge to ensure that no one else makes the same mistake.
To this day, there is no bridge or pathway to cross it, but there are other vantage points on the sides (with a safety rail) that overlook both waterfalls.
Bonus: The Bridge Between Two Continents
As I headed back to the airport, I took a little detour to a bonus proposal location in toward the south coast of Iceland: the famous Bridge Between Two Continents. This is a small 50-foot walking bridge in Southwest Iceland, which it was roughly a 30-minute car ride from Keflavik (about an hour from Reykjavík).
Although this structure is an ordinary walking bridge, what makes it special is its geographic location, along with its scenery, as it hangs over a shallow valley of black sand and lies in the midst of Reykjanes lava field.
While it doesn’t exactly make the journey from North America to Europe walkable, the bridge connects the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It’s also nicknamed the Leif the Lucky (or Miðlína) Bridge, after Icelandic explorer Leif Eriksson.
Imagine proposing in two places at once?
There were a few locks on it (not nearly as many as the Pont des Arts in Paris), but enough to know that it’s a site for romance. And you can put a lock of your own after the proposal!
You can also walk under the bridge in the valley to get some cool shots by the rocks and black sand.
If you have more time on your trip than I did, this spot is also located near the Blue Lagoon, one of the most famous and renowned spas and geothermal pools in Iceland. With mountainous and volcanic scenery, it’s a romantic place for couples to relax, drink, and even get a complimentary facial mask.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN NORTHWEST ICELAND?
As you think about where to get down on one knee, here are some activities for your Northwest Iceland travel guide to plan with your significant other after the proposal.
Víðgelmir Cave Tour
If you’re around Husafell by Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, book a cave tour at Víðgelmir, the biggest lava cave in Iceland and one of the biggest in the world.
Led by geology experts, this tour leads you to the dark and cold depths of the 1,600-meter-long cave, created by a years-long eruption estimated to start in 900 A.D.
Passing by the ice and rock formations created over thousands of years, I had the opportunity to learn about volcanic eruptions, how lava flows, and even legends about trolls, all while taking unforgettable photos of the lava tube.
For photographers, make sure to bring gloves to hold your camera gear! While it was in the 60-degree Fahrenheit range at the surface, the temperature fell to below freezing in the cave.
It’s also a family-friendly experience with wooden stairs and pathways that make it easy to explore.
Langjökull Glacier Tour
In addition to Víðgelmir, this tour company also offers an ice cave tour into Langjökull Glacier. This glacier is the second biggest in Iceland (behind the glacier at Vatnajökull National Park), spans 950 square kilometers, and is about a 30-minute drive east from Husafell.
The tour guides you for about one hour through the ice cave via man-made tunnels that lead to the heart of the glacier. On top of that, you can even book a snowmobile tour on Langjökull Glacier as well for even more adventure.
If you and your partner want a more relaxing date idea, go to Krauma, a geothermal spa powered by Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot springs in Europe.
This lagoon is different from the Blue Lagoon or other popular ones, such as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in the southeast. While more popular locations are along the south coast of Iceland, Krauma’s relaxation experience is one of the best options in the Northwest and is a cheaper alternative.
Krauma has a sleeker and modern architectural style, and is a more private and enclosed spa. It has six pools at varying temperatures, with views overlooking the nearby mountain range and hot springs, as well as lounges and a restaurant.
Afterwards by the parking lot, you can see Deildartunguhver up close (behind a safety gate). The water is rapidly and constantly bubbling at over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, with steam pouring out of the hot springs.
This gorge, which translates to “Red-Cloak Rift,” is a must-see spot near Snæfellsjökull and Búðakirkja church, and is one of the most popular stops in the peninsula during the summer.
Because this site often has more tourists and has a narrower trail, this is less ideal for an engagement in Iceland. However, this is one of the most magical locations to explore and photograph with your partner.
For much of the year, the gorge is covered in snow. But in the summer months, it is lush with greenery, and you are able to hike up and go inside to see the beautiful waterfall it holds. Since it was a smaller waterfall, many tourists even filled up their water bottles once they reached inside.
While it is not a far walk, make sure to wear waterproof shoes as you’ll have to walk across a narrow flow of water to enter the ravine. And be careful as it can be particularly windy on the way up — hold on tight to your camera!
Reykjavík Food Walk
Although Reykjavík city is south of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, this tour should not be missed.
Ranked as the #1 food tour in the world by TripAdvisor, the Reykjavík Food Walk is worth every penny and every bite. The tour guide took us to five different eateries for a variety of seafood and local dishes, including Arctic char, rye bread ice cream, and Iceland-style hot dogs.
If you’re 20 years or older, you may be able to try an Icelandic beer, too!
The food tour is not only a way to be introduced to Icelandic food and eat at some of the best restaurants in the city, but it is also an amazing way to explore Reykjavík and learn about its history, from those native to Iceland.
You will definitely be full by the end of this tour!
Northwest Iceland has it all for your destination engagement.
While you may miss out on the Northern Lights, summertime in Iceland offers breathtaking views for your proposal and is well worth the visit with the love of your life.
With no more snow or ice on the roads, you will be able to see more of Iceland and all its one-of-a-kind beauty.
Specifically for the Northwest region, you’ll have the opportunity to explore every type of landscape, where you can travel to a waterfall, black beach, glacier, and mountain in the same week!
By the end of the trip, you’ll have an incredible set of engagement photos to capture the milestone — and to gather inspiration for your upcoming wedding celebration.