26 Locations From Movies & TV I Had No Idea Were Actually Iceland

·10 min read

Iceland: the home of Vikings, folklore, and Hollywood blockbusters.

Pana Jan / giphy.com

I recently got back from Iceland, and was reading The Witcher whenever we had some down time. Even though that series comes from Poland, I was struck by how at home the fantastical storytelling felt among the fjords, glaciers, and volcanoes of the massive island.

I'm far from the first person to be pulled in by Iceland's mythical setting. It's been home to fables since around 800, and the land keeps inspiring new generations of storytellers. Today, many movies and TV shows film in Iceland's sprawling lava fields, glaciers, and black sand beaches.

1.Game of Thrones — Kirkjufell Mountain (and many more locations)

The Kirkjufell mountain, looking like a horn or arrowhead

The "mountain like an arrowhead" from Game of Thrones is really Kirkjufell Mountain, one of the most photographed locations in Iceland.

Also featured in the show are:

Skaftafell Nature Reserve — North of the Wall

Grjótagjá Hot Spring Cave — Where Jon Snow and Ygritte get it on

Dimmuborgir — An area where Sam is attacked by white walkers

Thingvellir National Park — Brienne vs. the Hound

Svínafellsjökull Glacier — Called "Hollywood's Favorite Glacier" (you'll see why as this list goes on), this location partially served as the Wall itself

Finn Hafemann / Getty Images, HBO / youtube.com

2.The Northman — Svínafellsjökull Glacier

The Svínafellsjökull glacier, consisting of jagged shards of ice pointing upwards

Although The Northman mainly takes place in Iceland, most of its scenes were shot in Northern Ireland. But you can't get ice this cinematic outside of Iceland.

Gianfranco Vivi / Getty Images, Universal / youtube.com

3.James Bond (A View to a Kill & Die Another Day) — Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, with dozens of chunks of ice floating in its waters

Pictured above is Die Another Day, when Bond goes to the Ice Palace. As with many of these movies and TV shows, it can be tough to tell what's directly shot on location, what's a green screen, and what's a mixture of both. It's pretty safe to say that the tsunami surfing scene leaned more toward CGI, though.

Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost / Getty Images, 20th Century Fox / youtube.com

4.Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — Black sand beaches

A man walks across a beach towards the water underneath an overcast sky

Like the Svínafellsjökull glacier, Iceland's black sand beaches are also going to pop up on throughout this list a lot. The sand's color is due to the island's volcanic activity, and the most famous (and most often-filmed) beach is near the village of Vík.

The otherworldly volcanic sand looks even more alien when you put a crop of lush greenery on top like in Rogue One.

Anastasiia Shavshyna / Getty Images, Disney / youtube.com

5.Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Around Mývatn and the Krafla volcano

A frozen Icelandic field stretches across Iceland and mountains rise in the distance

Big sci-fi movies are good at stitching together beautiful vistas from all over the earth, throwing in a dash of CGI trickery, and creating entirely new worlds. So while it's tough to say exactly which parts of the Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens are Iceland, the production did confirm that they filmed near the Krafla volcano.

Bahadir-yeniceri / Getty Images/iStockphoto, 20th Century Fox youtube.com

6.Batman Begins — Svínafellsjökull Glacier

The Svínafellsjökull glacier, consisting of jagged shards of ice pointing upwards

Everyone's favorite photogenic slab of ice is back, this time posing as Bhutan in South Asia. Bruce Wayne has to trek across the ice to find Ra's al Ghul, and the sharp peaks of this glacier certainly make the trip look dangerous.

Later in the movie, when Bruce Wayne and Ra's al Ghul have a sword fight on a frozen lake, they are also standing on Svínafellsjökull.

Gianfranco Vivi / Getty Images, Warner Bros youtube.com

7.Interstellar — Svínafellsjökull Glacier

The Svínafellsjökull glacier, consisting of jagged shards of ice pointing upwards

Christopher Nolan was such a big fan of Svínafellsjökull that he even came back a few years later for Interstellar. One of the most frequently-seen posters for Interstellar featured Matthew McConaughey's character standing on an ice planet. He was really on good-old Svínafellsjökull, which helped create the planet so cold even its clouds freeze.

Gianfranco Vivi / Getty Images, Paramount youtube.com

8.The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — Stykkishólmur

The small town of Stykkishólmur set amongs rolling hills

Iceland is still experiencing the boom in tourism that came from the release of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I'm serious, if you tracked how often people were searching "visit Iceland" over the past decade, you'd see it start to rise around 2013 (when the movie was released). But who would track something so random, that's crazy.

The town of Stykkishólmur is the town in which Mitty decides to get on the helicopter as Kristen Wiig sings "Space Oddity," but many more scenes were shot in the country. Other locations include:

Seyðisfjörður — Walter Mitty swaps out his bike for a longboard and absolutely shreds

Vatnajökull National Park — Masking as the Himalayas and Afghanistan

Grundarfjörður — The boat harbor

Höfn — The town Mitty lands in, pretending to be Greenland in the movie

Flottmynd / Getty Images, 20th Century Fox youtube.com

9.The Fate of the Furious — Lake Mývatn

Lake Mývatn frozen over

Charlize Theron's dreadlocks weren't the only thing appropriated in The Fate of the Furious — so was Lake Mývatn. In the movie, the family needs to go to Russia. But the frozen lake that the nuclear submarine bursts through is actually in Iceland!

Christophe Lehenaff / Getty Images, Universal Pictures youtube.com

10.The Tree of Life — Krafla Volcano

A barren area around Krafla volcano

The Tree of Life has a lot of scenes showing a barren earth, whether it's just beginning as a new planet or a representation of the afterlife. Iceland is great at doing "barren," and the area surrounding the Krafla Volcano was perfect.

The film also shot some scenes at Námafjall, a geothermal area.

Ivelin Denev / Getty Images/iStockphoto, Cottonwood Pictures youtube.com

11.Journey to the Center of the Earth — Snæfellsjökull National Park

Snæfellsjökull National Park dusted with snow in Iceland

In this movie, the filmmakers didn't have to make up a sci-fi setting or pretend that Iceland was somewhere else. That's because Jules Verne wrote into his book Journey to the Center of the Earth that the volcanic tube leading inside our planet was actually at Snæfellsjökull. In the movie, they were true to the book and shot on location.

Magcs / Getty Images/iStockphoto, New Line Cinema youtube.com

12.Captain America: Civil War — Vík

The land surrounding Vík

This time pretending to be Siberia, you may remember the area surrounding Vík as having black sand beaches. Well, that's just one side. In Iceland, you can drive 20 minutes and feel like you're on a completely different planet. So right near those beaches are rocky stretches that, when covered in snow and ice, look a lot like the unforgiving terrain of Siberia.

Perfect spot to get a hike in, maybe a road trip, create a tormented super soldier, you know.

Mlenny / Getty Images, Marvel youtube.com

13.Justice League — Djúpavík

The coastal waters around Djúpavík

On the Strandir coast in the Northwest of Iceland lies Djúpavík, a small fishing village. In Justice League, this is where Aquaman is hiding out. And those are real chunks of ice floating behind Jason Momoa. If there was ever a time to nail your performance on the first take, it's standing in freezing-cold water in Djúpavík.

Feifei Cui-paoluzzo / Getty Images, Warner Bros youtube.com

14.Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — Undisclosed location in Iceland

Iceland Langjökull Glacier Mountain Range

Pictured on the left is the Langjökull glacier mountain range, but Marvel has not officially stated where in Iceland they shot part of the latest Doctor Strange. With so many vistas consisting of snowy mountaintops, odds are they had just as many locations to choose from as there are multiverses.

Mlenny / Getty Images, Marvel youtube.com

15.Vikings — Skógafoss

The waters of Skogafoss around green mountains

Skógafoss is a waterfall tucked into a cliffside that almost feels like CGI when you're standing right next to it. But the crashing water is a reminder that even though Iceland's real pretty, it's also powerful. In Vikings, Floki goes to Skógafoss in the show's fifth season.

Jonas Stenberg - Fotografstenber / Getty Images, History / youtube.com

16.Blade Runner 2049 — Black sand beaches

The black sand beaches of Iceland

When I think of the Blade Runner world, my mind immediately goes to the cluttered streets, tightly packed together buildings, and neon lights. But at the beginning of Blade Runner 2049, more of the landscape surrounding futuristic Los Angeles is shown. Bleak yet beautiful? Sounds like Iceland!

Arctic-images / Getty Images, Alcon Entertainment youtube.com

17.Lamb — Outside Akureyri

A straight wall of mountains outside Akureyri

The hills of Iceland play a large role in Lamb, not necessarily in the movie's plot but in its atmosphere. The looming cliffs feel like walls, boxing in the characters in this small and creepy story. The mountain range outside the city of Akureyri was just what the filmmakers needed to maximize the feeling that something bad could come at any minute.

Finn Hafemann / Getty Images/iStockphoto, Black Spark Film & TV youtube.com

18.Stardust — Diamond Beach near Jökulsárlón

The diamond beach, named for the small icebergs that wash ashore

Diamond Beach is not only full of small icebergs that have washed ashore — it's also a black sand beach! Though, to be fair, pretty much all of the beaches in Iceland have black sand. The mini-glaciers (aka "diamonds") on this beach are carried from Vatnajökull (the second largest glacier in Europe) by the Jökulsárlón lagoon's waters.

Flottmynd / Getty Images, Paramount youtube.com

19.Thor: The Dark World — Outside Reykjavík

Kermoafoss waterfall surrounded by the forest in Reykjavik, Iceland

The Kermóafoss waterfall is in the picture on the left, but the trees above are what the filmmakers behind Thor: The Dark World were more interested in. A battle on "Vanaheim" really takes place right outside Reykjavík, near the Kermóafoss.

Kati Lenart / Getty Images/iStockphoto, Marvel youtube.com

20.Foundation — Undisclosed location in Iceland

The mountains, streams, and lakes of Iceland

Foundation has filmed all over Europe, including Germany, Malta, Spain, and Ireland. Like Star Wars, the sci-fi show stitches together many of these different regions into a wholly unique world. So while the filmmakers haven't explicitly stated which scenes were shot in which areas of Iceland, it's safe to bet the black sand beaches were involved at one point.

Dominiquemills / Getty Images/RooM RF, Skydance Media youtube.com

21.The Tomorrow War — Virkisjokull Glacier

The icy Virkisjokull glacier

Part of Vatnajökull (the second-largest glacier in Europe) is Virkisjökull. It's got plenty of caves and crevices that look great on camera, but according to Chris Pratt, the glacier had never been filmed on before The Tomorrow War. Though since it's part of a national park, it's probably best that too many film crews don't poke around these ice caps.

Alex Walker / Getty Images, Skydance Media youtube.com

22.Prometheus — Dettifoss

The massive Dettifoss waterfall

Another alien planet, another trip to Iceland. This time we're near Dettifoss, another silver medalist. Remember how I said Vatnajökull is Europe's second largest glacier? Well, Dettifoss is the second most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. Iceland just can't get a #1 spot.

Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost / Getty Images, 20th Century Fox youtube.com

23.Lost in Space — Dyrhólaey (and black sand beaches)

The black sand beaches are back, and this time, they brought a rock arch. Dyrhólaey is on the south shore of Iceland, and there's even a quaint lighthouse nearby.

The black sand beaches are back, and this time, they brought a rock arch. Dyrhólaey is on the south shore of Iceland, and there's even a quaint lighthouse nearby.

Legendary Television youtube.com

24.Oblivion — Hrossaborg crater

Two people walking along the Hrossaborg crater

Hrossaborg means "Horse Castle." That is all.

Tim E White / Getty Images, Universal Pictures youtube.com

25.King Arthur: Legend of the Sword — Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Water cutting through the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

Many of the land formations in Iceland have myths surrounding their creation, so it's no surprise that King Arthur, the granddaddy of myths about rocks (and swords in them), would venture to Iceland.

Daniel Garrido / Getty Images, Warner Bros youtube.com

26.Bonus: Death Stranding — The lava fields and black sand beaches inspired the game's aesthetic

A wrecked plane sitting on the black sand beaches

I know, it's not a movie or a TV show. But these days, there's not much difference anyway. On the left is the Sólheimasandur plane wreck near Vík, and what appears to be a lava field from the video game is shown on the right. The game's director, Hideo Kojima, visited Iceland in 2014 and was clearly inspired.

Artur Debat / Getty Images, Kojimo Productions youtube.com

Which shows and movies set in Iceland did I miss? Let me know in the comments!