The captivating landscape of Iceland has long defined it as a popular tourist spot. However, this geography has set the country up so well behind the lens of a camera. There have been many movies with striking scenes filmed in parts of Iceland. iceland‘s National Parks make especially popular set locations.
Some of the movies filmed in Iceland originated as Icelandic movies that gained global recognition over time. Others have been large sets for huge box office movies. This article will dig into each of these, highlighting some of the most significant movies filmed in Iceland.
Some of these are highlighted in the table below. We will dig into some of them in more detail in the next section.
|Aadhavan||2010||Blue Lagoon, Skógafoss, Jökulsárlón, Reykjavík, Reynisdrangar, Seljalandsfoss|
|A View to a Kill||1985||Jökulsárlón|
|Running Bling||1979||Reykjavík, Sprengisandur|
|Lara Croft: Tomb Raider||2001||Jökulsárlón|
|Choosoddaam Randi||2000||Jökulsárlón, Reynisdrangar|
|Die Another Day||2002||Jökulsárlón|
|Beowulf & Grendel||2005||Skógafoss and elsewhere|
|Fast & Furious 8||2017||Mývatn|
|Beowulf & Grendel||2005||Skógafoss|
|Hostel: Part II||2007||Blue Lagoon|
|Naayak||2013||Ljótipollur, Reynisdrangar, Blue Lagoon, Jökulsárlón|
|Prometherus||2012||Hekla, Dettifoss, Vatnajökull National Park|
|Flags of Our Fathers||2006||Sandvík|
|Journey to the Center of the Earth||2008||Snæfellsjökull|
|Namo Venkatesa||2010||Jökulsárlón, Skógafoss, Reynisdrangar, Seljalandsfoss|
|The Midnight Sky||2020||Vatnajökull National Park|
|Rogue One: A Star Wars Story||2016||Hafursey, Hjörleifshöfði, Krafla and Lake Mývatn|
1. The Star Wars Saga
At first, you might not have equated Iceland with being an ideal location for the set of Star Wars. It was an out-of-this-world film series spanning across galaxies. With that thought, it might make perfect sense since many people believe that Iceland doesn’t look like a country from this world.
George Lucas filmed his space saga in the nigh Martian-like setting of Iceland. There were quite a few scenes filmed in The Force Awakens and Rogue One movies. These included most of the wintry scenes found in the movies, filmed during the winter all over the island.
The scenery found in Iceland was also used for the ice planet Hoth in The Force Awakens. In Rogue One, the planet Eadu where the leads conducted a mission to assassinate Galen Erso took place in Iceland. Certain scenes were also shot in Eyjafjallajokull Glacier before it erupted in 2010.
Starring Cast Members: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Anthony Daniels, John Boyega
IMDb Ranking: The Force Awakens – 7.8; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 7.8
2. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed in 2001 and was based on the popular video game series. It is an action-adventure film that features locations all over the world. However, there is a three-minute sequence that took place in South-East Iceland in the Jökulsárlón lagoon. The location was said to be a remote village located in Siberia instead of Iceland since it was during the winter and featured quite desolate expanses.
Starring Cast Members: Angelina Jolie, Noah Tayler, Jon Voight, Daniel Craig
IMDb Ranking: 5.8
3. Batman Begins
Batman Begins hit the movie theatres in 2005. The country was featured in a number of essential scenes. After the movie went on to be nominated for an Oscar and win 13 other prestigious film awards, it was even more significant for the awareness of the power of Iceland’s natural geography. Not to mention, it was full to the brim with big names.
The Icelandic scenes in this movie represented Bhutan in South Asia. The scenes included the one where Liam Neeson and Christian Bale get into their sword fight on a glacier. This was shot at Svinafeelsjokull Glacier in the South of Iceland.
Starring Cast Members: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
IMDb Ranking: 8.2
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Although The Secret Life of Walter Mitty might not be a movie that is as well-known as those previously mentioned, it was largely shot in Iceland. It is a comedy-drama about the adventure of a man previously trapped in a mundane role as a film developer.
The landscapes play a major role. It supposedly took place in the USA, Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas. However, it was only filmed in the US and Iceland. The scenes from the other countries were all done in Iceland.
Starring Cast Members: Ben Stiller, Adam Scott, Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine
IMDb Ranking: 7.3
Oblivion was among the earlier films in which there is a sci-fi plot rotating around a post-apocalyptic world in need of saving. Many of the scenes were shot in Iceland, acting as a post-apocalyptic world. That includes the Hrossaborg Crater and the Dettifoss Waterfall in North-East Iceland. There are also scenes shot in the western Highlands of Iceland.
Starring Cast Members: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman
IMDb Ranking: 7.0
Interstellar was a widely acclaimed movie directed by Christopher Nolan and released in 2014. It won an Oscar, received 44 other awards, and 148 total nominations for film awards. There were two main filming locations for this movie, including Svínafellsjökull Glacier and Máfabót. Each of these was meant to represent a different planet within the movie’s plot. The Icelandic scenery was also a central focus in much of the promotional material for the film.
Starring Cast Members: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Ellen Burstyn
IMDb Ranking: 8.6
7. Fast & Furious 8
The Fast & Furious franchise has seen locations all over the world. The Fate of the Furious was the 8th movie in this franchise released in 2017. There were a couple of scenes shot in Iceland. Most of these were car chase scenes done across the frozen Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland. A couple of the other scenes were done in Skútustaðir and a small village in Western Iceland called Akranes.
Starring Cast Members: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Scott Eastwood, Elsa Pataky, Nathalie Emmanuel
IMDb Ranking: 6.6
8. Journey to the Center of the Earth
The Journey to the Center of the Earth, originally a book written by Jules Verne and published back in 1864, features many scenes in Iceland. In the story, a professor and his nephew use volcanic tubes to journey to the earth’s core. What better place than the largest volcanic island of Iceland to shoot many of the movie’s most iconic scenes.
For example, their original descent is into the Snæfellsjökull volcanic mountain glacier. There are even local Icelandic actors that appear in this film.
Starring Cast Members: Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem, Josh Hutcherson
IMDb Ranking: 5.8
This movie is another adventure sci-fi movie set largely on another moon. The story follows the crew of the starship the USCSS Prometheus. They uncover a race of extraterrestrials that could lead to clues about the beginning of mankind.
Ridley Scott decided to shoot some of the commanding scenes of the movie in Iceland. Some of these scenes include settings like the Hekla Volcano and the Dettifoss Waterfall. Almost all the exterior shots of the alien’s world were shot in Iceland.
Starring Cast Members: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender
IMDb Ranking: 7.0
10. Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is one of the most large-scale projects done in Iceland. It is one of the Marvel universe’s most significant movies as well. It is all based around Norse mythology, which makes Iceland and its Nordic origins even more appropriate for the filming of the movie. Scenes are shot around Landmannalaugar near the Hekla volcano, in Asbyrgi and the Dettifoss Waterfall area, and finally around Skógafoss waterfall and its nearby canyons.
Starring Cast Members: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Eccleston, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi
IMDb Ranking: 6.8
This epic biblical drama was almost entirely filmed in Iceland. Instead of representing a post-apocalyptic world of destruction and devastation, Iceland is supposed to represent the wealth of the land before it is flooded. Locations like Reynisfjara, Reykjanes peninsula, and Lake Myvatn are featured heavily in the movie.
Starring Cast Members: Russell Crowe, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins
IMDb Ranking: 5.7
12. Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War was released in 2016 and was one of the movies in the Captain America saga from Marvel studios. There were only a couple of scenes shot in Iceland for this movie. It took advantage of the dramatic cliffs backed by stunning mountains and featuring black sand beaches in the foreground that you can find around the town of Vik.
Starring Cast Members: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany
IMDb Ranking: 7.8
Katla is one of the more recent filming jobs in Iceland. Filming began in 2021 but had to be postponed once COVID-19 concerns became serious in most of Scandinavia. It is filmed exclusively in Iceland, showing the country a year after an enormous eruption from the volcano Katla. It takes place in and around Vik.
Starring Cast Members: Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð, Íris Tanja Flygenring, Ingvar Sigurdsson
IMDb Ranking: 7.0
14. James Bond Series: A View to Kill
The James Bond series has featured more than one movie with excellent scenes shot in the beautiful country of Iceland. Some of the first James Bond movies starring Roger Moore as James Bond included Iceland in their epic battles following the iconic hero.
The scenes from the 1985 production, A View to Kill included frozen glacier lagoons and fight scenes among giant blue icebergs.
Starring Cast Members: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones
IMDb Ranking: 6.3
15. James Bond Series: Die Another Day
Another installment in the iconic 007 series is Die Another Day, shot in 2002 and starring Pierce Brosnan as the new James Bond of the time. Some of the filming locations in this movie included the town of Höfn and the ever-popular Vatnajökull Glacier.
Starring Cast Members: Pierce Brosnan, Toby Stephens, Halley Berry, Rosamund Pike, Judi Dench
IMDb Ranking: 6.1
16. Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek: Into Darkness took a cue from some of the Star Wars movies and recognized Iceland’s geography for its out-of-this-world characteristics. Iceland serves as the host to many of the movie’s iconic scenes for its space set in the film. The rocky black beach featured in the film with the basalt columns is none other than Reynisfjara Beach.
The shooting they did in Iceland was not only special for featuring the country but also because it was the first time any Star Trek scene had been filmed outside the borders of the United States.
Starring Cast Members: Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Leonard Nimoy
IMDb Ranking: 7.7
Stardust was a magical movie released in 2007 that is known by some to be quite the cult classic. It featured a storyline that took us from the reality of the 1800s in the English countryside to a fantasy kingdom called Stormhold, where a boy sought a fallen star. While most of the Stardust film was shot in Scotland, the big, dark scene in Stardust where Prince Septimus consults the soothsayer during the movie was shot in Iceland.
The film’s directors had wanted to use more of Iceland’s dramatic scenery for their film. However, they weren’t able to get the horses they needed because of Iceland’s strict rules against importing any horses.
Starring Cast Members: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Sienne Miller, Ian mcKellen, Ben Barnes
IMDb Ranking: 7.6
18. The Midnight Sky
The Midnight Sky is another post-apocalyptic tale of the world that we currently know changed into the world we are afraid of it becoming. The story follows the life of a scientist in the Arctic named Augustine. He races to let a team of astronauts know they shouldn’t come back to earth after a mysterious global catastrophe hit. It was nominated for an Oscar and won five other film awards.
The Midnight Sky was by and large filmed in Iceland. The film crew for the movie spent 15 days in Iceland filming on top of the Skálafellsjökull glacier within the boundary of the Vatnajökull National Park. It was a beautiful yet challenging part of the movie to record. Some of the sequences were filmed during a blizzard that featured temperatures close to 40 below zero in white-out conditions.
Starring Cast Members: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Caolinn Springall, Kyle Chandler, Tiffany Boone
IMDb Ranking: 5.6
Why is Iceland Preferred for Filming?
Iceland is a preferred filming spot for several reasons.
First, it offers a different kind of set than you are able to find almost anywhere else in the world. The geography of Iceland is predominantly volcanic. It has been formed through violent and disruptive eruptions occurring over millennia to give it the unique geographical formations and landscape that it is so well known for in today’s era.
Iceland’s geography lends itself very well to movies and shows featuring alien worlds that have become more popular over the last several decades.
Another reason that Iceland is such a suitable country for filming is because of its vast, empty expanses. The country has a very low density of living across it. That means that when you get to some of the more desolate areas, you can’t see another village or person for miles.
This characteristic not only endears it to shots of long, open stretches without having to use CGI, but it also makes it easier on the editing process. There are also far fewer instances when an outsider wanders into the frame or onto the set.
What is the Importance of Iceland’s Geography for Movies?
Iceland’s geography is the most influential part of the reason locations in the country make popular filming locations. The volcanic activity that has served to shape the island has given it distinctive geography to almost anywhere else in the world.
What Genres of Movies were Shot in Iceland?
Generally, the most popular kind of films to shoot in Iceland are sci-fi films or science fiction. Iceland is a preferred location for many of these films, mainly if there are mountain, desolate scenes they need often featuring another planet.
What are the most Popular Locations to Film a Movie in Iceland?
There are a number of popular areas around Iceland in which to film movies and shows. Many of these are scattered along the South Coast of Iceland. One reason for this is because it features a wide array of stunning locations featuring waterfalls, glaciers, glacial lakes, black sand beaches, and lagoons.
For example, the first scene in Die Another Day featured the Jökulsárlón lagoon. The entire thing was frozen so that Bond could have a chase scene over it.
Another reason the South Coast is so popular is because of its relative accessibility from Reykjavik compared to the other coasts in Iceland.
If you are a Game of Thrones buff, you will want to travel further up north to Mývatn. This is Wildling Land, where almost all of the scenes from the North of the Wall are set. When you get there, you can take a tour from a local, and he will show you where the White Walkers wandered and the cave from Jon Snow and Ygritte’s scene.
Another popular area for remote filming sets is the Westfjords. It is here that many scenes for the Justice League were set and also feature Aquaman’s hometown.
However, the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest in Europe, is hands-down the most popular site for filmmakers. It was here that scenes from Batman Begins, Interstellar, Noah, and Star Wars Rogue One had been filmed, along with other scenes from Game of Thrones.
Can Tourists Visit Movie Sets in Iceland?
Yes. If you have a favorite movie that features certain scenes in Iceland, you will likely be able to access these locations when you visit the country.
Iceland is by and large open for exploration. Even though it welcomes more than 2 million visitors each year, there are not many as many that venture further than the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik. This has allowed the Icelandic government to keep many areas open for public enjoyment instead of having to lock them down and protect them from public destruction.
There are also plenty of tours that you can go on that will take you to some of the most popular movies and show sets. For example, there are tours that will take you to some filming locations from Game of Thrones scenes.
What are Icelandic Films Shot in Iceland?
Some of the popular Icelandic films shot in Iceland include these.
- Noi the Albino
- Jar City
- Let Me Fall
The movie culture in Iceland is important and one that Icelanders are quite proud of as well. There are not too many Icelandic films that have made it big globally. However, Icelanders use the medium of film to be able to express quite raw emotions and cultural nuances that are difficult to pull out in other forms of artistic expression.
What Popular TV Shows were Filmed in Iceland?
By and large, it has been movies that have set Iceland apart in the cinematic world of film. However, there have been some popular TV shows that have featured numerous sets in Iceland.
One of the lesser-known ones is the episode named ‘Crocodile’ of the show Black Mirror. It was the third episode in the fourth series of the show, airing in December 2017. Some of the scenes in this episode were shot in the famous Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik. Others were shot in and around the landscape of Reykjavik.
Game of Thrones is perhaps what Iceland is best known for hosting in recent years. There are many episodes and scenes in this movie shot throughout Iceland. The show’s desolation, beauty, and medieval tones lend themselves very well to the overall landscape of Iceland.
Some filming locations in Iceland shot while filming Game of Thrones include these regions.
- Thingvellir National Park
- Þjórsárdalur Valley (Gjáin)
- Þórsmörk & Stakkholtsgjá
- Reynisfjara Beach, near Vik
Because of the popularity of the show, there are quite a few tours you can join that will take you around the filming location of the Game of Thrones in Iceland.