Land of fire and ice

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We knew 5 days would be a short time to explore the unreal landscapes Iceland had to offer, but any and every second spent on that magical land is bliss.

It was our first trip without baby L and we got to push our limits — we set out to drive all around Iceland through the Ring Road (aka Route 1) in just 5 days. Had lots of check points planned, but found even more surprises as the land revealed itself along the way.

It’s certainly the most expensive country that we’ve been to, but that comes with the territory (pun intended). The isolation that makes Iceland harsh to live in, also makes it one of the most pure and wondrous places to visit. And whatever I write, nothing will do it justice, so I’ll just leave you with these 1+ year old pictures.

Check Lena’s site for more photos and details of this trip.


The final shot

Hi there, welcome to my blog! I'm Filipe Varela, a designer at Automattic passionate about photography and video. In this site I post photos from my journeys across the world — a slice of life. Browse through the archive or check the homepage for the latest posts.

128 thoughts on “Land of fire and ice

  1. Elio December 12, 2018

    These are amazing shots Filipe, looks like a great adventure! Are some of them HDR composites or that’s just camera dynamic range?

    1. Filipe Varela December 13, 2018

      No HDR shots here, just dynamic range with slightly more editing than normal on some of them. Mostly gradients to compensate for exposure differences. Thanks so much, Elio!

  2. Michael Arestad December 12, 2018

    Great photos! I can’t wait to go back myself.

    1. Filipe Varela December 13, 2018

      Thank you! I hear we’ve got another meetup coming up real soon. ;D

  3. Jeff Golenski December 12, 2018

    Absolutely incredible

    1. Filipe Varela December 13, 2018

      High praise coming from you, Jeff. Thanks so much!

  4. markdrovdahl December 12, 2018


    1. Filipe Varela December 13, 2018

      Thank you, sir.

  5. akane December 14, 2018

    Top notch pictures. <3

    1. Filipe Varela December 15, 2018


  6. Miguel Lezama December 14, 2018


    1. Filipe Varela December 15, 2018

      Gracias, Miguel!

  7. Michal Obi December 22, 2018

    Great photos. How are you finding the a6500 and which lenses did you use? I need to go back here and do a proper road trip!

    1. Filipe Varela December 23, 2018

      Hi there, Michal. I love the a6500 and used the 10-18mm almost exclusively on this trip. Since then I’ve upgraded to an A7 III though! Thanks for the kind words.

  8. Tiago January 18, 2019


    Fantástico :) Na verdade, por causa da Islândia ser tão popular eu tenho o bichinho de ir às ilhas Faróe. Já está a ver que é um daqueles destinos que vai explodir nos próximos anos. Só aquela imagem do lago em cima de falésia junto ao mar é daquelas coisas únicas no mundo. Pena não ter glaciares :/

    1. Filipe Varela January 21, 2019

      Verdade! Também andei a ver dessa volta, mas por agora temos outros planos. :) Obrigado, Tiago! Abraço!

  9. jiisand May 3, 2019

    i grew up in Brooklyn New York City in the 1930’s and fell in love with Finland in 1961 and have lived here in Helsinki permanently for the last 50 years but if I had a second chance to spend the rest of my life in what extraordinary beauty this planet still has to offer your wonderful photos of Iceland tempt me sorely.

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Thank you for the kind comment. I love Finland! More precisely, I love the very small patch of land way up north in Inari, Lapland where I spent a week during a European Youth Gathering in 2002. Iceland has the same untouched, pure vibe as that part of Finland — such beauty!

  10. Tanawut tailumyong nick May 3, 2019


    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      ขอบคุณมาก 🙌

  11. gooollysandra May 3, 2019

    Really beautiful photos!

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Thank you, really appreciate that!

  12. Lisa Dorenfest May 3, 2019

    On the top of my list and even more so now with these images. The waterfall shots are my favorite. Off to Lena’s site for more now.

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      I know it’s a cliché, but Iceland should be at the top of everyone’s list! Maybe an obvious thing to note, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Thanks for your comment, did you enjoy Lena’s pictures too? :)

      1. Lisa Dorenfest May 8, 2019

        Sadly, I tried to load a couple of Lena’s posts at different times and was unable to on every attempt. It is possible that a slower internet here in Brazil is causing the problem, but other’s pages load eventually. Disappointing as I enjoy tales of Iceland

  13. ecopoet May 3, 2019

    Wonderful photo’s – such a calming landscape

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Indeed! And what’s not captured here (obviously) is the sounds of Iceland. We’re so used to the sounds that surround us every day, that standing on Icelandic lands feels eerily silent. Only the nature speaks there.

      1. ecopoet May 7, 2019

        Nature’s silence is an amazing gift
        Thank you for sharing
        Eco 🌿

  14. Ron Bouchard May 4, 2019

    Beautiful! You go Girl!
    Ron Bouchard

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Thank you, Ron!

  15. Tapase May 4, 2019

    Wow…how beautiful??

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Right? Iceland is pure magic.

  16. Pierre P. May 4, 2019

    Wow, such a nice set of photos from Iceland ! Congrats!

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Pierre!

  17. Kanta verma May 4, 2019

    Great shots ….

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Glad you enjoyed them!

  18. Ostendnomad May 4, 2019

    stunning sceneries and pictures ! Hope to get there some day… . Gr Stef

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      You should, it’s truly a unique place and, again, the pictures don’t do it justice at all!

  19. Random Repeat May 4, 2019

    Beautiful Pictures

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Happy you liked them. Have a fantastic day!

      1. Random Repeat May 7, 2019

        Thank You 🙂

  20. felienc May 5, 2019

    Amazing! Great shots. I can’t wait to go myself in June. Doing the roadtrip. Greetings from Belgium

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Uh, that’s awesome! Wish you luck on your adventures, and be sure to grab a few guesthouses in the middle of nowhere so you can experience the real Icelandic people and culture.

  21. bigworldawaits May 5, 2019

    Nice post. I recently started blogging. Check it out :)

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Thank you! Nice photos and stories! Keep it going, and I’ll be following.

  22. Alisha May 6, 2019

    Woww wonderful shots

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Appreciate it, Alisha!

  23. keith/ May 7, 2019

    Great pics. You have an artistic eye.

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Thank you so much for the kinds words!

  24. Kristin_Bea May 7, 2019

    great images… takes me to the word where one finds serenity… love it

    1. Filipe Varela May 7, 2019

      Beautiful, that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve with these. Thank you!

  25. Kristin_Bea May 7, 2019

    thank you 😊

  26. Randi Sumner May 7, 2019

    These are wonderful! I suggest a return visit in winter some time. I went in late March/early April several years ago and everything was magnificent ice and snow visits. Totally different.

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Definitely want to go back and see how the landscapes change throughout the different seasons. Though we went during summer and it was really cold sometimes, so I can only imagine what it would feel like in colder months.

  27. stufahy May 7, 2019

    These are some amazing pictures. I’m going to be working in Iceland over the summer for 7 weeks so I hope to be seeing a lot of this kind of thing. I’ve never been over the summer before so I’m expecting it to be different to the winter months. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      My pleasure, glad you enjoyed the pictures. Have a great time there!

  28. Dave Ply May 8, 2019

    Lovely pics. What time of year did you go?

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      This was during the peak of (what I’d consider) summer: August. Thank you!

  29. itsmayurremember May 8, 2019

    These are amazing!!

  30. Cate May 8, 2019

    Beautiful images! You’ve got a keen eye. I forwarded this post to a friend who will visit Iceland next month, to whet her appetite.

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Thank you for the kind words, Cate. Hopefully your friend enjoyed them as well — thanks for sharing! :)

  31. Aurora_1611 May 8, 2019

    My best friend moved to Iceland, so the country has always meant a lot to me. Beautiful images, by the way; the photography is brilliant!

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      It’s hard to stay indifferent to such a unique country. Thank you so much, Aurora!

  32. Srinivasan May 9, 2019

    Breath taking captures! Must have been a memorable trip :)

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Indeed it was, unforgettable scenery and experiences (though quite expensive!).

  33. wanderersjunkyard May 9, 2019

    Oh how beautiful are the photos, and the portrait is just spectacular, as are the landscapes. Loved it totally. Would love to hear your comments on some of my photos too.

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Thanks so much! I’ll take a look at your photos today.

  34. Shaggy May 9, 2019

    Mother earth let you lie down and showed you stars, cloud, sunshine, all blue and green side of her for whole 5 days 👍

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Yes, yes, yes!! Mother earth is kind and lovely.

  35. marissa_makes_food May 10, 2019

    These photos are incredible! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Happy you like them! Thank you.

  36. Alenka May 10, 2019

    Awesome… looks like good times

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Yep, quite the trip!

  37. Unlimited Joy Studios May 10, 2019

    That landscape is unreal! Wow! Brilliant photography of such beautiful scenery. 😍

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Unreal is an understatement; it really is something out of this world. Thanks for your comment, appreciate it!

  38. Prediksi Mata Togel May 13, 2019

    a beautiful work from God’s creatures … very natural and hopefully all happy

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Couldn’t agree more.

  39. DarkerIntrovert May 14, 2019

    For some unknown reason, the title reminded me of the immigrant song :)

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Hahah! Now that would be a great soundtrack!

  40. A Random Muser May 16, 2019

    The place looks mesmerizing. But it has a bit of a morbid feel to the beauty. It is in stark contrast to Port Antonio in Jamaica. I had written a travelogue on it at

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Yes, quite different sceneries though both beautiful and unique in their own ways.

  41. SW May 17, 2019

    The place and the photos are simply breathtaking! Iceland got the place in top 5 must go places in my list more so after this post 😬

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Do it!! You won’t regret it. Appreciate your comment!

  42. Sarmistha Padhi May 20, 2019


    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Thanks so much!

  43. Manicures and Cocktails May 20, 2019

    Wow! These pictures have me speechless they are wonderful. Iceland looks so beautiful. I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting but intend to do so soon! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      Thank you for leaving such kind words. Appreciate them!

  44. Luis Faraudo May 21, 2019

    Such a cool way to present a place as beautiful as Iceland!

    1. Filipe Varela May 22, 2019

      ¡Muchas gracias, Luis!

  45. Imani-Amour May 23, 2019

    Love authentic posts like this.

  46. Nomcebo May 24, 2019

    Nice pictures 😍

  47. Manisha Singh May 27, 2019

    Absolutely breathtaking pictures…

  48. Dawn May 29, 2019

    Your photos are breathtaking! I am so jealous :)

  49. awtytravels June 8, 2019

    Great photos. We too had little time in Iceland, so we just settled for the Snæfellsnes peninsula, but it was really worth it. I doubt there’s much – besides cities – in Iceland that isn’t jaw-droppingly cinematic.

  50. Andrew_Overheid June 20, 2019

    These pictures are absolutely stunning. It must have been an amazing trip. I hope to visit Iceland myself someday!

  51. Dante Sinistra June 27, 2019

    Beautiful landscape

  52. Huppsi July 2, 2019

    5 days are very short for this beautiful Iceland. We had 14, and that was Not enough…. 😉

    1. Filipe Varela September 5, 2019

      Hah, couldn’t agree more. Way, way too short of a trip to make the most out of every place we went through.

  53. helenps July 11, 2019

    Love your amazing photos <3

    1. Filipe Varela September 5, 2019

      Thank you for the kind words, appreciate them!

  54. ayorindekolawole July 11, 2019

    Beautiful photos

    1. Filipe Varela September 5, 2019

      Thanks so much!

  55. Sol hunter July 11, 2019


  56. rorawomen August 8, 2019

    very beautiful, just breath taking pictures, makes you want to fall in love wtih the beauty of this world.❤❤❤

  57. sunshinehawaii August 21, 2019

    Incredible shots and adventure. I feel like my life will not be complete until I see this place with my own eyes

  58. bhavya10chheda August 21, 2019

    How do you copyright the images ?

    1. Filipe Varela September 5, 2019

      Not sure what you mean?

      1. bhavya10chheda September 5, 2019

        Copyright as in, so that nobody can use them without your permission or monetize without your permission

      2. Filipe Varela September 5, 2019

        Ha, right. I don’t. :) I expect everyone to respect my craft and ask permission before using any photos.

  59. Zona Togel August 26, 2019

    an incomparable masterpiece … indeed God above all else … God bless you my friend

    1. Filipe Varela September 5, 2019

      Indeed! And thank you, have a great day yourself.

  60. zain aliin ali September 10, 2019

    i really enjoyed your post. nice clicks keep it up i am following you.

  61. firaqzafar October 12, 2019

    Just wow😳 great shots!

    1. Filipe Varela October 14, 2019

      Thank you so very much!

  62. Chaotic Soul October 24, 2019

    You have done an amazing job!!
    The pictures are marvelous.
    I’m new on WordPress. Please check my writings here

    1. Filipe Varela October 24, 2019

      Thanks so much!

  63. Nicola Bargiacchi November 14, 2019

    This place has been on my bucket list for yearssssssss

  64. juliandee December 9, 2019

    Your photos are superb! Glad I came across this post. I’ve been wanting to go to Iceland, and the way you captured everything just increased my conviction to be there.

    1. Filipe Varela December 9, 2019

      Thank you so much! One thing I did not manage to capture is the sounds — from absolute silence to blast of the immense waterfalls, Iceland soundscapes will stay with you for life.

      1. juliandee December 23, 2019

        Maybe in the future you can create scenic films or clips about your travel experiences, so you can capture both the visual and auditory scene. :)

    2. Filipe Varela December 30, 2019

      Funny you should mention that, because I did take my drone and captured some of the scenery in video (although not the sound):

  65. Stefan February 1, 2020

    Amazing work! Iceland remains on the top of my list to visit one day. For now these shots will have to do, but they are stunning.

  66. BillboardVagabond June 2, 2020

    Beautiful, breathtaking, brilliant images. Thanks and much appreciated for sharing

    1. Filipe Varela June 2, 2020

      Thank you for your kind words — I truly appreciate them.

  67. The Thrifty Campers July 24, 2020

    Wow! Those are breath-taking views

    1. Filipe Varela July 24, 2020

      They are indeed!

  68. sunshinehawaii July 28, 2020

    These shots are blowing my mind! I would love to visit someday

    1. Filipe Varela July 29, 2020

      You absolutely should! Thank you.

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