How to Easily travel & Elope in Iceland in 2024

Iceland is a country you need to see to believe. With landscapes changing drastically within short distances, there is a wide variety of backdrops to choose from for every type of elopement ceremony. Not only is Iceland easy to travel around, but it is also one of the easier international destinations to get legally married in (elope).

Having solo traveled around Iceland multiple times, I understand how daunting it can be to begin planning a trip, especially an elopement or wedding, in a country that offers so many options. This is why I’ve compiled this guide to help you navigate where to start in your plans, and also some things to avoid.

Table of Contents:

1. Best time of year to travel and elope in Iceland
2. The most stunning places in Iceland to elope
3. How to travel around Iceland
4. Making your elopement legal
5. What to do in Iceland

Rock in the shape of an elephant off the coast of Iceland

When is the Best Time to Elope in Iceland?

Summer

June – August is typically considered Iceland’s summer, with almost no snow to be found except in Iceland’s highlands. It is peak season for a reason; the mountains are lush and green with strong flowing waterfalls, puffins are found on cliffs, and the all too famous 24 hour sun. Being the busiest season there are quite a few crowds at almost every main site during typical hours of 9 am – 8 pm.

Utilizing the 24 hour sun is a great opportunity to have a site almost completely to yourself, and also take advantage of “golden hour” lighting. On my first trip to Iceland I ate a bit too much at supper and ended up going for a nap and waking up around 9 pm with the light still shining bright. I then hiked to the top of a volcano and watched the sun “set” (it doesn’t actually set beyond the horizon at this time of year) all by myself with no one else around. One thing to keep in mind if you are planning on utilizing the 24 hour daytime is where you are staying; if you are staying at different hotels each night then check-in and check-out time will make this much more of a tiring experience.

Don’t let the crowds in the summer deter you from eloping at this time of year as we can easily find a beautiful location and time where you can celebrate privately!

Fall

Fall in Iceland (September – November) is a great time of the year to plan to visit or elope as there are less crowds and the weather ins’t too cold yet. With less crowds it’s typically more affordable to travel to Iceland around this time, but you will miss the 24 hour sun. However, with the sun actually setting you have a slight chance you may be able to see the iconic Northern Lights!

Keep in mind if you are planning a visit in the fall some of the highland roads may be closed at this point (some closing as early as mid-late August). So if you’re planning to elope in the highlands I would recommend checking out this guide that provides average dates on road openings and closings.

Puffin sitting on the side of a cliff on the coast of Iceland

Winter

December – February is considered the winter season, and is for the brave. Weather in Iceland can be unpredictable year round (they say if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes), but it’s especially unpredictable in the winter time. Often faced with snow storms causing road closures (to and from the airport) and even the airport itself shut down. People have found themselves stranded at the airport or trying to find lodging for a few extra nights until the storm passes. This is not to deter you from a winter Icelandic trip or elopement; but to go into it knowing all of the risks.

Winter is the ideal time to view the Northern Lights since Iceland has very limited daytime hours during this season (their shortest day of the year only having sun for 4-5 hours).

It’s important when planning a winter trip to be very flexible as road conditions can change quickly. I recommend downloading Iceland’s Safe Travel App to always know the status of the roads. Exploring Iceland during the winter is quite beautiful, and because it’s a more difficult time to travel you will find it less crowded with prices being much cheaper overall.

Spring

Iceland’s spring (April – May) is another great time to visit. The weather isn’t quite as severe as winter, although you could still experience some snow and rain. If you’re visiting mid-May you will already begin to experience the midnight sun as the sky never goes completely dark, meaning you have much more daylight time to explore! It is also a bit more affordable to travel around this time and fewer crowds than Summer.

Some highland roads won’t be open quite yet (keep an eye on the Safe Travel App), so this may not be an ideal time to visit if you’re hoping to explore Iceland’s core. Puffins also haven’t arrived yet – or if they have they are most likely only on the East coast right now.


The Best 11 Places to Elope in Iceland

a valley covered in streams with a mountain peak in the middle


Þórsmörk (Thorsmork)

The valley of Thor. Everywhere you look you’ll find jaw dropping scenery, making every spot a perfect location to say your vows. One incredible hike you have to do is the Valahnukur Volcano Hut Hike. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the top, and is mostly stairs the entire way up but it is very manageable for all fitness levels with breaks.

Getting to Thorsmork is the most challenging aspect as it is only accessible via a super jeep or bus. The super jeep’s and buses are built to cross fast flowing deep rivers without issue; which is very dangerous to attempt in any 4×4. If you’re more adventurous you can hike to Thorsmork via Fimmvörðuháls trail which is 25 km long. You can book a hut in advance if you’d like to split this trek into two days (which is recommended). Once in Thorsmork you will need to have scheduled a superbus trip back in advance.

Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is a popular spot for those wanting to do multiple day hikes, but there are also day hike options too. I’ve done Mt. Bláhnjúkur anti-clockwise for an epic elopement at sunset. Getting to the top is steep, but manageable with a lot of breaks. From the vehicle to the top of the hike it took us about 45 minutes; we were going quite fast though so I would say this would typically take 75 minutes.

It is a F road so you’ll require a 4×4 vehicle to get here. There is a river crossing you can attempt if you’re comfortable and wanting to park closer, but there is also parking before this river making it more accessible.

Skógafoss

This insanely large waterfall is a must-see, being one of Iceland’s largest waterfall’s out of their thousands. It is a very popular spot, so if you’re planning on eloping I’d recommend mid-week at either sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds.

With several other iconic waterfalls and places nearby (check out Seljalandsfoss and Seljavallalaug pool area) this can be one stop during your epic wedding day.


Reynisfjara (THE Black Sand Beach)

Did you know that all of Iceland’s beaches are black? This beach however is considered THE black sand beach as the surrounding landscape is something rare. It features a column of dramatic black basalt columns and a large cave you can explore in.

Black church in Iceland with overcast skies behind


Budir – Black Church

Búðakirkja is one of three black churches in Iceland, and easily stands out in the surrounding vast landscapes. If you’re wanting to get married here you will need to contact the church here to get it officially booked in.

Múlagljúfur Canyon - Iceland - Iceland Elopement - Iceland Travel - Iceland Adventure


Múlagljúfur Canyon

You might have seen this location on instagram, but it truly doesn’t do it any justice. As you make your way up Múlagljúfur Canyon you’ll come across multiple waterfalls before reaching the final one, and each is extremely beautiful. On the way back you’ll see the river winding below and perfectly framed by the surrounding cliffs.

Getting here can be tricky as there’s no sign on the main road, and I actually drove right past it on my first go around. If you’re looking for great tips on getting here and the hike itself I highly recommend checking out this blog.


Diamond Beach

In the summer months diamond beach can be filled with pieces of ice that broke off of surrounding icebergs making it feel as though you’re walking through literal diamonds. It makes the perfect backdrop for an elopement.

To see this it is seasonal; it takes warm weather to melt the ice enough to break off and float to shore. So the best time to go is June-August.

Boats in the pier in the west fjords in Iceland with snow on the peaks


The West Fjords

There are so many places to see and hikes to do in the West Fjords that you could easily spend two weeks just exploring this area. The road around the fjords offers scenic views of mountains surrounded by the ocean.

I was here during a yellow alert (severe weather), and driving in the West Fjords during this time was daunting. I’d recommend only travelling around the loopy gravel roads in good weather if possible!


Vestrahorn

Surrounded by black sand dunes and towering mountains this spot is a must stop during your trip to Iceland. It’s on the east side of Iceland where not all explore so you could have this spot almost completely to yourselves depending on the time and season!


Bakkagerði

On the very eastern side of Iceland you’ll find this hidden gem full of puffins in the Summer. You’ll travel along roads that wind through snow-capped mountains and around cliffs with the ocean next to you to finally arrive at the cute village of Bakkagerði.

Since this tiny village is on the far eastern side it will feel almost like you have it all to yourself with the visitors typically not going this far. If you can, I’d recommend staying 1-2 nights at Blabjorg Guesthouse and exploring the nearby hikes (only recommend in the summer when the snow has melted).


Myvatn

This area features boasting bubbling mud pots, surreal lava formations, natural hot springs, and so much more. It’s recommended to spend at least 2-3 days here to ensure you get to see all that it has to offer! With it having so many options this is a great place to elope and spend the day exploring together.

If you’re looking for some GREAT food I highly recommend stopping at Vogafjós Farm Resort, and then soaking in the Myvatn Nature Baths afterwards.

How to Easily Travel Around Iceland

Being able to travel around Iceland on your own schedule is the most convenient way to travel. Instead of having to follow a tour’s itinerary you get to create your own! There are a few things to note with renting a car or camper van in Iceland; insurance, gas prices, and safety.

Renting a Car

I’ve always rented through Lotus Car Rental and had a great experience each time. They were quick to respond to any questions via e-mail and were easily accessible by phone while I was in Iceland. All of their rentals come with basic insurance included in the price, but it is worthwhile to consider upgrading to their premium insurance. On my first trip to Iceland I experienced a yellow alert almost the entire time, and while I was fortunate to not have issues others weren’t as lucky. Rocks had been picked up by the wind and shattered windows of vehicles parked at a waterfall, and in another area a camper van was pushed off the road and rolled because of the strong gusts. I heard story’s like this prior to going, but being there and experiencing the turbulent weather made me glad I did purchase their premium insurance.

The premium insurance also came with free wifi which I used around the whole country without issue. I’d recommend still purchasing a local SIM card from a gas station that will allow you to phone local places while there (Lotus Car Rental, restaurants, hotels, and if on a hike and in need of help you can also phone their rescue service too this way).

You may have car insurance through your current insurance provider or through your credit card company so if you plan on only using that I’d recommend reaching out to them and asking if they cover Iceland (some don’t). They may not cover sand & ash damage which is very common to experience in Iceland.

Lotus offers a fuel discount at certain gas stations, and at $3.20/L ISK (in 2023) you’ll need it! There are a lot of rental options for travelling around Iceland, but my personal experience with Lotus Car Rental has been great each time I’ve used them.

Safety

Coming from Canada and driving in our extreme winter conditions I thought Iceland would be no problem. I was quickly shown how wrong I was! With narrow roads that wind and curve it’s important to only travel when advisable; some alerts only apply to certain sized vehicles as they have less stability (camper van’s). If you’re driving in the west fjords be prepared to drive on narrow gravel roads that wind around cliffs and sometimes without a railing. I wish I had been prepared for this part since I was also driving these terrifying areas during a yellow alert. If you have good weather you likely won’t need to worry about any of this, but it’s good to be prepared and okay to change plans if needed.

Can anyone legally get married in Iceland?

Yes! It’s quite straight forward too, Iceland’s government website lists some of the items you’ll need as:

1. Hjónavígsluskýrsla (marriage notification)
2. Valid passports (copies)
3. Original birth certificates of each partner (to be returned after the wedding)
4. Certificate of no marriage status (no older than 12 weeks from when it’s submitted)
5. IF either partner has been divorced you’ll need a divorce decree
6. IF either partner is widowed then documentation that the estate has been settled/divided.

Once you’ve sent in all of the above documents to the National Registry Office in Reykjavík (at least 4 weeks before your wedding) you’ll then schedule an appointment with the regional district commissioner office for the week of your wedding.

If the process seems daunting, my advice is to consider having your legal marriage in your home country before arranging a symbolic ceremony in Iceland. This option tends to be the most straightforward and least stressful AND you don’t need to hire an officiant or witnesses if you go this route.

What can we all do in Iceland during our elopement?

Iceland Waterfall in Spring

Iceland doesn’t have a shortage of incredible things you can do! Here’s some ideas to get you dreaming:

Hike up a mountain

Book a private guided tour through a glacier

Go paragliding off the cliffs surrounding the famous black sand beach

Kayak in a glacier lagoon

Book a private ride on some beautiful Icelandic horses

Jump in the ocean at one of Iceland’s many hot springs such as Hvammsvik

Stay up late and watch the northern lights

Get a remote airbnb right in the mountains or in the countryside

Hire a private chef to prepare a few amazing meals for you two

Hop on a helicopter to see Iceland in a whole new way!

Looking for a Photographer to Capture it all?

I would LOVE to capture + help you create your dream Icelandic elopement! Having been fortunate to travel to Iceland several times I have even more tips + tricks to share (including a list of every restaurant you need to visit around the country if you’re doing the ring road!!).