16 Popular Movies and TV Shows That Were Filmed in Iceland
Dramatic rocky beaches, impressive mountains, black volcanic deserts, endless fields of driven snow, and rugged glaciers. This sort of exceptional natural beauty and extremely varied scenery makes Iceland the perfect filming location – and Hollywood seems to be more aware of it than ever before. Check out these locations where some of the best known movies and TV shows were filmed and put them on your Iceland Bucket List!
From blockbuster hits like James Bond to the world-famous TV series Game of Thrones, Iceland has become a major stomping ground for major film productions. Here are the 15 best TV shows and movies filmed in Iceland:
1. James Bond series: A View to a Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002) – Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
James Bond action movies, featuring the British secret agent, 007, have been filmed in Iceland twice. Many scenes of the 14th and the 20th James Bond movies were shot in Iceland, from amazing snowboarding scenes to an epic car chase across the frozen glacier lagoon, meandering between giant blue icebergs – this was one of the most unforgettable action scenes in the whole James Bond series. Filming locations also included the town of Höfn and Vatnajökull Glacier.
Directed: Lee Tamahori. Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, John Cleese, and Judi Dench.
2. The Star Wars saga – Epic locations spanning across Iceland
George Lucas’s epic space opera has featured Icelandic scenes in both The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Many of the desolate wintry scenes that most of us watched when we were growing up were also shot in Iceland, the film crews visited Iceland multiple times to shoot footage all over the island.
Icelandic scenery was used as a backdrop for Hoth, the ice planet, in The Force Awakens, and, also, for Eadu, the planet where the mission to assassinate Galen Erso takes place in Rogue One.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow.
3. The Game of Thrones Series
Game of Thrones is an epic American fantasy drama television series, the show has achieved one of the highest global popularity ratings to date. Set on fictional continents, the Icelandic landscapes play an important role in the storyline, representing the land of the far north where legendary creatures live, known to fans as the ‘Land Beyond The Wall’.
Creators: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Starring: Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, Aidan Gillen, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Richard Madden, Alfie Allen, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Jack Gleeson, Rory McCann, Peter Dinklage, Charles Dance, Liam Cunningham, John Bradley, Natalie Dormer, and Jerome Flynn.
4. Tomb Raider
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an action-adventure film, based on the popular Tomb Raider video game series, featuring the character Lara Croft who is portrayed by Angelina Jolie.
There is a three-minute sequence in the first Tomb Raider film, which was filmed at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon in South-East Iceland. The location depicted in the film is a remote village in Siberia. If you feel like pretending to be Angelina for a day, and even taking a boat ride on the ice lagoon just like Lara Croft does in Tomb Raider, join us on a tour to the south coast!
Directed: Simon West. Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Daniel Craig, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie.
5. Batman Begins
Batman Begins is a superhero action film based on the DC Comics character. The film reboots the origin story of Bruce Wayne, from the death of his parents and his journey to becoming Batman.
Surprisingly, the Icelandic landscapes in the movie represent Bhutan in South Asia, which just goes to show how diverse the scenery in this country really is. In the movie, Liam Neeson and Christian Bale have their epic sword fight on the glacier. The actors later told the press that they heard cracking from beneath the ice whilst they were shooting the scene.
These scenes were shot at Svínafellsjökull Glacier on the South Coast of Iceland. It is one of the numerous outlet glaciers which stretch out from the enormous Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap, which covers 8% of Iceland’s total landmass.
If you want to do a glacier hike on the glacier where the two Hollywood stars battled it out, check out our glacier hike tour of Svinafellsjokull Glacier.
Directed: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, and Morgan Freeman.
6. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a beautiful adventure comedy-drama that was mainly filmed in Iceland. The landscapes play a major role in the movie. What’s more, Icelandic actors play some of the supporting roles.
The story takes place in the USA, Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas – but really, it was filmed on location only in the USA and Iceland. The scenes set in Greenland and the Himalayas were, allegedly, shot in Iceland!
Directed: Ben Stiller. Starring Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Sean Penn.
This is the largest town on the beautiful Snæfellsnes peninsula with adorable and very colorful old houses. This town was a backdrop for footage set in Greenland in the movie, the bar scenes and the helicopter take-off scene were all shot here.
This charming village in East Iceland was the location of the famous longboard riding scene, when Walter Mitty exchanged his bike for a longboard and sailed down the empty road on it.
Vatnajökull National Park
The scenes which supposedly feature the Himalayas and Afghanistan were shot in Iceland at Vatnajökull National Park, in the shadow of Europe’s biggest glacier, Vatnajökull. The nature here is particularly dramatic with varied landscapes: blue glaciers, rocky deserts, stunning mountains and impressive waterfalls.
This is one of the most beautiful villages in West Iceland. Gundarfjörður was the filming location of the scene which depicts the fishing boat, Erkigsnek, docked at the harbor.
The airport scenes showing Walter Mitty landing in Greenland were shot at Höfn, a small town on the south-eastern shore of Iceland, beneath the shadow of the majestic glacier, Vatnajökull.
Tom Cruise saves the world in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film, Oblivion, with the most awe-inspiring Icelandic nature in the background. The unique landscapes play a major role in this movie. The film was shot on location at the Hrossaborg Crater in North-East Iceland, and around Jarlhettur, a mountain in the western part of the Highlands, some other scenes were filmed near the stunning Dettifoss Waterfall.
Directed: Joseph Kosinski. Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo.
Interstellar is another film which was partially shot at Svínafellsjökull Glacier. The film’s other filming location in Iceland was Máfabót, a low land area situated between the open sea and a river on the South Coast. The two locations each represented a different planet in Interstellar. Icelandic scenery also featured heavily in promotional material for the film.
Directed: Christopher Nolan. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine.
9. Fast & Furious 8
This newest episode of the Fast and Furious action franchise was partly shot in Iceland. The epic car chase scene on the frozen lake was filmed at Lake Mývatn in the north of Iceland, a Russian submarine even joins in the exciting chase when it blasts through the ice!
The exact shooting location was at Skútustaðir, a tiny hamlet at the southern end of the lake. There are also glimpses of a shootout which was shot in Akranes, a small village in West Iceland not far from Reykjavík.
Directed: F. Gary Gray. Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron
10. The Tree of Life (2011) – Krafla volcano and Námafjall, North Iceland
The epic drama The Tree of Life is about the origins and meaning of life – and Iceland served as the perfect location to represent the ‘young earth’. The central filming location for these scenes was the stunning and highly picturesque area around the Krafla volcano in Northern Iceland. This otherworldly place is one of the most geothermally active places in Iceland, with clusters of steaming fumaroles and bubbling mud pots.
Directed: Terrence Malick: Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain.
Want to take a trip to Iceland’s top film locations? Hop in a car and take a 10-day road trip to see Iceland’s top landmarks featured in the Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and more!
11. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) – Snæfellsjökull National Park
Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of the oldest science fiction novels, a classic written by Jules Verne, which was first published in 1864. The story is about a professor who believes there are volcanic tubes leading to the center of the Earth. He, his nephew, and their guide descend into the Icelandic volcano mountain glacier, Snæfellsjökull, and surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli Volcano.
The story has inspired many film directors throughout the 20th century. The latest movie, a cinematographic sequel to the novel, was filmed in Snæfellsjökull National Park, Iceland in 2008. Some local actors and actresses also appeared in this film.
Directed: Eric Brevig. Starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem.
12. Prometheus (2012) – Hekla volcano and Dettifoss waterfall
Ridley Scott’s epic science fiction masterpiece, Prometheus, is set in the late 21st century and the story centers on the crew of the spaceship, Prometheus. The exterior shots of the alien world appearing in the film were shot in Iceland.
Hekla is an active volcano in South Iceland, with views which the film´s director described as “rough and Jurassic-like”.
The opening scene, the Engineer Sacrifice, was shot at Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Directed: Ridley Scott. Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron.
13. Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Landmannalaugar, Dettifoss, Skógafoss
The Marvel Studios superhero film, Thor: The Dark World, is among the most extensive film projects to have ever taken place in Iceland. In Norse mythology, Thor (Þór) is the hammer-wielding god of thunder and lightning, associated with storms, oak trees, strength, hallowing, fertility, the protection of mankind, and of the fortress guarding the Realm of Asgard (Ásgarður).
Scenes of the black sand landscapes of Svartalfheim, Realm of the Dark Elves, were shot around Landmannalaugar, near the volcano, Hekla, in South Iceland. Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve is one of the most photographed places in Iceland and for very good reasons. It is a stunningly colorful oasis in the Highlands, mystically surrounded by mountains and steaming hot springs.
Ásbyrgi and the Dettifoss Waterfall
Iceland also provides the mountains and lakes which you see in scenes which are set in the Realm of Asgard. An aerial unit captured spectacular shots of Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall and the stunning canyon of Ásbyrgi.
Skógafoss and Fjaðrárgljúfur
Another picturesque waterfall, the stunning Skógafoss, was also among the filming locations for this film. Skógafoss is located just next to the Ring Road on the South Coast, not far from Fjaðrárgljúfur, one of the most stunning canyons in the world.
Directed: Alan Taylor. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander and Rene Russo.
14. Noah (2014) – All over Iceland
Iceland was the main filming location for the epic biblical drama Noah. The Icelandic landscapes represented the land before the world was flooded. The gorgeous black sand beach, Reynisfjara, was one of the major filming locations. However, the crew used several locations in various parts of Iceland, including the Reykjanes peninsula in South-West Iceland, and the area around Lake Mývatn in the North.
Directed: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Anthony Hopkins.
15. Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Vík, South Iceland
Some scenes in the Captain America movie took place near the town of Vík in South Iceland, an increasingly popular destination with film crews. The village is surrounded by beautiful valleys, dramatic cliffs, stunning mountains and black sandy beaches.
Directed: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily, VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.
16. Katla (2021) – Vik, South Iceland
Katla takes place in Vik, a small village on the South Coast of Iceland with a sparse population of just a few hundred people. Despite the area’s scenic beauty, it’s far from a tranquil home as the volcano engulfs the area in ash and a shadow of penetrating the darkness.
Directed: Sigurjón Kjartansson and Baltasar Kormákur. Starring: Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð, Íris Tanja Flygenring, Ingvar Sigurdsson