Iceland from Above: Using Drones Safely and Legally



Iceland from Above: Using Drones Safely and Legally

18.06.2020 | Camille Beuvard

Have you ever visited Iceland from above? It's a must! The scenery looks so massive and impressive, like you've just found another universe! Iceland’s natural beauty is absolutely captivating with feet on the ground, but trust us... it is immensely extraordinary from above!

Not only drone photography has fostered a boom of creativity among photographers but it has this power of revealing the textures of our Nature, from sculpted glaciers and volcanic lakes, to intricated glacial rivers and wide open fjords.

Frankly, the whole island is an endless arena of possibilities, as long as you take regulations into consideration. If you are looking to bring a drone while traveling in Iceland, make sure to check with the local drone restrictions and laws to ensure you fly safely and legally.

Leave the ground now and get a unique viewpoint of Iceland’s landscapes below!

Use our list as inspiration for planning your trip, and check our selection of toursauthentic accommodation and activities

Aerial Views of Iceland

Iceland is a nation famous for its natural beauty and rich variety of landscapes. Over the recent years, the island has become one of the most-droned destinations, for that aerial views reveal an astonishing diversity of landscapes, places not reachable otherwise, and patterns that would usually go unnoticed. 

There is nothing like seeing its highlights from a bird’s eye view, an angle you cannot get from the car or on a regular tour. Some infamous places somehow get even more spectacular and mesmerizing when seen from above, and you suddenly realize the scale of all these sites. 

From colourful glacial kettles to towering peaks plunging into the sea, take in the aerial views of Iceland, all without leaving your chair!

This series presents an aerial journey of Iceland, flying from the deep South to the Northern tip of the Island, and over the highlands. We choose to feature photographers with responsible behaviours and positive messages about Nature conservation, those who encourage their community to capture aerial images only if following strictly the rules. Some of which are part of our Top Instagrammers to follow in Iceland.

Plunge into the sheer immersive beauty of Iceland and witness hidden gems

 

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Current Drone Regulations in Iceland

One of the great pleasures of bringing a drone on your travels is that you can stop off where you feel inspired and see fit to capture the incredible landscapes around you.

In recent years drones have become very popular and available to the mainstream public. In order to prevent natural damage or disturbance, all drones pilots are expected to follow the Drone Regulations listed by The Icelandic Transport Authority, for leisure or commercial use alike.

 

Basic rules of the sky

Drones Regulations in Iceland - Icelandic Transport Authority

Drone Regulations (2018) – The Icelandic Transport Authority

A lot of the fundamental things to keep in mind are simply common sense. One should always respect terrestrial, marine wildlife and birdlife, always keeping a good distance. The use of drones too close to horses, sheep, or reindeers herds can cause the animals high stress and can lead to unpredictable reactions that could put them in danger.

This is especially true during the nesting season or any other seasonal time when animals are considered more vulnerable. This way, it is forbidden to fly drones next to bird cliffs in a closer proximity than 200 meters during nesting season.

 

Protected areas

First off, the use of drones are subject to permits within Iceland’s 3 main national parks, including Vatnajökull, Snæfellsjökull, and Þingvellir.

The Environment Agency of Iceland has also made a list of drone-free zones.

In the following areas the use of drones is either limited or prohibited unless you get the permission from The Environment Agency of Iceland. You can apply for a permit. The fee and need for supervision will depend on the scope of the project and how you will be using the images.

  • Andakíll
  • Dyrhólaey
  • Glerárdalur
  • Gullfoss
  • Hornstrandir
  • Hólmanes
  • Ingólfshöfði
  • Skógafoss
  • Svæði í þjórsárdal (Gjáinn, Háifoss, Granni, Hjálparfoss)
  • Þjórsárver

Extreme caution must be taken in the following protected bird habitats:

  • Dimmuborgir
  • Dynjandi
  • Eldey
  • Flatey
  • Grótta
  • Grunnafjörður
  • Guðlaugstungur
  • Hrísey í Reykhólahreppi
  • Hverfjall/Hverfell
  • Kringilsárrani
  • Látrabjarg
  • Melrakkaey
  • Mývatn and Laxá
  • Oddaflóð
  • Pollengi and Tungey
  • Salthöfði and Salthöfðamýrar
  • Skrúður
  • Ströndin with Stapa and Hellnar
  • Surtsey
  • Vestmannsvatn

No matter the number of drone shots of Skógafoss, Gullfoss or the glacier tongues you see on social media, always be aware of your rights and the rights of those around you before flying outdoors. This way you will get a lot of enjoyment from your drone and capture images and videos you wouldn't get from ground level !

Did you enjoy and got inspired by this article? Check our selection of 25 Photos with That Iceland Genuine Feel!

About the author

I was born and raised in France but have been living in Iceland for 7 years. I am your Hey! Web and Marketing specialist, and am a part-time teacher in sustainable tourism. In my free time, you will find me in the great outdoors or close to the ocean, but always with my little tribe. And I take pictures. A lot of pictures.

Camille Beuvard 

Camille Beuvard

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