10 Icelandic adventures for your bucket list
Many of the country’s travel highlights are shaped by the seasons. Here you can find the most unique tours, from summer hiking in a volcanic national park to experiencing aurora-painted night skies in the frosty winter.
1. Explore the Westman islands volcanoes
The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago is the dream destination for budding geologists – the frequent occurrence of volcanic eruptions allows geologists to study events like the appearance of Surtsey, a new island that rose from the frigid waters of the Atlantic in 1963. For the people living on these southern islands, the volcanoes are more of an everyday concern. To get an idea of what it is like to live in the shadow of a potentially destructive peak, you can hike to Eldfell, a volcanic cone, in summer with a local guide.
2. See the Northern Lights during the Northern Lights South Coast Adventure tour
Despite lying just outside the Arctic Circle, Iceland is the perfect location for spotting the Northern Lights. A clear sky and high solar activity are required for the aurora to be at its best. The aurora season is from September until April, but February, March, September and October are regarded as the best months for a sighting.
3. Try a Midnight Sun quad bike Tour
Quad bike tours are available almost all year round in Iceland, but if you are coming in the peak of summer there is a possibility to combine this typically local experience with another popular Icelandic pastime: a Midnight Sun Safari. Safari’s Midnight Sun ATV Tour starts in Reykjavík and takes in Hafravatn lake and the Wolf Mountain summits. Driving the ATVs may seem daunting at first but we assure you that the expert guides will give you all the training you need before you set off so you will be ready and feel confident.
4. Hike to Glymur, Iceland’s Second Highest Waterfall
Drive the scenic Hvalfjörður Fjord before reaching the Glymur waterfall. Glymur falls 198 metres and is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland. You will have the opportunity to cross over a river on a tree trunk, an adventurous experience to take with you. The hike will be challenging at times, making the view from the top very rewarding. Make sure to taste the fresh and tasty mountain water and take some with you to go in your refillable bottle.
5. Hike in Snaefellsjökull National Park
The caldera of Snaefellsjökull, the outstanding volcano on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, has long been covered by an ice cap, making for some exceptional hiking. This environment had caught the attention of the French novelist Jules Verne’s in 1864, Snaefellsjökull was the gateway for the underground adventures in his science-fiction classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
6. Laugavegur Trek
The Laugavegur Trek was listed by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful trails in the world and is by far the most famous hiking trail in Iceland. The Laugavegur trail, between Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk, includes breathtaking views and a diversity of outstanding nature, such as glaciers (where Eyjafjallajökull and Vatnajökull are the most famous), a black sandy desert (that was made by fire and ice), black obsidian lava stones and multicoloured rhyolite mountains. Important to mention is that you can enjoy the geothermal hot spring in Landmannalaugar before starting the hike.
7. Dive into waters between tectonic plates
There are not many dive sites in the world where the chance of seeing animals is virtually nil and yet the prospect seems irresistible. Then again, there are not any other dive sites like Silfra. Situated inside the Thingvellir National Park, only one hour east of Reykjavík on the Golden Circle, this gorge offers an incredible visibility at depths of up to 3.000 foot/915 metres, and the exclusive opportunity to snorkel between the Eurasian and North American Plates.
8. Explore ice caves
Mighty Vatnajökull, Europe’s greatest glacier, was one of the many filming sites in Iceland that received a tourism boost in connection with Game of Thrones. The series ended, but the glacier and its national park, which has the same name, remained popular. Guided hiking on the ice is one option, but if your adventurous self wants to reach a higher level, then head into the sapphire-blue ice caves. Still not enough? Consider ice climbing!
9. Kayak in the Westfjords
On a peaceful summer’s day, kayaking in the Westfjords offers a great chance to leave all the drama ashore. The rugged cliffs around Ísafjördur create a spectacular backdrop as ducks and northern fulmars glide across the crystal-clear water. That’s not to say these pleasant outings always play out uneventfully – families of grey seals are often sighted among the kelp and, from time to time, pods of orca come into the bays searching for them.
10. Trek between huts
At the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Icelandic Highlands, it is possible to trek in the wilderness from hut to hut. These vestigial dwellings have been providing shelter to the adventurous ones in the wilderness for decades. The sometimes stormy weather often puts them to good use, but in calmer conditions, these week-long treks offer a chance to enjoy some of the country’s most magnificent and rugged landscapes, far from the hustle and bustle.