Ideas for fleshing out an itinerary on a trip to Iceland
Known as the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is like no other place on earth. Nature has been let off the leash here.
On a trip to this destination, you can do everything from soaking in a naturally hot pool to going inside a glacier on an ice cave tour.
Here are a few things that shouldn’t be missed on a trip to the country where the land is alive.
Top things to do in Iceland
Embark on an Iceland guided tour
Getting from A to B isn’t always easy in Iceland. There are no trains or trams in the country and in certain seasons driving conditions can be extreme. One of the easiest ways of exploring is to book a series of guided tours.
Options include a Golden Circle itinerary that takes you to the Gullfoss waterfall, where the white water cascades over a natural staircase, and the geothermal fields at Geysir where you can watch geysers spit water up to 30 metres into the air.
Alternatively, opt to go on a waterfalls and beaches tour, which will take you to see the Sólheimajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers and the charcoal-coloured beaches of the country’s coast.
Take to the water on an Iceland day cruise
Roughly 14% of Iceland is covered by glaciers and lakes, so you’ll never really see the country in its entirety unless you take to the water.
A number of companies run cruise tours around Iceland. Some of the most popular experiences include a cruise on Jokulsarlon Lagoon. This 18 square kilometre lake is scattered with icebergs.
When snow falls on them they turn a Slush Puppy blue colour.
A guided cruise is also a great way to see the country's puffin population that lives on Akurey Island.
Snoop around Reykjavik on a walking or bike tour
Get the insider info on Reykjavik by going on a guided walking or bike tour.
Typical walking tours last about three hours and take in some of the city’s most memorable landmarks such as the striking Sun Voyager sculpture, the Old Harbour and the Crayola coloured Þingholt houses.
Bike tours can cover a little more land, so you can expect cycling itineraries to also include spots like the city’s south facing beach.
Experience whales in their natural habitat
Peak whale watching season is between April and October in Iceland and a number of companies offer boat tours that take you to see them.
The experience of seeing a whale breaching the water for the first time will make your hair stand on end. On guided tours you’ve got a good chance of seeing the torpedo-like bodies of both Elding and Minke Whales.
Plus, where there are whales there are often dolphins and porpoise, so you’ll have a good chance of spotting those as well.
Go in search of the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights turn Iceland into nature’s nightclub. Strobe-like lights in every colour from kingfisher green to neon pink highlight the sky when the Aurora Borealis are on top form.
All of them come with an experienced guide who will get you brushed up on both the science and the legends behind the lights.
Dunk into Iceland’s hot springs
Even when temperatures dip below freezing in Iceland, there are always a few parts of the country that remain hot. Iceland is dotted with hot springs.
The water in these natural baths brews away at around 38 to 40 degrees Celsius all year round. Most of the country’s hot springs have been made super accessible to tourists so you can expect changing facilities, bars and restaurants at the sites.
Popular springs include the Secret Lagoon, Mývatn Nature Baths, and Laugarvatn Fontana where a luxurious spa has been created.
Visit the Blue LagoonThe Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland.
Located within a lava field in Grindavík, an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, the lagoon is a pool of naturally warm water where you can swim and soak the hours away. You can book in-water massages and buy silica mud masks from the Silica Bar in the water.
Around the edges of the lagoon you’ll also find a spa with a sauna, steam room and man-made waterfall shower, and a clutch of bars and restaurants.
Tick off Iceland’s waterfalls
The percussion in Iceland’s natural soundtrack is provided by its waterfalls. There are dozens across the country. Gullfoss, mentioned above, is one of the most famous.
Then there’s Seljalandsfoss, which is popular because you can walk behind it, Goðafoss, where the water topples over a 30-metre smile-shaped promontory, and Dettifoss, which is thought to be one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe.
Up the adrenaline with glacier hiking
Inject a bit of extra adrenaline into your Iceland adventure by going glacier hiking. The Sólheimajökull glacier is a popular place for the activity.
On a guided tour you’ll be given crampons and all the other necessary equipment and walked around this glacier where water is frozen in waves of electric blue ice.
The Langjökull Glacier is another option. Here you can take an ice cave tour through a series of man-made tunnels within the ice giant.