Top 10 Things to do in Iceland
An absolute playground for outdoor adventurers, Iceland invites you to strap on your best shoes and make your way into exploring the land of fire and ice. Iceland is known for its incredible volcanic formations and massive glaciers. Ironically, these two opposing extreme elements come together to create the most peaceful country in the world. Find out how to add adventure to your time in Iceland with some of the most epic experiences.
Here’s a list of our favourite experiences in Iceland.
Kerlingarfjöll & Hveradalir - See The Geothermal Power of Iceland
A rhyolite mountain formed from volcanic activity around 10,000 years ago, Kerlingarfjöll has since become a popular hiking destination. Located 3 hours away from Reykjavik, the nation's capital, this place is only accessible by driving on gravelled, unpaved roads. Hveradalir is one of the many geothermal hotspots you can find here and is the most famous to see steaming vents and pools of boiling mud. To get to the geothermal area, you will need to hike for another 4 hours through the hiking trail that leads up into the mountains.
Raufarhólshellir - The Lava Tubes of Iceland
A lava tunnel formed about 5200 years ago forming one of Iceland’s longest caves. If you are claustrophobic, this is the perfect cave to explore as the tunnel is up to 30 meters wide and 10 metres high. Mineral-filled walls shimmer and glow as they guide you through the seemingly endless tunnel into vast openings to admire the volcanic rock formations. Due to its convenient location, only 30 minutes from the capital, Raufarhólshellir has become one of the most famous lava-formed tunnels in Iceland. In recent years, volcano expeditions have gained popularity, especially after the 2021 eruption that lasted 9 months.
Perlan Museum - Experience All Things Iceland Here
Perlan Museum is a glass-domed building located on the highest hill in Reykjavik. More than a museum, this place has everything you need to know and experience in Iceland. From a 15-minute walkthrough in an ice cave, fully recreated to look like the real thing, to a Northern Lights show in its planetarium, Perlan offers a one-stop destination for all things Iceland. Most travellers are not able to experience all the important experiences here in one trip due to weather conditions, the wrong season or just bad luck. Perlan recreates these experiences so you won’t leave Iceland without something to remember your trip by.
Great Geysir - The Brute Strength of Icelandic Geysers
This famous experience is part of the Golden Circle and is home to some of the best geysers in Iceland. Although the Great Geysir, once the most famous geyser in the area, has become more or less dormant, the surrounding area remains a geothermal hotspot. At its peak, the Great Geysir would spout water as high as 60-80 meters. These days, most tourists visit the area for Strokkur, another geyser found about 100 meters away. Strokkur erupts regularly, once every 10 minutes so visitors can be sure that they can witness the geyser in full action. Although it doesn’t reach the heights of the Great Geysir, the certainty of the spout makes this a must-visit spot when in Iceland.
Iceland National Parks - The Pinnacle of Nature Reserves
The three main national parks of Iceland are Þingvellir, Snæfellsjökull and Vatnajökull. Each park charms visitors with its unique nature and history. Þingvellir is a UNESCO world heritage site that is only 45 minutes away from the capital. Large lava gorges and Iceland’s largest natural lake can be found here. Snæfellsjökull on the other hand is all about maritime treasures. Named after the iconic glacier and volcano that can be found here, Snæfellsjökull is said to be a spiritual location with many myths surrounding it. The largest of the national parks is Vatnajökull. It envelopes Europe’s largest glacier and offers incredible ice-caving adventures and a chance to see the full extent of the interaction between volcano and ice.
Silfra Fissure - The Clearest Dive Site in The World
The Silfra Fissure is a dive site located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The movement of these plates causes fissures resulting in the leakage of underground springs filled with glacial meltwater. Silfra is filled with filtered water by porous lava rocks and feeds crystal-clear drinkable water through the fissure. With an underwater visibility of over 100 meters from the crystal clear waters, Silfra is famously known to have the clearest water in the world. Dive enthusiasts flock to Silfra due to its unique conditions and adventurous deep-caving expeditions. You may also opt to snorkel the clear waters which allow you to see right down to the base of the fissure.
Golden Circle Route - The Most Travelled Route in Iceland
The Golden Circle Route is a famous route that loops back to Reykjavik in less than 4 hours. Through the journey, you will come across some of the most incredible natural attractions in Iceland including Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall. Other attractions on this easily drivable route include Fontana Geothermal Baths, Kerið Crater and Langjökull Glacier. Perfect for travellers who want to do things at their own pace.
Northern Lights - A Bucket List Experience
The elusive Northern Lights is on so many bucket lists that it may be one of the most sought-after experiences in the world. However, the cruel reality is that not everyone is able to see it. The Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis, is a natural phenomenon caused by solar flares entering the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in the appearance of dancing ribbons of fragmented light. Due to the nature of this occurrence, the chances of witnessing it can be very uncertain. However, there are ways to increase this possibility. Aim to travel between the winter months when the nights are longer. Viewing on a clear day also improves your chances. Most people dedicate their entire journey to hunting down the Northern Lights and prefer stays outside of the city where light pollution can be minimised.
Whale & Puffin Watching - Discover The Incredible Wildlife
Iceland is your destination if you’re looking to experience the grace of whales in the open ocean. Over the summer, the success rate to view these majestic creatures are at an all-time high at about 95% and as you travel north, chances increase. On the excursion, you will see a variety of whale species (if you’re lucky) ranging from humpbacks and orcas to minke whales and even dolphins. Another famous attraction is the colony of puffin birds that inhabit the coastal cliffs of Iceland. Aim to go in summer between May and August for the highest chances of seeing these vivacious birds.
Crystal Ice Cave - The Magical World of Icelandic Glaciers
Journey into an alien world with a glacier expedition in Vatnajökull, the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland. Covering almost 8% of the entire country, there is a palpable sense of humility when you are surrounded by million-year-old glaciers. The scenes within the ice caverns change every winter and allow enthusiasts to keep coming back. Inside the caves, treacherous paths require you to go with a guide. Safety precautions must be taken when exploring but for an experience beyond your wildest imagination, this will be all the more worthwhile.
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