The Nordic country of Iceland may be one of the most sparsely populated places on earth, but that is because the majority of it is made up of endless stretches of strikingly beautiful frozen landscapes and rugged wilderness, meaning there is plenty to keep you busy. Here we have selected our top ten pick of must do experiences in Iceland – and these are only the tip of the iceberg! From the bustling capital of Reykjavik, to the geysers, falls and hot springs of the north, and quiet fishing villages, black lava beaches and glaciers of the south, where will you start your adventure in the Land of Fire and Ice?
1. Go for a dip in the Blue Lagoon
Any trip to Iceland simply would not be complete without an afternoon spent soaking in the therapeutic waters of the Blue Lagoon. Whether rain or shine, winter or summer, this geothermal spa is an indulgent experience not to be missed. Imagine relaxing in the toasty warm waters of the Blue Lagoon with a glass of bubbly in hand, surrounded by ruggedly beautiful lava fields carpeted in white snow. Heaven!
2. Wander around the capital
As the northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik has earned itself a reputation as a colourful and quirky city and is well worth exploring. The best way of getting around is on your own two feet as the city is remarkably compact making it easy to find your way. Feed the swans and ducks on Tjörnin Pond next to the City Hall. Take the elevator to the top of the imposing Hallgrimskirkja Church for an incredible view of the city, or explore the colourful neighbourhoods of Thingholt and Vesturbaer.
3. Watch a geyser erupt
There is more to Iceland than initially meets the eye, as there is also what is bubbling under the surface. To really understand what this means, you must pay a visit to The Geysers, the world’s largest geothermal field; a landscape teeming with seismic activity, from steaming gurgling pools to erupting geysers. You won’t need to be here long either (though you may find it hard to drag yourself away!) as the eruptions can take place every few minutes, some reaching staggering heights of 40 metres.
4. Cruise the fjords
It would be a mistake to spend all of your time in Iceland on land, as there is plenty to see from the water too. Jutting out from Iceland’s west coast, the charming fishing town of Stykkisholmur is the perfect place to set out for a cruise of the Breidafjordur fjord, one of the largest bays in all of Iceland. Scattered with isles and skerries, the setting is simply sublime and you may want to keep your eyes peeled on the water too. You never know if a whale might be lurking beneath the surface!
5. Sample local delicacies
Perhaps one of our favourite things to do when travelling is trying out the local cuisine. And while fresh seafood is in high supply, what we are really interested in are the unusual delicacies. One favourite treat here, which is said to date back to Viking times, is fermented shark. If you’ve got the stomach for it, it’s said to have a ammonia-rich smell and fishy taste. Other things to try are hot-spring bread and eggs boiled in hot spring water.
6. Venture off road in Western Iceland
Adventure is in limitless supply here in Iceland, so why not incorporate some off road fun into your trip by taking a Superjeep out into the wilderness of Western Iceland. If you are wondering where the nickname, The Land of Fire and Ice came from, here is your answer. In the stunning landscapes of Western Iceland you’ll find the ice of the great Langjökull glacier and the fire of one of the country’s most active geothermal areas. This is Iceland in a nutshell and lots of fun too!
7. Walk across a glacier
Get up close to the frozen beauty of Iceland by trekking across one of its stunning glacier plateaus. Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe and these huge dense blocks of ice are always growing and changing shape. This is a chance to experience the true wilderness of Iceland with incredible views that are second to none.
8. Hear the roar of Gullfoss
Known as The Golden Falls, Gullfoss is a thundering two stage waterfall plunging 32 metres to a pool below. Forming part of The Golden Circle, which loops from Reykjavik into central Iceland and back again, this waterfall is one of Iceland’s many natural wonders and is not to be missed. The Golden Circle is also home to an array of other sites, including Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir hot spring.
9. Stroll down a black lava beach
While we all love an tropical palm-fringed beach with white sandy shores and warm azure waters, Iceland offers something slightly different, but just as spectacular. In southern Iceland you will discover mile upon mile of black lava beaches. While these beaches may not boast the warmest waters for a swim, they are certainly beautiful to look at and offer plenty of photo opportunities.
10. Witness the Northern Lights
Iceland is home to a whole host of incredible natural wonders, but perhaps the most spectacular of these is the famous Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. In winter months this phenomenon transforms the night sky into an ethereal display of multi-coloured lights. So escape the lights of the city for a day or two and venture into the darkness with your eyes skyward for a glimpse of this incredible natural event.
If you’re ready to experience the best of what Iceland has to offer, check out our range of Iceland and Northern Lights tours.