MOST POPULAR TOURS IN ICELAND
Visiting the vast and beautiful lands of Iceland has always been an excellent way to spend some vacation time. While you can decide to take the tour of this lovely country alone, it is often a better option to opt for tours as they involve experts who will guide you through the best sites. There are hundreds of tours available and here are the most popular tours in Iceland:
1. Exploring the blue ice caves
When it comes to this list of the most popular tours in Iceland, it wouldn’t be complete without mention the exploration of the crystalline blue ice caves under the Vatnajökull glacier. Although it is only accessible between mid-October (sometimes early November) and March, its uniqueness, its absolute beauty, and its increasing popularity make it less suitable for them to be lower.Technically called glacial caves, they form in very few places around the world; even fewer places have them nearby, so easily and safely. Each one is different in its size, shape, and internal formations, but they all share the same vivid color of electric blue swirling with a bright white and the fantastic air of the other world.
An impressive feature of the ice caves is their location. The southeast of the country has two other main attractions, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which allows you to enjoy three incredible and very different experiences that you will never forget in a single day. However, unlike Jökulsárlón and Skaftafell, ice caves can only be enjoyed on a guided tour.
If you are anxious to see a crystal blue ice cave, it is essential to book in advance. Since they are only open for a few months a year and on many people’s wish lists, it is difficult to find places if you try to do it at the last minute. This tour is perfect if you drive yourself. You will meet your guide in the parking lot of the glacier lagoon, they will take you to the site, and you will have plenty of time to probe the depths of this phenomenon and take some incredible photographs.
There is also a large number of driverless winter tours that also adapt to the exploration of ice caves while incorporating other sites and adventures. A full three-day trip is perfect for those on short vacations while other options can take you to the Golden Circle and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Meanwhile, those who seek the winter adventure of their lives will find the two-week trip across the countryan experience they will never forget.
The driverless tours are excellent since they eliminate all the stress of putting together all the details yourself.Look out for the freezing point temperature in December and January when the country only receives about four hours of daylight.
If you do not drive yourself, the ice caves are still easily accessible. A two-day excursion is a great option, as is this three-day adventure, which also includes hiking on the glacier and a trip to the Golden Circle. Like automatic units, many winter vacation packages adapt to ice caves. You can drive to Vík and take an excursion from there, or incorporate the tour to an exploration of the south coast from the capital.
2. Tour of the Northern Lights
The northern lights are perhaps the most famous Icelandic attraction in winter.If you travel to Iceland between September and April, seeing the Northern Lights is likely a priority on your list. There are only a handful of countries in the world where this phenomenon can be witnessed reliably, and as such, auroras hunting is an integral part of this nation’s winter tourism industry.
Seeing brightly colored rays descending from a night sky illuminated only by a canopy of stars, and spinning and dancing as if driven by an ethereal force, is a fascinating and impressive experience. The Northern Lights are only accessible to winter travelers. The reason for this is that throughout June and July, the sky never darkens primarily due to the midnight sun. In May and August, it’s hard to establish the routes as there are fewer hours of darkness. Although the northern lights occur throughout the year, they require the least possible light pollution to be seen clearly. When on tour with an expert, you will get the best photographs and explanations on the auroras, including all the best observation points and places with the lowest cloud cover.
The bus tour takes you to nature around Reykjavík in search of the auroras; For a more personal experience, you can also make a similar trip in a minibus or with a private driver. Another popular but somewhat more unique option is a cruise through the northern lights, where you will go to the waters surrounding the capital and look for this while cruising on a ship. There is also a similar tour from Akureyri.
An excellent way to maximize your chances of catching the auroras is to book a driverless tour or a guided package that is designed to search for them. Of course, the more time you spend in Iceland, the greater your chances of seeing the Northern lights. Atwo-week tour takes you all over the country, includes a tour of the ice cave and gives you numerous opportunities to catch the auroras, in a variety of different places. Taking a trip between November and March guarantees you a journey to the ice cave.
3. Glacier hiking
Glacier hiking is also part of the most popular activities in southern Iceland. The Fire represents volcanoes while the Ice represents its glaciers.These bright ice caps cover eleven percent of Iceland’s surface, and Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe. They are magnificent to visit, with their impressive ice formations, incredible views of the surroundings, and spectrum of colors; far from being just the gleaming white of snow, you will find streaks of electric blue ice and black ashes from eruptions of past centuries.
With helmets, ice axes, crampons, and a knowledgeable guide, a tour of the glacier can be the highlight of your trip to Iceland.The most visited ice sheet is Sólheimajökull which is an outlet from the third largest glacier in the country called the Mýrdalsjökull. This is because it is easy to get from Reykjavik. It is not too difficult to climb with the right tools, and it has magnificent views of the south of the country. This expedition to the Sólheimajökull glacier is an excellent option for families as children from up to ten years can also participate in this tour, which includes an exploration of the south coast.
The second most popular hiking glacier is Svínafellsjökull. A language of Vatnajökull, the surface tours are perfect for those traveling to the southeast of Iceland, particularly along with a visit to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon or the crystalline blue ice caves. You can hardly miss it since the Skaftafell Nature Reserve is absolutely beautiful. It has lava fields, forests, lagoons, and rivers. You will also get a view of the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall surrounded by a hexagonal rock that has a breathtakingly unique form.
This tour in Svínafellsjökull can be done from anyone over seven years old, which allows your little ones to try the adventure. Therefore, it is also the best option for those who are not physically fit. If you want to participate in ice climbing on your hike through the glacierwith just your ice ax and crampons, then this tour is perfect.
You can also get a fantastic experience in the ice caps with this excursion, which takes you to the carved artificial ice tunnel on the Langjökull glacier. Within this Langjökull glacier, you are teased with more majestic views,with long corridors and many rooms that include a chapel. The trip to the tunnel is an adventure in itself, made in a massive super jeep.Meanwhile, genuinely adventurous travelers in the summer months can take this exciting tour of the Snæfellsjökull glacier with two peaks, located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, in western Iceland.
4. Snorkeling in Silfra
Iceland may not initially seem like a destination for snorkeling and diving, particularly in a place where the water does not heat up geothermally. However, the spring inside the Silfra fissure in Veingvellir National Park is so incredibly beautiful that thousands of guests a year prepare for the cold and throw themselves in without regrets.
Its appeal is mainly due to two reasons. The first is how clear the water is.Visibility often exceeds 100 meters, allowing you to witness incredible shades of blue while looking towards the Þingvellavatn lake. The second is its location.Þingvellir is between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia, and an earthquake caused by its separation created the ravine. As such, a snorkeling tour in Silfra takes place literally between two continents.
Of course, the water is also freezing, with only two degrees Celsius throughout the year. However, when wearing dry suits with insulating suits underneath, you will not feel the cold in your body. The gloves and hoods of the wetsuits allow water to enter, but due to the nature of the wetsuit, this water heats up quickly and forms a protective layer.
People trained in diving can take diving trips to explore Silfra, but extra certifications are needed because of the extreme cold. You have to be at least a PADI Openwater Diver (or have equivalent certifications) with a dry suit specialty, or ten dry suit dives registered in the last two years.
5. Diamond Circle tour
If you are going to spend a long time in Iceland, it is a good idea to go to northern Iceland. It is not as busy as the south and west, and it also has a great variety of spectacular and varied natural landscapes to enjoy.Akureyri is the largest city in the region, a cultural center Ral and has everything a traveler needs to stay comfortable.Mountains surround Akureyri, and you can find this city surrounded by mountains in a majestic fjord known as Eyjafjörður. If you would love to go skiing, the Hlíðarfjall is considered one of the best ski slopes in Iceland.
The city can be easily reached by driving along Route 1 from Reykjavik or taking a flight from the national airport, and many tour operators are within it, which means that sightseeing or having an adventure of a lifetime is just at your fingertips.
While there are many incredible natural sites in northern Iceland, we could consider the most popular one to be the Lake Mývatn area. From unique flora and abundant geothermal activity to spectacular views over the water and a large number of birds, this area has it all. Those who come to Iceland to relax will find the trip well worth it to enjoy the soothing geothermal waters of the Mývatn Natural Baths.
The famous Goðafoss waterfall lies between Lake Myvatn and Akureyri. It is not only spectacular but is packed with a lot of history. A little further east, there are even more incredible sites. The most powerful waterfall in Europe called theDettifossis right here. It thunders in an ancient canyon with such force that the phrase “seeing is believing” was never more accurate. Near here is the green canyon of Asbyrgi, in the shape of a perfectly formed horseshoe.
Meanwhile, for something completely different, you could head to Iceland’s oldest settlement, the city of Húsavík, which serves as both a historical and cultural center and one of the best places in the world to watch whales. A tour here in summer introduces you to hundreds of beautiful creatures of the deep, including white-nosed dolphins, humpback whales, and a large number of birds.To make the most out of all these locations, you should book a tour of Diamond Circle. Such a trip will not only introduce you to most of the sites listed above, but they are similar to the Golden Circle tours in which they come in a variety of forms.
6. Touring the South Coast
After the Golden Circle, the south coast is another popular tourist route in Iceland, and, like the Snæfellsnes peninsula, it is another part of Iceland worth exploring. The south coast boasts of geological wonders, expansive black sands, islands, volcanoes with glaciers, beautiful waterfalls, and a spectacular beach. This marvel is then crowned with the magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoonin the far east region.Traveling from the capital, you will initially pass through a beautiful field and geothermal areas before reaching the coast. You could also be lucky enough to see the volcanic archipelago of the Westman Islands that enters the sea on your right, and glimpses of the Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers on your left.
Moving further gives you a view of the unmissable Seljalandsfoss, a sixty-meter high waterfall that falls into a narrow waterfall before a colossal cavern. A unique and famous fact aboutSeljalandsfossis that it has a path that goes right behind it. In summer, this allows you to see the southern coast from a fascinating and unique perspective. You wouldn’t want to miss taking a short walk from Seljalandsfoss as you will discover a hidden gem of the waterfall that many guests lose because it is hidden in a cleft of the mountain, the Gljúfrabúi.
Continuing along Route 1 in the east direction, you will pass the Sólheimajökull glacier, and arrive at another waterfall, Skógafoss. Although it is the same height as Seljalandsfoss, it is much more powerful and falls to the ground with a large cloud of water. A ladder next to this feature allows you to marvel from many different angles. Next is a magnificent rock arch known as the Dyrhólaey that curves towards the ocean. It is large enough for ships to pass across. If you come here between May and September, be sure to look for puffins, which nest among the rocks, and have little fear of people.
At theReynisfjara beach is a coastal region known for its black sand, its waves of thunderous power, and its imposing sea piles known as Reynisdrangar. The town of Vík is inland from Reynisfjara and is often the last stop on day trips along the south coast. Those who continue, however, cross various countryside landscapes, lava fields, estuaries, and deserts of black sand before arriving atVatnajökull. At this point, the scenes on your left will become spectacular mountains, dozens of glacial languages , and countless waterfalls.
The tour is not complete without stopping by at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. In this otherworldly location, you will find a vast lake full of imposing icebergs, which groans, spins, and spreads as they make their slow journey from the tongue of a glacier to the ocean. You can spend hours on the coast marveling at the views here. It is possible to get to Jökulsárlón in one day, but you will have to spend less time at other locations. The two-day trip offers the best of both worlds, and if you travel in winter, the three-day tour is a great option, as it also includes the Golden Circle and a trip to the ice caves.
7. A tour of the Snaefellsnes peninsula
An Icelandic microcosm with waterfalls, mountains, lava fields, rock formations, irregular coasts, and a large amount of wildlife, the Snæfellsnes peninsula is best known for the Snæfellsjökull glacier. The two-peak subglacial volcano has inspired artists for centuries, and it is so impressive that it is the highlight of a National Park which has the same name. This is especially lovely as there are only three National Parks in Iceland. Visible across the sea from Reykjavik in brightweather, it is located right at the tip of the peninsula, creating a beautiful silhouette that attracts thousands of visitors a year.
In addition to Snæfellsjökull, the sites on this peninsula are numerous, diverse, and close enough that everyone can visit in one or two days for guests staying in Reykjavík. On its southern coast, you can see the hexagonal columns aligned in close symmetry in Gerðuberg, a colony of seals resting in front of the rocky coast on the beach of YtriTunga andRauðfeldgjá. Right next to the National Park, there are two more villages. The first is Hellnar, which is mostly abandoned, and Arnarstapi, which has impressive coastal geology. Inside the park, there are three most notable natural features.
Vatnshellir is a magnificent lava cave next to the glacier that you can visit in summer. Djúpalónssandur, on the other hand, is a black sand beach that houses four historic rising stones against which ancient fishermen would prove their strength. Lóndrangar is renowned for its birdlife that is quite similar to a fortress.
The north coast boasts of theKirkjufell mountain with its pyramid shape. Not far from Kirkjufell, you will find Stykkishólmu, thelargest settlement in the area. This location is immersed in traditional fishing culture and folklore. From the north coast in good weather, you can get magnificent views of the mountainous west fjords across the sea.
This excellent bus tour at a reasonable price covers all the main attractions of the peninsula. To spend more time on the sites, you can choose to take a tour, which includes a relaxing dip in the geothermal waters of the Krauma spa and lava caving in Vatnshellir. For those visiting in summer, you can opt for some unique experiences such as whale watching or kayaking on Mount Kirkjufell. You can also enjoy a relaxing time admiring the island of Breiðafjörður Bay on the one hand and birds on the other hand.
8. A tour of the highlands
Features that are unique to the highlands include a spectrum of different colors, lava fields, glaciers, endless plains of black sands, rivers, mountains, and volcanoes. Thehighlands attract hikers and photographers from around the world, and you can access them from Landmannalaugarand Þórsmörk. A fantastic way to explore the region is by passing through the Laugavegur trail that connects these areas through the interior of the country.
The tourcovers part of the Laugavegur route while including a hike through the Fimmvörðuháls Passcreated in the Eyjafjallajökull eruption that took place as far back as 2010. For experienced hikers looking for a cheap option, you can book a passport for Highland hikers. With this ticket, head over toSkógar, Þórsmörkor Landmannalaugaron a bus along the Fimmvörðuhálsand Laugavegur routes. Then you can walk to the contents of your heart, before taking a bus from one of these destinations.
Unlike much of the region, Þórsmörk is densely wooded with birches, which makes a stark and beautiful contrast with lava formations and gleaming glaciers. Meanwhile, Landmannalaugar is a place of rhyolite mountains and smoking geothermal areas where you can bathe. Skógar is the area surrounding the majestic Skógafoss waterfall.
If you are planning a trip to Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar, as well as some of Iceland’s other major attractions, such as the Golden Circle, the South Coast, and Reykjavík, then you should consider a 6-day Highlands camper van unit. A 3-day tour during the winter is a fantastic way to witness the Highlands of Iceland and also have a chance at seeing the northern lights. It also has visits to theSnæfellsnes Peninsula, south coast, Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, and Ice Caves.
There is so much more to explore on the highlands than the Laugavegur, Porsmork, and Landmannalaugar trail. Other tours around the country provide access to more remote areas. If you are in northern Iceland, there is a day trip that takes you to the incredible Caldera Askja, located in a spectacular lava field that exists due to several violent eruptions. It won’t be a bad idea to enjoy a soothing swim-time in the warm waters of theVíti explosion crater.Alternatively, you can take a day trip on Kjölur Highland Road, which crosses the Highlands, to Hveravellir, and finally making a stop at the rhyolite mountains of Kerlingarfjöll.
Hikers looking for a multi-day hike in a more remote part of the Highlands could head to the eastern city of Egilsstaðir, and from there, embark on a four-day trip while catching a glimpseVatnajökull Glacier as you move. As on the Laugavegur trail, you will stay every night in basic but comfortable cabins under the mystical light of the midnight sun.
9. Tours of the Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a top-choice tourist route in Iceland, and it’s no wonder why. It is accessible throughout the year, you can visit in half a day from Reykjavik, whether you book a tour or drive yourself, and the sites that run through it are incredible.
The destinations included are the impressive Gullfoss waterfall famous for the rainbows that emerge from its dew, the Geysir hot spring area where you can witness the eruption of the Strokkur geyser at great heights every few minutes and the Þingvellir National Park.The Þingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located directly between two tectonic plates. Some tours visit some bonus sites, such as the dramatic Kerið Crater Lake.
Gullfoss is Iceland’s most famous and visited waterfall, seen on each trip to the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle sites not only feature the incredible natural beauty that Iceland is famous for, but they also tell fascinating stories of Iceland’s history and culture. Due to its popularity, there is a wide variety of Golden Circle tours to choose from. Some are very affordable and efficient, while others are a bit more expensive but much more personal. In summer, join in the Golden Circle tours that take place under the midnight sun and travel to Iceland on a cruise.
Since the Golden Circle takes only half a day to complete, many tour operators offer excursions that combine the tourist route with another adventure, often provided throughout the year. Enjoying Golden Circle with a snowmobile tour is a popular option. You can also combine it with a horseback ride on a charming Icelandic horse or an exciting snorkeling trip. To witness Iceland both above and below ground, you can also stop by for some lava caving.
If you prefer to relax, take a trip to the Blue Lagoon or enjoy a lazy day of whale watching from the port of Reykjavík. Hundreds of different routes leave every day from a variety of different operators throughout the year, each with something unique. The options on how to enjoy the Golden Circle are endless, which makes it an unmissable point in this list of popular tours in Iceland.
10. Exploring the volcano
There is a valid reason while Iceland is mostly referred to as the Land of Ice and Fire. The fire is used to talk about volcanoes. The volcanoes do not always tend to erupt at any given moment, but the consequences of previous eruptions shaped the island, with its vast mountains, lava fields and countless craters. You cannot escape the view of the effects of volcanic activity as it is all around you wherever you go.
However, to witness this in a way that is not offered anywhere else on earth, look no further than the Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour. On this excursion, you have the unique opportunity to enter the vast magma chamber of a volcano that has been inactive for the past 4000 years, Þríhnúkagígur.
With this incredible feature, you will board an old mining elevator, which will take you to a cavern large enough to comfortably accommodate an object as big as the Statue of Liberty. The colors are a result of elements such as nickel, sulfur, and iron inside the lava. They are incredible, spinning through the walls, floor and ceiling so intricate that it almost seems as if they were painted. Once your elevator reaches the bottom, you will have the opportunity to walk around the base, illuminating the magnificent space that surrounds it.
This route is particularly unique, since generally, once a volcano is inactive, the magma cools to solid rock or drains and causes the peak to collapse. However, as mentioned, this cave has been around for millennia and, therefore, is structurally sound, which makes the excursion perfectly safe. You can only join in the Volcano tour in summer, and due to its remarkable nature, it is trendy. Therefore, it is essential to book well in advance so that you don’t miss out. A short uphill walk through the rocky terrain is required to reach the elevator, which means that only those who are comfortable with standing should take part in it.
It’s time to pack your gear and get ready to experience the wonders of Iceland.