Situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland offers a remarkably diverse landscape that lends itself to incredible adventure. From active volcanoes and mighty glaciers to crystal ice caves and geothermal hot springs, adventures in Iceland promise to fulfill all your adrenaline junkie needs. Outfit yourself with crampons and an ice axe to venture deep into the ice caves or set out on a mission to conquer the massive glaciers, this island is truly like no other. With so many possibilities, deciding among the many active things to do in Iceland may just be your biggest obstacle, so here is a list to get you started.
Horseback Riding in the Highlands
The Highlands of Iceland are a mostly uninhabitable area covering much of the island’s interior and offering amazing trail opportunities for horseback riding. Whether you are a relatively new rider or an experienced competitor, you can find tours ranging from hour-long walks around the nearby nature to multi-day treks across the rugged Highlands. Those familiar with horses probably know the three natural gaits – walking, trotting, and galloping. Some horses add a fourth gait to this list known as cantering, but Icelandic horses are a special breed. Five gaits – the walk, the trot, the canter, the tölt, and the flying pace – set Icelandic horses apart from other breeds, so I suggest you read up on these before horseback riding in Iceland.
Mountain Biking Along the Ring Road
The Ring Road is a scenic route driven by many, most often in a car or a camper van, but this 1,339 kilometer route is perhaps best explored by bicycle. Cycling along Iceland’s circumference on two wheels provides you with the flexibility to venture off from the main road and into the mountainous terrain as you please. Many of the island’s main sights and attractions including the Skógafoss Waterfall, the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck, the Dyrhólaey Peninsula, the Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon, and the Diamond Beach are all a short distance from the Ring Road and are easily accessible by bike. If you don’t want to rent a car or camper van and prefer to stay away from the tour buses, biking in Iceland may be a great alternative to the traditional sightseeing options.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Silfra
The Silfra Fissure is known for having some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. Created from the shifting of North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, this underwater landscape adds a new dimension to Iceland’s already majestic beauty. Silfra is situated in the Thingvellir National Park and has incredibly clear water due to its location, making its environment perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling in Iceland. A scuba diving certification is necessary to explore this natural wonder on your own, but it is possible to sign up for a dry suit snorkeling tour that will take you to the caves and canyons beneath Iceland’s surface.
Rock Climbing Close to Reykjavík
The capital of Iceland doesn’t lie far away from the country’s vast wilderness, specifically its basalt cliffs and large boulders. Varying in size and level of difficulty, rock climbing in Iceland is suitable for both experienced climbers and those who are relatively new to the sport. Perhaps more popular than rock climbing however is ice climbing, a unique way to explore the country’s glaciers and their mesmerizing surroundings. Join an ice climbing tour to wedge yourself between dark crevasses and ascend one frozen wall after another, there’s no experience quite like it.
Kayaking on the Hvítá River
The Hvítá River is well known for its famous two-tiered waterfall named Gullfoss and accordingly, it provides incredible rapids for river rafting, but this 25 mile long river also has some less known calmer stretches that are ideal for canoeing and kayaking. Another popular location for kayaking in Iceland is the Hvalfjordur Bay which offers scenic views and if you’re lucky, some fascinating wildlife. Even though its name translates to the Whale Bay, there have been no sightings of whales for 20 years, but you may very well spot flocks of puffins and herds of seals.
If you are looking for an adventurous Iceland vacation, look no further. With so many active things to do in Iceland, you can easily fill a week-long itinerary and you will want to come back for more. Stick around Reykjavík or venture further into the country’s expansive wilderness, the decision is yours to make. One thing is certain, the adventures in Iceland will surely cross some items off your bucket list, whether you call yourself a thrill seeker, adventure junkie, nature lover, or outdoor enthusiast.