10 adventurous and unique things to do in Iceland

If you love adventure activities and adrenaline fuelled holidays, Iceland is the perfect place to visit at any time of the year. It’s an endless adventure of unusual activities and many destinations will struggle to compete!

Whether you’re looking for daily excursions of fun activities or just want one or two cool things to do alongside your traditional sightseeing, our guide packs in the best adventure activities that Iceland has to offer and recommendations on where to book. It’s worth noting that tours and activities can be very expensive in Iceland, but sometimes it’s worth paying extra for one or two amazing things that you simply wouldn’t experience elsewhere!

 

1. Rappel into a volcano

‘Inside the Volcano’ is a unique tour that plunges you into the depths of Iceland’s Thrihnukagigur Volcano. The volcano is dormant and last erupted over 4,000 years ago and you’ll descend into its large magma chamber via rappelling. Once inside, explore the intricate caverns and rock formations with a tour guide. Full equipment is provided as part of the 5-6 hour tour and you’ll also experience a lava field hike in addition to the 700ft deep volcano chamber adventure.

Iceland adventure activities - volcano tour
Image attributed to Inside the Volcano Tours

Cost: Tours average ~£300 per person, which sounds very expensive but the experience is truly unique.

Recommended tour: Inside the Volcano is the only official tour operator and they have excellent reviews. Check them out here.

 

2. Climb a glacier

Ice glaciers are a rare attraction to explore. The 12 main glaciers cover around 11% of the country and the landscape is constantly evolving, creating new caves, lakes and paths to explore. Some of the glaciers are very accessible from the main roads and anyone can drive up and take a walk to the glacier face.

However, you will see lots of signs warning you of the dangers of climbing a glacier, so embarking on a professionally organised glacier tour is the best way to see these natural wonders. Other glaciers are located inland and are only accessible via snow terrain trucks and organised tours.

Glacier tours are available for all levels of experience. Take a leisurely walk alongside the ice lakes and lower region of the glacier or challenge yourself to a glacier climb, ascending to the top of the icy ridges.

Iceland adventure activities - Glacier climb
Image attributed to Glacier Guides Iceland

Cost: Glacier walks start at ~£70 per person, whilst challenging climbing tours cost roughly double that.

Recommended tour: For the ultimate glacier experience, Glacier Guides’ Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon full day tours are excellent, whilst Iceland Mountain Guides’ Solheimajokull glacier walk is an easier and more accessible tour option for those that want a shorter 2-3 hour experience.

 

3. Camp in the wilderness

Spending the night alongside a roaring waterfall, hot springs, volcanic crater or mountain range has to be experienced once in a lifetime and camping is the best way to do it. Iceland has a number of maintained camp sites setup across the country, but equally, you’re allowed to rock up to almost any location and set up a tent in a secluded location for the night. Vatnajökull National park is widely regarded as one of the best places to camp in Iceland. This vast wilderness to the south east of the country has volcanoes, glaciers and thick forests all in one place.

Iceland is a very safe country and you shouldn’t have any issues staying outdoors but always remember to check the weather and have emergency procedures just in case, as the winter can bring some very harsh storms.

Guide to Iceland have an excellent guide to camping in Iceland, including tips, campsites and wild camping information. Check it out here.

Cost: Free to very cheap. Bring your own supplies or use rented campsite facilities.

Iceland camping

 

4. Helicopter ride – get up close and personal with an active volcano

Iceland’s vast scenic landscapes and volcanic nature make it one of the most visually stunning places on earth. What better way to see this than from the air? Icelandic helicopter tours take you on an air bound exploration of the entire country, hovering over natural wonders such as waterfalls, volcanoes, valleys, coastlines, glaciers, and geothermal hot-spots. There are many tours to choose from, each offering similar helicopter tours based on the types of sites you want to see.

Iceland adventure activities - Helicopter tour

Cost: Prices start at ~£270, up to £500 for long distance multi-hour tours. It’s expensive but by far the best way to see the stunning landscapes.

Recommended tour: Nordurflug Helicopter Tours are a professional operator with lots of tours to choose from and they’re constantly testing new routes. Check out their romantic tour package for something extra special – exploring the skies and ending your trip in a spa.

 

5. Hike to the far corners of the country

Iceland is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. The rugged mountains and volcanic terrain are waiting to be explored; the country is so sparsely populated, you could complete an entire 2-day hike in the north without seeing another soul. Whether you want to venture out to the wilderness to capture some special photos or you’re new to hiking and want to join a walking group, Iceland’s landscapes provide a challenge for all levels of experience and are be the best way to feel at home in the wilderness.

For those that want a completely ‘off the beaten track’ adventure, drive all the way to the north-east of the country and explore the mountains. Here you’ll find panoramic views and unique photography opportunities that very few people have witnessed.

Guide to Iceland have an interesting guide about Iceland’s main hiking routes here. Watch their video to get you inspired!

Cost: Free to explore yourself (only recommended to those with hiking equipment and experience). Professional tours range from £300 per person for a full day tour to upwards of £1000 for the ultimate 4+ day hiking experience.

Recommend tour: For full day, cheaper trips, check out Iceland Travel. For 4+ day ultimate trekking experiences, browse Trek.IS’s many tour options.

 

6. Scuba dive or snorkel between continents at Silfra

You’ve probably already heard of the famous diving spot – Silfra Fissure – at Thingvellir National Park. This popular activity is the only place on earth where you can scuba dive or snorkel between the continental plates of North America and Europe.

The year-round cold water is filtered through porous underground lava into the fissure, resulting in some of the clearest diving water you’ll ever see! Join a scuba tour and don your wetsuit for freshwater exploration beneath the national park. You’ll find interesting rock formations and a first-hand experience of the continental divide.

Iceland adventure activities - Silfra Scuba Diving

Cost: Silfra scuba diving is around £270 per person. For a cheaper experience of Silfra, snorkelling tours are available for ~£100.

Recommended tour: There are lots of reputable diving and adventure companies that can lead you in your Silfra dive experience, however Dive Silfra is the most notable in the area and they have excellent reviews. For multi-day dive tours throughout west Iceland, check out Dive.IS.

 

7. Go off-road in a 4×4

One thing you’ll notice in Iceland is the seemingly common occurrence of cars with giant wheels. There’s no way you’d find these things parking on normal streets in the UK and all of the locals seem to have them. The benefit of having a ‘super jeep’ with large tyres is the ease of driving along Iceland’s icy roads and rough terrain. It also gives you the opportunity to travel off-road across streams, gravel paths and many types of harsh terrain to find ‘off the beaten track’ locations.

Although you can rent 4×4’s yourself and explore at your leisure, you’ll only find the cars we’re talking about if you book a private tour as off-road personal driving is forbidden. Enjoy an off-road expedition across the famous Golden Circle route, pass through dangerous F-roads in the north or scale a mountain. Super Jeep tours offer you access to hidden places off the tourist trail and they’re professionally organised so you’re in no danger of driving off a cliff.

Iceland adventure activities - Off-road jeep tours
Image attributed to Superjeep.IS

Cost: ~£80+ per person for 4 passengers. Some tours have a per vehicle cost so you may pay more if there’s less people.

Recommend tour: Superjeep.IS is the most popular and top-rated option. They have a wide range of tours that take you across Iceland, via the main tourist route and more hidden locations. View all of their tours here.

 

8. Explore ice caves

Unbeknownst to many, Iceland was the key filming location for Game of Thrones’ ‘beyond the wall’ and the many cave scenes. The coastline of the country is dotted with deep and intricately formed caves that become particularly icy during wintertime. You can visit the caves yourself by simply setting your satnav and parking up outside, but it’s recommend that you begin your cave exploration as part of a tour. The tour will organise suitable equipment and take you deep into the caverns.

The best caves to visit:

Glacier caves – glacier caves are arguably the most impressive type of Icelandic cave and they retain their icy structure year-round. They’re best visited as part of a tour of Vatnakojull glacier and are quite difficult to find so speak to your guide before you book to check that they’re on the itinerary.

Leidarendi Cave – this cave is located a short drive south-east of Reykjavik and has been formed as part of a lave tube, close to the Blue Mountains. It’s fairly easy to get to from Reykjavik and provides an impressive scenery of intricate lava formations.

Vatnshellir Cave – Vatnshellir is a water cave located to the far west of Iceland. It has a tall, winding staircase and can only be visited as part of a tour. This cave is huge!

Check out Guide to Iceland for an in depth look into Iceland’s most impressive caves.

Iceland adventure activities - Ice cave

Cost: Some caves are free to visit yourself, however a guided tour is recommended for safety and they cost around £130.

Recommended tours: The tour you pick will depend on the cave/s that you choose to visit. We personally recommend Local Guide’s Vatnakojull glacier and ice cave tour.

 

9. Glide across the snow on a snowmobile

Snowmobiles are one of the most fun methods of transport invented. Dress head to toe in a snowsuit, put on your helmet and goggles and zoom across the flat, snowy planes of Iceland’s glaciers and mountains. Snowmobile tours are available in both winter when there’s lots of snow, and summer where you can explore the permanently snow covered glaciers.

Snowmobile excursions generally have one or two tour guides leading a group of people across the snow, stopping at key sites such as ice caves, mountains and impressive landscapes. Some operators also offer unique Northern Lights tours on clear-sky evenings.

Iceland adventure activities - snowmobile tour
Image attributed to Glacier Journey.IS

Cost: Snowmobile tours start at £180 per person for a 4 hour tour and can cost up to £260 for longer adventures. Hotel transfers and all equipment are usually included in the price.

Recommended tours: Glacier Journey and Snowmobile.IS are the most popular snowmobile tour operators and have excellent reviews. You can view all of the top snowmobile tour options on Tripadvisor here.

 

10. Go water rafting

White water rafting is an adrenaline inducing activity whatever the location. Unlike its fierce seashores, Iceland’s rivers lack the power and danger of other international rafting sites, making them ideal for groups and families of all levels of experience. That’s not saying they’re completely tame – Iceland’s rafting tours will still have you hanging on dearly as you launch down river rapids and navigate turbulent waves.

River Rapids tours are available at 3 of Iceland’s rivers, with Hvita in the south being the most popular option due to its closer proximity to Reykjavik. Here you’ll find class 2 currents, light rapids and calm areas of the river where you can relax for a second and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Cost: ~£100 per person for tamer and shorter rafting options (most popular) or ~£180 for action packed white-water rafting.

Recommended tour: Arctic Rafting is our recommended operator. They specialise in water rafting and have tours available for all levels of experience and thrill levels. Check out their beer and rafting tour!

 


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