Top 12 Tours in Iceland

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Planning tours across beautiful attractions of Iceland has become challenging due to the rising number of options. Fortunately, the country offers twelve exquisite tours, especially for travelers planning to pack their bags during the pandemic. Thus, they ensure a joyful and adventurous time while maintaining the precautions.

12. Whale Watching

Whale Watching in Akureyri north Iceland

One of the most cost-effective tours in Iceland is whale watching. You can spend hours watching these beautiful water creatures swim and jump around the sea just a short distance from land.  You can go whale watching from Reykjavik, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the Westfjords or North Iceland. The experience is merely unforgettable, especially for whale lovers. The tours usually have no age limit and doesn’t require managing your fitness level. Also, it usually takes three hours to cover. However, tourists that take an RHIB boat can cover it in merely 1.5 hours.

While whale tours happen throughout the year at the Reykjavík’s harbor, there are seasonal tours in north and west Iceland. Some of the tours are available during the summer while others are only available during the winter. The types of whales found in Iceland include minke, humpback, orca, white-beaked dolphins, pilot, harbor porpoises, and beaked.

White-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises, and minkes are mostly found at Faxaflói Bay. It is the most common spot for ending whale tours.

Whale Watching Tours in Iceland

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11. Snowmobiling

Iceland Snowmobile Tour, Snowmobile Iceland, Snowmobiling in Iceland, Snowmobile on Myrdalsjokull glacier in south Iceland

One of the most renowned activities in Iceland is snowmobiling. These happen at the glaciers of the country. Tourists do this using a snowmobile. The vehicle allows people to glide across glaciers and even explore the snow-covered volcanoes. The duration of snowmobiling tours is entirely dependent on your package. You can often find snowmobiling tours as complimentary with sightseeing, glacier walking, hiking, ice cave visitations, etc.

Before going on a snowmobiling tour, you should gear up with overalls, gloves, glasses, helmets, and overshoes. Some of the best places in Iceland for such tours include places like Vatnajökull glacier, Langjökull glacier, Myrdalsjokull volcano, Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Akureyri, and Tröllaskagi. The snowmobiling tours come with specific rules and regulations. For example, pregnant women in their second trimester would require a doctor’s permit. It is also unavailable for children below eight years of age. It doesn’t require prior experience, but a driver’s license is mandatory along with the chosen vehicle.

10. Horse Riding

Icelandic Horses in front of Skógafoss Waterfall in South Iceland- Horse Riding Iceland

The horse riding tradition began in Iceland in the mid-9th century. Presently, there are five gaits of horses in the country. The Tolt is famous for its smooth riding experience, and the Skeið can deliver a speed exceeding 49 km/hr. Iceland currently has horses in 40 colors and 100 patterns. Also, some of the horses change colors and patterns. For example, the litföróttur is an Icelandic horse renowned for switching colors.

The best time for horse riding tours in Iceland is between April and September. The spring-summer season opens new routes for you—the perfect month for a horse riding expedition in June. The world-famous midnight sun happens between the 16th and 29th of this month. It is referred to as midnight sun because sunsets happen after twelve during these dates. In addition, you can also find many great horse riding tours all year. You can even undergo the northern light experience during September to April. 

Some of the best sites for horse riding tours include Reykjavik, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Golden Circle, the Central Highlands, Landmannalaugar, Skagafjörður, Eyjafjörður, Black Sand Beach, and the South Coast. Tourists should wear comfortable pants, insulated jackets, warm layers, closed shoes, helmets, and other essential accessories.

Horse Riding Tours in Iceland

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9. Sightseeing Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall at sunset in Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsnes is renowned for volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls, lava fields, rivers, mountains, valleys, beaches, bird sighting, natural reserves, lakes, and rock formations. At times, the Snæfellsnes becomes visible from Reykjavík. The south side of the peninsula is known for the Eldborg crater and Gerðuberg basalt cliffs. The latter has more than a hundred geometric precision-based basalt columns. After that, you would become close to the animal lover hotspot, the Ytri-Tunga beach.

The beach is home to many seals visible throughout the year. You would next proceed towards the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge and the Búðir village. Across the national park, you would also see two more villages – Hellnar and Arnarstapi. Hellnar is mostly abandoned, but Arnarstapi is renowned for fishing and coastal geology. Inside the park, you would also see Vatnshellir lava cave, Djúpalónssandur sand beach, and Lóndrangar basalt plug, i.e., renowned for birdlife.

The Snæfellsnes tour would also include Kirkjufell and Stykkishólmur. You can take a bus or minibus tour to explore the peninsula in one or two day excursions. Activities like kayaking and whale watching are also available under Mt. Kirkjufell. Optionally, a tour from Stykkisholmur can unravel boating, birdwatching, and a ferry that will take you over to the Westfjords and Breiðafjörður Bay islands.

8. Hiking in the Highlands of Iceland

Hiking in Landmannalaugar in the highlands of Iceland, Brennisteinsalda Mountain in Landmannalaugar

The highlands of Iceland tour takes you through lava fields, black sand plains, rivers, volcanoes, mountains, glaciers, and different colored highlands. It is one of the most attractive tours for photographers and hikers. The highlands are commonly accessible from Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar. The country’s renowned Laugavegur trail connects these two places. It is an excellent exploratory and hiking region. The four to five day tour through this route is also possible by bike. Meanwhile, three-day tours include passing by the Laugavegur trail and hiking on the Fimmvörðuháls Pass. The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption created lava and crates at this place.

Hikers can board a bus at Reykjavik that will take them to Landmannalaugar, Skógar, or Þórsmörk. From there you can start the Fimmvörðuháls and Laugavegur routes. Landmannalaugar has steaming geothermal areas and rhyolite mountains. Visit of these sites is also possible through one-day tours from Reykjavík. This excursion consists of a jeep tour and allows you to visit the hot springs. You can also go on a one day super jeep or hiking tours that will take you to Þórsmörk. 

Other places for hiking include highlands across the Kjölur Highland Road, Hveravellir hot spring baths, Kerlingarfjöll mountains, and Vatnajökull Glacier shadow. Hiking along the highlands of Iceland can take from one day and up to 10 to 14 days. 

Highland Tours in Iceland

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7. Snorkeling Between the Two Continents

man snorkeling in the clear water in Silfra in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland, man snorkeling between the continents of Europe and North America

The Þingvellir National Park’s Silfra fissure is renowned as a diving and snorkeling destination in Iceland. Water clarify goes up to 100 meters, allowing explore to explore depths. The place is also home to Lake Þingvallavatn. Water clarity is because it begins from the Langjökull glacier and travels for more than 30 meters. It goes through porous rock lava that eliminates particles. The water becomes drinkable when it reaches the springs after years of traveling.

The water is two degrees in temperature. So, it is freezing to do snorkeling in this region. Drysuits with insulated suits help to avoid the chill during the activity. Wet suits also offer a free diving experience and higher mobility. The snorkeling activity with wet suits is meant for physically fit people, as it lasts for more than 40 minutes. Trained scuba divers can even explore Silfra diving tours. However, the cold complications require PADI Openwater Diver or similar certifications. Moreover, the diver must have ten dry suit dive in the past two years or specialty in wearing a dry suit. Besides water clarity, the second most attractive feature is the location. It lies between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates caused by a ravine pulling during an earthquake. Therefore, snorkeling at Silfra fissure covers two continents.

Snorkeling Tours in Iceland

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6. Sightseeing the Golden Circle

Iceland Must See - Sunset at Gullfoss waterfall in Golden Circle Iceland, midnight sun at Gullfoss

The Golden Circle tour offers scenic stops as you travel along the most popular route in Iceland. The Golden Circle tour is one of the most demanded tours as it takes through Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall.  Many people say that you can’t say that you have been to Iceland unless you have traveled the Golden Circle.

Þingvellir stands for parliament fields and has been the birthplace of it for 930 years. The place also has a coin lake, waterfall and popular for the meeting of tectonic plates. Þingvellir National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Geysir is probably the best known geyser in the world. All other geysers get their name from this particular Geysir in Iceland. 

Gullfoss is one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Iceland. It looks beautiful on photos, but it is nothing like when you see it in real life. 

Tourists can avail the best value of the Golden Circle tour by including hot springs such as the Secret Lagoon or Laugavatn Fontana. The Secret Lagoon will end the tour with a 100% natural and geothermal swimming pool. The smokey area and hot springs would make this combination even more enticing.

 A few Golden Circle tours might include taking you through the Friðheimar tomato farm and Kerið Crater Lake. Some of the bus tours are even available in ten languages. Private tours are high priced and remain limited to seven people, but might be ideal if you are traveling in a small group. Although covering the Golden Circle takes no longer than a day, the activities enlarge the duration. Some of the most common activities combined by visitors include Icelandic horse riding, snorkeling, snowmobiling, and visiting the lava caves. You can even include a Blue Lagoon trip and Reykjavík Harbor whale watching.

Golden Circle Sightseeing Tours

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5. Glacier Hiking

Ice Climbing Iceland, ice climbing on a glacier in Iceland

Iceland is a land of glaciers, lava fields, and waterfalls. When in Iceland, you can hike through Iceland’s untouched wilderness on an active glacier adventure that feels like you’re exploring a hidden world.

You can find all kind of glacier hiking tours in Iceland. Some of them will take you to natural crystal ice caves, while others are shorter and will take you to explore the different textures of the glaciers. The ice caves are pretty and their look will depend on the season and weather conditions. It is also possible to add an ice climbing adventure to your glacier hiking tour. 

Most glacier hiking tours are available as a self drive experience. However, they can also be a part of day tours from Reykjavik or even multi day tours where you travel around the country to explore the highlights and participate in the most popular activities. 

The fitness level for visiting the glaciers varies on the tour inclusions, but most glacier hiking tours are suitable for beginners. However, you will have to be able to walk on uneven surface for some time to be able to participate in the tours.

Most glacier hiking tours are operated on Sólheimajökull Glacier, Mýrdalsjokull, from Skaftafell Nature Reserve or on Vatnajokull Glacier. Sólheimajökull is located closest to Reykjavík and is therefor often hiked on day tours from Reykjavik. The glaciers in Skaftafell and Vatnajokull are usually hiked in the multi day tours, but you can choose any of the glaciers if you are on a self driving tour around Iceland. 

Glacier Hiking Tours in Iceland