Adventure Travel in Iceland

Morgan Garrett

Whether you’re into hiking, climbing, diving, or caving, Iceland has something for you! The beautiful island nation is the perfect place to find your next adventure. Its stunning untouched landscapes and friendly people make letting out your adventurous side more than inviting. Every section of Iceland has something different to offer. The South Coast and Reykjavik are tourist hot spots simply due to the location of the capital city and the beautiful glacial coast. Far East and Central Iceland has much to offer in the way of glaciers. The West is a mixture of mountainous coasts and the Westfijords, which host some of the wildest landscapes available in the country. The North Coast boasts lovely fishing villages, whales, and lakes.

Anywhere you travel in Iceland will leave you speechless and any direction you look will give you a different view. In the summer months, the weather is often cool and rainy, so be prepared to become wet on any activity you choose, but don’t let the weather keep you from visiting or dampen your spirits about any activities! If you are a Game of Thrones fan you’ll be pleased to know that all the scenes filmed beyond the wall were filmed in this rugged panorama, which is fascinating to explore on your own or with a tour.

If you are looking for something truly one of a kind to partake in I would recommend diving or snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure. This small channel is between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and boasts some of the clearest, most pure, and blue water you will ever see. The water flows directly from a glacier about 35 miles away. As the water makes its 40-year journey into the fissure it travels through the lava rocks under the ground, which causes its purification. The water stays between 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit even during the winter, so you can try this during any season. You’ll also be fitted with a dry suit so your core will remain warm and dry. Your hands and face will be exposed however, and once you spend 2-3 minutes in the water you will lose feeling in them. You’ll be immersed in the beautiful lunar landscape below so you won’t even think about it!

If swimming in glacier water isn’t your style perhaps walking on the icy beast itself is? There are several glaciers and companies in Iceland that lead groups on glacier hikes throughout the country. No matter which glacier or group you choose you will be fitted with crampons to keep you secure on the ice and given an ice axe for stability. You are also required to wear a helmet and harness when walking on these mammoths just in case of emergency. Sticking your crampons into a glacier and being able to understand the majesty of it from the top is truly unforgettable! Some companies may also offer ice climbing with their glacier hikes, but do require some knowledge of climbing and strict guidance.

Perhaps you prefer to enjoy a leisurely hike instead of adrenaline thumping adventures, and Iceland can also offer you this. A few of my favorite places we hiked were on Hverfjall volcanic crater outside of Lake Myvatn in the North. This crater gives you the feeling of landing on Mars and being able to see everything in a 360-degree panoramic view. In the south of Iceland is the Thingvellir National Park where the Silfra Fissure is located. Also, most anywhere you go in Iceland there will be miles and miles of lava fields just waiting to be explored. These can be great for hiking because of all the fascinating formations and caves that they create over the years.

As I mentioned above Iceland is famous for lava. This hardened lava rock is responsible for creating vast and beautiful lava tubes or lava caves far beneath the surface of the world. It’s worth it to take a tour down into one of these tubes to see the power that lava has on the Earth and the interesting shapes it makes within the tube. There is a specific lava cave on the Snaefellsnes Penninsula, the starting place for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

If you’re into the wildlife of Iceland then the whale watching is for you. You’re also encouraged to try riding the Icelandic horse, which is the only native horse on Iceland. The best place to whale watch is in Akureyri or Husavik. Both are fishing towns nestled in beautiful fjords. In the summer, several species of whale come here to feed before making the long journey back to warm waters to mate. Expect to see humpbacks, killer whales, sperm whales, blue whales, white beaked dolphins, minke whales, and pilot whales. Xhoose between a large wooden boat, which is dry, comfortable, and smooth, but only goes a little way outside the fjord, or a small speedboat that sits you up close and personal to these creatures in open seas. The speedboat will be bumpy, wet, and possibly cold, but I can personally say it’s worth it to be close to these magnificent beasts. Horseback riding can be done anywhere and is purely dependent on the scenery you want to see.

Iceland is a diverse and wild place that hosts a diverse group of activities and places to see. If adventure travel is what you crave then I would suggest booking a summer trip to Iceland. If you’d like to see the Northern Lights you’ll have to go in the winter, but the activities rarely change throughout the year despite the weather. Remember that many of these activities are physically taxing and you should be in good health if you’d like to enjoy them. Iceland has something for everyone, so plan your trip to this beautiful island and enjoy nature at its best!