Experience true Nordic winter with these Iceland and Canada tours!

Top 15 Things to Do in Iceland

Make the most out of your vacation with a list of the top things to do and see in Iceland

|January 2, 2024
Vita has hiked glaciers in Alaska, climbed fourteeners in Colorado and is all about sharing her stories and promoting responsible tourism. These days she is often wandering the streets of Vilnius with a film camera in her hand or reading.

From hunting the Northern Lights to snorkeling between continents to sipping Icelandic craft beer, so many adventures await you!


Visiting a foreign country can be overwhelming – especially if that country’s nature, culture, and cuisine are as distinct as Iceland’s. We are here to suggest the top 15 things to do during your trip to Iceland and to help you plan a vacation full of unforgettable moments.

1. Snorkel or Dive Between Continents IN Þingvellir NATIONAL PARK

The Silfra Fissure (mentioned above) is actually home to one of the most fascinating diving locations in the world. Silfra prides itself on its 100-meter underwater visibility and various species of algae, which provide incomparable colorscapes. Whether you’re addicted to adventure or just want to see all that Iceland has to offer, this is truly an unmissable stop - and one within easy reach of the capital!

But what truly sets it apart from every other diving location in the world is the fact that it is a fissure between two continents. That’s right, Silfra is where North American and Eurasian tectonic plates slowly drift apart! The crystal clear water allows perfect vision, so you can either take it in with your own eyes or with your camera in the fissure. You can even touch both continents at the same time as one section of the Silfra fissure is very narrow.

Snorkeling Silfra Scuba Diving Deep Water Thingvellir in Iceland

Book a diving or snorkeling tour and see this natural wonder with your own eyes!

2. EMBARK ON A HIKE ON THE STUNNING LAUGAVEGUR TRAIL

If you think that being listed among the world's top 20 hikes by National Geographic counts for something, you don’t want to miss out on the famous Laugavegur Trail. Stretching 55 kilometers (34 miles), this multi-day hike introduces you to the best of Iceland’s otherworldly natural landscapes and attractions. Hut-to-hut hiking in Iceland is an incredible experience, making memories to last a lifetime with new and old friends alike.

Laugavegur Hikers Group People Friends Landscape

You’ll begin in the Landmannalaugar region, which is known for its natural geothermal hot springs. From there you will proceed to hike to serene lava fields, an obsidian desert, landscapes colored by rhyolite rock, tranquil lakes, and stunning glaciers. Your journey will end in the lush and verdant Thórsmörk Valley, but you’ll carry the memories with you long after.

This is a fairly challenging hike with several overnight stays, so we recommend booking a tour because it will take care of your accommodation. Plus the guides will treat you to some interesting facts about the region and ensure your safety.

3. WATCH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS DANCING OVERHEAD

There are very few places in the world where you can witness this incredible phenomenon. Luckily Iceland is one of them! Many travel to Iceland in the dead of winter and venture out into the wilderness wearing their warmest clothes to make memories that will last a lifetime – and you can too! 

Seeing the Northern Lights is on many people’s bucket lists, and we can bet that they’re on yours as well. Iceland is an incredible place for hunting the aurora borealis, providing a wide range of stunning landscapes from which to scour the night sky. What’s more, you can pack in so much more than just a Northern Lights tour to really round off a week, a weekend, or longer on this unusual island.

Northern Lights Tour Happy People in  Iceland

Iceland is in the Auroral Zone, meaning the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights is very high. However, your best shot is the winter, as the summer months have too much daylight. Seeing the auroras in Iceland has a lot to do with luck and understanding the forecasts and Kp-index. That’s why it’s always a good idea to join a tour and hunt down auroras with professional guides!

4. Complete the Golden Circle your way

Everyone who visits or lives in Iceland will tell you that the Golden Circle is a major tourist attraction for a good reason. Three major natural monuments can be discovered along this route: Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir area will leave every traveler in awe. If you only have a short time to spend in Iceland, this is a fantastic whistle-stop tour of some of the most iconic sights in the country. It’s also a great way to ease yourself into the incredible natural beauty that can be found all around the island.

Gulfoss Geysir Golden Circle Thingvellir in Iceland

You can make your day even more memorable by taking small detours. Kerið Crater Lake, Faxi Waterfall, and the Silfra fissure are all near the Golden Circle route in the south of Iceland and are well worth your time. We also offer a range of combination tours to add a hair-raising activity to your sightseeing on the Golden Circle:

5. EXPLORE ICELAND’S CURIOUS LAVA CAVES

Lava caves and formations are yet another natural phenomenon in Iceland and several other places with seismic activity. Few are as awe-inspiring as Leidarendi lava caves though! Let the torchlight guide you into the magical world of stalactites and solidified lava deposits, which meander throughout the caves in gentle waves. Vatnshellir lava cave is another iconic location to find unique and captivating rock formations.

The Lava Tunnel Arctic Adventures Team in Iceland

Keep in mind that you do need a seasoned guide to keep you safe as you explore the caves, especially in wintertime when access can become limited. Your expert guides will be able to point out curiosities that you might miss with the naked eye, linking the stunning caves back to their formations thousands of years in the past.

6. Go Ice Caving

Are you looking for the top things to do in Iceland during the winter? Look no further than the ice caves, most of which can only be explored during the winter. This is the ultimate glacier experience, stepping inside some of Iceland’s largest ice giants and feeling the cold surround you. Seeing the colors of the ice as the sunlight shines through is something you cannot compare to anything else. You have many options when it comes to tours. You can combine this otherworldly experience with a number of other options, such as snowmobiling or super jeep rides. If you’re visiting with your family and want a laid-back experience, choose the Langjökull ice tunnel. It’s huge, it’s man-made, and it can be accessed year-round, meaning you will encounter very few obstacles.

Ice Cave Guide People Into the glacier tunnel

On the other hand, if you want to experience an ice cave that Mother Nature created, you have a range of options. Take a look:

7. SEE MAJESTIC WHALES IN DALVíK OR REYKJAVíK

Dalvík is a small fishing town, but it’s a big hit when it comes to whale watching. It has an unbeatable 99.5% success rate of whale sightings. The variety of marine wildlife in Dalvík is vast. You’ll get the chance to spot humpback whales, minke whales, and the majestic blue whale among many others. The occasional dolphin jumping out of the water and flourishing birdlife also add to the experience. You stand the best chance of seeing whales off of Iceland’s shores during the summer months, during which tours run regularly from Reykjavík too. Guides on board are experts at knowing the best spots to see these incredible creatures and will be in touch at all times to notify you of sightings in the distance.

Whale Watching Tour in Dalvik

Embark on this adventure together with professional guides. If luck isn’t on your side that day and no whales show up, you can repeat this tour for free!

8. VISIT THE STUNNING MYVATN REGION

The jewel of East Iceland, Lake Mývatn and the surrounding region are praised as a truly otherworldly area. You’ll experience magnificent volcanic landscapes and visit the Víti Crater (that has transformed into an azure lake), Krafla Crater, and Laxá River. These are all natural monuments in their own right. In fact, many list Myvatn as their top experience in Iceland. If you want to see whether these claims have merit, there is no better way than to visit.

Bonus fact: Legend has it that this is where Satan landed when he was banished from heaven and fell from the sky.

Myvatn Lake Crater Summer Sunny in Iceland

We have a number of tours in the area surrounding Lake Mývatn, whether you’re interested in Iceland’s unique wildlife, the main sights of the area, or something more thrilling!

9. TRY SOME OF ICELAND’S QUIRKY TRADITIONAL CUISINE

Take your taste buds on a roller coaster ride by sampling all the dishes that best represent Iceland’s culinary culture. Lamb stews, skyr (yogurt), and the Icelandic hot dog are savored by most travelers, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton on his visit to the island.

For those looking to try something more exotic, puffin or lamb’s head – while more difficult to come by – are worth seeking out. If you want to be really adventurous try the fermented shark, a national dish in Iceland. Let’s keep the mystery alive, but let’s just say that if you have a weak stomach, don’t try it in public.

Read our guide to Icelandic cuisine to find more recommended foods and restaurant suggestions.

Reykjavik Food Tour Local Cuisine Tasting in Iceland

10. SOAK IN THE RELAXING WATERS OF THE BLUE LAGOON

No list of things to do in Iceland would be complete without mentioning the Blue Lagoon. It is one of Iceland's most visited, photographed, and talked about places. The geothermal water makes for incredible spa experiences and its milky-blue color guarantees top-notch photo ops. The Blue Lagoon’s waters are rich in minerals, which are great for the skin and can be very soothing for skin conditions like eczema. 

Enjoy a face mask, drink at the swim-up bar, and more spa treatments for a relaxing few hours after an adventure or sightseeing tour. What’s more, you can browse Blue Lagoon treatments in their gift shop for self-care souvenirs for you and your family.

Blue Lagoon Iceland Geothermal Pool in Iceland

In addition to the world-class spa, the Blue Lagoon offers accommodation and a chance to try seasonal Icelandic cuisine while enjoying the restaurant’s breathtaking views. You can book your time at the Blue Lagoon from our wide selection of tours.

11. MEET THE ICELANDIC HORSE

The Icelandic horse is an animal symbolic of the country’s values and one that locals are incredibly proud of. They are small, strong, friendly creatures and a truly unique highlight of any visit. Their ancestry lies with Viking horses from the first settlers on the island. These first settlers would only bring the strongest, smartest specimens with them. The modern Icelandic horses are a product of these fine creatures. As a result, the horses you meet in Iceland are incredibly intelligent, trusting, and strong. On our Icelandic horse tours, you get the chance to interact with and ride the magnificent horse.

12. Stand in Awe at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

One more attraction that can easily go onto the list of top things to do in East Iceland is the remarkable Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Jökulsárlón is like nowhere else in the country, making for unique photographs and standout memories for you and your family. Picturesque ice chunks are scattered across the still waters, after descending from surrounding icebergs. And in some instances, you’ll be able to spot adorable seals resting on ice across the lagoon! Diamond Beach is another fascinating sight that is right across the street. Don’t miss out!

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on a sunny day in Iceland.

The gorgeous setting attracts visitors from all over the world. You’ll have the chance to not just observe but to get a close-up view of the icebergs during boat or kayaking tours:

13. Get to Know Reykjavik

Are you wondering what the top things to do in the Reykjavík area are? If you have a day or two to spend in the capital city, start with Hallgmskirkja Church, an architectural masterpiece that will leave you breathless. Another point of interest on your list should be Harpa Concert Hall and the Old Harbor. Then, take a pick from a handful of museums, which range from the National Museum of Iceland to the one and only Icelandic Phallological Museum.

Overall, take your time to walk around the city. You’ll be surprised by the number of buildings covered in colorful graffiti and what a lovely atmosphere they create.

Reykjavik City Panoramic View From Hallgrimskirja in Iceland

If you’re short on time or want to learn a little more about what lies under the surface of some of Reykjavík’s most iconic attractions, we offer a range of tours throughout the city’s streets:

14. BE BLOWN AWAY BY REYNISFJARA BLACK SAND BEACH

This world-famous black sand beach is definitely one of the top things to do in Vík and its surrounding areas. Unique basalt rock stacks, volcanic sand, and massive waves combine to create a serene and beautiful setting. The black sand at Reynisfjara will take you by surprise, and the dramatic rock formations battered by the sea create some incredible photography opportunities.

Be careful with the water though! The waves can get powerful enough to grab careless wanderers off the shore and into the sea if they get too close.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland

Whether it’s the backdrop for an incredible horseback riding experience or just a stop on a longer tour of South Iceland, we have a number of tours that allow you to take in the power of Reynisfjara:

15. EXPERIENCE THE MIDNIGHT SUN

If you happen to be visiting Iceland in June, it’s one of the few months when you won’t catch the Northern Lights. You are in luck, though, as a whole new natural phenomenon is in action during summer! Due to Iceland’s placement on the globe, daylight hours differ throughout the year. In fact, it doesn’t get dark at all in June!

That’s right - you’ll find that it’s light outside at all hours. This is an incredibly surreal experience, especially if you’re staying up late until the early hours. One of the top things to do is to take advantage of the long days, travel around, and see the Midnight Sun.

Midnight Sun Summer Reykjavik Buildings Ocean in Iceland

Iceland is an incredible holiday destination no matter what your interests are. These are just some of the things to see or experience on this exciting little island.

 

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