10 Unique Things to Do in Iceland

The Langjokull glacier has ice tunnels carved inside it that you can walk through
The Langjokull glacier has ice tunnels carved inside it that you can walk through | © imageBROKER / Alamy
Photo of Vala Árnadóttir
1 September 2021

There are many special things to do in Iceland, but some are just more Icelandic than others and can’t be done anywhere else in the world. Here are a few that we can highly recommend.

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Snorkel and touch two continents

In Silfra, at Thingvellir National Park, you can dive between and touch the Eurasian and North American continental plates. While you are at it, you can drink the water too, it is so clean.

Diving in Silfra, you can see where two tectonic plates collide | © Grant M Henderson/Shutterstock

Dog sledding

Most of us have probably wondered at some point what it would be like to ride a dog sled. Well, if you’re still wondering, you should give it a try on your visit. Tours are available in the summertime and often for the rest of the year as well. They take place on top of the glacier, so the weather is mild. It’s not far from Reykjavik and perfect for young kids to enjoy Iceland in a unique and memorable way.

Dog-sledding is a romantic way to take in the countryside | © Kertu Saarits / Alamy

Enjoy the Northern Lights

If you find yourself in Iceland in winter, watch out for the Northern Lights. Some locations are better than others to see them, and it is advisable to get away from city lights. The Aurora Borealis has such a big effect on tourists, the local police have been known to stop drivers who looked like they were under the influence, only to find out that they were so smitten by the display, they forgot to watch out for the road.

Natural wonder: Skogafoss waterfall with the Aurora Borealis | © ARCTIC IMAGES / Alamy

Go fishing

Iceland has some of the best fly-fishing rivers in the world, attracting thousands of visitors yearly – for the salmon in particular. If you have a couple of free days, this is a unique opportunity to fish in some of the best places in the world. If you only have a couple of hours, take a boat from Reykjavik and check out some sea fishing. You can then eat your catch at a harbourside restaurant in the evening.

Fly-fishing is hugely popular in Iceland | © J.Helgason/Shutterstock

Take a dip in a hot spring under the midnight sun

One of the best things about Icelandic summers is that the sun barely goes down – making this is the perfect opportunity to take a late dip in a warm hot spring.

You can bathe in hot springs on the trail in Reykjadalur | © Kristina Blokhin / Alamy

Horse-riding

Icelandic horses are small and sometimes mistaken for ponies. The breed is also unique, as it displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, gallop and trot. The two extra moves are called tölt and skeið in Icelandic and they both allow these little horses to move much faster than they otherwise could. Skeið – often used in races – is very fast and smooth, allowing speeds of up to 50kmh (31mph). If that’s a bit much for you then try a more sedate riding tour of the countryside.

Enjoy nature on horseback at the Skogafoss waterfall | © Anna Levan/Shutterstock

River rafting

There are various river-rafting options available in Iceland, some easier than others; whitewater rafting is definitely one of the more adrenaline-fuelled. You could, for example, try canyon rafting at the Gullfoss Waterfall and enjoy the landscape from a different angle.

Rafting on the River Hvita, through the Bruarhlod Canyon, is one for thrill seekers | © Imagebroker / Alamy

Visit an ice cave

It cannot have gone past you that Iceland is full of glaciers, but did you know that some have caves inside them? If you want to walk through a natural cave, you have to visit in winter; during the summer you can visit ice tunnels in Iceland’s largest glacier – Langjökull.

Explorer inside an ice cave at Vatnajokull National Park | © Bill45/Shutterstock

Go to the beach

If you are in Reykjavik and the weather is nice, it might be a good time to hit the man-made beach at Nautholsvik. Don’t despair, the sea here has geothermal water in the lagoon.

Hot Pot at Nautholsvik geothermal beach | © David Brabiner / Alamy

Check out outside festivals

There are many weekend summer festivals around the country that are fun to visit – both party festivals and family-friendly ones. Many of them are are themed, such as the Great Fish Day festival, the Lobster Festival and so on.

A shark for sale on Great Fish Day – one of Iceland’s many festivals | © Gestur Gislason/Shutterstock

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