Discover the Beauty of Iceland by Traveling by Boat

© Stig Nygaard / Flickr
Photo of Camille Buckley
26 July 2018

Iceland is well known for its hiking trails and mountain climbing on the terrain by foot. However, being an island in the middle of the North Atlantic that is full of lakes, rivers and fjords, there are many opportunities to explore the island by boat, which offers many vistas of land and sea that you wouldn’t experience by foot.

Some of the best ways to discover Iceland’s beauty by boat is by taking a whale-watching trip, river rafting down one of its many glacial rivers or by taking a boat tour in the second-most famous lagoon in Iceland, Jökulsárlón, or, glacial river lagoon.

Iceland | © Jennifer Cauli / Culture Trip

Whale-watching tours are offered in most populated towns but the most popular ones are definitely in the northern village of Húsavík which sits in Skjálfandi Bay, close to Akureyri. Here you can choose from two whale-watching operations: North Sailing and Gentle Giants. This is a great way to spot some incredible marine life and bird life as well as get a view of Iceland’s northern coastline.

River rafting is offered on three of Iceland’s rivers. Since the majority of Iceland’s rivers originate from glaciers, whitewater rafting is actually a way to explore a glacier from a totally different angle as well as observe the walls of river canyons and river flatlands from the river itself. River rafting can be done on the Hvíta river in the south, as well as two rivers in the north: Jökulsá Austari and Jökulsá Vestari, also known as West and East Glacial river.

Beach near Jökulsárlón | © Jennifer Cauli / Culture Trip

Another option for exploring Iceland by boat is by taking a lagoon boat tour in the second-most famous lagoon in Iceland, Jökulsárlón, or glacial river lagoon. The amphibian boat tour is the most popular of the glacier tours. During this tour, visitors sail among the huge floating icebergs. On the southeast edge of Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull sits a stunning sight. With the glacier visible in the distance towards the interior of the country, enormous glacial chunks that have been calved from the glacier eddy themselves and into the lagoon known as Jökulsárlón. The name translates to glacial river lagoon and is considered one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. The excursion takes about 30–40 minutes and includes an English-speaking guide who explains to you the geologic history of the lagoon.

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