Iceland Adventure Tours - Your complete guide

Find out everything there is to know about adventure travel in Iceland with our complete guide.

January 16, 2023

Iceland Adventure Tours - Your complete guide

Find out everything there is to know about adventure travel in Iceland with our complete guide.

January 16, 2023

Iceland has a history of adventure, from the first settlers striking out and surviving against bitter winters and a harsh landscape to the Viking age of exploration. It was Icelander Leif Erikson who set out and sailed to North America long before Columbus, after all. And this spirit of adventure remains today. With its rugged and untamed landscape, it should come as no surprise that Iceland has plenty to offer the adventure traveller. Think quad biking along black-sanded beaches, donning crampons and journeying into an ice cave or free-diving in the crystal clear water between the continents. Iceland’s adventure tours allow you to embrace the intrepid spirit of the island and see its natural wonders with a surge of adrenaline fuelling you.

Glacier tours and the Golden Circle

When you picture an adventure in the far north, up near the Arctic Circle, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A vast, frozen landscape, ice caves and crampons on your shoes? Glacier tours in Iceland bring this fantasy to life. Closest to Reykjavik, taking a tour to the Langjökull glacier means donning some crampons, picking up an ice axe and heading into that sleek arctic world. The glacier is Iceland’s longest and flops through the moonscape valley like a great, white tongue. Here, you can even embark on an ice cave trip and feel like you’re walking through the heart of the glacier itself, surrounded on all sides by walls that seem to glow blue.

You can also combine a glacier tour with the highlights of the Golden Circle. You’ll hit natural wonders like the Þingvellir National Park where a huge ravine runs along the landscape like a scar, marking where the two continental plates meet, stop at the mighty Gulfoss waterfall, and Geysir area of geothermal activity. For a bit of adventure thrown in, a monster truck trip onto the shimmering surface of Langjökull glacier can quench your thirst for adrenaline.


Discover an icy landscape wedged between two volcanoes at Sólheimarjökull glacier


solheimajokull 3

Iceland is known as the Land of Ice and Fire, and Sólheimarjökull glacier might be the best example of the contradictory landscape. You can hike across the frozen scenery, stop to admire the glacier lagoon or join a snowmobile tour to zip across the ice.


Glacier hiking

Getting up close and personal with the frozen surface of a huge glacier is one of the most adventurous things you can do in Iceland. 11% of the country’s landscape is covered in ice caps, so it’s not hard to find somewhere to go glacier hiking. A popular spot is Solheimajokull glacier, which can be found along the route of the south coast. Embarking on a hike, you’ll discover a glacial lagoon and ice cave, with a guide ensuring you don’t get caught out by snow-covered sinkholes and cracks. For more about glacier hiking, check out our full glacier guide.


Immerse yourself in the sleek blue world of Iceland’s ice caves


icecave 2

Year-round, you can visit the man made ice cave at Langjökull glacier, but there are seasonal, naturally occurring ice caves across the country too. The crystal-clear Aurora ice cave shimmers with ethereal light, while the ice cave at Skaftafell is like the Arctic adventure of your imagination. Decide which experience is best for you with our complete guide to ice caves in Iceland.


Black sand beach ATV adventures

For those that enjoy life in the fast lane, an ATV adventure could be just what you’re looking for. Leaving Reykjavik behind, you’ll head out to the Icelandic wilderness and saddle up on an ATV (all terrain vehicle) to power across glacial rivers, black-sanded beach and stop to admire the wreck of a DC-3 aircraft. Or, you can drive to the ATV headquarters yourself for a fast-paced quad bike adventure just taking one hour. Just remember that you need a valid driver’s licence and must be at least 17 years old to drive an ATV, but passengers don’t need a licence and can be as young as 8.

Hiking in Iceland

Across the lava fields, over the hills and through the rugged interior of Iceland, you’ll find a litany of hiking trails. They tend to be well-signposted and easy to follow by yourself. One of the most popular routes in the 55km (around 34 miles) Laugavegur trail, which takes 2-4 days to complete, cutting through the uninhabited Icelandic highlands. You can hike a section of the trail in a single day, taking the Highland Bus to the Þórsmörk area where you can join either the Fimmvörðuháls or Laugavegur trail. At 25km, it’s possible to cover the Fimmvörðuháls trail in a single day, but some people opt to do it in two. It’s a beautiful walk, taking you from the hills of Þórsmörk, past the twenty-six cascades of Waterfall Way to the popular sight of Skógafoss falls by the ocean.

For a moderately challenging day hike near Reykjavik, you can head up the Mount Esja trail. It’s hard to miss Mount Esja, as it practically forms the Reykjavik skyline, and a hike up here rewards with stunning views of the city and surrounding landscape.

Horse riding on lava fields

The Icelandic horse is a breed unlike any other; short, sturdy and friendly, there are even some folk that claim it isn’t a horse at all. No matter your stance, galloping across the lava fields on horseback is an adventure indeed. With a guide, experience horse riding outside Reykjavik where trails weave across the volcanic landscape as hills towering in the distance. Don’t forget to learn your horse’s name before you ride – it’s bad luck otherwise! At the end of the ride, you’ll be treated to a tea, coffee or hot chocolate at the stables.


Fly over the south coast’s incredible scenery at Vik’s zipline adventure


dt 5

Thrill seekers shouldn’t miss out on ziplining in Iceland. Just outside the fishing village of Vik on the south coast, these runs are suspended above canyons and rivers. A bird’s eye view can give you a whole new perspective on Iceland’s landscape.


Silfra Snorkelling

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to dive between the continents? Well, the Silfra snorkelling adventure can satisfy your curiosity. Equipped with a wetsuit (that water is cold!) and snorkelling equipment, you’ll free dive in the crystal clear water between the continental plates. Under the water, you can admire the ethereal rock formations that seem to stretch towards you like fingers. Certification isn’t required for this experience as you’ll be with a professional diver at all times.

What to pack for an adventure tour

Any good adventure requires a sturdy pair of shoes – if you can do it in heels, it’s probably no fun. With that in mind, waterproof hiking boots that have good grip are generally a good idea in Iceland, especially if you plan on hiking in the highlands or walking on top of a glacier. Equipment like crampons, ice axes and helmets are usually provided if you are taking an organised glacier walk, and a wet suit and snorkelling equipment are provided if you’re free-diving at Silfra, so you can leave those at home.

Of course, you’ll want to pack a camera or charging pack for your phone so you can snap a photo or two inside the ice caves. Bringing a video camera that can be attached to your helmet means you can capture the entire adventure from start to finish. If you’re embarking on an active adventure tour, snacks for the bus can keep you fueled up.

Weather in Iceland is notoriously unpredictable, so packing layers is the way to go. A sports T-shirt and light jumper in summer and thick woolly jumper or fleece in winter are a good idea. Even in summer, it can rain this far north, so packing a waterproof jacket is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions


adventuretours 4

What are the best adventure tours in Iceland?

There are plenty of ways to experience Iceland’s wonderful wild side. Organised tours mean that you can get the adrenaline pumping while staying safe at the same time. A glacier hike or snowmobile experience are two of the most popular adventures in Iceland, and they are best done under the supervision of a professional so you can avoid the sinkholes and ravines that hide beneath the icy surface. Ziplining is also a popular adventure activity, seeing Iceland’s landscape from above as you zoom along at high speed. Then there’s ATV adventures as well, powering across the south shore’s black-sanded beaches on a quad bike as the wild Atlantic Sea crashes against the sand.

How many days do I need in Iceland?

You can condense an adventurous trip to Iceland into a single week if you are smart with your time. Basing yourself in Reykjavik and taking organised day trips is one way to make sure you see everything in seven days. You could equally fill two weeks with days hiking through the empty interior of the country, exploring the ice caves of the south coast and seeing the landscape from horseback. But you can certainly cover the absolute highlights like the Golden Circle, natural wonders of the south coast and sights of Reykjavik in a single week.

Can you do the Golden Circle in one day?

The great thing about the Golden Circle is that it is a route from Reykjavik, taking in the absolute must-sees of Iceland’s landscape in a single day. The entire journey, covering Þingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall, and Strokkur at Geysir area of geothermal activity, takes around six to eight hours, depending on how long you want to spend at each sight. Reykjavik Excursions run a Golden Circle Direct tour, which covers all the major spots and includes a stop for lunch, leaving from the capital in the morning and returning around six hours later.

Is it best to pre-book tours in Iceland?

Iceland has witnessed a huge increase in tourism over the past few years, thanks to Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV series showing off the unique landscape on the big screen. Day tours from Reykjavik are a popular way to see the island and can book up fast, especially in peak season (between June and August). For this reason, it’s a good idea to book tours online in advance. If there is a particular adventure experience you want to try in Iceland, booking well in advance before you arrive in Iceland means you won’t be disappointed. Nearly all of Reykjavik Excursions’ tours can be booked online.

Is Iceland good for adventure?

We hope this blog post has already shown you that Iceland is a great place for adventure travellers. But if you’re still unconvinced, just think about the landscape – sheer cliffs dropping down to the sea, ice caps that stretch for miles and miles above active volcanoes, and long sweeps of black-sanded beach where you can hire ATVs to power across the landscape. Horseback riding and hiking are popular past-times, plus there’s a series of ziplines near Vik.

What is the coolest thing to do in Iceland?

It really depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for, but there are a few other places in the world where you can experience a volcano and glacier hike on the same day – Iceland is called the Land of Ice and Fire after all. If we’re taking the question literally, then one of the coolest things you can do in Iceland is explore an ice cave where the temperature remains cool throughout the year. But if we’re talking about making your friends back home jealous, some snaps of you ziplining above the rugged scenery, or free-diving in the gap between the continental plates has to be up there with some of the coolest things you can do in Iceland.

So, that’s it. There should be no doubt in your mind now that, despite its little land mass, Iceland is a hive of adventure and activity (and we’re not just talking about the seismic activity beneath the surface). Those seeking an adrenaline rush can opt for a ziplining experience above rivers and ravines, or ride an ATV across the sparkling black sand to the wreck of an aircraft. Getting up close and personal with a glacier is always going to be an adventure, on foot, by snowmobile or even by helicopter. And that’s not to mention seeing the scenery by horseback or snorkelling between the continental plates. Whatever your passion is, there are plenty of adventure tours in Iceland to choose from.

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Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

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Iceland Adventure Tours - Your complete guide

Find out everything there is to know about adventure travel in Iceland with our complete guide.

January 16, 2023

Iceland Adventure Tours - Your complete guide

Find out everything there is to know about adventure travel in Iceland with our complete guide.

January 16, 2023

Iceland has a history of adventure, from the first settlers striking out and surviving against bitter winters and a harsh landscape to the Viking age of exploration. It was Icelander Leif Erikson who set out and sailed to North America long before Columbus, after all. And this spirit of adventure remains today. With its rugged and untamed landscape, it should come as no surprise that Iceland has plenty to offer the adventure traveller. Think quad biking along black-sanded beaches, donning crampons and journeying into an ice cave or free-diving in the crystal clear water between the continents. Iceland’s adventure tours allow you to embrace the intrepid spirit of the island and see its natural wonders with a surge of adrenaline fuelling you.

Glacier tours and the Golden Circle

When you picture an adventure in the far north, up near the Arctic Circle, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A vast, frozen landscape, ice caves and crampons on your shoes? Glacier tours in Iceland bring this fantasy to life. Closest to Reykjavik, taking a tour to the Langjökull glacier means donning some crampons, picking up an ice axe and heading into that sleek arctic world. The glacier is Iceland’s longest and flops through the moonscape valley like a great, white tongue. Here, you can even embark on an ice cave trip and feel like you’re walking through the heart of the glacier itself, surrounded on all sides by walls that seem to glow blue.

You can also combine a glacier tour with the highlights of the Golden Circle. You’ll hit natural wonders like the Þingvellir National Park where a huge ravine runs along the landscape like a scar, marking where the two continental plates meet, stop at the mighty Gulfoss waterfall, and Geysir area of geothermal activity. For a bit of adventure thrown in, a monster truck trip onto the shimmering surface of Langjökull glacier can quench your thirst for adrenaline.


Discover an icy landscape wedged between two volcanoes at Sólheimarjökull glacier


solheimajokull 3

Iceland is known as the Land of Ice and Fire, and Sólheimarjökull glacier might be the best example of the contradictory landscape. You can hike across the frozen scenery, stop to admire the glacier lagoon or join a snowmobile tour to zip across the ice.


Glacier hiking

Getting up close and personal with the frozen surface of a huge glacier is one of the most adventurous things you can do in Iceland. 11% of the country’s landscape is covered in ice caps, so it’s not hard to find somewhere to go glacier hiking. A popular spot is Solheimajokull glacier, which can be found along the route of the south coast. Embarking on a hike, you’ll discover a glacial lagoon and ice cave, with a guide ensuring you don’t get caught out by snow-covered sinkholes and cracks. For more about glacier hiking, check out our full glacier guide.


Immerse yourself in the sleek blue world of Iceland’s ice caves


icecave 2

Year-round, you can visit the man made ice cave at Langjökull glacier, but there are seasonal, naturally occurring ice caves across the country too. The crystal-clear Aurora ice cave shimmers with ethereal light, while the ice cave at Skaftafell is like the Arctic adventure of your imagination. Decide which experience is best for you with our complete guide to ice caves in Iceland.


Black sand beach ATV adventures

For those that enjoy life in the fast lane, an ATV adventure could be just what you’re looking for. Leaving Reykjavik behind, you’ll head out to the Icelandic wilderness and saddle up on an ATV (all terrain vehicle) to power across glacial rivers, black-sanded beach and stop to admire the wreck of a DC-3 aircraft. Or, you can drive to the ATV headquarters yourself for a fast-paced quad bike adventure just taking one hour. Just remember that you need a valid driver’s licence and must be at least 17 years old to drive an ATV, but passengers don’t need a licence and can be as young as 8.

Hiking in Iceland

Across the lava fields, over the hills and through the rugged interior of Iceland, you’ll find a litany of hiking trails. They tend to be well-signposted and easy to follow by yourself. One of the most popular routes in the 55km (around 34 miles) Laugavegur trail, which takes 2-4 days to complete, cutting through the uninhabited Icelandic highlands. You can hike a section of the trail in a single day, taking the Highland Bus to the Þórsmörk area where you can join either the Fimmvörðuháls or Laugavegur trail. At 25km, it’s possible to cover the Fimmvörðuháls trail in a single day, but some people opt to do it in two. It’s a beautiful walk, taking you from the hills of Þórsmörk, past the twenty-six cascades of Waterfall Way to the popular sight of Skógafoss falls by the ocean.

For a moderately challenging day hike near Reykjavik, you can head up the Mount Esja trail. It’s hard to miss Mount Esja, as it practically forms the Reykjavik skyline, and a hike up here rewards with stunning views of the city and surrounding landscape.

Horse riding on lava fields

The Icelandic horse is a breed unlike any other; short, sturdy and friendly, there are even some folk that claim it isn’t a horse at all. No matter your stance, galloping across the lava fields on horseback is an adventure indeed. With a guide, experience horse riding outside Reykjavik where trails weave across the volcanic landscape as hills towering in the distance. Don’t forget to learn your horse’s name before you ride – it’s bad luck otherwise! At the end of the ride, you’ll be treated to a tea, coffee or hot chocolate at the stables.


Fly over the south coast’s incredible scenery at Vik’s zipline adventure


dt 5

Thrill seekers shouldn’t miss out on ziplining in Iceland. Just outside the fishing village of Vik on the south coast, these runs are suspended above canyons and rivers. A bird’s eye view can give you a whole new perspective on Iceland’s landscape.


Silfra Snorkelling

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to dive between the continents? Well, the Silfra snorkelling adventure can satisfy your curiosity. Equipped with a wetsuit (that water is cold!) and snorkelling equipment, you’ll free dive in the crystal clear water between the continental plates. Under the water, you can admire the ethereal rock formations that seem to stretch towards you like fingers. Certification isn’t required for this experience as you’ll be with a professional diver at all times.

What to pack for an adventure tour

Any good adventure requires a sturdy pair of shoes – if you can do it in heels, it’s probably no fun. With that in mind, waterproof hiking boots that have good grip are generally a good idea in Iceland, especially if you plan on hiking in the highlands or walking on top of a glacier. Equipment like crampons, ice axes and helmets are usually provided if you are taking an organised glacier walk, and a wet suit and snorkelling equipment are provided if you’re free-diving at Silfra, so you can leave those at home.

Of course, you’ll want to pack a camera or charging pack for your phone so you can snap a photo or two inside the ice caves. Bringing a video camera that can be attached to your helmet means you can capture the entire adventure from start to finish. If you’re embarking on an active adventure tour, snacks for the bus can keep you fueled up.

Weather in Iceland is notoriously unpredictable, so packing layers is the way to go. A sports T-shirt and light jumper in summer and thick woolly jumper or fleece in winter are a good idea. Even in summer, it can rain this far north, so packing a waterproof jacket is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions


adventuretours 4

What are the best adventure tours in Iceland?

There are plenty of ways to experience Iceland’s wonderful wild side. Organised tours mean that you can get the adrenaline pumping while staying safe at the same time. A glacier hike or snowmobile experience are two of the most popular adventures in Iceland, and they are best done under the supervision of a professional so you can avoid the sinkholes and ravines that hide beneath the icy surface. Ziplining is also a popular adventure activity, seeing Iceland’s landscape from above as you zoom along at high speed. Then there’s ATV adventures as well, powering across the south shore’s black-sanded beaches on a quad bike as the wild Atlantic Sea crashes against the sand.

How many days do I need in Iceland?

You can condense an adventurous trip to Iceland into a single week if you are smart with your time. Basing yourself in Reykjavik and taking organised day trips is one way to make sure you see everything in seven days. You could equally fill two weeks with days hiking through the empty interior of the country, exploring the ice caves of the south coast and seeing the landscape from horseback. But you can certainly cover the absolute highlights like the Golden Circle, natural wonders of the south coast and sights of Reykjavik in a single week.

Can you do the Golden Circle in one day?

The great thing about the Golden Circle is that it is a route from Reykjavik, taking in the absolute must-sees of Iceland’s landscape in a single day. The entire journey, covering Þingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall, and Strokkur at Geysir area of geothermal activity, takes around six to eight hours, depending on how long you want to spend at each sight. Reykjavik Excursions run a Golden Circle Direct tour, which covers all the major spots and includes a stop for lunch, leaving from the capital in the morning and returning around six hours later.

Is it best to pre-book tours in Iceland?

Iceland has witnessed a huge increase in tourism over the past few years, thanks to Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV series showing off the unique landscape on the big screen. Day tours from Reykjavik are a popular way to see the island and can book up fast, especially in peak season (between June and August). For this reason, it’s a good idea to book tours online in advance. If there is a particular adventure experience you want to try in Iceland, booking well in advance before you arrive in Iceland means you won’t be disappointed. Nearly all of Reykjavik Excursions’ tours can be booked online.

Is Iceland good for adventure?

We hope this blog post has already shown you that Iceland is a great place for adventure travellers. But if you’re still unconvinced, just think about the landscape – sheer cliffs dropping down to the sea, ice caps that stretch for miles and miles above active volcanoes, and long sweeps of black-sanded beach where you can hire ATVs to power across the landscape. Horseback riding and hiking are popular past-times, plus there’s a series of ziplines near Vik.

What is the coolest thing to do in Iceland?

It really depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for, but there are a few other places in the world where you can experience a volcano and glacier hike on the same day – Iceland is called the Land of Ice and Fire after all. If we’re taking the question literally, then one of the coolest things you can do in Iceland is explore an ice cave where the temperature remains cool throughout the year. But if we’re talking about making your friends back home jealous, some snaps of you ziplining above the rugged scenery, or free-diving in the gap between the continental plates has to be up there with some of the coolest things you can do in Iceland.

So, that’s it. There should be no doubt in your mind now that, despite its little land mass, Iceland is a hive of adventure and activity (and we’re not just talking about the seismic activity beneath the surface). Those seeking an adrenaline rush can opt for a ziplining experience above rivers and ravines, or ride an ATV across the sparkling black sand to the wreck of an aircraft. Getting up close and personal with a glacier is always going to be an adventure, on foot, by snowmobile or even by helicopter. And that’s not to mention seeing the scenery by horseback or snorkelling between the continental plates. Whatever your passion is, there are plenty of adventure tours in Iceland to choose from.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.