It’s tough to see everything Iceland has to offer, but here are seven things you can’t miss when you go!
Not many people have the opportunity to spend 12 days touring Iceland. In fact, no amount of days seems to be enough to see everything this little country has to offer! That being said, we had to pick and choose sites to see on our epic road trip around Iceland’s ring road.
Some travelers like to pick a location and stay there for the duration of their vacation, but not us. Now don’t get me wrong, a day or two of down time is always appreciated, but we like to get out and explore— because who knows when you’ll be back!
Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of things we wish we’d done while visiting Iceland. Some of the activities on our list didn’t happen due to lack of money (we’re poor college students after all) while others got crossed off for being too far inland from the ring road.
Make sure to check out our other blogs about Iceland before booking your trip!
#1) Ice Cave Tour
While dreaming about visiting Iceland, we made a list of things we’d like to see and do— but didn’t look at the price until we started planning the actual trip. The ice cave tours looked SO cool but were SO expensive and immediately got crossed off of our list. We set a budget of $1,000 per person and the ice cave tours cost almost that much.
Another downside was that some tours only operate in the winter months and don’t run all the way into May. But if you’re planning your once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or have a little extra dough to cough up for this excursion, we highly recommend taking an ice cave tour. One day we will return to Iceland and we WILL get to experience this awesome sight!
#2) Helicopter Tour
If you haven’t already guessed, this activity got crossed off our list—again—for the price. Iceland is exceptionally unique from the ground, but seeing the vast landscape from the air would be a whole different experience!
Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall in southern Iceland and originally on our itinerary, was actually the waterfall I was most looking forward to. But we were so exhausted that we accidentally drove right by it and didn’t stop— NO!!!! This waterfall is extremely picturesque, is often photographed at sunset, and you can even walk behind it— how cool?!
So whether or not you’re just traveling the Golden Circle (small loop that passes many of southern Iceland’s wonders, close to Reykjavik and the airport) or the Ring Road (Iceland’s only highway that travels the circumference of the country), Seljalandsfoss is a must-stop location! (And did we mention—it’s free!)
#4) Glacier Hike/Highlands
Unfortunately, the glaciers and the highlands were too far off the ring road and too far inland for us to be able to reach in a reasonable amount of time. We saw the large Vatnajökull Glacier, but only in passing by. Being able to hike it would be a-maz-ing.
Even if we had more time to explore the highlands, our car wasn’t 4 wheel drive (again, we chose the cheap route to visiting Iceland) and therefore it couldn’t drive on F-rated roads even if we’d wanted it to.
**F-Roads are Iceland’s most dangerous roads, but they take you to the most incredible places. If you plan on visiting the highlands, you MUST rent a 4×4 vehicle. Two wheel drive vehicles are not allowed, as some roads are impassable without four wheel drive. Another thing to be cognizant about is that F-Roads are not open year-round, so be sure to check your route and avoid any closed roads (or F-Roads if you are without a 4×4 vehicle).
#5) Whale Watching Tour
Although a guided whale watching tour will almost always guarantee an up close and personal experience with some of the world’s largest animals, they can be out of the price range. However, due to the numerous fjords along Iceland’s coast, we were able to spot whales (and seals) on multiple occasions!
#6) Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths is the lesser known Blue Lagoon. Located in north eastern Iceland between Akureyri and Egilsstaðir, it offers many of the same amenities as the Blue Lagoon, but is much farther from Reykjavik and the airport and thus there are fewer tourists.
#7) See the Northern Lights
The northern lights are most visible in Iceland between November and April (when there’s the least amount of sunlight per year). Unfortunately for us, we went in mid-May, and were unable to catch a glimpse of the light show dancing in the sky above us!
There are many travel agencies that offer “northern lights tours”; however, they cannot guarantee that you will see the aurora borealis. We suggest seeking out the northern lights on your own. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Get out of the city and into an area that isn’t affected by light pollution (the darker the sky the better the viewing)
- Pick a night that isn’t cloudy and doesn’t have a full moon
- Check out http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ for an accurate aurora forecast of Iceland
As you can see Iceland has an adventure for almost everyone, from whale watching to hiking the rims of volcanoes, these are the seven we would have to do when we go back!
To see more of our time in Iceland check out the video below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!