We loved our time on the island, and wish that we could’ve stayed longer and seen more (Particularly the West Fjords). It probably goes without saying, but this list could be 100 instead of just 10. To narrow it down and help our friends with planning, we came up with 10 Adventures in Iceland. You could easily fit all of these into a 3 or 4 day itinerary if you’re willing to accept the challenge!
1. Plan a Road Trip
Iceland gets a bad rap for being an ultra expensive destination, despite the fact that some of the best spots are absolutely free. After planning our trip and actually going, I now understand the misconception. Transportation and Bus Tours are extremely pricey throughout the country. A simple half day waterfall tour is going to cost you about $75, not to mention the price that other companies tack on if you want them to shuttle you. If there are at least two people in your group, a rental car is likely going to end up being cheaper than taking taxis, shuttles, and sightseeing tours. Not to mention, it gives you way more freedom to explore places on your own terms. Our 10 Adventures in Iceland wouldn’t have been as fun if we had to stick to a schedule.
2. Ride Icelandic Ponies
So they aren’t exactly ponies, but instead, small horses. Learn all about them and their history on the island, then go on a scenic countryside tour. We had quite an interesting experience on our trip. In fact, one of our tiny horses nearly got swept down a river! I constantly felt like I was going to fall off, but it could’ve just been the hangover talking. We used Laxnes Horse Farm for our guided tour.
3. Visit a Black Sand Beach
We loved walking on the black sand and cliffs around Vik, and during certain times of the year there are nesting Puffins. I’d definitely recommend renting a car so that you can explore for as long as you want and discover cool back roads. We didn’t really have a map or GPS, so we sort of winged it. Half the fun was not knowing exactly where we’d end up.
Don’t worry, crampons and ropes aren’t necessarily required. If you’re already staying in Vik, drive east for another hour or so and enjoy the landscapes along the way until you start seeing signs for Skaftafell. We didn’t go on a guided glacier tour, so we technically didn’t get to walk on the glacier. Instead, we stopped into the Skaftafell Visitor Centre at Vatnajökull National Park. The lady in the office was a huge help. We told her what we wanted to do and she gave us a free map and chose an easy hike for us to go on.
5. Stop at Waterfalls Everywhere
They’re pretty much everywhere you turn in Iceland, but the most popular ones are Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Gullfoss. For the price of a day trip by bus, you can easily rent a car and go see them on your own. They get really crowded depending on when you’re visiting, so don’t expect to get Nat Geo worthy photos unless you’re one of the first ones there, super early in the morning.
6. Check out the Nightlife in Reykjavik
Yeah, the Northern Lights make for great night life, but unfortunately they’re never guaranteed. So instead we’ll focus on what you can plan for. The main attractions in Reykjavik are Hallgrímskirkja (Church), Harpa (concert hall), and the Sun Voyager (local sculpture). To be honest, none of them are going to make or break your trip. Personally, I’d rather spend those 2 hours hanging out at the Lebowski Bar (yes, it’s themed around the movie). Which brings me to night life, downtown has a really cool bar scene and some awesome galleries and boutiques. Plan on spending an evening strolling the town.
7. Hike Laugavegurinn Trail
So in all reality, you probably can’t fit this one into a 3 or 4 day itinerary. The trail is about 34 miles long and passes mountains, hot springs, glaciers, and volcanoes. When we visited in April, the weather was still really unpredictable. To do this hike, you’ll need to go with a tour company or bring your own camping gear and reserve a permit. The next time we visit, we’ll definitely be going on this adventure.
8. Stop for Pictures at Glacier Beach
Just a little past our glacier hike, was a lagoon called Jökulsárlón. We had to get back to Reykjavik, so this was one of the highlights that we regrettably missed out on. Had we stayed one more night in Vik, we would’ve kept venturing east.
9. Spend a Night in Vik
You’ve heard us talk about this place a lot, and that’s probably because we loved how quaint and picturesque it was. It made it into our 10 Adventures in Iceland because it’s essential if you’re trying to properly explore Southeast Iceland. We stayed in a triple room and ate dinner at the Icelandair Hotel on our first night in Iceland. The decor was Nordic and trendy, and the price was surprisingly better than the local hostel.
Of course it made the list, it is indeed awesome and well worth a visit. It’s probably the most touristy thing on this list, but we still had a blast. We went with a standard day pass and spent about 3 hours relaxing in the water and covering ourselves in mud. For general admission and a smoothie or snack, you can expect to pay about $45 or $50 dollars. Check out the Blue Lagoon website for updated prices and general info.
10 Adventures in Iceland – Other info
Didn’t see your favorite on the list? Tell us what you’d like to see added! We visited briefly during the month of April and found the weather to be somewhat unpredictable. We were lucky to visit during the off season, because the parks and hotels were way less crowded. Have you tried to do some of these during a different time of year? If so, what was your experience like?
Passports for Peasants did not accept compensation for any of the companies mentioned in 10 Adventures in Iceland. For updates on availability and tour/attraction pricing, please refer to the individual company websites. Most of the photos used in this post are our own property, but some were found using the Unsplash Network. 10 Adventures in Iceland