Iceland is the land of adventure. With remarkable natural landscapes and outdoor activities , there is much to explore during your visit to this northern island. Winter provides opportunities for travelers to take advantage of the cold climate, whether it be by skiing in the mountains, or even snowmobiling across glaciers -- and the summer offers an ideal setting to jump into the sea and snorkel or scuba dive.
Soak in the hot springs or enjoy popular destinations such as the Blue Lagoon, Geysir, golden circle, stunning rock formations, and expansive countryside year-round, or join a journey by Jeep. There's no better way to visit Iceland than to explore outside, and booking tours will help make sure you can see the best of the country throughout your trip.
Whether capturing Iceland on a camera or experiencing its wonders firsthand, this stunning island offers quite a unique experience. While you can certainly rent a 4x4 vehicle to tour parts on your own, it is safe to say that booking a few guided tours will ensure you see the best of the country throughout your trip -- safely.
Snow & Glacier Adventure Tours
Ultimate thrill-seekers will love zooming around on the top of glaciers that are hundreds of years old. There’s no better way to see Iceland than from up above. You’ll bundle up from head to toe with gear provided by the company doing the tour, and then take an off-road vehicle to the bottom of the glacier.
From there you’ll head to the top, and once you’ve reached the top, there’s no holding back! Go at your own pace, or race your companions around in the snow. Just don’t forget to take a break and soak up the beauty below.
Iceland is brimming with waterfalls -- offering the best views during the Summer, as the roads won’t be closed due to icy conditions. Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss are beautiful waterfalls on the southern part of the island that’s popular among visitors, the latter said the most picturesque and exciting since one can explore behind the cascading water.
Don’t discount going out in the winter though. You can still access many of the falls year-round, and the contrast of the snow against the water is stunning. Gullfoss, for instance, is great for visiting any time of the year. Most of the waterfalls do require a bit of hiking to get to though, so come prepared.
Northern Lights Tours
Iceland is an ideal location for outdoor photographers to capture breathtaking landscapes and, depending on the time of year, the Northern Lights. Photography tour packages can guide you to the best locations for National Geographic-worthy photo opportunities. Since the Northern Lights are never guaranteed, often these tours will also offer access to ice caves, waterfalls and lagoons, and glaciers.
Use this guide for information about planning a trip to Iceland. It'll cover the basics you need to know before booking and help you prepare adequately.
Best Time to Visit Iceland
Iceland can be visited year-round, but the most pleasant time is during the summer. The weather varies around 50-70F degrees, and the sun tends to be out much more. Due to its location though, expect only a few hours of darkness during the summer. Summer is also the busiest time, so your activities and accommodations will need to be booked well in advance.
Winter is also a fun time to visit, and much less crowded. Iceland gets a reputation for being extremely cold, but it averages around 30 degrees F during the winter months. There are only a few hours of light though (opposite of summer) so consider that when planning outdoor activities. This is still a great time for any snow sports -- and of course, photographing the Northern Lights.
What to Look for In a Tour to Iceland
If you want to visit Iceland in the summer months, plan your lodging at least half a year in advance. It’s the busiest season by far, and you don’t want to be left last minute with a pricey accommodation outside of town. Consider how much you want to spend on the trip in total before booking everything. As an island country, Iceland is pretty expensive across the board, choose what’s most important to you on your trip and spend the most money on that.
In addition, Iceland has seen a big surge in tourism over the past decade. This means that there are a lot more tour operators working in Iceland than there were, and you have many more options. Reading reviews from past travelers can help you determine which tours will provide the experience you want.
Typical Tour Costs
Iceland is generally expensive for most visitors. Multi-day tours will start from $200 per day on average, and go up from there depending on your amenities and the activities you want to do.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Bringing layers is key to staying comfortable in Iceland. If visiting in the summer, bring a sleeping mask if the prolonged sunlight will bother you at night. You’ll probably want to wear jeans, a t-shirt, and a rain jacket in case the weather turns in the summer. In the winter, long underwear will be needed under any snow outfit for outdoor activities.
Most tour companies have gear to rent or for sale before their activities start. There are also several shops in downtown Reykjavik should you need extra clothes or supplies.
Other Tips for Travel in Iceland
- Budgeting & currency: Iceland has its own currency, the Icelandic krona, but credit cards are accepted at most places in Reykjavik. If you’re staying farther outside of town or doing a road trip around the island, it would be smart to get cash in advance, should you need it. Iceland is quite an expensive country compared to parts of Europe, but there are always ways to get around it. The most expensive item is probably alcohol due to the tax, so it's best to just skip that altogether. Restaurants can also cost you a pretty penny, so consider buying food from the grocery store to cut down on costs.
- Transportation: While there are some buses that run in Reykjavik, the best options for getting around are booking a service with your tour company, renting your own car, or taking a bus. The roads are well-paved, so as long as you stick to the main roads you’ll be just fine. The shuttle is also convenient and can take you to or from the airport, Blue Lagoon, or even for a day tour. With everything else, book it in advance to make sure you get the day and time you want.
- Car rentals: Renting a car and driving around Iceland can be a great way to experience the country. Just make sure you stick to only the main roads that you’re allowed on. The island has many extremely steep and rocky roads that are only for off-roading vehicles, and can become very dangerous.
- Accommodations: There are hotels and hostels available to stay at in the capital city of Reykjavik, in addition to a few throughout the island. Many homeowners have put up their apartments and homes on Airbnb, which can be a great way to save money when with a group. You'll also have access to your own kitchen to make meals.
There are no vaccines required for entry into Iceland. Routine vaccinations, however, should remain up to date.
Iceland has been rated one of the safest countries in the world as far as crimes go. You'll just need to use caution when being outside, as the elements can change at anytime. Pay attention to signs warning you not to enter a road or go off a path on mountain. If the weather gets too extreme, pull over or head back to your accommodation until it calms down.