Top 10 Tours in Iceland

Verified Expert

Iceland has many incredible tours leading to unique locations, such as Strokkur geyser.

What are the most popular tours in Iceland? Which parts of the country must you see and what activities are not to be missed? Read ahead to find the most popular things to do in Iceland.

    Iceland attracts hundreds of thousands of guests every year, drawn by images and videos of its majestic landscapes, otherworldly features, and thrilling adventure opportunities.

    Upon arrival, however, many guests are left wondering how to best access the country, and what tours will allow them to make the most of every minute in the Land of Ice and Fire. 

    Obviously, everyone's tastes are different, so there is no 'catch-all' agenda that will fit the wants and needs of all guests. Many tours have a limit on age, so they may not be suitable for families with young children. Other tours require a certain degree of mobility and fitness; some are very relaxing, which may not suit thrill-seekers. While others require some nerve to embark on, ill-fitting for those who simply want to unwind.

    Iceland is also a country of extreme seasonal contrasts, so excursions such as Northern Light hunting can only be undertaken by winter travellers, while river rafting tours are exclusively there for those visiting in summer.

    What tours you can take also depends on the parts of the country you plan on visiting, and whether you are driving yourself or being driven, either on day tours from Reykjavík or as part of a vacation package or self-drive tour.

    While all items on this list of top 10 tours in Iceland will not accommodate everyone, the majority should be considered by all guests prior to arrival.

    Each of them represents one (or many) of the incredible sides to this magnificent country and will be enjoyed by the vast majority of travellers whether they are looking for relaxation, adventure or awe-inspiring landscapes.

    10. Sightseeing Around the Golden Circle     

    The Great Geysir is not an active geyser in Iceland, but its next door neighbour Strokkur is.

    The Golden Circle is the most popular sightseeing route in Iceland, and there is no wonder as to why; it's accessible all year round, it can be visited in half a day from Reykjavík whether booking a tour or driving yourself, and the sites along it are incredible.

    The destinations included are the breathtaking waterfall Gullfoss, renowned for the rainbows which arc from its spray; the Geysir hot spring area, where you can witness the geyser Strokkur erupting to great heights every few minutes; and Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located directly between two tectonic plates.

    Some tours even visit a few bonus sites, such as the dramatic Kerið Crater Lake and Fríðheimar tomato farm.

    Gullfoss: Iceland's most famous and visited waterfall, seen on every Golden Circle trip, is pictured here in summer.

    Not only do the sites of the Golden Circle boast the unbelievable natural beauty for which this country is renowned, they also tell fascinating tales of the history and culture of Iceland.

    Gullfoss, for example, would have been dammed for profit in the 19th Century but for the tireless work of one unlikely hero. Geysir, meanwhile, was renowned so early that it gave its name to all similar phenomena. Whereas, Þingvellir, most impressively, was the original site of the world's longest ongoing parliament, dating back to 930 AD.

    Due to its popularity, there are a vast array of Golden Circle tours to choose from.

    Some tours are very affordable and efficient, such as this bus tour with audio guidance in ten languages, while others are slightly more expensive but much more personal, such as this private tour for up to seven guests.

    In summer, there are even Golden Circle tours that are undertaken beneath the Midnight Sun, and trips organised for those travelling to Iceland by cruise ship.

    Thingvellir National Park during autumn in Iceland is a beautiful location.

    As the Golden Circle takes only half a day to complete, many tour operator offer excursions that combine the sightseeing route with another adventure, often offered year-round.

    Enjoying the Golden Circle with a snowmobiling tour is a popular option; you could also combine it with a riding tour aback a charming Icelandic horse or a thrilling snorkelling trip. To witness Iceland both above and below the earth, you could combine the Golden Circle with lava caving.

    If you'd rather just relax, you can add a trip to Blue Lagoon on the same day, or a relaxing whale watching tour from Reykjavík Harbour.

    Literally hundreds of different tours head out every day from an array of different operators throughout the year, each boasting something unique. The options for how to enjoy the Golden Circle truly are endless, making it an unmissable point on this list of top ten tours.

    9. Sightseeing Around Lake Myvatn and the North 

    If you have a longer stay in Iceland or even a shorter one that you want to make a little different, it is a great idea to head to north Iceland. Not only is it a little less busy than the south and west, but it boasts a huge range of spectacular, diverse natural sights to enjoy.

    Taking yourself away from the capital does not mean that you will be lacking amenities. Akureyri is the largest town in the region, a cultural hub, and has everything a traveller needs to remain comfortable. 

    Alternatively, situated within a beautiful fjord, Eyjafjörður, the settlement is surrounded by mountains, one of which, Hlíðarfjall, has arguably the best skiing slopes in Iceland.

    The town can easily be reached by driving along Route 1 from Reykjavík or by taking a flight from the domestic airport, and many tour operators are based within it, meaning taking sightseeing or adventure excursions could not be easier.

    Lake Myvatn has diverse and unusual surroundings, found in northern Iceland.

    While there are many incredible natural sites in north Iceland, the most famous and popular is the Lake Mývatn area. This area has it all: spectacular views over the water, unique flora, a wealth of birdlife; dramatic geological formations, surrounding mountains, craters and lava fields, and abundant geothermal activity.

    Those coming to Iceland for relaxation will find the trip well worth it simply to bask in the healing geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths.

    Fans of Game of Thrones, meanwhile, will enjoy exploring the area as many scenes were shot here.

    For example, the Dimmuborgir lava fortress, was used as a setting north of the Wall, and a cave within it marks the spot where protagonist Jon Snow consummated his relationship with his wildling lover in one of Season Three's most romantic scenes. 

    While the area around the lakes is rocky but verdant, dramatic contrasts can be found just a short drive away at the barren, seething geothermal area of Námaskarð Pass.

    With sulphur filling the smoky air and not a shoot of green grass in sight, this destination reveals just how diverse North Iceland can be, and how its landscapes have been shaped by the fires burning just beneath the surface of the earth.

    North Iceland is home to the Waterfall of the Gods, pictured here in summer.

    Between Akureyri and Lake Mývatn is another beautiful attraction, the famous Goðafoss waterfall.

    Besides from being a spectacular natural feature, it has a wealth of history. In 1000 AD, it was here that the Lawspeaker of Iceland tossed his idols of the Old Norse Gods to officially mark the nation's conversion to Christianity, inadvertently beginning centuries of religious turmoil.

    A little further east are even more incredible sites. Dettifoss, for example, is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, thundering into an ancient canyon with such force that it must be seen to be believed.

    Near to Dettifoss is the verdant, horseshoe-shaped canyon of Ásbyrgi, a feature so perfectly formed that early Viking settlers could only attribute its creation to the interference of their gods.

    For something completely different, meanwhile, you could head to arguably the oldest settlement in Iceland, the town of Húsavík, which is not only a historical and cultural centre but one of the world's greatest locations to go whale watching.

    In summer, a whale watching tour from Húsavík will introduce you to the beautiful creatures of the deep, such as humpback whales and white-beaked dolphins, as well as a wealth of birdlife that may include puffins in the height of summer.

    Dettifoss waterfall is one of the Northern Hemisphere's most powerful waterfalls, located in north Iceland.

    If you are eager to make the most of all of these sites, then it is highly recommended to book a Diamond Circle sightseeing tour.

    Not only will such a tour introduce you to all (or in a few cases, most) of the sites listed above, they are similar to Golden Circle tours in that they come in a variety of forms.

    This excursion, for example, will allow you to sightsee while travelling in a four-wheel-drive jeep, whereas those with more of a budget will be blown away in awe by this once-in-a-lifetime trip that explores the sites from the sky.

    While this tour misses out on a few locations listed, it conveniently includes flights to and from Iceland's capital, making the sites of the north accessible even for those basing themselves in Reykjavík.

    8. Descending Inside a Volcano

    Þríhnúkagígur is a vast and incredible magma chamber in south east Iceland.

    Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, with the 'Fire', of course, meaning its volcanoes.

    While these volcanoes are not in a constant state of eruption (the last one finishing at Bárðarbunga in 2015), their consequences shape the island, with its enormous mountains, fields of lava and countless craters. No matter where you go, you will see the effects volcanic activity has had on the country.

    In order to witness this in a way that is not offered anywhere else on earth, however, look no further than the Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour. On this excursion, you have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to actually enter into the vast magma chamber of a volcano that has been dormant for the past 4000 years, Þríhnúkagígur.

    At this incredible feature, you'll board an old mining lift, which will lower you into a cavern large enough to comfortably fit the Statue of Liberty. The colours, created by elements within the lava such as iron, sulphur and nickel, are unbelievable, swirling across the walls, ground and ceiling so intricately it almost seems as if they were painted.

    Once your lift reaches the bottom, you'll have the opportunity to walk around the base, shining your torch around the magnificent space that surrounds you.

    This tour is particularly unique as usually once a volcano goes dormant, the magma either cools to solid rock or drains away and causes the peak to collapse into it. As mentioned, however, this cavern has existed for millennia and is thus structurally sound, making the excursion perfectly safe.

    The Into the Volcano tour is only available in the summer months, and due to its remarkable nature, is very popular, so it is essential to book well in advance.

    While the tour is open to everyone over eleven years old, a short, uphill hike across the rocky ground is required to reach the lift, meaning it is only recommended to those who are comfortable on their feet. 

    If you are not travelling to Iceland in summer, or are put off by this tour's price tag, you can also witness the colourful, dramatic effects of a volcanic eruption beneath the surface of Iceland's lava on a caving tour.

    7. Snorkelling Between Two Continents 

    Silfra fissure in Iceland has up to 100 metres visibility in its water.Iceland may not initially strike you as a destination for snorkelling and diving, particularly in a location where the water is not geothermally heated.

    The spring within Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park, however, is so unbelievably beautiful that thousands of guests a year brace the cold and take the plunge, and few regret it. In fact, Silfra is so stunning that it is regularly ranked as one of the top snorkelling and diving locations in the world.

    Its appeal comes largely down to two reasons.

    The first is the clarity of the water. The visibility often exceeds 100 metres, allowing you to witness incredible shades of blue as you look ahead towards Lake Þingvellavatn.

    The second is its location. As mentioned, Þingvellir is located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and the ravine was created by an earthquake caused by them pulling apart. As such, a snorkelling tour in Silfra is literally conducted between two continents.

    The reason Silfra is so clear is that the water comes from Langjökull glacier, travelling underground for thirty or so miles through porous lava rock, which removes all particles within it. It takes years to reach the spring, and when it emerges, is clean enough to drink.

    Snorkelling in Silfra on the Golden Circle is a chilly but thrilling tour.

    Of course, the water is also very cold, being just two degrees Celsius year-round.

    By wearing drysuits with insulating 'teddy-bear' suits beneath, however, you will not feel the chill on your body at all; they are also very buoyant, so you don't need to work at all to keep yourself on the surface. Wetsuit gloves and hoods allow the water in, but due to the nature of neoprene, this water quickly heats up and forms a protective layer.

    Some operators offer tours where you only wear wetsuits, which allow for greater mobility and provide the opportunity to free-dive. Although this is only recommended for those who are physically very fit and ready to be quite chilly for the forty or so minutes you'll spend in the water.

    Those trained in Scuba can take diving tours to explore Silfra, but due to the complications associated with the cold, you will need to at least be a PADI Openwater Diver (or have equivalent certifications) with a drysuit speciality or ten logged drysuit dives in the past two years. 

    6. Hiking in the Icelandic Highlands 

    Iceland's Highlands are remote, diverse and accessible only in summer.

    The Icelandic Highlands boast the country's most remote, raw and dramatic landscapes. Defined by lava fields, endless plains of black sands, mountains, rivers, volcanoes, glaciers and a spectrum of different colours, they attract hikers and photographers the world over. 

    The two most popular places from which you can access the Highlands are Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar. The Laugavegur trail, which connects them through the country's interior, is Iceland's best-known multi-day hiking route and a fantastic way to explore the region.

    This five-day tour is a classic way to enjoy the trail, staying in remote cabins each night and trekking through unbelievable landscapes each day. You can also elect to follow the same route by bike.

    This three-day tour, meanwhile, will cover part of the Laugavegur route, while also including a hike through the Fimmvörðuháls Pass, through lava and craters created in the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

    Landmannalaugar in Iceland's highlands are a must visit in summer!

    If you are an experienced hiker who has done their research and prepared well, a cheap option is to book a Highland Hikers Passport.

    With a Highland Hikers Passport, you'll be able to board a bus from the capital to either Skógar, Landmannalaugar or Þórsmörk, points sit at along the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls routes. You can then hike to your heart's content, before taking a bus from one of these destinations back.

    Þórsmörk translates to 'Thor's Valley', after the Old Norse God of Thunder. Unlike much of the region, it is densely forested with birch trees, which makes a stark and beautiful contrast with the surrounding lava formations and gleaming glaciers.

    Landmannalaugar, meanwhile, is a place of rhyolite mountains and steaming geothermal areas that you can bathe in. Skógar is the area that surrounds the majestic Skógafoss waterfall.

    If you are travelling with children or not eager or able to take the Laugavegur trail, all of these sites can be visited on day tours from Reykjavík. 

    This excursion, for example, allows you to reach Landmannalaugar in a super jeep, and includes a dip in the hot springs. For even more adventure, you can book this buggy tour, but will need to drive to the Highland area yourself. This super jeep day tour, meanwhile, will take you to both Þórsmörk and the waterfalls of the south.

    Snow covers the mountains in Iceland's Highlands even in summer.

    If you're planning a trip to both Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar, as well as some of Iceland's other main attractions such as the Golden Circle, the South Coast and Reykjavík, then this 6-day Highlands camping self-drive is the perfect option.

    If travelling in winter, there are even a few options to see Landmannalaguar. This 3-day tour is a fantastic way to witness Iceland's Highlands in this season, and will also provide you with plenty of opportunities to see the Northern Lights.

    If you would like to take such a tour but would also like your whole holiday sorted for you upon arrival as part of a vacation package, this 10-day adventure is a great choice. It also boasts visits to the South Coast, ice caves, Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon and Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

    Of course, however, Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk and the Laugavegur trail only cover a tiny amount of the Highlands, and there are tours around the country that allow you to access other, more remote parts.

    If you are in North Iceland, for example, you can find this day tour that takes you to the incredible Askja Caldera, located in a dramatic lava field created by some of the country's most violent eruptions. Here you can swim in the warm waters of the Víti explosion crater, surrounded by otherworldly vistas.

    Hiking the Laugavegur trail in south Iceland is far from the only way to explore the Highlands.

    Alternatively, you could take a day tour down the Kjölur Highland Road, which runs right through the Highlands, to the geothermal baths of Hveravellir and the dramatic rhyolite mountains of Kerlingarfjöll.

    Hikers seeking a multi-day trek in a more remote part of the Highlands could head to the eastern town of Egilsstaðir, and from there embark on a four-day journey under the shadow of the mighty Vatnajökull Glacier. Like on the Laugavegur trail, you'll stay each night in basic but comfortable cabins beneath the mystical light of the Midnight Sun.

    Avid photographers seeking to build their portfolios and vastly improve their landscape photography skills could also embark on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure over ten days, that will take them to many unbelievable Highland locations with an award-winning photographer and experienced guide.

    5. Glacier Hiking       

    Glacier hiking is one of the most popular activities in south Iceland.

    While the 'Fire' in the Land of Ice and Fire represents its volcanoes, the 'Ice' speaks of its glaciers.

    Eleven percent of Iceland's surface is covered by these gleaming ice caps, and Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe.

    They are simply magnificent to visit, with their stunning ice formations, incredible surrounding views, and spectrum of colours; far from being just the gleaming white of snow, you'll find veins of electric blue ice and jet black ash from eruptions centuries past.

    While very dangerous to ascend without proper equipment and training, with their slippery surfaces, hidden crevasses and sharp ridges, the wide range of glacier hiking and ice climbing tours in Iceland makes a trip upon them both safe and easy.

    With ice axes, helmets, crampons and an experienced, knowledgeable guide, a glacier hiking tour may well be the highlight of your trip to Iceland.

    The most commonly visited ice cap is Sólheimajökull, an outlet of the third-largest glacier in the country, Mýrdalsjökull; this is because it is easy to reach from Reykjavík, not too difficult to ascend, and boasts magnificent views of the country's south.

    This Sólheimajökull glacier expedition is a great choice for families as children as young as ten can partake, as is this tour, which also includes an exploration of the South Coast.

    Iceland's glaciers are truly impressive, and many can be hiked even in winter.

    The second most popular glacier to hike is Svínafellsjökull, often misnamed Skaftafellsjökull due to its position in the spectacular Skaftafell Nature Reserve.

    A tongue of Vatnajökull, tours upon its surface are perfect for those travelling to south-east Iceland, particularly alongside a visit to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon or the crystal blue ice caves (described in more detail below).

    Its location can hardly be bested, as the Skaftafell Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It boasts rivers, lagoons, forests and lava fields, as well as the famous Svartifoss waterfall, with its surrounding columns of perfectly formed hexagonal shaped rock.

    A tour on Svínafellsjökull can be done from anyone over seven years old, allowing your young ones to get a taste of adventure. It is thus also the best choice for those who aren't the most physically fit.

    If you want to partake in ice climbing on your glacier hike, scaling up a frozen wall with just your ice axe and crampons, then this tour is a perfect fit (although participants must be at least twelve years old).

    Though not quite the glacier hiking experience mentioned above, everyone two years old and up can still get a fantastic experience on the ice caps with this excursion, which takes you to the man-made ice tunnel carved into Langjökull glacier.

    This beautiful feature shows you the world inside one of these majestic features, with long corridors and many rooms that include a chapel. The journey to the tunnel is an adventure in itself, conducted in a massive super jeep.

    The truly adventurous travelling in the summer months, meanwhile, can take this thrilling tour up the twin-peaked Snæfellsjökull glacier, located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in west Iceland. This feature was made famous in the Jules Verne novel 'A Journey to the Centre of the Earth', where it was said to have a cave leading to a subterranean magical world.

    The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an incredible place to visit in and of itself, so much so that it is the next item on this top-ten list.

    4. Sightseeing Around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula 

    Snæfellsnes is a peninsula in west Iceland, pictured here in summer.

    A microcosm of Iceland with waterfalls, mountains, lava fields, rock formations, jagged coastlines, a wealth of wildlife and a crowning glacier, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has fairly earned its nickname 'Iceland in Miniature'. 

    It is most known for the aforementioned Snæfellsjökull glacier, and before listing its other amazing sites, it is worth discussing its appeal beyond glacier hiking.

    The twin-peaked subglacial volcano has inspired artists for centuries, and is so stunning that it is the central feature of a National Park of the same name, quite a feat considering there are only three National Parks in Iceland.

    Snæfellsjökull glacier is even visible across the sea from Reykjavík in clear weather. It sits right on the peninsula's tip, creating a beautiful silhouette that beckons thousands of visitors a year.

    It is so awe-inspiring that many superstitious people have claimed that it is a spot of magic and mysticism.

    In fact, it was once prophecised that aliens would land on Snæfellsjökull on November 5th, 1993.

    This rumour spread far and wide, to the extent that thousands gathered around it on the predicted doomsday date, accompanied by television crews from around the world, including CNN. Of course, nothing happened, but one glance at it leaves little wonder as to why extra-terrestrial beings might choose it as their base on earth.

    Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula are among its famous attractions.

    Aside from Snæfellsjökull, the sites on this peninsula are numerous, diverse, and close enough together that they can all be visited in one or two days for guests staying in Reykjavík.

    On its southern shore, you can see the hexagonal columns lined in near symmetry at Gerðuberg, a colony of seals resting off the rocky shoreline at Ytri Tunga beach, the dramatic mountain gorge of Rauðfeldgjá, and the windswept, long-abandoned village of Búðir.

    Right by the National Park are two more villages, Hellnar, which has also largely been abandoned, and Arnarstapi, which clung to life through fishing and later tourism, and boasts stunning coastal geology. Within the park are three more natural features of note. 

    Vatnshellir is a magnificent lava cave by the glacier that you can take a tour through in summer. 

    Djúpalónssandur, meanwhile, is a black sand beach which hosts four historic lifting stones that fishermen of old would test their strength (and suitability for the sea) against. 

    Whereas, Lóndrangar is an enormous basalt plug renowned for its birdlife that resembles a fortress.

    The coastal geology around Arnarstapi on Iceland's Snæfellsnes Peninsula is magnificent.

    The northern shore is home to the second-most famous feature on the Peninsula, the pyramid-shaped mountain of Kirkjufell, which fans of Game of Thrones will remember as a shooting location in the seventh season.

    Not far from here is the largest settlement in the area, Stykkishólmur, which is steeped in traditional fishing culture and folklore. From the northern coast in clear weather, you can attain magnificent views of the mountainous Westfjords across the sea.

    This great and reasonably priced bus tour takes in all the main sights of the peninsula. However, if you'd like a slightly more personalised experience, this minibus tour promises a smaller group size and some snacks along the way.

    To spend more times at the sites, you could instead elect to take this two-day excursion, which includes lava caving in Vatnshellir and a dip in the soothing geothermal waters of the Krauma Spa.

    If driving yourself in summer, you could opt into some unique experiences such as whale watching or kayaking under Mount Kirkjufell.

    Alternatively, you could take the Viking Sushi Tour from Stykkisholmur, and enjoy freshly caught scallops from a boat, while bird-watching and marvelling over the islands of Breiðafjörður Bay and the Westfjords.

    3. Witnessing the Northern Lights 

    The Northern Lights are perhaps the most popular Icelandic attraction in winter.

    If travelling to Iceland between September and April, it is likely that seeing the Northern Light is high on your agenda.

    There are only a handful of countries on the globe where this phenomenon can reliably be witnessed, and as such, aurora hunting is an integral part of this nation's winter tourism industry.

    The reason seeing this phenomenon is so high on many people's bucket lists is rather obvious; to see rays of vivid colour descend from a night sky lit only by a canopy of stars, and swirl and dance as if conducted by an ethereal force, is a mesmerising and awe-inspiring experience.

    Those lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights are left in little wonder as to why ancient societies thought they were messages from their gods and ancestors.

    Northern Lights tours are thus an essential part of this top ten list, although, as mentioned, only accessible to winter travellers.

    The reason for this is that throughout June and July, the sky never gets dark due to the effects of the Midnight Sun, and in May and August, the hours of darkness are too short for tours to reliably set out.

    Though the aurora borealis occurs year-round, they require as little light pollution as possible to be reliably seen.

    Northern Lights over Vestrahorn in east Iceland.

    Of course, you don't need to take a guided excursion to see the lights. If you have rented a car, you can drive out of urban areas and search yourself, and even if not, you can head to the darkest parts of towns and cities and hope for the best.

    On an official tour, however, you are accompanied by an expert in finding, photographing and explaining the auroras, who knows all the best viewing points and has access to tools to find the places with the least cloud cover.

    The most common and affordable Northern Lights tour is a bus excursion, which will take you to the nature around Reykjavík in hunt of the auroras. 

    For a more personal experience, you can also take a similar trip in a minibus or with a private driver.

    You could even hunt for the lights in a super jeep to access more remote areas. This super jeep tour, for example, is conducted with a professional photographer who will help you get stunning images of the auroras. 

    Another popular but somewhat more unique choice is a Northern Lights cruise, where you will head out into the waters surrounding the capital and search for this phenomenon from the deck of a ship. You can also take a similar tour from Akureyri.

    The Northern Lights can be seen on a range of tours from around the country.

    Northern Lights tours will not head out if the aurora forecast is weak or if there is too much cloud cover, and even if you do set out, this natural occurrence can be fickle, and they may not show. In either case, the vast majority of operators will allow you to try again for free another night.

    A great way to maximise your chances of catching the auroras, however, is to book a self-drive tour or guided package that is tailored to searching for them.

    This seven-day winter self-drive will provide you with countless opportunities to hunt for the Northern Lights, and if you would rather not drive yourself, this seven-day vacation package is a great alternative. Both also include the chance to enjoy Iceland's other spectacular winter phenomenon, a trip into the ice cave.

    Of course, the longer you spend in Iceland, the greater your chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

    This 14-day package takes you around the entire country, includes an ice cave tour, and gives you 13 opportunities to catch the auroras, in an array of different locations. If you take the tour between November and March, then it also includes an ice cave trip.

    2. Sightseeing Around the South Coast 

    Second, only to the Golden Circle, the South Coast is Iceland's most popular sightseeing route, and like the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, is is somewhat of a microcosm of Iceland.

    Beautiful waterfalls, a spectacular coastline, glacier-capped volcanoes, stretches of black sands, geological marvels and islands all add to its beauty, and it culminates in the far east with the magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

    Travelling from the capital, you will initially pass through some lovely countryside and geothermal areas before reaching the shoreline.

    In clear weather from here, before reaching the first destinations, you may be able to see the volcanic archipelago of the Westman Islands jutting out to sea on your right, and glimpses of the glaciers Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull to your left.

    You will then spot the unmissable Seljalandsfoss, a sixty-metre tall waterfall that falls in a narrow cascade before a gaping cavern.

    Seljalandsfoss is famous and unique for the fact that it has a path that goes right behind it, which, in summer, allows you to see the feature and South Coast from a mesmerising and unique perspective.

    A short walk from Seljalandsfoss is a hidden gem of waterfall many guests miss because it is hidden in a mountainside cleft, the otherworldly Gljúfrabúi.

    Continuing along Route 1 heading east, you will pass the aforementioned Sólheimajökull glacier tongue, and reach another waterfall, Skógafoss.

    Though the same height as Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss is far more powerful, thundering to the ground with a great cloud of spray. A staircase beside this feature allows you to marvel over it from many different angles.

    The next major stop is Dyrhólaey, a magnificent rock arch that curves out into the ocean, large enough for ships (and small planes, as a few intrepid pilots have proved) to travel through. If coming here between May and September, be sure to look out for puffins, which nest among the rocks in the thousands and have little fear of people.

    The coastal geology becomes no less spectacular at the nearby Reynisfjara Beach, renowned for its jet black sand, thunderously powerful waves, and towering offshore sea-stacks known as Reynisdrangar.

    Accordingly to Icelandic folklore, these basalt pillars are said to be frozen trolls, who were caught in sunlight as they attempted to drag a ship to shore. 

    Reynisdrangar is an example of the beautiful coastal geology off of Iceland's South Coast.

    The village of Vík sits just inland from Reynisfjara, and is often the final stop on day tours of the South Coast.

    Those that continue on, however, pass through more diverse scenery of the countryside, lava fields, estuaries and black sand deserts, before reaching Vatnajökull. At this point, the landscapes to your left will become that of dramatic mountains, dozens of glacier tongues and countless waterfalls.

    Finally, you will reach what is referred to as 'the Crown Jewel of Iceland's Nature', the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

    At this otherworldly location, you will find an enormous lake filled with towering icebergs, groaning, rotating and splitting apart as they make their slow journey from a glacier tongue to the ocean.

    Hours can be spent at the shores of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon marvelling over the views here, made all the more delightful by the many resident seals.

    When these icebergs finally reach the ocean, they wash upon on a beautiful stretch of black sand coastline called the Diamond Beach.

    The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is beautiful in both summer and winter.

    As noted, most South Coast day tours will take you to Vík and back, allowing plenty of time at the incredible sites en route. This bus tour with audio guidance in ten languages, is a perfect example, as is this more intimate minibus tour.

    It is possible to reach Jökulsárlón in a day, such as with this excursion, although note that you will have much less time at the other features.

    This two-day trip offers the best of both worlds, and if travelling in winter, this three-day tour is a great option, as it also includes the Golden Circle and a trip to the ice caves, the incredible appeal of which you can read about in the next and final point of this top ten list.

    If spending some time at Jökulsárlón in summer, there are some incredible options to explore the glacier lagoon more personally.

    The most affordable option is to book a tour on an amphibious boat that will take you right amongst the icebergs; for a closer look for a slight extra cost, you could instead look to this zodiac tour. Those who like to keep active will find no better choice than this kayaking trip.

    All three excursions will not just get you closer to the ice, but allow you to see the lagoon's seals up close.

    1. Exploring an Ice Cave   

    When it comes to this list of our ten most recommended tours in Iceland, an exploration of the crystal blue ice caves under Vatnajökull glacier has to take the top spot.

    Although only accessible between mid-October (sometimes early November) and March, their uniqueness, the sheer beauty and ever-increasing popularity makes it simply unfitting for them to be placed any lower.

    Technically called glacier caves (as ice cave is the definition of any cave with permanent ice), they form in very few places around the world; even fewer places have them anywhere near so easily and safely accessible.

    Each ice cave is different in its size, shape and the formations within. However, they all share the same vivid colouration of electric blue swirled with gleaming white, and the fantastical air of the otherworldly.

    What makes them even more impressive in Iceland is their location. The south-east of the country boasts two other previously mentioned top attractions, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve, allowing you to enjoy three incredible and vastly different experiences you will never forget in a single day.

    Unlike with Jökulsárlón and Skaftafell, however, the ice caves can only be enjoyed on a guided tour.

    Inside an ice cave in south-east Iceland, on a tour only accessible in summer.

    If you are eager to see a crystal blue ice cave, it is important to book early; as they are only open for a few months of a year and on many people's bucket lists, spots can be hard to come by if you try to do it last minute. 

    This ice cave tour is perfect if you are driving yourself. You will meet your guide at the parking lot of the glacier lagoon, be whisked to the site, and have plenty of time to plumb the depths of this phenomena and take some incredible photographs.

    There are also plenty of winter self-drive tours that are also tailored to ice cave exploration while incorporating other sites and adventures.

    This three-day self-drive, for example, is perfect for those on a shorter holiday. However, if you have a full week, this seven-day option will also take you to the Golden Circle and Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

    Those who are seeking the winter adventure of a lifetime, meanwhile, while finding a two-week journey around the whole country an experience that they will never forget.

    Self-drive tours are excellent as they take away all the stress out of organising your holiday, as your accommodation, tours, and vehicle are all booked prior to your arrival. 

    Please note, however, that if you are driving yourself in winter, you must rent a four-wheel-drive, and be confident in icy, dark conditions. In December and January, the temperature rarely rises above freezing, and the country only gets around four hours of daylight.

    If you're not driving yourself, the ice caves are still easily accessible. This two-day excursion is a great choice, as is this three-day adventure, which also includes glacier hiking and a Golden Circle trip.

    Similar to the self-drives, there are also plenty of winter vacation packages that are tailored to the ice caves, such as a week-long holiday, and a fifteen-day trip around the whole country.

    Though the crystal blue ice caves, defined by their electric blue colouration, are only open from November to March, there are other ice caves you can visit outside of this time which are still spectacular.

    For example, the ice caves within Mýrdalsjökull glacier, defined more by veins of black ash within the white snow from the eruptions of the mighty volcano Katla, are open all year round.

    You can drive yourself to Vík and take an excursion from there, or incorporate the tour into an exploration of the South Coast from the capital.

    We hope you find a great deal of travel inspiration from our top 10 tours of Iceland guide to ensure your trip is truly a once in a lifetime experience. We'd love to hear and respond to any questions or comments you may have in the section below.

    Get access to special deals & events