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

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 should you not miss? 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 which tours will allow them to make the most of every minute in the Land of Ice and Fire. 

Everyone’s tastes are different, so no ‘catch-all’ agenda will fit all guests’ wants and needs. Many tours have an age limit, 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 travelers, while river rafting tours are exclusively for those visiting in summer.

    Which tours you can take will also depend on the parts of the country you plan to visit, 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 not all items on this list of top 10 tours in Iceland will accommodate everyone, the majority should be considered by all guests before arrival.

    Each of them represents one (or many) of the incredible sides to this magnificent country. The vast majority of travelers will enjoy them, 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 why. It's accessible all year round, you can visit it in half a day from Reykjavík, whether by booking a tour or driving yourself, and the sites around it are incredible.

    The destinations included are breathtaking. The Gullfoss waterfall is renowned for the rainbows that arc from its spray. The Geysir hot spring area allows you to witness the geyser Strokkur erupting to great heights every few minutes. And Þingvellir National Park is a spectacular 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.

    The sites of the Golden Circle host the unbelievable natural beauty for which this country is renowned. They also tell fascinating tales of the history and culture of Iceland.

    For example, Gullfoss would have been dammed for profit in the 19th Century, were it not 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, you can choose from a vast array of Golden Circle tours.

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

    There are even Golden Circle tours undertaken beneath the Midnight Sun and trips organized for those traveling to Iceland by cruise ship in summer.



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

    As the Golden Circle takes only half a day to complete, many tour operators 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 on a charming Icelandic horse or a thrilling snorkeling trip. To witness Iceland both above and below the earth, you could combine the Golden Circle tour with lava caving.

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

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



    9. Sightseeing Around Lake Myvatn and the North

    If you have a longer stay in the country 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 natural sights to enjoy.

    Taking yourself away from the capital does not mean that you will lack amenities. Akureyri is the largest town in the region, a cultural hub, and has everything a traveler 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.

    You can reach the town by driving along Route 1 from Reykjavík or by taking a flight from the domestic airport. It hosts many tour operators 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.

    Meanwhile, Game of Thrones fans will enjoy exploring the area as the show filmed many scenes here.

    For example, the Dimmuborgir lava fortress was used as a setting north of the Wall. 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, you can find dramatic contrasts just a short drive away at the barren, seething geothermal area of Námaskarð Pass.

    With sulfur filling the smoky air and no green grass in sight, this destination reveals how diverse North Iceland can be and how the fires burning just beneath the earth’s surface have shaped its landscapes.



    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.

    Aside 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 unforgettable sites. Dettifoss, for example, is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, thundering into an ancient canyon with such force that you need to see it to believe it.

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

    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 center but one of the world's best 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 these sites, 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.

    For example, this excursion will allow you to sightsee while traveling in a four-wheel-drive jeep, whereas those with more of a budget will be amazed by this once-in-a-lifetime trip exploring 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 erupting (the last was Bárðarbunga in 2015), they shape the island, with its enormous mountains, lava fields, and countless craters. No matter where you go, you will see the effects volcanic activity has had on the country.

    To witness this in a way that is not offered anywhere else on earth, look no further than the Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour. On this excursion, you have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to 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 fit the Statue of Liberty comfortably. The colors created by elements within the lava, such as iron, sulfur, and nickel, are unbelievable. They swirl 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. Its remarkable features are 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 comfortable on their feet. 

    If you are not traveling to Iceland in summer or are put off by this tour's price tag, you can also witness the colorful effects of a volcanic eruption on a lava 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 snorkeling 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 themselves for the cold and take the plunge, with few regretting it. Silfra is so stunning that it is regularly ranked as one of the world’s top snorkeling and diving locations.

    Its appeal mostly comes down to two reasons.

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

    The second is its location. As mentioned, Þingvellir sits between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. An earthquake caused by the plates pulling apart created the ravine, meaning a snorkeling tour in Silfra is actually conducted between two continents.

    Silfra is so clear because the water comes from Langjökull glacier, traveling 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, it 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.

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

    Some operators offer tours where you only wear wetsuits, which allow for greater mobility and provide the opportunity to free-dive. Though this is only recommended for those who are physically very fit and ready to be quite chilly for the 40 or so minutes, you'll spend in the water.

    Those trained in Scuba can take diving tours to explore Silfra. 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 specialty or have 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 include 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 colors, the Highlands attracts hikers and photographers worldwide. 

    The two most popular places from which you can access the Highlands are Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar. The Laugavegur trail, which connects these areas 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 your 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. Drop-off points sit 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, making 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 where you can bathe. Skógar is the area that surrounds the majestic Skógafoss waterfall.

    If you are traveling with children or are not eager or able to take the Laugavegur trail, you can visit these sites on day tours from Reykjavík.

    For example, this excursion 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. Meanwhile, this super jeep day tour will take you to both Þórsmörk and the south's waterfalls.

    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 traveling in winter, there are still 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 and want your whole holiday sorted for you upon arrival as part of a vacation package, this 10-day adventure is a great choice. It offers visits to the South Coast, ice caves, Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, and Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

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

    If you are in North Iceland, you can find this day tour that takes you to the incredible Askja Caldera. The caldera is 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. As 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. This workshop will take them to many fantastic Highland locations with an award-winning photographer and an 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.

    These gleaming ice caps cover eleven percent of Iceland's surface. Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe.

    The glaciers are simply magnificent to visit, with their stunning ice formations, incredible surrounding views, and spectrum of colors. Far from just the gleaming white of snow, you'll find veins of electric blue ice and jet black ash from eruptions in centuries past.

    They’re very dangerous to ascend without proper equipment and training, with their slippery surfaces, hidden crevasses, and sharp ridges. However, the wide range of glacier hiking and ice climbing tours in Iceland makes a trip 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 has magnificent views of the country's south.

    This Sólheimajökull glacier expedition is an excellent choice for families since children as young as ten can partake. This tour 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.

    As a glacial tongue of Vatnajökull, tours upon its surface are perfect for those traveling to southeast 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 country’s most beautiful areas. It has rivers, lagoons, forests and lava fields, and the famous Svartifoss waterfall, with its surrounding columns of perfectly formed hexagonal shaped rock.

    A tour on Svínafellsjökull can be done by 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 ax 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 human-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, including a chapel. The journey to the tunnel is an adventure in itself, conducted in a massive super jeep.

    Meanwhile, the truly adventurous traveling in the summer months 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 Jules Verne’s novel 'A Journey to the Center of the Earth,’ where it was said to have a cave leading to an underground 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 rightly earned its nickname 'Iceland in Miniature.' 

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

    The twin-peaked subglacial volcano has inspired artists for centuries. It is so stunning that it is the central feature of a national park of the same name. This is 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.

    It was once prophecized that aliens would land on Snæfellsjökull on November 5th, 1993.

    This rumor 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 that hosts four historic lifting stones that fishermen of old would use to test their strength and suitability for the sea.

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



    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, steeped in traditional fishing culture and folklore. From the northern coast in clear weather, you can get 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 personalized experience, this minibus tour promises a smaller group size and some snacks along the way.

    To spend more time 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 marveling 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 traveling 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 you can reliably witness this phenomenon. As such, aurora hunting is an integral part of this nation's winter tourism industry.

    The reason why seeing this phenomenon is so high on many people's bucket lists is rather obvious. Seeing rays of vivid color 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 mesmerizing and awe-inspiring experience.

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

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

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

    Though the aurora borealis occurs year-round, they require as little light pollution as possible for you to see them.

    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 for yourself, and even if not, you can head to the darkest parts of towns and cities and hope for the best.

    However, on an official tour, 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 into the nature around Reykjavík for your aurora hunt. 

    You can also take a similar trip in a minibus or with a private driver for a more personal experience.

    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 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 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 maximize 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 chances 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, it will also include an ice cave trip.



    2. Sightseeing Around the South Coast

    Second only to the Golden Circle, the South Coast is one of Iceland's most popular sightseeing routes, and like the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, it 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, culminating in the far east with the magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

    Traveling 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-meter tall waterfall that falls in a narrow cascade before a gaping cavern.

    Seljalandsfoss is unique due to a path that goes right behind it. In summer, this allows you to see the waterfall and South Coast from a mesmerizing perspective.

    A short walk from Seljalandsfoss is a hidden gem of a waterfall that many guests miss because it hides 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 brave pilots have proven) 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.

    Icelandic folklore says these basalt pillars are 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.

    However, those that continue on pass through more diverse scenery of 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.

    You can spend hours at the shores of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon marveling over the views here, made all the more delightful by the many resident seals.

    When these icebergs finally reach the ocean, they wash up on a beautiful stretch of black sand coastline called 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 you will have much less time at the other features.

    This two-day trip offers the best of both worlds, and if traveling in winter, this three-day tour is a great option. 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 small 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, 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 worldwide; even fewer places have them anywhere near so quickly and safely accessible.

    Each ice cave is different in its size, shape, and formations within. However, they all share the same vivid coloration 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 country's southeast offers two other previously mentioned top attractions, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. This means you can enjoy three incredible and vastly different experiences you will never forget in a single day.

    However, unlike Jökulsárlón and Skaftafell, you can only enjoy the ice caves 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 the year and are on many people's bucket lists, spots can be hard to come by if you try to make a last-minute reservation. 

    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 phenomenon and take some incredible photographs.

    There are also plenty of winter self-drive tours 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.

    Meanwhile, those seeking the winter adventure of a lifetime will find a two-week journey around the whole country an experience that they will never forget.

    Self-drive tours are excellent for taking away all the stress of organizing your holiday since your accommodation, tours, and vehicle will all be booked before your arrival.

    However, please note that you must rent a four-wheel-drive and be confident in icy, dark conditions if you are driving yourself in winter. 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, and this three-day adventure also includes glacier hiking and a Golden Circle trip.

    Like the self-drives, there are also plenty of winter vacation packages 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 coloration, are only open from November to March, there are other ice caves you can visit outside of this time that are still spectacular.

    For example, the ice caves within Mýrdalsjökull glacier, defined more by their veins of black ash within the white snow from the mighty volcano Katla’s eruptions, are open 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. It was designed 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.