Dramatic waterfalls, top tour activity in Iceland

Iceland - Best Tours & Trips

Iceland may sound foreboding, but it's one of the world's most fascinating countries -- and, warmed by the Gulf Stream, not nearly as cold as you may think. It's a land of volcanoes, hot springs, fjords, and waterfalls that lies just below the Arctic Circle. An adventure traveler's dream, as soon as you go, you're sure to warm up to Iceland.

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Top Iceland Experiences and Attractions


Top Iceland Experiences

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Top Iceland Attractions

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Iceland Trip Reviews


311
Iceland Tour Reviews - Summary
93% Recommend

4.6 out of 5
Excellent 212 Great 75 Average 18 Disappointing 3 Terrible 3
Value
4.6 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.6 Lodging
4.6 Transportation
4.6 Meals
4.6

A

Recommends

Iceland Walking Explorer August 2018

5.0

Iceland Walking Explorer

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
An active walking trip through a diverse kaleidoscope of landscapes, from
volcanic craters, green verdant hills to snow fields. An excellent way to
experience nature and Iceland without the crowds.
Hiking in Kerlingafjoll in snowy conditions. A combination of hot steamy
geothermal activity, stark hills covered in snow. Bleak, and beautiful.
Wading through snowfields, and clambering up slippery snow covered hills. It
was a real adventure.


Gunnar was great. Stoic, quietly passionate, a good chef who fed us well,
and kept us safe. He showed us the beauty of Iceland sprinkled with
traditional folklore. His depth of knowledge of the flora and fauna was
impressive.


Be prepared for all seasons from sun, snow, rain, wind. Waterproofs
compulsory and walking poles are useful. The walking is technically not
difficult but you do have to be reasonably fit. We walked on average 6-8
hours per walking day. Adverse weather conditions may make it more difficult
walking through muddy, slippery conditions.


Definitely go sooner than later. Camping is becoming increasingly popular. We
went at the beginning of the season and missed the crowds.


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

S

Recommends

Very informed about all the things August 2018

5.0

Incredible Iceland & Northern Lights

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We were on the middle October 2017 tour. Our tour guide, Oli, MADE us stay out on the tour the first night that we were there--for some of us having stayed up for nearly 24 hours BUT--he was right we had views of the Northern Lights that never appeared another night--He was great--I loved all the tales of the Trolls and Hidden People--he was very informed about all the things that make Iceland so special. Plan to go back. The worst part of the whole trip was my getting called out--cataracts and all--for extra scrutiny at the Reyjavik airport--and that the overnight at JFK was unbearable--except for watching some Peruvians in native costume--recognized from our trip to Macchu Picchu --who were waiting on a flight.--Hated that part of it all--the connection--but loved the trip itself. Read more

Operator SmarTours

MP

Recommends

Anna was an amazing tour guide - I really can’t speak highly enough April 2018

5.0

Northern Lights Exploration - 8 days

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
She had a deep knowledge and love of her country and it showed in every moment of the trip making it extra special.

Operator On The Go Tours

SR

Recommends

Thor was extremely knowledgeable and personable April 2018

5.0

Iceland Circle - 8 Days

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

He ensured that everyone was comfortable, happy, and achieving all that they wanted to on their tour.

I loved this trip! Being in a small group and travelling around the entire country, was both enlightening and exhilarating.
Our transport, accommodation, guide, and daily 'excursions' made this trip a dream come true.
Read more

Operator On The Go Tours

YB

Recommends

Our Iceland holiday was amazing March 2018

5.0

Northern Lights Exploration - 8 days

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We saw everything we wanted to see - the trip was well-paced, but we covered a lot of ground. We also saw the Northern lights - spectacular.
Anna-Lara was excellent - informative and great fun. She obviously enjoys her work, and we felt really well looked after.
Read more

Operator On The Go Tours

Iceland Tours and Travel Guide


Iceland Attractions & Landmarks Guide


Iceland may sound foreboding, but it's one of the world's most fascinating countries -- and, warmed by the Gulf Stream, not nearly as cold as you may think. It's a land of volcanoes, hot springs, fjords, and waterfalls that lies just below the Arctic Circle. An adventure traveler's dream, as soon as you go, you're sure to warm up to Iceland.

Iceland is known as the land of Fire and Ice, which sounds more like a fantasy novel than a real location. But it is just that sense of fantasy that draws so many travelers to Iceland’s shores. From storied viking history and legends to the real belief in elves, Iceland is a land of tremendous folklore, interwoven with a stunning natural landscape.

This natural landscape includes hundreds of volcanoes and waterfalls, against dramatic backdrops of ice, snow, glaciers, bright green mountains and cliffs, ravines, and dark rocky shoreline. The best Iceland tours are active and outdoors; your guide will focus on nature, wildlife, eco and geo science.

The people of Iceland, and the government care deeply about protecting their landscape and limiting human harm as much as possible. They are a world leader in sustainable energy, and harness their natural resources to keep Iceland as pristine as possible.

Though Iceland is small, it packs a punch - around every bend in the road, a new dazzling view and photo op awaits. You’ll want plenty of time to explore the incredible beauty of Iceland.

What to Pack for Iceland

Bring sturdy, broken in hiking boots. And lots and lots of layers. The weather can change dramatically during one day and Iceland can be oddly temperate on some winter days or oddly cold on some summer days. Also if you’re hiking around Iceland’s many waterfalls it’s suggested to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket.

Most vacation packages to Iceland spend a lot of time outdoors among the elements. For Iceland travel you’ll want to pack things you don’t care about getting dirty and sweaty, and that hold up well in wind, water, mud, and rain.  

Photography enthusiasts can refer to our Iceland Photography Tours page for more details on what to pack. You’ll definitely want to bring a tripod, and waterproof casing for your camera - especially if you’re getting up close and personal with one of Iceland’s many waterfalls!

Visiting Iceland in Summer

Iceland in Summer is very popular, but that can be the downside. Summer is a popular travel time for tourists, and Iceland’s increasing popularity means the crowds will be heavy. It doesn’t get incredibly warm, highs on average hover around 65 degrees F.

Summer in Iceland experiences 24 hour sunlight, around the time of the Summer Solstice. This natural event draws visitors by the thousands, all over the world in fact, for festivals celebrating the longest day of the year.

In Iceland the most popular way Summer Solstice is celebrated is with the “Secret Solstice” festival, which lasts for three days. Music, food, drink, and fun to be had.

Visiting Iceland in Winter

Iceland in winter can be spectacular, however some attractions will be off limits due to harsh weather conditions (snow, ice on the road, wind). That said, this is the best time to visit to see the famous Northern Lights. Going on a tour is heavily advised. Your guide will know the best viewing areas and will be privy to extended information on forecasts.

In winter, Iceland experiences very dark days, and sometimes only 3 to 4 hours of sunlight. This is what makes the season perfect viewing for the Northern Lights, but pretty dreary otherwise.  

While the Northern Lights is the key attraction, only available to see in winter in Iceland, it’s not the only one! You should also check out the Ice Caves, which entrance visitors with their bright blue frozen formations. Snow and ice photographers take note! This one’s for you. This year there's still plenty of time to book for Northern Lights viewing: Iceland tours 2017.

Transportation in Iceland

While Iceland is a traditionally “adventurous” destination, geared toward millennials seeking thrills such as glacier walking, polar plunging, extreme waterfall hikes, and walking over lava fields near active volcanoes, that doesn’t mean you can’t find more comfortable ways to travel through this incredible country.

Older travelers, or those simply more interested in a slower, less adrenaline pumping kind of a trip can still find Iceland travel packages with plenty to see and do, that don't involve traveling in a 4x4 over rough terrain.

This is not to say that all of Iceland’s attractions are troublesome to get to. In response to increased tourism, Iceland has made many updates to their roads, especially in areas of high concentration, such as the Golden Circle. So you’re sure to encounter a smooth ride to see Iceland’s major sites. If you want to go farther afield, to see the Northern Lights or experience the Ring Road, there might be some portions on this journey that are less well maintained.

The best tip would be to travel Iceland guided with a tour company that caters to senior travelers. On a tour with companies such as Road Scholar or ElderTreks, these things will be taken into consideration and every effort will be made to minimize discomfort as you explore Iceland.

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a classic way to see some of Iceland’s top sights. Many Iceland day tours depart from Reykjavik to see the Golden Circle, which can take anywhere from 3-4 hours to 6-8 hours depending on how many stops you make and how long you spend in each stop. You may be surprised how long you need to process the majesty of Gullfoss waterfall. Or you may want longer than an hour or two to explore the incredible Þingvellir National Park.

A classic tour of The Golden Circle usually hits the “big three” Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss, with variations and additions depending on who you travel with. If you have only a short time in Iceland, these are the places you’ll want to see.

Iceland’s Ring Road

While the Golden Circle is a long one day or comfortable two day venture around southwest Iceland’s most famous landmarks, the Ring Road is a through road adventure around the entire island, about 800 miles.

Avoid traveling the Ring Road in winter. Ice can be treacherous on the roads, and as it’s a tourist activity, some drivers may be unfamiliar with driving on slick, icy roads.

One thing to be cautious of is the food options along the way. You won’t find a lot of gourmet choices, let alone choices in general. Plan ahead and buy a lot of substantial non-perishable snacks ahead of time.

Because Iceland is so small, this trip could potentially be completed in 24 hours, but you will one hundred percent want to plan way more time than that. The minimum recommended is one week. The views that appear around every single bend in the road will make you want to stop constantly and whip out your camera.

Some top highlights along the Ring Road include:

Southwest

Seljalandsfoss - This waterfall is 200 feet high and viewable from the Ring Road, even though you need to take a small drive off the road to get there. Notable for the cave directly behind which allows you to walk a full 360 degrees around the falling streams of water.

Skógafoss - Another brilliant waterfall, Skogafoss is a beautiful sight, falling 200 feet, surrounded by greenery and emptying into a small idyllic river.

Vik - A lovely small town to visit, near one of Iceland’s strange yet beautiful black beaches.

North Iceland

Dimmuborgur-  Strange and haunting rock formations that seem to “grow” out of the dark waters in this area, and surrounding hidden caves, make it’s nickname the “gateway to Hell” really make sense.

East Iceland

Höfn - If you happen to be driving the Ring Road between June and July, you have to try and be in Höfn for the lobster festival. Nowhere will you taste fresher, more delicious lobster, and Iceland is known to put on a good festival.

Reindeer in the East - Eastern Iceland is the only place where wild reindeer are found in Iceland. You’ll see them by the hundreds! Though the animal is not indigenous to the country, they certainly look like they belong and have thrived for many years.

Hallormsstadur Forest - One thing you will notice almost immediately in Iceland is the lack of trees. So to explore a full fledged forest is quite unique in Iceland. This is a natural halfway point along the Ring Road, approximately 8 hours from Reykjavik.

Southeast Iceland

Kirkjubæjarklaustur - This tiny town has a very interesting history, as well as several nearby sights and hikes, easily accessed on foot.

Skaftafell - This waterfall has an otherworldly look as it falls among basalt columns, neatly arranged on either side, in a strange but alluring pattern.

Caving in Iceland

Overshadowed perhaps by the two opposing pillars of Iceland’s attractions (volcanos and waterfalls; Fire and Ice), Iceland has a whole other world to explore underground. This is a seasonal activity, due to safety reasons, so be sure you check and make sure the cave you want to explore is open to tour.

1. Gjábakkahellir Cave

Near Þingvellir National Park, this cave which formed after an eruption 9000 years ago, brings surreal to a whole new level. It is a lava tube cave which is unique in that it’s open on two ends, and you can walk through completely.

2. Leiðarendi Cave 

Enter a world of lava and icicles in this unique lava tube cave. Narrow and dark in some parts, Leiðarendi is not for the faint of heart. This tour will involve some crawling through tight spaces and a lot of crouching, so make sure your back is ok and you’re open to getting down and dirty.

3. Þríhnúkagígur Volcano 

A dormant volcano, which erupted 4000 years ago, and is one of the few places in the world where you can enter a magma chamber. 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik, Þrihnukagigur volcano is then accessed by an hour hike to get to the mouth. It’s the perfect day excursion from Reykjavik.

Food in Iceland

Iceland may not spring to mind as a food centric destination. But increased tourism has led to a bit of a food renaissance in the country. And it should come as no surprise that Iceland is all about the fish! The Atlantic waters are chock full of salmon, cod, herring, monkfish, lobster, and more. Be sure to try fish soup when you see it on the menu.

In fact, Iceland is a bit of a hidden secret for truly fresh fish. Unlike other places like Alaska, where the prime catch of the day is exported to grocery stores around the country, the majority of Iceland’s catch stays local.

Locally sourced everything is something you’ll start to notice in Iceland. From produce including fruits and vegetables, and meats, to grain products, the majority of meals you’ll enjoy in Iceland will be made from local ingredients. Be sure to sample the locally made breads!

Lamb is one of the most popular meats, other than fish that you’ll find. Lamb dishes are very popular - you could almost mistake it for New Zealand! This is also the unique ingredient in the special Icelandic hot dogs you’ll hear about from locals.

Most Icelanders will refer you to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur for hot dogs, where such celebrities as Bill Clinton sampled this delight (though he was much made fun of for his plain order - if you don’t want to be mocked, don’t order it “Clinton Style” which means, just mustard and nothing else).

Another local food to definitely try is Skyr. This is a yogurt like item in taste and consistency (though in actuality it's a soft type of cheese). It’s used in several ways, from sweet to savory, to even drink form. Skyr is very popular among Icelanders, who eat it daily.

And yes, you can eat puffin and whale quite easily and freely in Iceland.

One thing you will notice is the lack of internationally recognized brands in Iceland, particularly for sodas and snack foods. And if you try to buy bottled water in Iceland - you will be maligned because the tap water in Iceland is some of the freshest around, and for a eco-conscious nation, buying plastic when it’s unnecessary will be looked down upon.

If you’d like to have a drink, local beers and vodkas are a staple in Iceland, but do be warned that the alcohol prices in Iceland are very, very high. Food prices are high also, but you should try and eat out at least once or twice.

Photography Tours in Iceland

Iceland is endlessly photographable. If photography is one of your main interests, there are several tours to Iceland that focus specifically on photography, where you can learn tips, and get the most spectacular shots.

While Iceland’s many varied and dramatic landscapes are one of the best parts about raising your camera, there is so much wildlife here as well! Arctic foxes, reindeer, whales, and of course the famous wild Icelandic horses all add to the magic of this place. Bring an extra SD card!

While seeking the perfect shot do be careful about where you step and stand. Iceland’s natural attractions are sometimes not well marked, and tourists have been known to get hurt when not using common sense about the elements and mother nature. Be wary of cliff sides, icy conditions, wind, and waves.

Related Trips & Tours


Top Iceland Travel Companies


Things to Know Before You Go


All Iceland tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.6 for all Iceland trips.

275 trips from 70 tour companies with 311 reviews

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