Glacier Hikes, Iceberg closeups, Walking between Continental plates : 10 Easy Adventures in Iceland

Iceland, fittingly called the land of Fire and Ice has some of the most remarkable landscapes on the planet. No wonder it keeps climbing up the charts for the best Adventure and Luxury vacation. The landscape changes every 30 minutes when you are driving around the island on the well paved Ring Road and there are a gamut of adventures to be had.  Many airlines are making it easy to get there directly – we even have a direct American Airlines from Dallas.  Or you can take a 5 hour flight on Iceland Air from the US East coast airports.  Iceland is also a popular setting for films and shows with the likes of Game of Thrones, Die Another Day, Prometheus and Lara Croft all having been filmed here.

10 Easy Adventures Iceland

Iceland is the perfect destination for families looking for some unique adventures and a little bit of luxury at the end of the day.  Yes you can climb inside a volcano, heli-ski from the top of a glacier cap, dive between the continents on crystal clear waters… in Iceland, but there is plenty to do for the average Traveler who can’t do any of those.  The most adventurous activity we did was our snow mobile ride on top a glacier that sits on a volcano. From Water Fall chasing,  watching a Geysir spout water into the air, hiking on Glaciers to visiting Volcanoes and smelling the bubbling mud pots to walking between the tectonic Plates – there are plenty of easy adventures in Iceland – ‘Soft Adventures’ as I like to call them, without having to get too adventurous. Soft Adventures are the ones where Travelers don’t need any special qualifications to enjoy the trip other than a desire for an unusual or memorable experience and is in reasonably good health.  And boy do you have them in Iceland!  See this list and plan your Easy Adventures in Iceland.

 

Swim or Walk in between continents

Walk between the continental plates

Iceland is divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift – some parts of it, such as the Westfjords and Reyjavík, are on the North American tectonic plate, while others, such as Vatnajökull glacier and the East Fjords, are on the Eurasian plate. Iceland is the only place in the world where this rift is above sea-level, and nowhere can you see the edges of both plates as clearly as in Þingvellir. The tectonic plates move apart at approximately 2.5 centimetres a year and have done for millenniums. The effects of this movement are very clear within the Þingvellir National park.  The ravines opened by the tectonic movement fill with the meltwater from Langjökull glacier, which has traveled underground for decades through porous lava rock, undergoing a very thorough filtration process. When it enters the ravines, therefore, it is pristine and crystal clear. The most famous one of these ravines and the only one it is permitted to snorkel or dive in is Silfra. Our kids loved the idea of walking in between continents, we followed the trail in Þingvellir to Oxarar fallsOxararfoss. 

Go Waterfall chasing

Iceland’s waterfalls rivals any other country in sheer power and raw beauty. The falls range from powerful and wide monsters like Dettifoss, Gullfoss, Goðafoss and many more unnamed ones that you will discover when driving around on the ring round. You can even walk behind one – Seljalandsfoss spills over a former sea cliff, if you can manage to scramble behind the falls you’ll find a huge cavity with moss, ferns and experience the beauty of the misty veil of water.

Get up close with the Icebergs

Its not often you can drive up to see enormous bobbing chunks of blue ice, it is an incredibly experience. Take a boat tour on the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon or the nearby smaller Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The Zodiac boats get you up closer to the ice than the Amphibian boats, we saw an Ice shelf calving while we were there.  Then stroll along the Diamond beach which is a black sand beach strewn with iceberg glistening and watch the icebergs as they drift by and out to sea. Plan to stay in Vik, in South Iceland for at least a couple of nights since it is easy to get to many of the easy adventures in Iceland that are around the Southern part of the country.

Hike on a Glacier

Vatnajökull is an 8,100 sq km dome of ice, about one twelfth of Iceland’s surface and up to 800m thick.  To explore this gigantic glaciers, hire a mountain guide, who will provide the gear and steer you safely through the many crevasses and pinnacles. Our guide from Icelandic Mountain Guides was awesome, he showed us how to walk with crampons, we explored the landscape of glacier ice, deep crevasses, and water cauldrons on Vatnajökull Glacier in Skaftafell National Park. It was a easy hike.

Journey to the center of the earth in Snæfellsjökull

Snæfellsjökull is a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano with a glacier covering its summit in western Iceland. The mountain is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, primarily due to the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, in which the protagonists find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth on Snæfellsjökull. This perfect snow-capped volcanic cone now boasts a ski tow and snowmobile tours to its 1,446m summit crater. In and around its national park you can hike along cliffs of jointed basalt columns, past sea stacks, craters and plenty of rugged lava.

See Trolls and Puffins

The trolls and basalt columns in Reynisdrangar - See post for other Easy Adventures in Iceland #AdventuresInIceland

Reynisfjall is a mountain  west of the village Vik. The south and west side of the mountain features fascinating columnar basalt and two caves. The plant Garden Angelica grows in the steep cliffs, numerous Puffins and Fulmars breed here.  The trolls at Reynisdrangar are 66 meters high rock pillars that jot out of the ocean south of Mt. Reynisfjall. The pillars are best viewed from Vik, but it is also possible to view them from the west site. The driving distance from Vik around the mountain Reynisfjall to the west is about 6 miles from the Ring road. An Icelandic folk tale tells us that two trolls that lived in the mountain, one night tried to pull in a big ship from the sea, but the seamen repelled with so much force that the trolls spent the whole night in a tug of war, wounding up being exposed to the sun at dawn and turning into stones. Be extremely careful at the beach on both sides of Reynisfjall mountain. The undertow is very strong. Beach Reynisfjara is spectacular, offering a view of the Reynisdrangar columns from another angle. Dyrhólaey rises from the sea to the west and a famous cave, Halsanefshellir – formed by columnar basalt – lurks by the seashore.  You can climb up the basalt columns near the cave to get a closer look at the Trolls of Reynisdrangar. We stayed in a Lighthouse and woke up views of the Dyrhólaey and the black sand beach.

Make some friends

Icelandic horses are super friendly and adorable

Icelandic horses are the most friendliest and stylish horses in the world!  There’s always a herd of free-running horses or sheep that you will see while driving around the island. Pull over to the side of the road if you spot these beautiful creatures and spend some time making friends.  They are absolutely adorable and pose well for the camera too.

Visit North Iceland to watch whales and more

North Iceland : A day tour with Air Iceland!

Many towns of the North are dedicated to marine life. The Húsavík Whale Museum and the Seal Center in Hvammstangi are two options for visitors. Close by in the northern reaches of the Vatnajökull National Park is the impressive Ásbyrgi Canyon, as well as the Dettifoss Waterfall—the most powerful in Europe. The nearby Lake Mývatn and its surrounding wetlands has an exceptional variety of waterbirds and rock formations. Not enough time to get to North Iceland, you can plan a day trip with Air Iceland and visit these amazing places.

See the dancing Aurora Borealis

Aurora chasing - See post for other #EasyAdventures in #Iceland

Image by GuideToIceland

From late August to March the dancing Northern Lights can be seen in Iceland. This celestial light show needs a clear, dark sky away from light sources. The solar particles that collide with the earth’s atmosphere work in cycles, so you have to check the forecast and allow plenty of time and be patient.  We were there in summer and didn’t get to see the Northern Lights and hoping to make it back soon.

Relax in the blue lagoon

Soaking in Blue lagoon. See post for other #EasyAdventures in #Iceland

One of most popular attraction in Iceland is actually man-made but don’t let that deter you –  people flock to bathe in the milky blue waters of the ethereal Blue Lagoon. After all that adventures you might need and most definitely deserve that therapeutic soak in the powder-blue geothermal seawater.

Yes, there is more than lamb soup in Iceland. See post for other #EasyAdventures in #Iceland

Everything tomato at Friðheimar Farm

Don’t Forget to get some Icelandic Souvenirs and try the famous Icelandic Lamp soup and seafood before you leave. Woolen Icelandic sweaters, or lopapeysa, are worn by almost everybody in Iceland and easy to find in Laugavegur -Reykjavik’s Main Shopping Street. Another not to miss experience is tasting tomatoes in Friðheimar Farm and Icelandi Skyr. Skyr – made of pasteurized skimmed milk and a bacteria culture similar to yogurt, skyr is rich creamy. You can see our itinerary for more ideas to plan your Easy Adventure to Iceland!

Where to Stay in Iceland

ION Adventure and Luxury Hotel

We stayed for 3 nights at the Icelandair Hotel in Vik, a modern Hotel with floor to ceiling windows and a nice restaurant where we had the best Icelandic lamb soup.  Icelandair has a few other hotels around the country as well, if you plan to stay in the West or North Iceland. We spent 2 night inside Þingvellir National Park on the “Golden Circle” route of Iceland inside the ION Adventure and Luxury hotel. ION would also be the perfect place from where you can see the Northern Lights if you are travelling in winter months. And we spend 2 nights in Reykjavik at Hotel Holt located right in the heart of the city, we walked to cafes and Laugavegur shopping Street shopping area nearby.  Iceland has a very strong coffee culture and some amazing coffee shops.  It was a nice, small hotel in residential neighborhood just few blocks away from shops and cafes. It was nicely decorated hotel with old architecture and a lovely sitting and excellent buffet breakfast and evening happy hour. We even had a view of Hallgrimskirkja church from our room.

Soaking in Blue lagoon. See post for other #EasyAdventures in #Iceland

We rented a car and drove around the island and had no issues. We stopped at many places to photograph and explore further, although we had a few tours pre-booked – you can some of our favorite ones here, the best part was just driving through the amazing landscape.  We can’t wait to go back for more ‘easy’ adventures in Iceland.  Google maps works in Iceland but it is always nice to have guidebooks and a map handy. Here are my picks from Amazon.

See our Itinerary for a seeing the Best of Iceland in a week and other not so easy adventures.  We also hiked up to Bruarfoss, Iceland’s bluest waterfall and went on a day trip to the less visited but beautiful Northern Iceland.

 


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