What’s really waiting for you in Iceland is a warming mix of black sand beaches, deep-green landscapes, vast glaciers, lively active volcanoes, spurting geysers and deafening waterfalls.
This section of the Blog covers the Experiences in Iceland broadly covering below heads:
– Helicopters in Iceland.
– Adventure & Activities in Iceland.
– Geothermal Pools & Spa in Iceland.
– Accommodation & Suggestive Route Itineraries in Iceland, will be covered in a follow-up Blog, like a Part-II (2) on Iceland titled Accommodation in Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice.
Jaw dropping scenery around every corner! Rivers, Lakes, Black Sand Beaches, Volcanoes, Glaciers… the list goes on.
Action and Adventure
There is always something to do in Iceland, even if you don’t want to do anything! Take a gentle Horseback Ride on the famous Icelandic Horse, glide across the glacier on a Snowmobile or put on your crampons and hike across the glacier.
In the summer, you can visit the inside of a dormant Volcano, or for a more relaxed pace take a helicopter flight across a more active one! And no trip to Iceland is complete without taking a relaxing dip in a Geothermal pool.
The Northern Lights
Midnight Sun – long days where the sun does not really set, and night time is just a distant memory! This gives you the best opportunity to make the most of the long days and experience as much as you can.
Home to some of the most incredible scenery and awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet, it’s no wonder that Iceland has a huge variety of exhilarating experiences to get the heart of even the most fearless explorer pumping.
But the best way to see Iceland in all its enormity is undoubtedly from the skies on a private helicopter tour. The challenging, varied terrain – from deep blue glacial waters and sweeping lava fields to snow-capped volcanoes and black sanded shores – provides the perfect setting for an adventure from the skies.
You would normally decide to undertake helicopter tours when you base yourself in Reykjavik, and explore the other parts of Iceland, like the North Diamond Circle or Westfjords, or locations which are remote or long-distanced and only accessible by helicopters.
But if you have time for a longer vacation in Iceland, and doing a full road-trip along Iceland’s ring road, then you may not find helicopter tours of much relevance, except for the convenience (ensuring fast-tract access to locations and sights in Iceland), travel in style, the thrill factor with excitement of experiencing Iceland’s natural wonders and amazing landscape from above, or for accessing the must-see remote (inaccessible by road) regions.
Below listed are some of the best, must-experience helicopter tour experiences:
Wild Westfjords: Iceland’s oldest land formations
This one will leave you lost for words as you travel along the coastline, overlooking dramatic cliffs, and ridiculous rock formation that remind us of stories about trolls and other creatures. You’ll head off the main tourist trail to visit Iceland’s oldest land formations – the Westfjords. The home of the Arctic Fox.
The helicopter tour takes you to red sand beaches, mountain peaks and one of Iceland’s most gorgeous waterfalls, Dynjandi. On a crisp, clear day one can even witness the glacier tops of Greenland, across the North-Atlantic Sea.
You might witness all kinds of wildlife here. Seals, whales, puffin and the fox to name a few.
They do numerous landings as well as refueling both for you and the helicopter 🙂
The North Diamond Circle – Northern Iceland
Flying straight to the Diamond Circle in northern Iceland takes you over the Icelandic highlands with its rough landscape and glaciers. The striking region of Mývatn is one of the most geologically active and scenic areas in Iceland and popular for big movie producers to film as Fast of the furious fans perhaps are well aware of.
Jon and Ygritte´s cave of love is well hidden but we can easily travel there. The peculiar lava formations that create Dimmuborgir´s ‘Gloomy Castles’ cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and the Ásbyrgi Canyon in Jökulsárgljúfur National Park is a wonder of nature as well as the only place where ‘Sleipnir’ Odin´s 8 legged horse managed to set his hooveprint on the landscape. Best seen from air.
Eruption Saga – If you only do one thing in Iceland-Do this !
Amazing views via helicopter, numerous stops along the way and a stop at the Lava Centre for the eruption exhibition. The Lava Centre is an interactive, high-tech educational exhibition depicting volcanic activity, earthquakes and the creation of Iceland over millions of years.
It is definitely one of the most popular helicopter tours as it flies you to remote locations such as Háifoss, Laxárgljúfur, Landmannalaugar, Lakagigar, Katla, Langisjor and the edge of Vatnajökul as well. These sights are so remote, only a few manage to witness.
You will also be introduced to the most vicious volcanoes in Iceland, as you witness the mark they left on the Icelandic landscape. Fortunately they are all sound a sleep as of now, but we never know when they awake from their sleep again.
ADVENTURE & ACTIVITIES:
Visit Natural Ice Caves: (available during winters)
THE VATNAJÖKULL ICE CAVES | ICE CAVES IN SKAFTAFELL
Vatnajökull is Europe’s largest ice caves and covers about 8% off Iceland’s surface. This voluminous glacial wonderland sits in the Midlands and South and South East part of Iceland and its outlet glaciers stretch well down to Ring Road one in the South.
The meltwater from a glacier this size is unbelievable and with the climate change and movement of the glacier, more and more ice caves have been forming in the area.
The most famous and popular ice caves are on Vatnajökull’s outlet glaciers Falljökull and Breiðamerkurjökull. Falljökull has new ice caves and tunnels appearing but the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier has the Crystal Ice Cave.
The Crystal Ice Cave (available from October – March)
The Crystal Ice Cave is very likely the most famous Ice Cave in Iceland, known for its incredibly turquoise blue colors. It is located in Breiðamerkurjökull an outlet glacier from Vatnajökull, the biggest ice cap in Europe and the same glacier as feeds the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
This Ice Cave sits at the bottom of the glacier which gives it pros and cons.
The pros are that the ice roof is very thin making it easy for light to shine through creating the most spectacular sight of blue ice but this also means that it is more weather dependent (cons). For this cave, we hope for a cold but bright day giving you the most extraordinary experience and a memory you will surely not forget.
Snorkelling & Diving in Iceland: (available all year)
Snorkeling in Iceland is one of the most rewarding activities you can do. Take one of the snorkeling tours to Silfra Fissure, the only place in the world where you can snorkel between two continental plates.
Amazingly, there are places within Silfra where it is possible to touch the rock on either side. The underwater visibility is incredibly clear, offering an experience which it is very hard to match. It is possible to see up to 100 meters, giving you incredible views of this stunning underwater wonderland – this is something you really have to experience to believe.
Located in the heart of Thingvellir National Park, this narrow channel of blue water meandering through a giant lava field does not look like much on the surface. But below, supernatural shades of blue, perfect visibility and incredible rock formations make up a magical sub-aquatic paradise.
As if this wasn’t alluring enough, Silfra Fissure is also the only place in the universe where you can go snorkeling in between the continental plates.
DIVING SITES AND LOCATIONS IN ICELAND
Unquestionably the most popular diving location in Iceland, this spot awaits at Thingvellir National Park. Dive in crystal clear glacial water in Silfra fissure with unparalleled 100m visibility.
The underwater landscape of Thingvellir National Park is so unique that it is included in UNESCO World Heritage list. This is no surprise considering that the North American and Eurasian continental plates actually meet in Silfra fissure. Ever wondered what it feels like to touch two continents at the same time when diving underwater? If you’re curious to find out, Silfra is for you.
A darker and longer sibling of Silfra, Davíðsgjá is a monstrous crack in Lake Thingvellir. Its visibility is dependent on weather conditions but on most days it reaches an impressive 100m. Although often mentioned together with Silfra, this go-to diving site for many locals has promising sights and experiences of its own.
The size of the crack alone will leave a lasting impression. It is simply impossible to take it all in at once. The scale and underground architecture complement each other as you have plenty of space to explore massive lava formations.
Shy dwarf fish use the enormous lava rocks to keep out of sight, but you might be able to swim alongside massive trouts. If you’re keen on diving in locations off the beaten path, Davíðsgjá is your dream come true.
Lava Cave Tours (available all year):
Lava cave tours in Iceland prove that the country is full of surprises — both on the ground and underneath it. Huge lava fields on the surface cover miles and miles of underground tunnels.
Iceland’s lava caves were formed by numerous volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. These hidden chambers are full of geological history and are just waiting to be explored! Visit the lava caves or combine your tour with other activities for a day full of exciting adventures!
RAUFARHÓLSHELLIR LAVA CAVE (available all year)
One of Iceland’s best known and most awe-inspiring ice caves is Raufarholshellir lava tunnel. Located only half an hour from Reykjavik, this cave features an array of stunning colours, as moss-covered lava and rock formations fill this incredible space.
In winter it changes appearance and shape, with the arrival of icicles that conduct the light, bringing more colour and wonder to this already extraordinary space.
These magnificent lava tubes were formed 5200 years ago by a volcanic eruption and span an impressive 1360 m (4500 ft). During this caving excursion, you’ll encounter the various colors and textures of ancient lava formations. Delve down into the subterranean world of lava beneath the ice on this unique experience!
THRIHNUKAGIGUR VOLCANO CAVE (available May – Oct)
Thrihnukagigur Volcano Cave has been ranked one of the must-see places in the world by CNN Travel. The dormant volcano is accessible through its top crater. An open elevator lowers visitors 400 ft (120 m) to the bottom of the volcano’s magma chambers.
The inside of the volcano is covered in enchanting green, red, and brown colors due to minerals deposited by the last eruption. Standing inside the massive Thrihnukagigur Volcano is a truly unique experience, so take this day tour and explore the inside of the volcano!
The tour is only available during a short period in the summer, that takes you literally inside a dormant volcano. This is the only volcano in the world where it’s possible to visit its magma chamber.
Ride Icelandic Horses: (available all year)
There is no better way to enjoy all the magic that Iceland has to offer than on the back of a sturdy Icelandic horse. They are smaller than most horses (around 128cm to 148cm) in the world and have a unique set of adaptations that make them perfectly suited to the extreme conditions of the land of fire and ice.
Perhaps, their most striking feature is their unique gait, known as the ‘Tolt’, which means that they always have at least one of their hooves on the ground.
Iceland offers a range of horse riding tours where you’ll not only get to meet these charming, four-legged Icelanders but also explore the unique Icelandic nature!
All of the horseback riding tours are in small groups or can be booked in Private and led by experienced tour guides. You can choose from a horse riding day tour or combine your riding experience with another adventure such as snorkeling, rafting or a hike to hot spring pools.
The tours are available from Reykjavik and also from other locations in Iceland, so you get choice to pick a spot most convenient to you.
Black Sand Beach Horse Riding Tour (available all year) is one of the recommended tour. This adventure will take you on a horseback ride through dramatic volcanically scarred scenery, along Iceland’s iconic South Coast.
You will be exploring the award-winning Víkurfjara Beach, whose jet-black volcanic sands will inspire awe and wonder in equal measure. That combined with the opportunity to ride the famous Icelandic horse.
Super Jeep Tours: (available all year)
One of the best ways to explore this magnificent island is in a super jeep. These jeeps are capable of navigating the steepest and rockiest of terrains, deserts or beaches.
All super jeep tours (few ideas listed below) are generally combined with Iceland’s most popular activities like river rafting, snorkeling, snowmobiling and more, creating amazing experiences.
– A Super jeep tour to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe
– A Super Jeep tour to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that erupted in 2010.
– Explore the famous Silver Circle in a specially designed super jeep and discover some of the best sights in west Iceland. You’ll see Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring, the iconic ‘lava falls’ and Langjokull, Iceland’s second-largest glacier.
– A day trip to Landmannalaugar the highland paradise and Hekla volcano. Hekla is the most active volcano in Iceland.
I recommend a self drive super jeep experience with a guide. Your private guide will show you how to tackle different off-road terrains in Iceland driving a Super Jeep. A real off-road experience that will show you the wonder of Iceland‘s raw nature from a whole new perspective.
Experience Kayaking in Iceland: (available Jun – Aug)
If you are looking to do something a bit different in Iceland and experience the stunning scenery from a different angle, then why not try kayaking?
You have a great choice of sea and glacier lagoon kayaking tours of various difficulties around Iceland and in the vicinity of Reykjavik. Below are the most recommended:
– Sea kayaking tour from Stykkisholmur in Breidafjordur fjord. Enjoy paddling in the magical seascape filled with wildlife! One of the most notable sights on this trip is the shipwreck, Þorgeir, which crashed on the island of Landey during a violent storm in the 1980s.
– Glacier kayak adventure: This is a unique way to explore the wonders of Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier. Kayak in a calm ice lagoon surrounded by unforgettable landscape and hike in astounding settings. Through this tour, you get to explore Europe’s largest glacier from all angles.
– Kayak under the majestic peak of Mt. Kirkjufell, the most photogenic mountain in Iceland. Mt. Kirkjufell rises like a snow-capped pyramid out of the surrounding area. No wonder it’s the most photographed mountain in Iceland, if not the whole world.
– Combination tour, you’ll kayak on the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and hike on one of Iceland’s majestic glaciers! This wonderful day-tour combines two of our most popular attractions into one incredible experience. Kayak amongst the icebergs in the world famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and join a glacier hike on Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest Glacier.
Whale Watching: (available all year)
Watching whales is one of the most popular activities with the most popular locations in North Iceland. Húsavík (Skjálfandi Bay) and Dalvik/Akureyri (Eyjafjörður Fjord) were among the first places in the country as a whole that offered whale-watching excursions.
The number of species, along with favorable weather and sea conditions, make North Iceland one of the best Icelandic areas for spotting whales. Skjálfandi is a sheltered bay, and Eyjafjörður is the longest fjord in Iceland, making the locations perfect for a boat ride almost all year long, surrounded by birds and beautiful scenery.
The experience becomes complete by seeing dolphins and minke, humpback, or even blue whales play beside one of the particularly appealing oakwood boats used exclusively in North Iceland. A RIB boat tour is ideal for those who choose smaller groups or private trips and closer proximity to the whales.
I recommend Husavik also referred to as the Whale watching capital of the World (one hour drive from Akureyri), since North Sailing is the only whale watching company offering whale watching tours on board traditional Icelandic schooners, which is a very unique and authentic experience.
In optimal conditions, the sails are hoisted and the engine shut, allowing passengers to sail towards traditional whale watching areas (you also get to participate hoist the sails and participate).
Unique Experience: Whale snorkeling or Swim with the whales, is an experience offered by Strýtan Dive Center in Akureyri. They offer tours two times a day, early in the morning and later in the evening, so you will be almost alone with the whales before and after the sea breeze. They start by meeting up with you at the dive center where they will give you your equipment and a detailed briefing about how to behave and act in the water and close to the animals.
Glacier hiking and Ice climbing: (available all year)
Just to clarify: Ice climbing is not glacier hiking. Both are incredible, but they are not the same. Ice climbing is reserved for the more adventurous, and very fit people.
Local specialised operators runs trips for guests with no experience, but an extra level of mobility and fitness is required. Your guide will actively use ropes to give you access to new parts of the glacier that are not accessible from walking alone.
In reality, ice climbing can be done all year round too, just like Glacier walk. But, it is far better to do this in summer. The main reason for this is that when one of the group is physically climbing, the remaining group must wait their turn. Sadly, you can only climb one at a time on a glacier.
In summer, this is fine as there are great views to enjoy. In winter, however, you will get very cold, very fast. Not a pleasant experience at all.
Either way, if you want an adventurous glacier hike or an extreme ice climbing trip or both, then summer is the time to do it.
There are well over 400 named glaciers in Iceland, all with their own unique characteristics. But below is most recommended experience:
Sólheimajökull glacier: This glacier is sandwiched between the Katla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes, two of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. Sólheimajökull glacier is one of the outlet glacier that flow down from Mýrdalsjökull glacier ice cap and is easily accessible. It is ideally located close to the town of Vík on the south coast.
You have the option of doing a Glacier Hike, and if you are fit enough and willing, combine it with Ice climbing the Glacier. With its amazing ice formations, sinkholes and jagged ridges, Sólheimajokull glacier is absolutely an unforgettable site to spend the day.
ATV and Buggy Tours: (available all year)
Iceland is the perfect playground for ATV and Buggy tours. With acres of wild terrain, open fields and remarkable landscapes, “The Land of Ice and Fire” is an adventure enthusiast’s dream!
Below is the most recommended ATV experience Tour in Iceland:
ATV, Black Sands, the DC3 Plane Wreck and Mountain Views by Arcanum:
Photos: Bjorguin Hilmarsson
This exhilarating tour will take you quad-biking through an untouched part of Iceland’s iconic South Coast, replete with dark black volcanic beaches, mighty glaciers, icy-glacial streams and the isolated remains of a plane that crashed decades ago.
It is an area of spectacular contrasts, and there is no better way to explore it than on the back of a quad-bike, allowing you to have some heart-pumping fun amidst stunning natural scenery.
The tour will end in an area known as Solheimasandur, renowned for the lonely DC-3 Plane Wreck that occurred there many years ago: a place of profound natural beauty that your guide will tell you all about.
This makes it ideal for adventurous souls who want to go on an adrenaline-pumping ride through a genuinely magical landscape.
Buggy Mountains 2-Hours Ride:
This tour takes you to not only one but TWO mountain tops with alluring vistas and amazing opportunities to see the city and gorgeous surrounding nature in a whole new and exciting way.
You ride through mountains trails, rivers, rocky trails and steep slopes which just add to the fun of riding a Buggy.
The key destinations during the tour are the famous and popular Hafrafell and Úlfarsfell mountains. Those are known for their beautiful location and the stunning views that await anyone who reached their top. Not only will you get the chance to look over the whole of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital but also far into the Reykjanes peninsula home to the Blue lagoon and magical lava settings.
On cloudless days you can even catch a glimpse of the extraordinary Snæfellsjökull glacier.
The Buggies are two-seaters, 4×4, fully automatic, fully inspected and road legal. They are also known for excellent safety and great design features, such as the roll cage, safety belts, and double A-arm front suspension. All of which makes for a Buggy ride that is not only very safe but also comfortable!
Snowmobile Tours on Glaciers in Iceland: (available all year)
Langjokull Glacier (also referred to as the long glacier) is the most popular location for snowmobiling tours. Compared to Vatnajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, Langjökull is relatively volcanically quiet, with only 32 eruptions within the last 10,000 years. It is, however, home to several ice-filled volcanic craters.
Langjokull glacier is the second-largest ice cap in Iceland. Its name translates to “long glacier,” in reference to its shape. This is the glacier that is closest to Reykjavík, located within a 2-hour drive of the capital, main reason for it’s popularity.
This glacier is relatively flat and is covered by snow, making it the ultimate playground for sledheads all year round!
But if your trip to Iceland includes travelling on the ring road, or extending your trip beyond Reykjavik, and the Golden Circle. Then I will recommend snowmobiling on Eyjafjallajökull (South Iceland) or Vatnajokull, largest glacier in Iceland (South East Iceland).
The views and experience from Vatnajokull are unforgettable and you would get to snowmobile on Ice that goes up to 1000m deep. Whereas Eyjafjallajökull besides being infamous for the volcanic eruption that happened in 2010 resulting in shut down most of Europe’s air space, it has the best views.
The snowmobiles in Iceland are both one seat and “2-Up” snowmobiles, meaning the choice is yours as to whether you take the driving seat or tag along as a passenger. Drivers must be 18 years old and hold a current international driver’s license, whilst the minimum age for passengers is 6 years old (though this does differ between companies who operate the tours).
Below recommended tour is not for first timers or for families with kids. It is meant only for Adrenaline Junkies / Experience riders using the most advanced snowmobiles in Iceland.
Glacier Rush Snowmobile Trips by Mountaineers of Iceland:
- Adrenaline junkies
- People with experience wanting something extra
- Anyone wanting something more unique and exhilarating.
This trip offers wilderness snowmobiling on Langjökull, using the most powerful snowmobiles, Yamaha Vipers (single riders only).
The snowmobiles offered in this tour pack more than double the horsepower than the snowmobiles used in our regular tours. This tour has a higher pace and greater thrill for those that want to get the blood pumping.
White Water Rafting in Iceland: (available May – Sep)
The main spots for rafting in Iceland are the Hvítá River in South Iceland, Austari Jökulsá (East River Canyon) and Vestari Jökulsá (West River Canyon).
Hvita Whitewater Rafting
Raft down the beautiful Hvita River that flows from Langjokull, Iceland’s second biggest glacier. Join the rafting team on the roaring meltwater rapids from Gullfoss to Bruarhlod. This journey takes 60-90 minutes.
East River Rafting
Hop onto world-class whitewater rapids in one of Iceland’s hidden canyons. Nicknamed the “Beast of the East,” the East Glacier River Rafting tour is among the most thrilling and unique adventures you’ll ever have in Iceland.
West River Rafting
Summer spells out family-friendly excursions on the calm rapids of West Iceland. We recommend children and beginners start with this half-day trip in a gentle West Glacial River’s canyon.
Iceland Knitting Tours: (special interest)
Knitting tours are theme based adventure tours that are offered in collaboration with Icelandic knitting expert and designer Hélène Magnússon. Hélène´s endless interest in the Icelandic knitting tradition, combined with her experience as a mountain guide are the impetus for all her knitting tours.
Knitters from all over the world take tours with Hélène for an unforgettable experience where Icelandic traditions and culture, breathtaking nature and master knitting workshops, perfectly balance one another.
But to be able to join a Knitting Tour, you should be comfortable with casting on, binding off and making a knit stitch. The workshops during the tours are about learning traditional Icelandic ways and techniques and the classes are designed to de easily adaptable to each participant’s level in the tour, so that everyone from advanced to beginner has an interesting and pleasant experience!
The Knitting on Ice tour for 7 days is an example of her tour she has planned for October 2021 which is a magical combination of Icelandic knitting, enigmatic nature and delicate autumn colors.
It takes you on a glacier walk at Sólheimajökull Glacier, which gives you the opportunity to knit on the ice! Away from the city lights, you will hopefully spot the magical Northern lights and one of the most expansive views of Iceland.
You will also hike in the Smokey Valley made of hot springs and sulfates and dip ourselves in a hot geothermal river. All the way, Hélène will give you an insight into the knitting traditions of Iceland with focus on a very useful item at this time of year: the Icelandic lopi yoke sweater – lopapeysa – and you will learn new and old techniques.
Accommodation will be in a picturesque country guesthouse with a grassroof, a sauna and many sheep. Possibility to go horse riding on the premises.
Based on Helene’s you can also plan a private tour just for your family or group, to suit your preferences of activities, trip duration and high standard of accommodation. It can also be a day’s workshop, in case you do not wish to go full hog with a multi-day trip focused around Knitting, and of-course Iceland major
Geothermal Pools and Spas:
A natural wonder which is strongly related to Icelandic culture is the use of geothermally warm or hot water. The spa is a modern day invention, but enjoying the various health benefits of bathing in thermal baths is an Icelandic tradition dating back to the settlement.
Geothermal Pools go well with Luxury Spas:
Bathing in this geothermal water is a unique and rejuvenating experience, and there are many ways you can do it. While heading into out into the nature to find natural springs is great fun, and the many pools around the country are perfect places to unwind and meet new people, it is the geothermal spas that boast the highest forms of luxury.
These places take the heat from the earth and use it create facilities where you can be pampered like royalty and have your physical, mental and spiritual health nourished. Saunas, man-made waterfalls, steam rooms and hot tubs define many such spas across Iceland, and all are found in the most beautiful parts of the country.
Below is the list of the Best Geothermal Baths and Spa Experiences in Iceland:
The Blue Lagoon:
The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most famous geothermal spa, and the largest. It is best known for its opaque, azure waters, filled with healing minerals; It boasts steam-rooms; a Finnish sauna; a man-made waterfall for massaging your shoulders; a cave to relax in; poolside silica tubs for face masks; and an in-water bar. For an extra cost, you can also get an algae mask and a range of in-water massages.
The pools of the Blue Lagoon are surrounded by magnificent lava landscapes, with endless fields of jagged black rock, covered in a creeping grey moss, and barren volcanoes towering in the distance.
But what is recommended for a true Luxury experience is the Retreat Spa at the Blue Lagoon: A spa within a spa, the Retreat Spa is far less busy than the Blue Lagoon itself, sheltered by spectacular walls of lava rock, and visited by some of the world’s most famous celebrities and discerning travellers.
It also boasts some magnificent subterranean features, such as an underground steam cave, the Lava Spring where one can find serenity with water cascading from the ceiling, and a meditation room with a burning fire at its centre. Above ground is a nest area, where you can recline in suspended hammocks in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows. You can even book your very own spa and pool area in a space called the Lava Cove, with an on-call masseuse, chef and yoga instructor.
Like at the Blue Lagoon, there are a wealth of treatments and massages on offer, within a set of sanctuary spaces called the Ritual. It also has its own restaurant with a breakfast and all-day menu, renowned for its delicacies.
It is located 20 minutes drive from Keflavík Airport and 50 minutes from Reykjavík city.
Mývatn Nature Baths:
The Mývatn Nature Baths, are a beautiful geothermal spa in north Iceland, located just an hour east of the capital of the region, Akureyri. The spacious pools boast similar azure waters to the Blue Lagoon, and are also rich in healing minerals. There are also two steam baths, set over natural hot pools, and an on site restaurant, Café Kvika, where you can get a range of soups and sandwiches.
Located in a lava field by the spectacular Lake Mývatn, this geothermal spa is a wonderful spot to admire the magnificent surrounding landscapes, and potentially see the Northern Lights in winter. It also makes a fantastic stop on a trip around north Iceland, which has a range of diverse features.
The Mývatn Nature Baths opened on the 30th of June 2004 and have been growing and developing ever since. The area, despite its northerly location, enjoys a temperate climate, and while the long bright summer days can be surprisingly warm, winter tends to bring lots of snow and frost, as well as the unforgettable northern lights.
Situated in Eastern Iceland, on the lake Urriðavatn, Vök Baths is Iceland’s newest geothermal destination and boasts the country’s first and only series of floating pools, allowing guests to soak in the hot water, within and surrounded by the lake.
Iceland is famous for its geothermal activity, however, the eastern part of the country is home to comparatively fewer hot springs, making Vök Baths a rarity in this sparsely populated region.
The Vök Baths boast two pools, a sauna and a refreshing cold tunnel in the lake. The water is different from that in other spas on this list as it is not full of minerals such as silica and sulfur. As such, it has no smell, and is, in fact, so clean that it is drinkable. This is because it has been filtered through the nearby springs and there is a constant flow throughout the pools.
Admission to the Vök Baths comes with a serving of tisane tea, brewed with herbs found in the area and water from the spring. This can be found at the infusion bar; there is also a cafe on site where you can enjoy hot dishes, soups and sandwiches.
Urriðavatn is conveniently close to the largest town of the region, Egilsstaðir, making it easily accessible for those staying in the area.
The Fontana Spa:
Laugarvatn Fontana is a geothermal bath facility that utilizes warm water and steam from local natural hot springs. Enjoy steam saunas, wading pools and a large hot tub!
It is Iceland’s newest spa, sits on the shores of the historic lake -Lake Laugarvatn and directly above a thermal spring which feeds steam into its saunas and heats the water of its multiple outdoor pools.
The design of the Spa fits into the landscape and combines geometric shapes with traditional Icelandic materials. From the deepest and hottest of the baths, there’s an amazing view – on a clear day – over the lake, which is fringed with black sand, towards the volcanoes of Hekla and the infamous Eyjafjallajökull.
There is a luxurious Finnish Sauna with a large window overlooking the lake, and temperatures that exceed a sweltering 80 degrees Celsius. There is also an incredibly humid steam room built directly over a natural hot spring, with only grids on the floor separating you, and hot tub with panoramic views of the mountainous surroundings.
Laugarvatn Fontana is a place where you come to relax and experience authentic Icelandic nature while relaxing in the warm geothermal pools and natural steam rooms. The baths vary in depth, size and temperature and the steam rooms that have been built over natural hot springs that has been used in this purpose since 1929.
The Krauma Spa:
The Krauma Spa is a luxurious geothermal spa in west Iceland, fueled by the waters of the highest-flowing hot-spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver. Though much smaller than the others, accommodating a maximum of 140 guests at a time, its wealth of facilities and chic design give it an air of peace and exclusivity.
Rather than any larger pools, the Krauma Spa has five hot tubs, as well as one cold one filled with glacier water. These tubs look directly over bubbling geothermal areas in the beautiful landscapes that surround you. Furthermore, there are two steam baths and a relaxation room with a crackling fireplace.
In the main building there is a restaurant with a fully equipped kitchen that seats 70 people and 60 on an outdoor platform when the weather allows.
Krauma Spa is close to many major attractions in west Iceland, easily fitting into a day tour in the region.
The Geosea Sea Baths:
Húsavík has already been noted as one of the world’s best places for whale watching, with the waters of Skjálfandi Bay alive with Humpback Whales, white-beaked dolphins, and an array of other creatures that occasionally include species such as Blue Whales and Orcas. The town is increasingly becoming known, however, for its new geothermal spa, the Geosea Sea Baths.
The Geosea Sea Baths are unique on this list as they are composed of geothermally heated saltwater, rather than fresh. This water is dug up by two nearby boreholes before being pumped into the pools, and though somewhat more unusual to bathe in, is as naturally-occurring and renowned for its healing minerals as in other spas.
Another part of the unique appeal of the Sea Baths is that they boast unbelievable, uninterrupted views over a mountainous fjord and sparkling ocean; all other geothermal spas are in Iceland are inland. Though there are no saunas or steam rooms to relax in, the Geosea Restaurant serves light refreshments and has a small outdoor terrace, open in good weather, and you can also enjoy a drink while you bathe.
Though this spa faces some competition from the nearby Mývatn Nature Baths, both offer very different experiences in terms of ambiance and what is offered.
Husafell Canyon Baths:
Located on the edge of the Icelandic highlands in West Iceland, Húsafell Canyon Baths offer a completely natural and authentic bathing experience in extraordinary surroundings.
These natural baths in the wildest of settings come with brand-new walkways and facilities with a rustic feel. Choose from three geothermal pools of varying temperatures, each with a spectacular view of the surrounding canyon, mountains, and glaciers.
The Húsafell locals who undertook the Canyon Baths project went to great lengths to keep the entire structure as environmentally unobtrusive, sustainable and true to the area’s heritage as possible. The on-site bathhouse is made from salvaged timbers from the area. Even the hooks in the changing room are re-purposed horseshoes from a nearby family farm.
Trips to the gorge baths are available all year round with an English-speaking guide. The trip starts outside the swimming pool at Hotel Húsafell from where you drive to Deildargil. Along the way, you learn a little about renewable energy and cross melting glacial water from the glacier Ok, the first Icelandic glacier that has been affected by climate change.
You walk up Deildargil to a viewing platform that gives a beautiful view of Langafoss. From there you walk along a beautiful forest path to Hringsgil where you walk down the stairs to the baths. There, guests have the opportunity to change clothes and go to the hot tubs. After that, you head back to Húsafell where guests can use the facilities in the swimming pool.
The trip takes almost two hours. The walk is about 1.5 km. The walk is easy and suitable for all ability levels.
The Bjorbodin Beer Spa:
Bjórböðin gets an honourable mention on this list, as though not a spa that utilises Iceland’s healing geothermal waters to give you hours of luxury, it still is a spa of sorts. Instead of using minerals like silica to heal your skin, it uses the yeast in the young beer, which is also said to have rejuvenating effects.
As you bathe in hot tubs filled with warm beer, you can have a cold one from the barrels provided (so long you are at least 20); after this, you are given time in a relaxation room to let the yeast taken effect.
The beer tubs only fit two at a time, although there is a larger one outdoor for groups who would rather stay together. When this is finished, you are free to enjoy the outdoor drinking area, which boasts beautiful coastal views, and the beer-themed restaurant.
This spa is located in the small town of Árkógssandur in north Iceland. It is possible to book admission and drive to the Beer Spa yourself, or, if you’d rather have a drink while there, get a tour from Akureyri.
Sky Lagoon: (Opening in 2021)
The 230-foot lagoon has been designed to blend into its surrounding landscape and will offer unobstructed views of the Atlantic and, when in season, the northern lights. Inspired by Iceland’s long-standing spa culture, Sky Lagoon will aim to provide the ultimate restoration experience.
On the premises, you’ll find a waterfall and authentic turf-houses with deep insulation for the cold season and moss roofs — a signature Icelandic feature.
Sky Lagoon’s multi-sensory oasis will feature an ocean-side infinity-edge design in addition to cold pool and sauna experiences. Additional amenities will include an in-lagoon bar, dining experience, and unique retail offerings.
Located in Kársnes Harbour, Kópavogur, just minutes from Reykjavik’s vibrant city centre and iconic urban landmarks.
Please also read Blog part-II (2) which covers Accommodation in Iceland, and Suggestive Route Itineraries to help you plan.