Top 3 Day Excursions in Iceland
Glacier hiking, diving, snorkeling, surfing, lava caving, horseback riding, jeep tours, helicopter tours...the options are endless. Below are the excursions that I chose, but there are many to explore so you can pick what most interests you. Check out additional excursions and group tours through KEXLAND Travel. The video below covers more of my Iceland trip than just these excursions, but will give you a quick look at a few moments from them.
The Silfra Fissure is a rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and is considered one of the best dive sites in the world. The meltwater from the nearby Langjökull glacier travels through an ancient lava field, filtering underground through 30 miles of porous volcanic rock for over 50 years before it emerges again at Þingvellir Lake. The result is up to 150-meter visibility in some of the purest water on earth. The water temperature is around 35 degrees Fahrenheit so you’ll need to suit up with several layers including thermals, an undersuit, and a dry suit. The excursion includes transportation to and from your accommodations in Reykjavík, all your necessary snorkeling gear, a guide that helps you with your gear and snorkels with you, and a treat of hot chocolate and cookies at the end.
I planned this excursion for the day I arrived in Reykjavík since it was one of the shorter day-trips I booked. I landed mid-morning, checked in at Kex Hostel, grabbed lunch, and then waited to be picked up for the tour. To my surprise, I learned that I was the sole person booked for my tour time slot! I met Andrew, my twenty-something guide from the UK, and got to hear about his travels on the way to the site. He takes his diving skills to a new country about every six months, and had his sights set on Australia next. Getting the gear on was an easy enough process with his help and from there we took the plunge. One thing to note here -- your body, arms, and legs are shielded but your face and hands are not (the water penetrates the gloves), so be prepared to feel the chill. The scenery made it all worth it though. It was otherworldly to be able to see so sharply through the water and take in the stunning colors and rock formations. It all made for an extremely calming and serene experience. In addition to its clarity, the water's purity makes for excellent drinking water so don't forget to take a few sips as you float on through.
This excursion involves descending 400 ft. inside the magma chamber of the now dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano. Normally, after an eruption has occurred, lava remaining in the magma chamber hardens after it cools, making the chamber inaccessible. Thrihnukagigur is a rare exception however and the lava somehow drained back into the earth, leaving a massive space below that exposes a rainbow of colors left from minerals under intense heat and pressure. It's the only one like it that's currently known in the world. The area was developed to make it accessible to the public and tours began about 6 years ago. In order to reach the volcano, it’s about a 2-mile moderate hike to base camp and the scenery is breathtaking. The group is then split into two smaller groups that take turns descending into the volcano, where you have about 30 minutes below to walk around and explore. A lunch is included (Icelandic meat soup or vegetarian soup, plus tea and coffee) and you can enjoy that while you wait for the other group. This hike was excellent -- it always feels good to have a trek before seeing something this marvelous. It makes you feel like you earned your reward when you see the view.
// 3 // Glacier Hiking at Solheimajokull Glacier
This was my favorite activity from my trip, which is really saying something! Unfortunately I don’t know the company that this was booked through since it was part of the itinerary through Under30Experiences and I was along for the ride. There are many tour companies that you can book this through. You arrive at the glacier and are instructed how to attach crampons to your boots in order to have traction on the ice and also showed the best foot movements to be able to climb and hike on the the slippery surface. Once on top of the glacier we had a lot of fun with our Icelandic guides. They were super friendly, told stories and educated us about the land (climate change is real people! The devastating effects it's having on this glacier is an unfortunate proof of that), marked our faces with volcanic war paint, had us bend down for some ice axe pushups to drink water from crevices in the glacier, and taught us a Viking song that we sang and danced to. It's a golden memory that will stay with me forever.
But wait a minute, you say… what about the Blue Lagoon?!
This is Iceland's foremost geothermal spa and it's a great detour on your way to or from the airport. It is located about 20 minutes from the Keflavík Airport and 50 minutes from Reykjavík. The geothermal water includes silica, algae, and minerals and the blue color comes from the silica and the way it reflects sunlight. The basic package includes entrance to the lagoon where you can apply silica mud masks and grab a complimentary drink at the Lagoon Bar. This may be a controversial take, but if your time or budget is limited, then I'd pass on this trip in favor of one of the adventures listed above. There are geothermal hot springs all over Iceland and you'd be sure to find some on a roadtrip around. In the end, I found the other activities I did more singularly unique to Iceland -- but don't get me wrong, it's still a fun spot if you decide to venture this way.
Tip for anyone with long hair // In the changing rooms there is conditioner provided. If you plan on submerging your head in the water, you'll need to lather up with a thick layer beforehand. Many people think the water damages your hair, but it actually deposits a bunch of minerals that turn your hair rigid with a straw-like texture for several days. I opted to keep my hair up and out of the water, though I did get the end of my braid wet and experienced a bit of what people had described. Alternatively, you can bring a clarifying shampoo that should help cleanse out the mineral build-up.