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There are no shortage of fun, thrilling and beautiful things to do in Iceland. Here are some of the most exciting short excursions to try.
/Updated: September 2019/
Iceland excursions give you an incredible taste of adventure. On day trips, you’ll see untamed wild spits lava and hot water, the sky change color before your eyes, and glaciers reclaim the terrain. For this reason, Iceland excursions are among the best in the world! These little jaunts will dazzle your eyes and feed your soul — and still have you home in time for happy hour.
Landmannalaugar in the Highlands of Iceland
Here our favorite excursions in Iceland. We start with the cutest trips and end with the most epic. Read on to find the right Iceland excursion for you!
10. Puffin Tours
Puffins are affectionately nicknamed “prófastur” by locals, a word meaning “preacher.” This might be because of their dark, elegant plumage, which resembles the robes of a holy man. It could also be because of their wobbly way of walking. Either way, they’re beautiful and funny birds! Iceland is the puffin capital of the world, playing host to 8 million feathery friends. The puffin population in Iceland far outnumbers the human one!
Puffins in Iceland
These birds are a joy to behold. Their beaks are bright and unique, and their big dark eyes peer out of small white faces. A puffin’s waddle is cute, but they’re positively majestic when they fly or dive into the ocean for a fish supper. You can learn all about puffins on our special tours.
Our puffin excursion departs from Cape Ingolfshofdi, located between Skaftafell National Park and Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon. The outing involves hiking, a tractor-drawn trailer, glorious Icelandic nature, and fresh sea air. The puffin tour is one of shortest, lowest-commitment Iceland excursions. The cape is just a short drive from Reykjavik and the tour lasts two and a half hours.
9. Thrihnukagigur Volcano Excursions
Volcanoes are so menacing that you usually want to keep your distance — except in the case of Thrihnukagigur!
Our Thrihnukagigur volcano excursion brings you straight into the belly of the beast. This is the only place in the world where you can walk inside a volcano. Descend 120 meters into the 4,000-year-old phenomenon and see lava-scorched rock from the inside!
This volcano excursion is a profound and utterly unique experience. The rocks walls have stood here for centuries, turning vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow as the years pass.
This day trip only takes 6 hours, but we’re confident that the memories will stay with you for years.
8. Whale Watching
Take a deep breath and inhale a lungful of glorious Atlantic air. Then brace yourself for a glimpse of the most awe-inspiring creatures you’ve ever laid eyes on! Whale watching is one of the most popular Iceland excursions. The gentle giants of the sea love to show off, and our tours have a huge success rate.
You’re most likely to see mighty humpback whales. Visitors also spot minke whales, dolphins, and even blue whales.
Iceland is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. More than 20 species of whale live in or visit Icelandic waters throughout the year, and the clear blue water provides great visibility.
This day trip is suitable for all ages and lasts three hours.
7. Ice Cave Tours
Iceland’s magnificent glaciers are best explored from the inside-out. Each year, unique ice caves form when glacier meltwater freezes. These crystal-blue wonders wind through the heart of the glacier, taking you to icy depths you never before imagined.
Exploring Volcano Ice Cave
Climbing through a slippery, narrow ice cave might sound risky. But with the help of an expert guiden, you can walk all the way through the winter labyrinth!
For a truly explosive excursion, check out the black-and-blue ice caves that stretch under Katla Volcano. This volcano ice cave excursion leaves from either Vik or Reykjavik. You’ll see every side of Iceland’s ice caps, with an exhilarating glacier hike and epic views of South Iceland. The excursion takes 3 hours from Vik or 11 hours from Reykjavik.
6. Helicopter Tours
It’s difficult to take in all of Iceland’s natural beauty at once! An aerial view can help. Our helicopter tours fly over glaciers and volcanoes to the most secluded beauty spots. You’ll also soar over Iceland’s colorful capital city.
Reykjavik Summit Helicopter Tour
Depending on what you’re looking for, you can take a short helicopter loop over Reykjavík, the northernmost capital in the world. Or take a tour over Icelandic wilderness for spectacular views of glaciers, steam, volcanoes, lava, and lush green mountains. Perhaps you’d like to go the whole hog, seeing the very best that Iceland has to offer in just a few hours.
Helicopter tour from Reykjavík
Helicopter tours don’t just deliver a bird’s eye view of Iceland. They bring you to hard-to-reach places, allowing you to stand at the top of the world and bask in its glory.
Short Iceland helicopter excursions last 20-50 minutes, while a more comprehensive tour takes 4-7 hours.
5. Northern Lights Excursions
A great wonder of the natural world, the Northern Lights draws visitors from all over the globe. Gaze in awe at this cosmic ballet in the night sky! This magical smorgasbord of light and color is only visible near the North Pole, making Iceland a prime location.
Adventurers on our Northern Lights excursions are never exactly sure what they’ll see. That’s part of the beauty of the aurora! The colors range from blue to green to red. Pillars of light cascade across the sky, making the pitch-black heavens explode in color. The Northern Lights are stunningly different any time, guaranteeing a one-of-a-kind experience.
Our Northern Lights Tours aren’t what you’d expect. Instead of a crowded bus, we use customized 4X4 Super Jeeps to ensure small groups, better access to the best views, and a personalized experience. We’ve also got hot chocolate!
Northern Lights excursions take roughly four hours.
4. Glacier Snowmobiling from Reykjavik
Glacier snowmobiling is popular with thrill-seekers and nature lovers. Snowmobiling is a real adrenaline rush! Conquer nature and embrace the elements on the back of this powerful vehicle.
Glacier Snowmobiling from Reykjavik
The star of our snowmobiling excursions is Langjökull Glacier, Europe’s second-largest glacier. As you glide over the snow, you’ll pass by the Kerlingafjöll Mountain Range, dome-shaped Hofsjökull Glacier, and Eiríksjökull Glacier. Everywhere you look, you see dense layers of pure white snow.
The Hvítá canyon river is a popular rafting spot because it’s both thrilling and accessible. On this rafting excursion, you’ll glide between rocky canyon walls on frothy white water. As you zoom along, take in incredible views of Brúarhlöð canyon and rolling green lowlands. The waters are friendly enough for even beginning rafters to have a safe and exciting journey.
Gullfoss Canyon White Water Rafting
For this Iceland excursion, you can meet on location at the Drumboddstaðir rafting base or be picked up in Reykjavik. After your rafting adventure, you’ll relax your muscles in a rejuvenating hot sauna! All in all, this excursion lasts 4 hours.
2. Snorkeling in Silfra
River rafting not immersive enough for you? Then take the plunge and go snorkeling in Silfra Fissure, the spot with the best underwater visibility on Earth!
Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park is the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian continental plates. Here the plates slow pull apart from each other, forming an epic underwater valley. You can literally swim between the continents!
Snorkeling in Iceland’s Silfra Fissure
Snorkeling excursions to Silfra Fissure are available all year round — yes, even in the dead of winter. This is because the water stays at a steady 2-4°C (35-39°F) throughout the year. That’s not exactly balmy, but your guide will set you up with an insulated dry suit to keep you warm. Even if you’ve never been snorkeling before, this expedition is an awesome way to dive headfirst into Iceland’s outdoor adventures!
You can join a snorkeling expedition directly from Thingvellir or get picked up in Reykjavik. The tour itself lasts about 3 hours.
1. Thorsmork Volcano Hike
We’ve saved the most epic Iceland excursion for last. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails of Thorsmork Valley, the ultimate nature trail in Iceland.
Thorsmork Volcano Valley
The enormous rift the earth is storied in Iceland legend. According to mythology, the valley was formed when Thor struck his mighty hammer upon the ground — hence the name, which means “Thor’s mark.” The epic hike takes 12-14 hours and passes byIceland’s most notorious volcanoes (Fimmvörðuháls and Eyjafjallajökull), newly-formed volcanic craters Magni and Móði, Gígjökull Glacier, and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall (the waterfall you can walk behind). See the greatest highlights of Iceland’s incredible natural forces on this extreme trek.
Tours of Iceland come in all shapes and sizes. Small Iceland excursions take less than a day and are a relaxing, bite-sized way to appreciate the country’s grandeur.