Iceland has so many breathtaking sights, sounds, and adventures packed into it that one could create a list of the top 1000 things to do on the island country and just scratch the surface. But during the four weeks of production for our first Humanity for iPad issue in Iceland, we made sure find the some of the best adventures possible. Here, we’ve boiled them down to our eight favorites. Let the adventure begin:
1. DRIVE THE RING ROAD The ultimate road-trip adventure, The Ring Road circumnavigates nearly all of Iceland. Along the way, the road twists, undulates, and turns through enough varying landscape to make any landscape photographer drool. You can blast through it in 6 days, but 10 days should really be your benchmark for truly experiencing everything the fabled Ring Road has to offer.
2. GO FLY FISHING IN A BLIZZARD For those signing up for a fly-fishing excursion in Iceland, you may be hoping for sunny days and warm weather, but there are few experiences cooler than fly-fishing in a serious snowstorm. Stanji Ben, fly-fishing master, often has to break ice off his rod while fishing at any time outside of the busy summer months. No matter, throw on some waders and pull some slimy creatures out of near-freezing glacial rivers – because it’s awesome.
3. SCUBA DIVE IN THE SILFRA RIFT Scuba diving is often accompanied with thoughts of sandy beaches, vibrant reefs, and warm waters. None of those things exist in Iceland, we guarantee it. However, throw on a dry-suit to protect you from the cold and you’ll find one of the most unique diving experiences in the entire world. Thanks to glacial runoff and a long filtration journey through Iceland’s volcanic underground, the water pouring into Lake Thingvellir is some of the cleanest water in the world. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Silfra Rift, the tectonic boundary between the Eurasian and North America plates. Here, divers can experience some of the finest visibility in the world as they dive in an otherworldly underwater landscape (sans aliens).
Dive with David at the best Icelandic dive shop around: Dive.IS.
4. SNOWMOBILE ON A GLACIER If it weren’t for the frigid temperatures on top of a glacier, you could have your hair blowing in the wind as you streak across the snowmobile highways on top of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. Alas, due to the danger of head injury and severe frostbite, we recommend you wear a helmet (and contract helmet-hair). But the high-octane experience of hitting the throttle and shooting a huge piece of metal over frozen snow at a rapid pace doesn’t lose an ounce of its appeal no matter how much fabric and plastic you cover your body with. It is always awesome.
5. TOUR THE GOLDEN CIRCLE Just outside of Reykjavík sits some of Iceland’s most breathtaking sights: the thundering power of Gullfoss, the geyser from which all other geysers are named (aptly titled Geysir), the calm of Lake Thingvellir, and enough dramatic landscapes to keep your head on a constant swivel. Ditch the guided tours and the 20-minutes-in-each-location requirements and instead rent a car to explore The Golden Circle on your own time (trust us, you’ll always want more time at Gullfoss).
6. CLIMB HUGE WATERFALLS Waterfalls are everywhere in Iceland. Small ones, fat ones, skinny ones, loud ones, trickling ones. But despite all the shapes and sizes, the highlight is still standing in awe at the base of the huge waterfalls that thunder in the south of Iceland. But why stand at the bottom of one when you can climb to the top? The best place to do that is at Skógafoss, where a whole lot of steps will take you to the edge of the waterfall’s tipping point. Or, if you aren’t a fan of heights, you can sneak behind Seljalandsfoss for a truly unique view.
7. SOAK IN A BLUE LAGOON Thanks to its proximity to Reykjavík and Keflavik international airport, most travelers will soak in the “official” Blue Lagoon. While it’s a beautiful lagoon and definitely worth a visit, it’s not the only geothermal spa to enjoy. The Humanity team recommends the Myvatn Nature Baths (boom, link) near Lake Myvatn in the north. While it’s a far way to travel for a short trip to Iceland, if you take the Ring Road road-trip (do it), this is as close to a required stop as you’ll find on the entire journey. Soak close to the end of day for a beautiful sunset over Lake Myvatn, but make sure to dry off and warm up before partaking in the next adventure…
8. CHASE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS While the summer is Iceland’s high season, it may be hard for visitors to see the northern lights during this time because, you know, it never gets dark. However, winter and shoulder-season travelers are nearly guaranteed to see the beautiful array of light that fills the sky with a neon green display. While many travel experiences and sights don’t live up to their reputation, the northern lights meets and exceeds all expectations, enveloping the entire sky with a green dance-routine.
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