By Jonathan Duffy, Arctic Meta
Iceland is a travel destination that many people think of when they want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s possibly one of the last great wildernesses on Earth that is still relatively easy to access. It’s a country of incredible natural beauty and stark visual contrasts that are able to take anyone’s breath away.
Iceland is a place that can satiate the need to get back to basics and be one with nature. However, it’s also a country infused with energy and adventure. You might not realize it, but Iceland is a country where you can really indulge in some thrill-seeking.
There are many different exciting experiences you can have in Iceland, and they cover a broad range of activities. If you want to inject a bit of excitement into your stay in Iceland, check out the top 11 most exciting experiences to have below.
- River Rafting
Iceland is home to many fast-flowing rivers that are fed with fresh glacial water. Many of these rivers are perfect for river and white water rafting. River rafting tours are available all over the country, and there are many different levels of thrill you can experience.
Generally, a river rafting tour lasts for a few hours. You normally meet at the river rafting base camp, where you are fitted with specific gear to keep you both safe and comfortable. The waters in Iceland’s rivers are notoriously cold, so depending on where you are, you might be given a dry suit to keep those frigid water molecules from soaking you.
You will usually then head off into the water with an experienced guide who will lead you through some of the most impressive river systems in the world. Imagine what it would be like to glide effortlessly through the cool glacial waters between volcanic ridges. The landscapes around you will provide sights you won’t soon forget.
Often the river systems of Iceland are the inspiration for many old folk tales, so taking a thrilling river rafting tour will not only feed your need for adventure it will also teach you a thing or two about Iceland’s rich history and resilient people.
- ATV Experiences
If you’ve never really had experience with one, an ATV is a vehicle that’s a bit like a cross between a motorbike, a go-kart and a mountain bike. The acronym ATV stands for ‘All Terrain Vehicle’, and that’s an accurate description of what these little buggies can do.
Iceland is filled with almost untouched countryside and an ATV tour is one of the best ways to travel through it. One of the best things about going on an ATV tour is that you can experience a genuine adrenaline rush without needing to get a special licence, just a regular driver’s licence.
There are many ATV experiences all around the country, and some of the most popular ones are just outside of Reykjavík. Most of them begin with meeting at a base camp where you will be equipped with everything you need and given a safety briefing. You will then follow an experienced guide as they take you through the wonders of lava, landscapes, geothermal wildernesses or even the vast landscapes at the foot of a glacier.
Seeing Iceland on an ATV tour is a great way to get an adrenaline rush while soaking up the incredible sights the country has to offer.
Ziplining is a great way to feed the inner adrenaline junkie in you without needing to learn any specific skills or master new abilities. Ziplining is also a great adventure activity because it’s incredibly safe.
A zipline is basically a cable that connects two locations; usually, a significant portion of this cable is at a higher altitude off the ground. The main idea is for a person to be safely attached to this cable and effortlessly glide between the two points.
Ziplines in Iceland are typically situated near places that will offer an incredible view from above. There’s nothing quite like the view you can get of an inspirational place like Iceland if you can see it as the bird flies.
If we had to pick our favourite, we’d suggest taking a zipline near the town of Hveragerdi just a 30 minute car ride away from Reykjavik. They boast the longest zipline in Iceland which navigates over a series of canyons and crevices, whilst also allowing visitors to experience ziplining in a complete unique way.
Paragliding takes the thrill and exhilaration of something like ziplining and adds an element of freedom and spontaneity. Most paragliding experiences in Iceland are performed in ‘Tandem’, which means that you are accompanied by an experienced paragliding pilot who knows exactly how to keep things safe and enjoyable for the entire journey.
Paragliding is an adventure sport where participants use parachutes to glide between locations. It combines thrill-seeking with the ability to take in some incredible views for an experience you won’t soon forget.
In most paragliding tours, you will meet at a base camp where you will be fitted with the necessary equipment and introduced to your pilot, who will be responsible for controlling the journey ahead. You will then make your way to the launch point and take off like a bird, gliding effortlessly above the clouds.
You will take in the spectacular views of the surrounding area as you make your way gracefully to the final destination. Nothing can truly compare to the feeling of gliding through the air while also seeing Iceland from a perspective that very few ever get to experience.
Paintball is an incredibly exciting group activity that is often used for team building, creating memories and also just for letting off steam. It usually involves splitting into teams to strategically achieve a goal, perhaps taking down the opposition one by one or performing a task as simple as capturing a flag.
Paintball is something that can be done indoors or outdoors, and there’s no outdoor paintball location more interesting than Iceland.
Imagine strategizing with family, friends or colleagues against the backdrop of a volcanic landscape or even in the silent, crisp snow.
Participating in a paintball experience in Iceland is a great way to engage in a fun group activity that also allows you to take in the clean air and wonderful visual appearance of the natural landscape.
- Arctic Surf
When most people think of surfing, they picture warm, sunny or tropical locations like Australia, California or Hawaii, but there’s a significant surfing community that calls the waters of the North Atlantic home.
In recent years the stormy and challenging waters of the North Atlantic, close to the Arctic Circle, have become a pilgrimage site for surfers who want the chance to tame waves that have previously been out of reach. Arctic surfing has become such a phenomenon that it even inspired an entire documentary about it.
[Under an Arctic Sky trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLYyftv3wWM]
It’s totally possible to experience arctic surfing with experienced guides, and it is always recommended to do so under the instruction of professionals.
Situated about half an hour outside of Reykjavík is an entire compound devoted to seeking thrills in an outdoor setting. This place is called Adrenalingarðurinn (The Adrenaline Garden), and it is the only park of its kind in Iceland.
The Adrenaline Garden offers many ropes courses ranging from 1 metre off the ground to 5 metres and 10 metres. They also boast a fun zipline for visitors to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding lava fields and Icelandic moss planes.
Adrenalingarðurinn also has a 12-metre giant swing, the only one of its kind in Iceland. This is the perfect place to visit for families or teams who would like the chance to take part in more than 50 obstacle courses while being nestled in the remote and impressive Icelandic nature.
One of the most sought after holiday experiences on the planet is to stand on a glacier. To view the vast expanse of ice, sky and mountainous rock as the cool arctic air hits your face is unlike any other experience on the planet and the only thing that could possibly surpass this experience is snowmobiling.
Taking to a specially designed vehicle that can zip you through the icy-white landscape of a glacier can provide you with an ‘out of this world’ experience. Snowmobiling tours are available all over Iceland at different times of the year, and they vary in the experiences they provide.
There are snowmobiling tours that are designed to show you the vast expanses of glaciers; there are also tours that use a snowmobile as a fun way to travel between snowy locations. Whatever snowmobile tour you choose, the end result will be an exhilarating thrill as you breathe in the cleanest air on the planet is an experience that very few ever get to have.
- Canoeing and Kayaking
River rafting isn’t the only activity visitors to Iceland can take on the water. Iceland is home to some incredibly pristine and still natural lakes, as well as some very inviting rivers, streams and fjords.
Canoeing or Kayaking on some of Iceland’s natural bodies of water can give you a more accurate understanding of their true size while also showing how interconnected all the elements of nature are in this country that’s unlike any other on the planet.
There are Kayaking and Canoeing tours to suit just about every skill level and desire, so it’s all about what you want to get out of the experience. On the water, there’s plenty of time to relax, reflect and appreciate just how beautiful the natural world around you can be.
- Dog Sledding
Many countries near the Arctic that experience significant snowfall have a history of using dogs as a mode of transportation. Iceland is a country where you can not only witness sled dogs in action, but you can also personally experience the power of being led through a snowy expanse by man’s best friend.
Dog Sledding tours happen all over the country, so as long as there is some level of snow on the ground, you can easily find an operator to take you on a sled journey.
Most Icelandic sled dog tours introduce you to Alaskan Huskies or Greenlandic Dogs; both are uniquely suited for the difficult task of traversing large expanses of snow while escorting precious cargo.
Many tour operators are also able to offer ‘dry-land’ sledding tours, so it’s also an exhilarating experience that can be enjoyed all year round.
- Mountain Biking
It’s not a typical mode of transport that comes to mind when people think about getting around Iceland, but mountain biking is a very popular activity that many visitors trek to Icelandic shores to experience.
There’s an abundance of interesting mountain bike trails around Iceland, each of them with its own unique characteristics and challenges. Tours range in need and ability depending on what you want to get out of the experience.
Iceland’s rocky landscapes, filled with ancient lava fields, mountains and volcanoes, make for incredible settings to explore on two wheels. Many avid mountain bikers go to the extra effort of bringing their favourite bikes to Iceland every year to enjoy scaling the intricate terrains. However, you don’t need to bring your own bike or even be an expert mountain biker to enjoy the thrills this experience can bring. There are tours available for almost every skill level.
Iceland is a country of wondrous contrasts that is unlike anywhere else on the planet. It’s a place where many people come to find a sense of peace as they witness the magic of one of the last places on Earth that seems like it’s too incredible to be real. Iceland can also be a place to indulge in some exhilarating adventure if you so desire, and one of the best places to do so is on the South Coast.
The South Coast of Iceland is home to many famous attractions, including waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, black sand beaches and much more, and the best place to base yourself when visiting here is the Panorama Glass Lodge.
The Panorama Glass Lodge is a group of unique luxurious cabins based at the foot of the Hella volcano. Each cabin boasts expansive views of the surrounding environment with the help of unintrusive glass walls that bring the outside in.
Imagine what it would be like to fill your day in Iceland with adventure, then come home to a delightfully comfortable abode with a private hot tub. A place where you can reflect on your experiences as you take in the otherworldly environment around you while still experiencing absolute privacy.
So what are you waiting for? Plan your exciting vacation now and reserve your place in one of the most exclusive accommodation options Iceland has to offer.