Your Ultimate Guide to Arctic Adventures in Iceland: What to Know and Where to Go

Discover the ultimate guide to Arctic adventures in Iceland! From icy wonders to heart-pounding experiences, unlock the secrets of exploring Iceland's frozen landscapes and chasing the Northern Lights.

Arctic Adventures in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

in the land of fire and ice? Well, if you're getting tired of the same old beach vacations, it's high time to consider Arctic adventures in Iceland.

This is not just any ordinary journey. This trip brings you face-to-face with raw, untamed nature at its finest. Want to know how to gear up for such an extraordinary experience? Stay with us, and we'll guide you through the ins and outs of planning the most unforgettable Arctic adventure. 

Spoiler Alert: This adventure will blow your regular beach vacation out of the water! Get ready for a thrilling journey as refreshing as diving into a glacial lagoon.

What is an Arctic Adventure?

An Arctic adventure is not just a catchy phrase; it's a unique category of travel experiences designed explicitly for thrill-seekers. Regarding Arctic Adventures in Iceland, we're talking about exhilarating activities that immerse you in Iceland's extreme landscapes—think icy glaciers, volcanic landscapes, and stunning fjords. 

These adventures are not for the faint of heart, but for those who want to get their adrenaline pumping while embracing the untamed beauty of Iceland's nature. It's about challenging yourself in ways you never thought possible, whether by scaling icy peaks or sailing alongside massive whales.

artic adventures iceland

Types of Arctic Adventures in Iceland

Regarding Arctic adventures in Iceland, the options are as diverse as the landscapes themselves. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Glacier Hiking: Trek across ancient glaciers, feeling the crunch of ice beneath your feet as you admire stunning views.
  • Ice Cave Exploring: Venture into a network of tunnels and caves within glacial ice formations that form only during winter and melt away in summertime. 
  • Whale Watching: Get up close with some of the giants of the sea, such as humpback whales and orcas.
  • Dog Sledding: Experience the age-old Arctic tradition of dog sledding across snowy landscapes.
  • Snowmobiling: Speed across a glacier and feel the wind against your face.
  • Northern Lights Chasing: Hunt for the elusive Aurora Borealis. With a reliable 4x4 from Reykjavík Cars, you can venture far from the city lights to get the best view.

Northern lights chasing, Iceland

Benefits of Arctic Adventures

Experiencing an Arctic adventure in Iceland not only provides unforgettable memories but also offers several beneficial aspects. Here are some key advantages to embarking on these unique escapades:

  • Physical Fitness: Glacier hiking or dog sledding provides excellent cardiovascular exercise.
  • Mental Wellbeing: The natural beauty of Iceland's landscapes can have a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Learning Opportunities: These adventures provide a unique chance to learn about the Arctic ecosystem, Icelandic history, and culture.
  • Inspiration and Personal Growth: Conquering the challenges the Arctic environment poses can boost confidence and inspire personal growth.
  • Unique Experiences: Arctic adventures offer unique experiences, such as witnessing the spectacle of the Northern Lights or exploring an ice cave that is unavailable in many other parts of the world.

arctic tours iceland

The Best Arctic Adventures in Iceland

Venturing into Iceland's Arctic realm offers a medley of unrivaled adventures, each more captivating than the last. Here are a few must-experience Arctic tours in Iceland for your bucket list: 

Conquer the Icy Terrain With Glacier Hiking

Glacier hiking is an unmissable Arctic adventure in Iceland. Imagine strapping on crampons and trekking across Svínafellsjökull, an outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull National Park. This glacier is part of Iceland's tallest mountain range, offering views of the country's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur, on clear days.

Tours like the one from Troll Expeditions equip you with all the necessary gear and safety briefings. Over four hours, you'll explore stunning ice formations and moulins and even get a chance to try ice climbing, all under the guidance of certified guides.

Venture Into the Blue on an Ice Cave Exploring Expedition

Picture yourself stepping into an otherworldly sanctuary where the walls glisten in ethereal shades of blue and black, and the air is tinged with an invigorating chill. This is ice cave exploring, an awe-inspiring Arctic adventure in Iceland that feels like a journey into the heart of a frozen dream.

Tours like the one from Ice Explorers elevate this experience to a whole new level. Setting off from the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, you'll embark on a 2.5-3 hour odyssey that includes a thrilling ride in a custom-made super jeep to Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet of the majestic Vatnajökull Glacier.

A brief hike later, you'll find yourself enveloped in a cathedral of ice, captivated by its intricate formations and the fascinating science that brings this magical realm to life. 

Sail Among Giants on a Whale Watching Tour

Whale watching is one of the most soul-stirring Arctic tours Iceland has to offer. Imagine gliding through the waters of Faxaflói Bay, your eyes scanning the horizon for the majestic breach of a humpback whale or the playful leap of a white-beaked dolphin.

The Reykjavik Classic Whale Watching tour offers a magical 3-hour journey into this bay with expert crew and specially trained naturalists. You'll explore the whales of Reykjavik under the excellent guidance of marine biologist guides, learning about the incredible wildlife that calls Iceland home. The bay is also teeming with birdlife, adding another layer of wonder to this unforgettable adventure.

Experience the Arctic Wilderness Through Dog Sledding

Dog sledding is a quintessential part of Arctic adventures in Iceland, offering a unique blend of tradition, exhilaration, and scenic beauty. Picture the sheer exhilaration of gracefully gliding across untouched snowy landscapes, guided by a spirited team of Siberian Huskies.

There's an excellent tour by Snow Dogs that elevates this experience to something truly magical. Situated between Akureyri and Lake Mývatn in North Iceland, this tour takes you on a scenic trail, lasting 40-70 minutes with opportunities for picture-perfect stops. 

Your Musher will introduce you to the art of dog sledding, and you'll even have the chance to try your hand at mushing. The adventure concludes with quality time at the kennel, where you can cuddle and snap photos with these lovable Siberian Huskies.

Speed Through Pristine Landscapes on a Snowmobiling Tour

Snowmobiling is essential to any Arctic adventure in Iceland, combining thrills, chills, and unforgettable scenery. The rush of cold air against your face, the roar of the engine beneath you, and the endless expanse of glittering snow ahead make for an unparalleled experience.

For those looking to add an extra layer of excitement to their Arctic adventure, the Golden Circle & Glacier Snowmobiling tour is a perfect choice. This 10-hour tour takes you through the iconic Golden Circle route and includes an exhilarating snowmobile ride on Iceland's second-largest glacier, Langjökull.

With protective clothing and safety equipment provided, all you need to focus on is the thrill of speeding through this icy wonderland.

Chase the Elusive Aurora on a Northern Lights Tour

One of the most enthralling Arctic adventures in Iceland is the pursuit of the elusive Northern Lights. This natural spectacle paints the sky with vibrant hues of green, pink, and even purple.

To elevate this celestial experience, the Northern Lights Small Group Tour offers an unparalleled journey into the heart of this natural marvel. This 4-hour tour is an intimate affair, limited to just 19 participants. 

As you enter the night, you'll be treated to warm hot chocolate and delectable Icelandic pastries. And if the skies are in your favor, professional photos will immortalize this magical moment.

How to Plan Your Arctic Adventure in Iceland

Planning your dream Arctic adventure in Iceland can be broken down into manageable steps to ensure a smooth and memorable experience. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Identify Interests: Decide on the type of Arctic adventures that interest you the most, be it glacier hiking, ice cave exploring, or Northern Lights chasing.
  2. Research Seasons: Different activities are best experienced during specific seasons in Iceland. Make sure to research the optimal time for your chosen adventure.
  3. Budget Planning: Set a budget that includes not just the activity costs but also accommodation, travel, and any special gear you might need.
  4. Select a Tour Operator: Look for reputable tour operators such as the ones we have mentioned that specialize in your chosen activity. Read reviews and perhaps even reach out to past customers for feedback.
  5. Compare Prices: Don't just go for the first option you see. Compare prices and what's included in the package to ensure you get the best value.
  6. Book in Advance: Popular adventures often get booked quickly, especially during peak seasons. Secure your spot well in advance.
  7. Prepare Physically: Some adventures require a good level of physical fitness. Make sure you're prepared to enjoy the experience fully.

artic adventure iceland

When To Go to Iceland for Arctic Adventures

Timing is everything when it comes to planning your Arctic adventure in Iceland. Each season offers unique experiences that cater to different interests. Winter months, from November to March, are ideal for Northern Lights chasing, ice cave exploring, and dog sledding.

The snow-covered landscapes provide a magical backdrop for these activities. Summer is perfect for whale watching and glacier hiking, as the milder weather makes these experiences more enjoyable.

Spring and autumn serve as transitional periods, offering a mix of activities but with fewer crowds. Ultimately, the best time to go depends on what Arctic adventures you're most drawn to. For a more detailed guide, check out our article on the best time to visit Iceland.

What To Pack for an Arctic Adventure in Iceland

Packing for an Arctic adventure in Iceland requires careful consideration to ensure you're prepared for the elements and the activities you'll be undertaking. Here's a quick rundown of essential items:

  • Thermal Layers: Pack thermal undergarments to retain body heat. Wool or synthetic materials are best.
  • Insulating Outerwear: A waterproof and windproof jacket is essential for withstanding Iceland's unpredictable weather.
  • Sturdy Footwear: Insulated, waterproof boots keep your feet dry and warm during snowy walks.
  • Gloves and Hats: A warm hat and gloves will keep you comfortable in colder temperatures. 
  • Sunscreen and Sunglasses: Even in winter, the sun can be strong. Make sure to pack sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Swimwear and Towel: These are essential if you want to dip in one of the many hot springs in Iceland.

arctic tours iceland

Where To Stay in Iceland for Arctic Adventures

If you're planning activities in the South, like glacier hiking or ice cave exploring, staying in Vik or Reykjavík offers convenient access to these locations. For Northern Lights enthusiasts, secluded lodges away from city lights are ideal.

Akureyri in the North is a great base for dog sledding and whale watching, offering a range of cozy guesthouses and hotels. If you're embarking on multiple adventures across different regions, consider a more central location like Reykjavík, which offers a variety of lodging options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.

How To Get Around Iceland for Arctic Adventures

Getting around the island is easy with various transport options, perfect for those looking to embark on Arctic adventures in Iceland. The most popular choice among adventurers is renting a car in Reykjavík, which offers unrivaled flexibility to explore at your own pace.

Remember, 4x4s are essential for winter travel. Alternatively, you can rely on Iceland's bus network. Still, this option is limited if you want to travel to remote areas. Lastly, domestic flights are a speedy option to bridge the distance between far-flung locations, such as Reykjavík and Akureyri. It's also worth noting that many tour operators provide pick-up and drop-off services.

Car rental Iceland

Tips for Staying Safe on Your Arctic Adventure in Iceland

Safety should always be paramount on any Arctic adventure in Iceland. Here are some critical tips to ensure you stay safe:

  • Be prepared for the weather: Icelandic weather can be unpredictable and change quickly. Always check the weather forecast before embarking on your adventure, and dress appropriately with layers to cope with varying temperatures.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Whether you are glacier hiking, ice cave exploring, or Northern Lights chasing, always be aware of your surroundings. Be vigilant about potential hazards like slippery surfaces or sudden weather changes.
  • Stay hydrated: Despite the cold weather, stay hydrated during your adventure. Cold weather can dehydrate you just as quickly as hot weather, so regularly drink water throughout the day.
  • Don't overdo it: Know your limits, and don't push yourself too hard. If you're feeling tired, take a break. It's important to pace yourself to enjoy the experience fully.
  • Listen to your guide: Tour guides are experts in Arctic adventures and are well-versed in local conditions. Always listen to their instructions and follow their lead for a safe and enjoyable experience.

arctic tours iceland

Frequently Asked Questions about Arctic Adventures in Iceland

What is the cost of an Arctic adventure in Iceland?

The cost of an Arctic adventure in Iceland varies greatly, generally ranging from $100 to $300, depending on the type of activity, length, and included services.

How long do arctic adventures in Iceland last?

The duration of Arctic adventures in Iceland can vary, typically lasting from a few hours to multiple days, depending on the activity and tour package.

What age do you have to be to go on an Arctic adventure in Iceland?

There is no specific age limit for Arctic adventures in Iceland; however, certain risky activities may have age restrictions, usually starting from 8 olds. Those under 18 must have a signed guardian consent form for some activities. 

What are the cancellation policies for Arctic adventures in Iceland?

Most tour operators have a 1-day cancellation policy, meaning you will receive a full refund if you cancel your tour within 24 hours of the activity. 

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