Thrill seekers have a lot of choices when it comes to checking off destinations from their bucket list, but none are quite as adventurous as Iceland.
A small European country seemingly in the middle of the ocean, Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice — and for good reason. The cold climate is contrasted with the hot geothermal energy that spews to the surface in the country’s natural hot springs and volcanos.
Iceland may be small in size, but it packs a very big punch for adventure seekers. Here are some of the top reasons why adventure seekers will love taking a trip to Iceland.
You Can Hike on Glaciers
Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities for thrill seekers. There’s nothing quite like climbing a challenging mountain and seeing the world from atop.
In Iceland, you can get the unique experience of hiking glaciers. More than 10% of the surface of Iceland is covered by glaciers, giving you plenty of choices when it comes to scenery and locations.
It’s strictly prohibited to navigate a glacier on your own in Iceland, so you’ll have to do this thrill-seeking activity with an official guided tour. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as the tours will provided you with all the necessary ice climbing and glacier hiking equipment you need to stay safe.
Trips over Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in all of Europe, will take you past rivers, crevasses and unbelievable scenery on your way to where the ice falls off.
You Can Go White Water Rafting
Want some adventure on the water itself? Head on down to one of three rivers in Iceland where you can go white water rafting. One of the rivers offers Class 4 rapids, which is for only the skilled boaters.
The other rivers offer more modest rapids, but are still great tours that are easily accessible from the country’s capital, Reykjavik. There’s nothing quite like paddling down the crystal clear — and frigid — waters created by the glaciers you just hiked.
You Can Tour Majestic Caves
Iceland offers a wide variety of caves, from some that are man-made to some that were formed by lava and glaciers. While you can only access the glacier caves in winter, most of the caves formed by lava can be accessed at any time of year.
Some of these caves are as deep as 35 meters below the surface. In one of the more famous caves, Vatnshellir, you make your way to the bottom by a large winding spiral staircase.
You Can Get There in No Time
One of the biggest advantages Iceland has for adventure seekers from the United States is a relatively short flight time. Many of the world’s most thrilling destinations take half-a-day or more just to fly to. Others, such as Mt. Everest, may take up to a week or more, when you factor in travel by land.
For many people on the East Coast of the U.S., Iceland is a short 4.5-hour flight. This means you won’t lose a lot of time on your trip flying in the air, and can get right to the action on the same day you depart.
The short flight time is especially appealing if you’re planning to do strenuous physical activities when you arrive in Iceland. Not having to deal with long flights, layovers and jet lag will allow you to be at your peak physical condition when you venture off on your excursions. In the end, this will allow you to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
You Can Relax Adventurously
Nothing about Iceland is typical, not even a trip to the spa. Sure, you can get the typical spa experience at a local hotel, but the true adventure seekers will venture out into the wild to visit a geothermal pool and hot spring.
Iceland is fueled by the Earth’s geothermal energy, and that energy rises to the surface to superheat some of its waters. These hot springs and geothermal pools are not only relaxing, they have proven health benefits for your skin.
There aren’t just one or two crowded options to choose from, either. There are a wide variety of choices that can give you a traditional spa setting near the coast or a more secluded setting in an interior river.
You Can Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Whales
The icy waters off Iceland are on the direct migration path for thousands of whales. Each year, whales pass right by Iceland’s coast, providing visitors the potential of seeing up to 20 different species right in front of their eyes.
You can take day trips from most of the major ports throughout the country. If you want a more unique experience, take an evening whale watching tour in the summer, when Iceland has 24 hours of sun.
You Can Bike to See the Northern Lights
One of the best ways to get around the rugged landscape of Iceland is by mountain bike. The off-road terrain is perfect for all rider skill levels, from novice to expert.
When in Iceland, though, you can’t pass up a chance to see the Northern Lights, one of Earth’s most amazing natural phenomena.
Many people take day trips to the wilderness to see the Northern Lights, but the more adventurous types will opt for a bike ride followed by a campaign experience under the night’s sky.