Stepping into the landscapes of Iceland feels like tumbling headfirst into a rabbit hole — onto another planet altogether. Boasting otherworldly scenery filled with ethereal formations, Iceland is a destination fit for the history books.
And in a country as incredible as this, Iceland is naturally bursting with unique activities for travellers seeking a generous dose of adventure. Check these off your bucket list the next time you’re in the country:
1. Snorkel between 2 tectonic plates
Thingvellir National Park is one of the stops on the popular Golden Circle route, which can easily be covered on a day trip from Reykjavik. Nestled within the park is ‘Silfra’, a rift created between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in 1789. This fissure measures 600 by 200 metres, creating a passage that’s wide enough for divers and snorkelers to pass through.
That’s right, here’s your chance to actually dive or snorkel between two tectonic plates! Silfra is filled with water from the Langjokull glacier, which is said to be some of the clearest water in the world. This allows for underwater visibility of up to 100 metres, with water temperatures remaining between a comfortable two to four degrees celsius all year round.
2. Hike across a massive glacier
Did you know that more than 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers? A glacier forms when multiple layers of snow are compressed to form colossal blocks of ice — in a process that takes thousands of years.
Strap on a pair of crampons, arm yourself with an ice axe, and make your way across sprawling blue fields and deep crevasses. If you wish, you can even sample some of the clear glacial water found in chasms along the surface of the ice. Don’t worry, this water is completely safe for consumption! Complete your adventure by venturing into the depths of an ice cave; however, do note that Ice Cave season only starts at the beginning of winter (start of November).
3. Walk amongst icebergs at the Diamond Beach
In Iceland, diamonds are everyone’s best friend. And the country’s home to some of the best diamonds around — which come in the form of countless chunks of ice that sparkle in the sunlight! These ice pieces break off from a nearby glacier and land in the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, before floating out to sea and washing ashore at the Breioamerkursandur Black Beach.
The beach is dotted with numerous wedges of ice in all shapes and sizes, colloquially earning it the nickname of the ‘Diamond Beach’. Take your time to wander amongst the pieces of ice and even clamber onto some huge ones — at your own risk! — for the photo opportunity of a lifetime. If you’d like, you can even head across the road to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, where you can take a boat ride around the lagoon.
4. Watch a geyser erupt 40 metres into the air
Spanning an area of 3 square kilometres, the Geysir Geothermal Area is a fascinating hive of activity. Wander around and feast your eyes on numerous steaming pools and bubbling fumaroles, complete with jets of steam and a cloud of mist that envelops the area.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts in intervals of 10 minutes or so. When this happens, a large volume of water is thrown up into the air, reaching a staggering height of 40 metres! Do take caution not to stand too close, however; the temperature of the water ranges between 80 to 100 degrees celsius.
5. Explore an 8,000-year-old lava tube
Conduct your very own ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ at Vatnshellir Cave, which inspired Jules Verne’s 1864 novel of the same name! Located within Snaefellsjokull National Park, the 8,000 year-old-Vatnshellir Cave invites visitors to explore its depths — a whopping 35 metres underground.
Arm yourself with a helmet and headlight, and follow your guide as he enthralls you with tales and information about the various lava formations. Spot all types of stalactites or stalagmites and, at one point of the tour, even experience what it’s like to be enveloped in sheer darkness. The tour does require clambering up and down a couple of metal staircases; a certain level of fitness is hence required for this experience.
Other than the above, there’s plenty in Iceland to entice visitors of all ages — ride a horse through lava fields, pamper yourself by soaking in a geothermal lagoon, walk behind thundering waterfalls, and even go on a thrilling Northern Lights chase.
The list goes on and on; all you need is a hunger for adventure, as well as the willingness to put yourself outside your comfort zone, and you’ll be all set!