East Fjords village (RTH Sigurdsson/Discover The World)

10 trips guaranteed to take you off the beaten track in Iceland

16th March 2017

With its otherworldly landscapes, elemental forces and abundant wildlife, Iceland is an extraordinary destination. These trips will ensure you get away from the well-beaten path and to the country's heart

Wanderlust team

1: An Icelandic 4WD and hiking adventure

Hiking through the volcanic landscape in Lakagiga (Dreamstime)
Hiking through the volcanic landscape in Lakagiga (Dreamstime)

Combining coastal roads and highland tracks with day-long hikes between each stage of the journey, this tour idea is ideal for discovering Iceland's truly unique landscapes shaped by thousands of years of history, geography and staggering natural phenomena.

Your 4-wheel drive vehicle will come into its own as you venture into the volcanic landscapes of the Icelandic interior. Here, you’ll find a plethora of hiking trails around the mirror lake of Landmannalaugar, through the Thorsmork Nature Reserve, past the Eldgjá volcanic fissure and throughout the Fjadrargljufur canyon. Outdoor enthusiasts, this is a trip for you.

Who: Evaneos

When: 25 Jun & 22 Aug 2017

How long: 15 days

How much:From £3,060 (exc. flights)


2: The world’s most unique diving experience

The Silfra Rift (Dreamstime)
The Silfra Rift (Dreamstime)

Experience one of the top cold water dive sites in the world at Silfra fissure where the visibility exceeds 100 metres and you get the unique opportunity to dive between two continents, feeling like you're flying in the air. 

The site is where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet, creating a unique and rugged underwater landscape. The long weekend break includes two dives at Silfra where the water is 2-4C year round, making a dry suit an essential part of your equipment.

Afterwards, take a dip in a geothermal pool and spend an evening enjoying the sights and sounds of Reykjavik.

Who: Dive Worldwide

When: 25 Jun & 22 Aug 2017

How long: Departures Jun-Sep 2017

How much: From £645 (exc. flights)

 

3: Chasing Orcas and Northern Lights

Northern Lights in Iceland (Dreamstime)

Northern Lights in Iceland (Dreamstime)

Enjoy an exciting four nights on the stunning Snaefellsnes Peninsula watching orca by day and the Northern Lights by night. From a base in the countryside, set amidst lava fields and within sight of the distinctive glacier-topped volcano of Snaefellsjokull, you head out on boat trips for close-up encounters with large groups of orca that frequent the bay of Grundarfjordur.

Wildlife and nature are an integral part of any holiday to Iceland, whose rugged beauty is complemented by excellent bird watching and opportunities to watch whales.

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures Jan-Mar

How long: 5 days

How much: From £1,319 (exc. flights)


4: Hike East Iceland with an award-winning guide

Glacier in East Iceland (Dreamstime)
Glacier in East Iceland (Dreamstime)

Iceland expert and author Cathy Harlow is a favourite guide with Wanderlust readers. She was Highly Commended in the Wanderlust Guide Awards in both 2013 and 2014, and gets glowing recommendations for both her passion and in-depth knowledge of this corner of the country.

In 2017, she will lead this small-group guided trek that includes several spectacular hikes in East Iceland. The adventure will involve scaling a dormant volcano, hiking to stunning waterfalls and exploring the towering wilderness and secret inlets of the East Fjords. 

With over 25 years experience as a guide in Iceland, Cathy gives guests an unique insight into the local culture and geology, as well as bringing each walk to life with a range of incredible Icelandic sagas. This is an Iceland adventure not to be missed.

Who: Discover The World

When: 15 July, 2017

How long: 8 nights

How much: From £2,989 (inc. £250 international flight credit)

5: Venture into Iceland’s volcanic heartland

Kerlingafjoll Geothermal field (Dreamstime)
Kerlingafjoll Geothermal field (Dreamstime)

Iceland’s volcanic interior is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe. Travelling by a rugged 4WD minibus and accompanied by an experienced driver-guide, this two-week adventure will ensure you experience it at its very best.

On most days, you’ll get the chance to walk Iceland’s most famous mountain tracks, like Kjolur, Sprengisandur and Fjallabak, as well as the challenging Gæsavotn, which runs just north of the great Vatnajokull Icecap

You’ll explore areas as diverse as Lake Myvatn, the Askja caldera, the mysterious black-sand desert to the north of Vatnajokull’s snowy peaks and the icebergs at Jokulsarlon.

Who: KE Adventure

When: 18 Jul & 15 Aug, 2017

How long: 15 days

How much: From £3,795 (exc. flights)


6: Hike, bike and raft the best bits of Iceland

Cycling in Iceland (Dreamstime)
Cycling in Iceland (Dreamstime)

Why restrict yourself to the well-trodden paths in Iceland when can hike, bike, and kayak to its secret corners? From kayaking glacier-fed rivers in central Iceland to cycling past geysers and walking across grumbling volcanoes, this journey is a unique chance to make a real connection with this enigmatic land and its people.

Once the adventure’s done for the day, there’s always a thermal pool waiting to help your relax and let the adrenaline ease out of your system. Iceland is a geographical playground, and this trip takes you on all the best rides.

Who: G Adventures

When: 30 Jul & 20 Aug, 2017

How long: 7 days

How much: From £2,299 (exc. flights)


7: Discover Iceland’s Wild, Wild West

Dynjandi waterfall (RTH Sigurdsson/Discover The World)
Dynjandi waterfall (RTH Sigurdsson/Discover The World)

This two-week self-drive will lead you deep into Iceland's wild West for an in-depth exploration of the West Fjords, before visiting Siglufjordur and Lake Myvatn in the North. 

Starting in Keflavik, you will pass Europe’s most powerful hot springs at Deildartunguhver and the Hraunfossar waterfall to reach Hotel Husafell, a chic base from which to explore the ice cave of Langjokull.

Spend two days whale-watching and exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, before taking a ferry across Breidafjordur to the West Fjords, one of Iceland’s most spectacular and least visited regions.  Here, you can count all seven tiers of the majestic Dynjandi waterfall, visit the unusual red sand beach at Raudisandur and gaze up at the incredible 400m-high sea cliffs at Latrabjarg, high-rise accommodation for millions of puffins, gannets, guillemots and other seabirds. 

Finally, head north to the peaceful fishing village of Siglufjordur, the capital of North Iceland, Akureyri and scenic Lake Myvatn.

Who: Discover The World

When: Flexible departures between May and September

How long: 14 nights

How much: From £2,348 (inc. flights)


8: Take Iceland’s Three Peaks challenge

Climbing in Iceland (Dreamstime)
Climbing in Iceland (Dreamstime)

A breathtaking variety of mountain scenery makes Iceland one of the most unusual climbing locations in the world, and this expeditions ensures you experience it all. Starting with an easy ascent of Vorduskeggi Peak (805m), overlooking Lake Thingvellir, you’ll progress to the explosive volcano, Hekla, a testing 1000-metre climb across ash and snow to reach its fissured, steaming summit.

After a dip at the famous Landmannalaugar hot pools you’ll head to Skaftafell and your final challenge, the ascent of Hvannadalshnukur. At 2119m, it’s the highest mountain in Iceland. With 24 hours of daylight, the long and straightforward climb to Iceland's high point is well within reach.

Who: KE Adventure

When: 28 May, 11, 25 Jun, 2, 16 Jul & 6, 13 Aug, 2017

How long: 8 days

How much: From £2,295 (exc. flights)


9: Meet the humpback whales of Husavik

Whale watching in Husavik (Dreamstime)
Whale watching in Husavik (Dreamstime)

Discover Iceland’s whale watching capital on this varied self-drive along the scenic north coast to see an abundance of cetaceans and the country’s natural phenomena.

Starting in Akureyri, drive the Diamond Circle to the northern port of Husavik, Iceland's whale-watching capital. Here, you’ll go in search of minke and humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and even the occasional blue whale. Four whale-watching trips are included, which explore the cetacean-rich waters of Skálfandi Bay, Eyjafjӧrður and Olafsvik.

Aside from the fantastic whale watching, there will be opportunities to see abundant birdlife, including a range of waterbirds at Lake Mývatn, such as Barrow's goldeneye, harlequin duck and gadwall, as well as Slavonian grebes and great northern divers.

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures May-Sep, 2017

How long: 8 days

How much: From £1,595 (exc. flights)


10: Discover East Iceland’s Fortitude

A small fishing village in the east of Iceland (Dreamstime)
A small fishing village in the east of Iceland (Dreamstime)

The Sky TV hit series Fortitude introduced the world to a forgotten corner of Iceland: the east. It’s a place of vibrant birdlife, undulating green valleys and steep fjords formed from thousands upon thousands of basaltic lava layers.

It also has a unique atmosphere of isolation, captured so well in the series, and revealed to you by your guide, who appeared in the series as an extra. You’ll get a real insider’s insight as you explore, with visits to actual locations where the series was filmed.

Who: Wexas

When: Departures throughout year

How long: 5 days

How much: POA



Main image: East Fjords village (RTH Sigurdsson/Discover The World)

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