Iceland is an incredibly popular travel destination, which means that there are plenty of recommendations for the most popular things to do when you visit the country. But if you want to get off-the-beaten-path and venture to places outside the tourist radar, you might be interested in knowing some unique Iceland experiences. Whether that’s exploring the inside of a volcano, sampling an Icelandic hot dog, or spending an afternoon at a shark museum, these experiences will make your visit to Iceland even more unforgettable.
With scenery that features an endless series of snow-covered volcanoes, majestic waterfalls, and stunning glaciers, Iceland is a truly magical destination. But if you have been to the country several times before and want to experience something new on your next visit, here’s a list of 13 unique things to do in Iceland.
1. Explore the Inside of a Volcano
Iceland is famous for its volcanoes, particularly after the explosion of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. You can visit numerous volcanic sites around the country, but did you know that you can also explore the inside of some of Iceland’s volcanoes?
Thrihnukagigur Volcano is one of the only places on Earth where you can climb inside a volcano. Its name translates to ‘Three Peaks Crater’, and it has not erupted for 4,000 years, with no signs of coming back to life soon. If you are brave enough, go ahead and descend into one of these craters for a truly unique experience that you won’t find in many other places on the planet.
2. Visit the Reykjanes Peninsula
The Reykjanes Peninsula is a true geological wonder. Not only is this area unique because it has more lighthouses than villages, but it also features a spectacular landscape that showcases terrain that looks almost otherworldly.
If not covered by snow, endless lava fields topped with green-grey moss cover much of the Reykjanes Peninsula, giving the area scenery that many people liken to the surface of the moon. The peninsula also has several high-temperature geothermal areas, some of which have been harnessed to produce electricity.
Aside from admiring the spectacular moon-like views, visitors can also learn more about the ways that geothermal power is used in Iceland when visiting the Reykjanes Peninsula.
3. Take a Trip to a Black Sand Beach
White sand beaches are a feature of many tropical and Mediterranean destinations, but if you want to experience something unique on your visit to Iceland, why not explore its black sand beaches? The color of the sand is the result of volcanic activity in the country for thousands of years, and you will find several of these beaches around Iceland.
Reynisfjara beach is one of the most popular black sand beaches in the country, whilst Víkurfjara Beach, Dyrhólaey Beach or Djúpalónssandur Beach are all quieter and more remote. Located near the village of Vík, the Víkurfjara Black Sand Beach has basalt rocks sticking out of the ocean from a distance. The Dyrhólaey Beach features an enormous rock arch, while the Djúpalónssandur is an arc-shaped bay with dark cliffs and black sands.
4. Bathe in the Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool
If you’re looking for unique fun things to do in Iceland, consider taking a dip at the Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool; a gorgeous spot tucked behind the mountains of South Iceland. Many tourists miss visiting this pool in a rush to see the other famous sights nearby, such as the Skogafoss Waterfall, which means that it’s still an attraction that is relatively undiscovered.
Built in 1923, the Seljavallalaug swimming pool is the oldest pool in Iceland. It was built at the foot of a mountain in South Iceland and is naturally fed by hot water, like most pools in the country. Enjoy this relaxing heat alongside jaw-dropping mountain views and start your day with an unforgettable bit of exercise.
5. Road Trip Around the Ring Road
Iceland has a main road that encircles the entire island. Known as the Ring Road or Route 1, this road takes you around the entire country, as well as past some of Iceland’s most famous sights.
The ring road is 828 miles long, and you can drive around it in 15 to 16 hours. But if you want to take in the sights and attractions along the way, you should hire a car when you arrive in the country and spend at least a few days exploring at a slower pace to really appreciate the range of scenery you’ll pass.
The Ring Road will take you through some of Iceland’s most popular towns and villages, such as the village of Hofsos and the town of Siglufjordur. You’ll also pass by impressive natural attractions like Hverfell Volcano, Dettifoss Waterfall, and the Asbyrgi Canyon.
6. Try an Icelandic Hot Dog
Discovering Icelandic cuisine is one of the best activities in Iceland if you’re looking for something really unique during your visit. One of the most popular Icelandic foods is the Pylsa or the Icelandic hotdog, which you will find being sold in various food stalls all over the country.
What makes the Icelandic hotdog different from the other hotdogs in the world is that it’s made mainly from the meat of Icelandic lambs, along with beef and pork. The hot dogs come with natural casings, so when you take a bite, you’ll hear a distinct ‘pop’ sound. It will be served on a steamed bun topped with crispy fried onions, mustard, ketchup, mayo, and more!
7. See the Red Cliffs at Heiðmörk
Heiðmörk is a conservation area in Iceland that was established in 1950. It’s located on the outskirts of Reykjavík and is renowned for its distinct Red Cliffs that make for a truly spectacular photo opportunity.
The forests of Heiðmork have grown wildly since they planted the first seeds of trees here. There are now more than four million trees in this natural park and almost two hundred species of different wildflowers. Heiðmork is also home to scenic hiking and biking trails, so it’s one of the best places in Iceland for active travelers.
8. Experience the Midnight Sun
One of the most unusual things to do in Iceland in summer is to marvel at the spectacular midnight sun. You have probably heard a lot about the country’s majestic midnight sun, where the sun never fully sets, and you’ll see the sky painted in gorgeous hues of pinks, reds, and purples.
To experience the Midnight Sun in all its glory, schedule your visit between mid-May to mid-August. Although the midnight sun peaks in June, the nights in Iceland are already bright as early as May right until late August, offering plenty of chances to experience this unique phenomenon.
Some tour operators take advantage of the midnight sun by offering nighttime tours which usually include visiting famous sights like the Golden Circle. Taking part in these tours is fun and a great way to experience the country in a truly unique way.
9. Visit the Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Some of the best things to see in Iceland are its spectacular glacier lagoons. Many of these lagoons are so famous that they are usually crowded with tourists, so if you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting the Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon, which is smaller and less touristy than the other famous lagoons in the country.
While it may not be as renowned as the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the Fjallsárlón glacier is as spectacular as the other glacier lagoons. It’s located at the edge of Vatnajökull National Park on the South Coast of Iceland, just off Ring Road, about 230 miles drive from Reykjavik. When visiting this lagoon, check out the nearby attractions as well, such as the beautiful village of Hof and the Skaftafell nature reserve.
10. Learn the Stories Behind Arctic Henge in Raufarhöfn
Iceland is a country of myths and legends, and one of the most interesting stories you’ll hear is regarding the Arctic Henge in Raufarhöfn. Located in the most remote village in the north of Iceland, the Arctic Henge is a colossal piece of stone structure evoking Neolithic monuments.
The village of Raufarhöfn, where the Arctic Henge is located, has only 188 inhabitants even though it used to have a thriving herring-fishing industry. When the herring stocks disappeared, the town was abandoned by the villagers.
The stone structures are somewhat similar to England’s Stonehenge and work like a sundial that captures sunrays and casts shadows. It’s a place with an air of magic and mystery and is definitely worth the journey if you’re looking for unusual things to see in Iceland.
11. Enjoy the Colours of the Landmannalaugar Mountains
Famous for its unique, colorful landscape, the Landmannalaugar is one of Iceland’s spectacular attractions. Located within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, the hills and highlands of Landmannalaugar are recognized for their beautiful spring-fed streams, stunning hot pools and lava fields, and distinct, vibrant colored terrain caused by thousands of years of volcanic activity.
The best way to enjoy the vibrantly colored mountains is to go on a hike, where you will also come across black sand beaches, waterfalls, and geysers. Hikers can take the path towards the Landmannalaugar lava fields and Vondugil canyon before reaching the sulfur-skinned Mt. Brennisteinsalda. Continue down towards Graenagil, and if time permits, climb up the Blahnukur Summit to enjoy the panoramic views of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
12. Spend an Afternoon at the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum
Spending an afternoon at a shark museum is one of the top things to do in Iceland if you’re looking for quirky or unusual experiences, especially for those fascinated by this marine animal. The Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum is ideal for all visitors, especially families with kids.
During your visit, staff at the museum can teach you more about sharks and how the meat is used in a variety of ways in Iceland. You will also learn about the biology of Greenland sharks and why they are an essential part of Iceland’s history.
After visiting the Bjarnarhöfn shark museum, you can explore the drying house where shark meat is being hanged. You will also have the opportunity to sample the fermented meat as part of the museum experience.
13. Experience Dog Sledding
Dog sledding is a unique Iceland experience that is ideal for adventurous travelers fond of thrilling activities. It’s a popular activity for visitors to the country, where you speed through the gorgeous Icelandic landscapes while riding on a sledge pulled by powerful huskies.
The team of dogs will pull the sledge through Iceland’s snow-covered landscape during the winter, whilst in the summer the dogs pull sledges that come with wheels. Regardless of the season, this activity is sure to make your visit to Iceland even more memorable and is perfect for travelers seeking authentic and thrilling activities to experience in Iceland.
Iceland is a truly spectacular country home to various natural wonders, from volcanoes to lava fields, glaciers, waterfalls, and black sand beaches. The scenery here is often described as ‘otherworldly’ and is one of the key reasons why the island is such a unique place to visit
Given the many fun things to do in Iceland the country can get crowded, especially if you visit during the peak season. If you want to venture off-the-beaten-path and do something unique away from the tourist crowd, the list above should have you covered.
Many of the above suggestions for unique things to do in Iceland are best reached by car, which is why so many tourists in the country choose to hire a vehicle to make getting around the country much easier. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland and want to find out more about outstanding vehicle rental options, get in touch and speak to one of the team at Fara Car Rental for more information.