Exploring All the Things to Do in Iceland
From soaking in hot springs and scaling glaciers to watching the Northern Lights dance while strolling black volcanic beaches, Iceland offers nature lovers a brave new world to expore. Independent travel is the way to go for many travelers. That doesn’t mean you have to do all of the planning yourself or pay top dollar. Trusted travel companies offer visitors plenty of things to do in Iceland, delivered in the ways that best suit your budget and interests.
“There are places our imaginations can never construct for us…” Stephen Markley, Tales of Iceland
There’s so much to see and do here, it can be difficult to plan a trip on your own. Likewise, with so many tours and cruises available, it’s difficult to pinpoint which ones offer a stellar experience and which float by on “good enough.”
Enjoy as much guidance as you require with a curated travel package. Traveling the same route as others (or even together in a group) gives you big benefits when it comes to finding trustworthy lodging and experiences, as well as cutting down on your expenses.
Is Iceland expensive?
Yes. Iceland is more expensive to visit than many destinations. Traveling here on your own will likely cost $3,000 per person at least, unless you’re buying all of your food at supermarkets and making it in the kitchen at your hostel. That leaves a limited budget for seeing the sites as well, as museums and other activities can get quite pricey.
Flying to Iceland, surprisingly, might not be that big of a problem budget- or time-wise. With nonstop flights available from several big U.S. airports and roundtrip tickets available for under $250, the ease of getting to the country might give visitors the wrong impression. Scandanavia is not Eastern Europe, Central or South America, or South East Asia, all perfectly wonderful selections for a budget trip. That doesn’t mean you have to go broke.
Compare completely independent rates to those for travel packages that offer some meals and lodging for less than half the price. For the savings, you’ll also get some included experiences and the benefit of a travel guide.
And before you start groaning, take a minute to learn about what tour companies really provide.
If you’re anything like the typical U.S. traveler, you went on an escorted tour at some time where the bus was uncomfortable and smelly and the schedule left you stranded at boring stops for hours. Those are extremely low-budget tours catering to school markets. They are lower than low end, and they deal with schools instead of travelers for their repeat business so experiences don’t have to be spectacular.
That’s not the experience you get when dealing directly with a travel agent. Even our budget Iceland tours provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime trip!
For instance, you can take a 6-day getaway to a Nordic wonderland, featuring glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs and waterfalls. Walk close to epic glacial sheaths and feel the spray of Gullfoss on the search for the Northern Lights, all from $1390, with some meals included.
- Reykjavik Walking Tour
- Golden Circle (Thingevellir National Park, Strokkur Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall)
- Dyrholaey & Reynisdrangar
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
- Skogafoss Waterfall
- Skaftafell National Park
The itinerary for the trip allows you ample time to get out and explore Iceland on your own, as any independent traveler. However, you’ll find upgraded experiences and lower costs by taking advantage of one of our optional activities, including some of the best things to do in Iceland:
- Skaftafell Glacier Walk
- Blue Lagoon
- Whales of Iceland Museum
- Settlement Exhibition
- Saga Museum
- Maritime Museum
- Perlan Museum
- Harpa Concert Hall
- Volcano House
You can also find alternatives to tour company provided activities through a trusted excursion site.
This is just ONE opportunity. As a first-rate independent travel agency, Odd Birds Travel can clue you in on the best trips suited to your personality, fitness level, interests and budget.
One of the least expensive ways to visit, for instance, is by cruise ship. Limit your costs for Iceland lodging and dining while having access to the country’s best sites. There’s a reason our arctic ocean voyages are among the most valuable cruise experiences.
But of course, one of the best things to do in the Land of Fire and Ice …
When to see the Northern Lights
As a travel agent, it’s drilled into your head early on to help your clients set reasonable expectations. Don’t promise Disney-goers the ability to walk on every ride. Don’t pretend those soft, sandy Caribbean beaches will be seaweed-free. Don’t promise a chance to witness an event no one can predict … Mother Nature doesn’t show up on demand, even during ‘Northern Lights season’.
Where to see the Northern Lights? Iceland is a perfect location due to it’s northern placement and high altitudes, but plenty of people go and never see them. No travel agent or company in the world can make that guarantee and no one will offer you a discount or refund on your entire trip in the event the lights don’t “perform” while you’re in the country.
(There are independent tours that happen while you’re in-country which allow you refunds or future dates.)
Iceland is not the only place you can see them either. In fact, the first time I saw the lights, I was driving down a country road in Fort Dodge, Iowa, just past their regional airport. Some freak of nature brought the Aurora Borealis to the Midwest! All I could do is stop dead in the middle of the road and get out of my car to stare slackjawed at the waves of color rippling across the sky.
It was a surreal experience thinking I was seeing the impossible, but I was. I did! It’s equally befuddling to know that you might go to Iceland, or Alaska, or Norway and come home not having that experience. Such is the mystery of the Universe…
That said, there is a best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Dark season runs from November to March in Iceland, when there are only a few hours of sunlight each day. Starting in September a siting becomes more likely. Best hours to see the Northern Lights? Between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Lunar light can also outshine the Northern Lights. Try to plan as far away from the Full Moon as possible. It’s also better to stay away from the bright lights of the city. However, there are a few accommodations designed to improve your views.
Book today and receive a free visitor’s guide to Iceland.