6 bucketlist experiences in Iceland

Visiting Iceland and looking for some incredible experiences? In this blog post I am sharing 6 incredible bucketlist experiences to have in Iceland.

Check them all out and make sure to add some to your Iceland to-do list. 

Note that this blog post is based on a trip to Iceland in winter, so some things I might have done in summer, were not accessible.

Also, to make things easier for you and also for me, I am writing the names of all this wonderful places without apostrophes. 

bucket list experiences Iceland

1. Hike a glacier

#1 of my bucketlist experiences to have in Iceland – hike a glacier!

There are many glaciers in Iceland that are worthy exploring. I did a combined tour with localguide and hiked Europe´s largest glacier Vatnajökull and also explored an two incredible ice caves. (which is the 2nd bucketlist experience on this list)

While hiking on the glacier alone is already a super unique experience and the colors and textures of the ice will blow your mind, we also hiked to a second ice cave, only accessible through a hike on the glacier first.

Known as the “Blue Rose” due to its spiral kind of form, with high walls, slowly becoming an ice cave and getting more narrow and narrow until you ultimately do not fit through the narrow opening anymore.

A crazy experience and I never thought I would love it that much until I actually did it!

Hiking a glacier in Iceland is possible throughout the year and I totally want to return and also go on a glacier hike in summer one day. 

Note that there is no physical barrier to prevent you from hiking a glacier by yourself, it is highly advisable to be accompanied by an official tour guide, espacially if you do not have experience. Equipment needed (crampons, helmet, harness) is normally provided by the tour company, but make sure to check the exact tour description. 

How much does it cost?

Tour costs for a glacier hike start at around 100 USD, depending on what´s included, time of the year, group size etc. Make sure to check out different operators for prices and compare what´s included. 

HIking the Vatnajökull glacier with local guide
bucketlist experiences in Iceland: hike a glacier
The Blue Rose icecave

2. Explore an ice cave

Exploring a cave made out of hundreds of year old glacier ice sounds like your kind of adventure?

Make this bucketlist experience happen in Iceland!

Iceland is home to a few different glacier including Europe´s largest glacier – the Vantajökull.

There are a couple of different ice caves at different glaciers that can be explored as part of a guided tour during the winter months.

As mentioned above, I did a tour with local guide (Ice Cave Discovery Tour) at Europe´s largest glacier Vatnajökull  and absolutely loved the experience.

The color of the ice is so blue and the shapes so unique and impressive.

The Ice Discovery tour is a combined tour, hiking a glacier first and then exploring an ice cave.

This was in fact to date on of my very favorite tours in my entire travel “career”. 

How much is does it cost? 

start at around 100 USD, depending on what´s included, time of the year, group size etc. Make sure to check out different operators for prices and compare what´s included. 

ice cave exploration in Iceland
bucketlist experiences in Iceland: ice cave

3. Visit a Spa/ Hot Spring

Actually visit one OR MORE Spas/ Hot Springs. Due to the volcanic activity in Iceland, there are many geothermal pools and spas all over the country.

I am obsessed with hot springs and Spas and therefor tried to visit as many as possible during my trip to Iceland.

So if you like soaking in hot water on a cold day, make sure to add one or more of the incredible spas and hot springs to your Iceland bucketlist!

Spas/ Nature Baths:

Hot springs

  • Fosslaug
  • Hrunalaug Hot Springs
  • Reykjadalur Termal River
  • Grjotagja
  • Snorralaug
  • Gudrunarlaug

Outdoor hot tubs/ pools

  • Hauganes Hot tubs
  • Gudlaug Baths
  • Djupavogskorin
Hauganes Hot Tubs
Hauganes Hot Tubs
bucketlist experiences in Iceland: Hvammsvik Nature Baths
Hvammsvik Nature Baths
one of the best hidden gems in Iceland: Fosslaug hot spring
one of the best hidden gems in Iceland: Fosslaug hot spring

4. Chase the Northern Lights

One of the main reasons for a trip to Iceland in winter- the Northern Lights!

This has been on my bucketlist forever and I have been lucky enough to witness this natural spectacle multiple times during my last visit to Iceland in January 2023.

Here are some tips to increase your chances to see the Northern Lights during your trip:

  • check the cloud coverage forecast on vedur
  • stay at a place with as little light pollution as possible. 
  • check the aurora activity forecast. I use the free version of the “Aurora Forecast” app and also check the forecast on: https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast
  • Even if the activity forecast on these apps and website is low, you still have a good chance to see them. 
  • be prepared for cold weather and wear many layers of clothes! 
  • Take a Northern Lights tour. 

Check my blog post Northern Lights in Iceland for more details on this topic.

Fingers crossed for a Northern Lights sighting during your trip to Iceland in winter to check this bucketlist experience off! 

Northern Lights in Iceland in winter
bucketlist experiences in Iceland: chasing the Northern Lights

5. Walk behind a waterfall

I was stunned when I first heard you can walk behind some of the waterfalls in Iceland, at that´s generally quite rare.

Iceland has over 10000!!! Waterfalls and you can walk behind the actual water stream at some of them. This gives you an amazing different perspective of the usual waterfall views.

In winter some of the areas behind waterfalls might be closed (at Seljalandsfoss for example) and all the others can only be reached with proper spikes or crampons.

I was unfortunately not smart enough to bring or buy spikes or crampons, so I did not make it behind a waterfall this time. Definitely a learned lesson!

Don´t make the same mistake that I made and BRING THOSE SPIKES AND/ OR CRAMPONS.

Check out my blog post Visiting Iceland in winter on more information and packing tips.

Waterfalls where it is possible to walk behind the water stream:

6. Go snorkeling between two continents

Snorkling between two continents? As weird as it sounds, this is possible in Silfra, at Pingvellir National park, just 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik.

The water is cold, all year round (between 2-4 degrees Celsius) and you can only go snokling here as part of a guided tour.

Even though the water is freezing, the crystal clear water and stunning rock formations underwater will make up for it.

I did not personally do this tour, but I have done a ton of research on it and only heard good things about this bucketlist experience in Iceland!

Definitely on my list for my next visit in Iceland.

How much is it?

Tours stating at around 100 USD per person.

bucketlist experiences in Iceland: go snorkling in Slifra

Added some of this amazing bucketlist experiences in Iceland to your to-do list? I hope so!

Make sure to check out more blog posts about Iceland to help with planning yor perfect trip: