Iceland

Summary
Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ – 4 adventure travel stars (rounded up)

Gullfoss Waterfall - Iceland

Gullfoss Waterfall – Iceland

Brrrrrr… Iceland vacations can get pretty cold, but there are so many adventure travel activities for you to do here that the action and movement may keep your mind off of the frigid temperatures.

There’s hardly a tree to be seen in most of the country, so don’t expect to find zipline canopy tours.

However, you will find a full menu of wintery adventures waiting for you like snow shoeing and skiing as well as traditional adrenaline-filled activities like white water rafting, motorcycling and paragliding.

Explore a world of glaciers and discover a modern Viking culture of strong, self-reliant people who can take care of themselves in some of the most unforgiving conditions in the world and delight you with enchanting stories of elves and Norse mythology.

The landscapes appear otherworldly in some places, the azure hot springs seem to contradict the frosty temperatures and the magical Aurora Borealis is a spectacular sight that you’ll never forget.

And this is a safe place to visit, so you don’t have to worry about crime when pursuing adventures in Iceland.

The bottom line: You may not hear much about Iceland in the media, but this place is pretty well known to those interested in adventure travel.

If you’re looking for a unique adventure travel experience in a cold-weather location, check out the list below for the things you can do in this land of the Vikings.

Exotic Factor
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ – 4 adventure travel stars

Iceland vacations are truly exotic with the long winter nights where the skies can be filled with the wonder of the mystical northern lights and the summer days that never end in some parts of the country.

Some parts of Iceland seems like another world with the fairytale look to some of the mountains that jut towards the sky and the surreal look to the luminescent green valleys.

You’ll see impressive white glaciers, ominous black sand beaches and incredible blue icebergs cast adrift and floating free in the austere lagoons.

The lack of trees and the thin layer of moss you’ll see along the breathtaking landscapes enhance the mysterious nature of Iceland, and blue thermal pools with the backdrop of snow and ice-capped mountains just adds to the exotic allure.

All of this and the incredibly clean, fresh air will make for a truly exotic experience that will draw you back time and again.

Cultural Factor
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ – 3 adventure travel stars

Iceland gives you an opportunity for some unique cultural outings. The people are free-thinking, fun-loving, self-reliant folks who enjoy their personal freedoms, and the traditional cuisine is… well, interesting.

Adventure is deeply rooted in the Icelandic culture from the days of the vikings when they came to this island in the ninth century, and the Celts influenced the culture as well.

You’ll find a classless society here with a real love for the arts as they have a thriving community of actors, composers, musicians and authors.

The architecture is interesting in that with the lack of trees on the island you’ll find turf-covered houses in the rural areas. The other structures are largely influenced by Scandinavian design.

Now for the cuisine.

Being that this is an island nation you would expect many of their dishes to include seafood, and you would be right. You’ll find some excellent fish and other delicacies from the cold ocean waters.

This is where it gets interesting. How would you react to a menu that offered blood pudding, putrefied shark, liver sausage, pickled rams testicles, singed sheep heads and seal flippers?

For many, these dishes might not sound all that appetizing, and you may be thinking, “How much trail mix can I stuff in my luggage.” But this is an adventure, so maybe try just a bite of the putrefied shark so you can say you did it. Then, after you throw up, you can go looking for a ham sandwich.

Adventure Factor
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ – 4 adventure travel stars

When you go to a country named after a frozen liquid, you would expect it to be cold. It is, and there are a lot of excellent icy adventures to be had here, as you would expect.

However, in the summer, when it warms up, you’ll find quite a few outdoor adventure opportunities where you won’t need your thermal underwear, and there’s an awful lot of sunlight to help you stretch these activities out for as long as you would like.

When there’s snow on the ground you’ll be able to go dog sledding, skiing, snowmobiling and more. You may want to wait till it thaws out a little before you go white water rafting, paragliding and trekking.

You can even go on a super-jeep safari (pretty much all year round) where you can see all of the natural wonders of Iceland, and do it in comfort. Crank up the heater, put on some nice tunes and enjoy the splendor of your Iceland adventure.

Hard

  • Arctic trips
  • Canoeing
  • Dog sledding
  • Four wheel drive trips
  • Hang gliding
  • Hunting
  • Ice climbing
  • Motorcycling
  • Mountain biking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Orienteering
  • Overlanding
  • Paragliding
  • Rock climbing
  • Scuba diving
  • Sea kayaking
  • Skydiving
  • Snorkeling
  • Snow shoeing
  • Snow skiing
  • Soaring (gliding)
  • Spelunking (caving)
  • Surfing
  • White water rafting
  • Windsurfing

Soft

  • Birdwatching
  • Cultural tours
  • Eco tours
  • Nature trips
  • Walking tours
  • Whale watching

Could be either

  • Backpacking
  • Bicycling
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Flying
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Quad-biking / ATVs
  • Safaris
  • Sailing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife watching
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