By Soren Rivero
The outdoor adventure of a lifetime awaits you in the capital city of Iceland: Reykjavik! From whale watching to hiking across luscious green plains, to even gazing at the marvelous colors of the night sky aurora, Reykjavik truly has it all.
If you’re looking for some outdoor activities to do in Reykjavik, look no further! This article will cover some of the best things to do outdoors in Reykjavik and show you how to enjoy nature in this beautiful Icelandic city.
Go Whale Watching
Reykjavik is located just near Faxaflói, a large bay characterized by nutrient dense and shallow waters, making it a prime location for whales to care for their young. In particular, the unique minke whales are some of the most popular whales to see around the bay. They’re a member of the ‘great’ whale family as well as the smallest species of rorquals (the largest family of whales in the world).
Finding a whale watching tour in Iceland won’t be a challenge as there are a handful of them around the shores of Faxaflói. The best time to go whale watching in Reykjavik is around April through October, with the peak of whale watching season being in June. Another fun activity to do in Reykjavik is scuba diving. The minke whales are super friendly towards humans, so you might even make a new buddy. You’ll also see other species of whales, dolphins, and some super cute puffins.
Take Yourself on a Snowmobiling Journey
Contrary to popular belief, Iceland is actually not that cold! At least not in comparison to its neighbor, Greenland, that is. The winters in Iceland can get as low as 14F, whereas temperatures in the summer can rise to about 78 F.
Interestingly, over 10% of the entire landmass is covered in glaciers! The fun part is that these glaciers are blanketed in snow all throughout the year regardless of temperature. This makes Iceland one of the best places in the world to go snowmobiling. Reykjavik doesn’t shy away from offering a few exciting places to get out in the snow. You’ll find the best places to snowmobile on the northern tip of Reykjavik, right near the divide between the city and island of Videy.
Explore an Ice Cave
Whenever you go out for your winter wonderland adventure, you might want to consider exploring an ice cave. These are extremely unique places scattered all across Iceland that look like underground simulations straight from a video game or a movie. Walls coated in crystallized ice reflecting a bright blue color, ice stalagmites and stalactites, carved walkable paths, and half-frozen ponds of water are all characteristics of these unique natural locations. These truly make for an unforgettable experience when you travel to Reykjavik and are definitely worth it.
You can start in Reykjavik by looking for the Langjokull ice cave tour. The cave is unique for its intricate man-made ice tunnels on the Langjokull Glacier, and is open all-year round.
Take a Hike
… in the nicest way possible, of course!
Because of the environment throughout Iceland, there are plenty of terrains that make for some great hiking adventures. The possibilities for hiking in Reykjavik are super diverse as there are hiking trails for those who like the snow and alternatives for those who prefer the mild, rocky terrains. There’s a reason this capital city is sometimes referred to as the land of fire and ice (besides the volcanoes and glaciers, that is).
Reykjadalur is a good place to start if you prefer an easy yet satisfying hike. It takes about three hours to fully complete. At the end of the hike, you can reward yourself with a bath at the hot spring river. Even residents of the starting location, a small town named Hveragerði (Stream Valley) have individual hot springs in their backyards.
For those who want a real challenge, visit Móskarðshnjúkar. It’s about twenty minutes from Reykjavik and is a subsection of Mt. Esjan, a popular volcanic mountain range. Mt. Esjan is already popular for hiking, but this particular range is kind of a local secret. It’s rather challenging as you’ll have to maneuver around small lava fields and extreme dips in terrains, but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Depending on the time of year, you might even see a few inches of snow.
Experience the Golden Circle’s Marvelousness
You have to see this prized possession in Iceland: the Golden Circle! Seeing is probably not the best wording here— as it is more of something to experience.
Iceland’s Golden Circle is a 300 km (186 mile) route to three popular natural attractions in Iceland: the Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Þingvellir National Park. You can technically finish the whole drive in about three hours, but that’s no fun! When you travel to Reykjavik, try to take time and visit all of these popular attractions in Iceland.
Take Pictures of National Icons/Landmarks
You can take pictures while doing most of the activities on this list. But if you want some unbelievably unique pictures, you can visit some of these places listed below!
- Skarfagarðs Lighthouse
- Perlan (Glass dome restaurant)
- Höfði House
- Blue Lagoon Hot Spring in Reykjavik
Plus many more! However, the most picture-worthy spots in Reykjavik are aligned with our last activity — something you truly cannot miss.
Behold the Wondrous Northern Lights
An aurora is a natural phenomenon only visible in high-latitude regions of Earth, where dynamic patterns of lights flicker, dance, twist, and tangle in the night atmosphere. There are a few spots to see this truly magnificent display of the Northern Lights in Iceland, including Grótta Island Lighthouse and the very northern tip of Grótta Island.
Where will your outdoor adventure take you when you travel to Reykjavik?