Home to lava fields, active volcanoes, mountains and glaciers, Iceland is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and a haven for those looking for incredible outdoor adventures!
Regardless of the time of year at which this small island, which straddles the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic, is visited, nearly endless opportunities await.
Roughly two-thirds of the Icelandic population live in the southwest of the country, near the capital, Reykjavik. Home to the only international airport in the country, this is the first stop for the vast majority of people visiting the country.
The area around Reykjavik, while not as wild and remote as the rest of the country, remains an excellent place to get out and explore. With plenty of one to two-day trip options, it is the ideal spot for those who are visiting Iceland for business or on a quick vacation and want to get out of doors for a while.
During the summer, outdoor adventurers can enjoy a variety of hiking and rock climbing options, all right outside the capital and sometimes even under the incredible midnight sun.
In fact, Iceland is consistently rated as one of the top spots in all of Europe for hiking and has a plethora of diverse spots in which to do so.
During the winter, ice climbing and skiing are also available throughout the country. Staying out and partaking in these activities after dark also presents the opportunity to see the spectacular Northern Lights. Seeing these, by themselves, is an incredible reason to come.
While your mind is racing, thinking of all the possibilities, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top trips around Reykjavik in order to give you an idea of what’s available to be done on your next trip to the Icelandic capital.
Situated two hours southwest of the capital, the Sólheimajökull glacier is the southernmost one in Iceland and a popular destination for ice climbers and glacier hikers.
The experience begins with the two-hour drive to get to the glacier. Ash mountains, waterfalls and volcanoes sit in every direction, offering stunning views and whetting the appetite for what is about to come.
Once you’ve arrived, the real adventure begins. Covering 16 square kilometers and complete with fissures, ice falls and waterfalls, there is plenty to see and to explore.
Both beginner and advanced ice climbers will feel comfortable here, with simple options to get started out on and more challenging icefalls to put even the most experienced ice climber’s skills to the test.
In between climbs, trekking across the glacier is a great way to get stunning views out over the south of the country. Many visitors will make the quick detour to see the Skógafoss waterfall when they trek across the glacier, as well.
Just 20 minutes south of Reykjavik, sits the Reykjanesfólkvangur nature reserve.
Home to mighty basalt cliffs, Reykjanesfólkvangur has some of the best rock climbing in the south of the country.
Climbers will find excellent bolted multi-pitch routes, appropriate for every level. After a quick and scenic approach from the car park, you will be free to spend the rest of the day climbing to your heart’s content.
As you climb, the views are spectacular, but they get even better at the top. On some of the taller cliffs, panoramic views await.
To the south, you will see the rest of the rugged nature preserve and the shimmering blue waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. To the north, you can look back over the capital and follow the route from which you came.
Caused when solar winds disturb charged particles and force them to change their trajectory in the upper echelons of the atmosphere, the Northern Lights are one of the most beautiful things one can see on this Earth.
Most easily seen in the winter, when the sun barely rises above the horizon in Iceland, this is the ideal time to head out on a glacier trek.
The Sólheimajökull glacier, which is just 110 kilometers away from the capital, is the perfect place to combine these adventures. Spend the limited daylight hours navigating crevasses and other glacial features, enjoying great views out over the south of Iceland.
Once the sun has set, keep your eyes peeled skyward and wait until you see the shimmering waves of green light up the night sky.
You’ll know you’re about the see the stunning phenomenon when you start to hear a hissing and crackling noise coming from the air. This is the sound of the charged particles deviating from their normal paths.
Iceland’s southern Sólheimajökull glacier is a veritable playground for ice climbers of every level.
Offering numerous ascents of various steepness and difficulty, all with the incredible backdrop of Iceland’s southern scenery, it is easy to spend an entire day out on the ice and not even notice.
Stretching over 16 kilometers, it is easy to find spots top learn all the basics of ice climbing from belaying to anchor climbing and put your skills to the test on low angle ice walls.
Even if ice climbing comes as second nature to you, challenging overhangs and other steep climbs will put your skills and techniques to the test.
Coming during the summer, means the chance to spend at least 10 hours out on the ice, while winter trips provide the opportunity to see the incredible Northern Lights.
Exploring around Reykjavik is a lot of fun, but some of Iceland’s best outdoor activities are a bit further afield. If you have the chance, then take a trip to the north and experience some of the country’s top alpine climbing.
Up in the rugged highlands of northern Iceland, mossy hills give way to some of the country’s most massive basalt spires. Visiting this remote place for two days gives you the chance to head up the spires of Hraundrangi, climbing several pitches up the volcanic rock before enjoying the summit and rappelling down.
This is a good warm-up for the main event, heading to the Kerlingareldur. Towering over the surrounding landscape and providing sublime panoramic views of the mountains and fjords of northern Iceland, this spire is the ultimate challenge.
Boasting six pitches, the climb is quite difficult and takes all day. However, the views from the top are simply incredible and well-worth all the effort of getting there. Enjoy lunch on these lofty heights before heading back down to terra firma.
Iceland really is an incredible place and everyone should try to get here at least once in their lives. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, then that’s all the more reason to get out of the office and out into Iceland’s nature!
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