Six of Our Favourite Experiences in Iceland

We visited Iceland in April 2016  on a whim – just before the advent of summer but not before the snow had melted – and it was awesome! Here are six of our favourite experiences during our short stay in the land of fire and ice.  

Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls

The best known waterfalls in Iceland might be Gullfoss and Seljalandfoss, but if you want to avoid the crowds there are plenty of other cascades. This is country where it's almost impossible to go anywhere without stumbling over a waterfall! Just around the corner from Seljalandfoss for instance, is Gljúfrabúi. You can admire this ethereal wall of water from below, via a narrow crack in a cliff, or hike up a muddy path complete with a helpful chain and rickety wooden ladder to see it from the top. 

Behind the scenes at Seljalandfoss

Gljúfrabúi, the "secret" waterfall

Not far down the road from Seljalandfoss and Gljúfrabúi is Skógafoss. This waterfall had stairs and various lookouts constructed around it, but there were also a number of “off road” trails people had made to the edge of cliffs for death-defying selfies.

At the time of writing, you could do anything in Iceland, but at your own risk.


Puffins spend most of their time at sea, returning to land only for a short period in late spring and summer to breed. Iceland is home to a large population of these funny birds – the majority living on far-flung islets, which is fair enough, given that puffins appear on some Icelandic menus! 

Dyrhólaey  - which is scenic in and of itself with its black sand and dramatic lava columns - is one of the few places on the mainland from where you can view them. 

So how do you spot a puffin in flight? It's the bird that looks like it wasn't designed to fly!

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

A short distance past the volcano that grounded many European flights in 2010, lie the remains of a plane crash. It's a little macabre (don't worry though, no one died in the accident) but it makes for some surreal photographs and offers a good opportunity to stretch the legs.

Not long before we visited here, Justin Bieber made a video clip at the plane which brought a lot of subsequent visitors. The land upon which the wreck lies is private and the constant stream of tourists (sometimes getting lost or bogged in sand) started to piss the owners off so they closed it to vehicles. As a result, thanks to the Biebs, you'll have to walk quite a long way to get there (just under an hour one-way or thereabouts, depending on the weather conditions and your level of physical fitness).


A little over 200km east of the plane and puffins - past snow-capped mountains and rugged moonscapes - lies a magical glacial lagoon. This is where the tongue-twisting Breiðamerkurjökull glacier calves huge chunks of blue and white ice, which slowly drift out into the sea. Waves breaking onto the beach carry sparkling shards of ice big and small back onto the black sand, making for an impressive spectacle. 

Given we got here at 10pm at night, we weren't able to do much more than admire Jökulsárlón in the fading light. If you turned up earlier in the day, I believe you can kayak or take a boat out amongst the icebergs which would be a very cool experience indeed.

Ice biking 

In April 2014, there was still a thick cap of snow carpeting the hills - ideal for fat bikes. Mind you, our first choice was a helicopter scenic flight but Icelandic weather is famously fickle so we opted to discover the countryside on two wheels.

 Our guide Magné was fantastic – like all Icelanders we met, he loved his country – and he carried a backpack full of chocolate for energy! And the extra calories were more than welcome , especially when that infamous Icelandic wind picked up and howled across the landscape. Nothing works up the appetite like being out in the fresh air and we later discovered that he had Icelandic doughnuts and hot chocolate for us in his truck - epic!  

Diving at Silfra

For our final activity, we enjoyed a dry suit dive with DIVE.IS at the very deep Silfra fissure in Þingvellir. This is one of the few sites on earth where you can drink and dive LOL. Water, I mean! You're immersed in glacial melt that has been filtered through porous lava rocks for centuries and it tastes so pure. Bottled, it would probably sell for $20 a pop or something crazy like that.

The appeal of this dive is the opportunity to “touch two tectonic plates”, the North American and Eurasian ones specifically. The waters are also incredibly clear – visibility was a stupendous 100m or more – but almost devoid of life due to their low temperature. I did spot one teensy, tiny fish dash away between the algae-covered rocks – a rare sight, apparently!