North Iceland is a region less travelled yet overflowing with hidden treasures. It offers a variety of experiences that cater to every kind of traveller. From thunderous waterfalls to tranquil hot springs, the landscape is as diverse as the activities available. In this post, we’ll explore the best tours in North Iceland, each offering a unique way to engage with this remarkable part of the world. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deep dive into Icelandic culture, North Iceland has something special in store for you. Let’s journey through the must-visit spots and hidden gems that make North Iceland a destination worth exploring.
The Forest Lagoon
Forest Lagoon is a new geothermal spa located in Vaðlaskógur forest, which is just a few minute’s drive from Akureyri. It is known locally in Iceland as the “Capital of the North”. The spa offers stunning views overlooking one of Iceland’s longest fjords, Eyjafjörður. And its unique location, surrounded by birch and pine trees, truly sets it apart. The Forest Lagoon aims to create an unforgettable experience for its guests by focusing on every detail. During a visit to the Forest Lagoon, guests can experience the view, tranquillity and energy of Vaðlaskógur, the forest surrounding the baths.
The Forest Lagoon features two pools. The large pool is 530m2, with a temperature of around 37°C (98.6F), two swim-up bars, and an indoor entry. The small pool is 53m2, with a temperature of about 40°C (104F). The sauna uses dry heat, humidity at around 20%, and temperature around 80°C. Guests can enjoy all the health benefits of a dry sauna while experiencing a unique view of Eyjafjörður and the surrounding mountains. Swimsuits must be worn in the sauna.
The Forest Lagoon has a cold pool next to the dry sauna. It is recommended that guests try combining the two to experience the health benefits. The temperature of the cold pool is 11°C (51.8F).
Dining at the Forest Bistro is essential to the Forest Lagoon experience. The wood-cladded bistro area provides quality food in an exotic environment. The bistro has a view over Eyjafjörður, and its indoor fireplace adds to the overall experience of the Forest Lagoon.
The Forest Lagoon can be reached by less than a five-hour drive or 45 minutes by plane from Reykjavík.
The Diamond Circle Tour
The Golden Circle in South Iceland is a renowned sightseeing route in Iceland that you may have heard of. However, North Iceland boasts the Diamond Circle. This route, subtly emerging as one of the best tours in North Iceland, guides visitors through an array of stunning natural landscapes, each distinct in character and story.
From the majestic Waterfall Goðafoss, travellers witness the raw power of Icelandic nature, where water thunders over a vast expanse. Moving on, the Lake Mývatn area unveils a contrasting scene of serene beauty. It is dotted with volcanic features like the steaming Hverir mud pits and the geothermal expanse of Námafjall.
Further along the route, Dettifoss Waterfall presents a spectacle of nature’s force, where water plunges powerfully into a rugged canyon, making it one of the most captivating sights in Iceland. The journey continues through the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon, a testament to Iceland’s geological history with its striking basalt columns at Hljóðaklettar and the uniquely shaped Ásbyrgi Canyon.
Traversing the Diamond Circle is more than just a scenic drive. It explores the dynamic and diverse natural beauty that defines North Iceland, offering visitors a deep dive into the heart of its most stunning landscapes.
Whale Watching in Húsavík
When visiting North Iceland, a whale-watching tour from Húsavík, hailed as the Whale Capital of Iceland, is an unmissable experience. To join this extraordinary adventure, arrive at the ticket office in Húsavík at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure.
This 3-hour journey takes you into Skjálfandi Bay’s heart, a marine life haven. The tour offers an excellent opportunity to observe whales, dolphins, and various sea birds in their natural environment. Embrace the charm of sailing on a traditional Icelandic oak boat. This experience adds a touch of authenticity to your adventure.
As you cruise the bay, take a moment to enjoy the warm comforts of hot cocoa and cinnamon buns. This tour is more than just a wildlife excursion. It’s a cultural experience deeply rooted in the maritime heritage of Iceland.
The Original Husavik Whale Watching tour, operated by North Sailing, is renowned for its commitment to providing authentic and sustainable wildlife activity.
Lake Mývatn, Waterfall & Volcanos Tour from Akureyri
In the heart of North Iceland lies a region rich in natural phenomena, with Lake Mývatn as its centrepiece. This area is a microcosm of Iceland’s dynamic geology, offering a variety of unique landscapes and formations. On the Lake Mývatn, Waterfall & Volcanos Tour from Akureyri, you will visit some of the most beautiful places in the region. If you arrive by cruise ship, we recommend the same tour but adapted to cruise ship visitors.
- Goðafoss Waterfall: Known for its majestic beauty, Goðafoss Waterfall is a striking natural landmark. The water cascades down from a height of about 12 meters into a wide river, creating a powerful and awe-inspiring sight. The sound of the water roaring as it falls is a testament to the waterfall’s strength and beauty.
- Lake Mývatn Craters: The area around Lake Mývatn is renowned for its pseudo-craters at Skútustaðagígar. These unique geological formations, often mistaken for volcanic craters, were created by steam explosions as lava flowed over wetlands. Today, these grass-covered craters provide picturesque views and testify to the volcanic activity that shaped the region. The lake formed around 2,300 years ago is a hotspot for birdwatchers, with its diverse birdlife, including various duck and goose species.
- Dimmuborgir: The lava field of Dimmuborgir stands out with its extraordinary formations. Unlike most of Iceland’s flat, moss-covered lava fields, Dimmuborgir features dramatic shapes and structures that create a gothic and otherworldly landscape. Visitors can follow walking trails to explore these fascinating formations from the same volcanic eruption that formed the Skutustaðagígar craters.
- Hverir – Námaskarð Geothermal Area: The Hverir geothermal area near Námaskarð is a showcase of Iceland’s geothermal activity. Here, the earth comes alive with steam vents, boiling mud pots, and hot springs. The vibrant colours and active geothermal features create an almost alien landscape, contrasting the surrounding areas.
Each location around Lake Mývatn provides a unique glimpse into the natural forces that have shaped Iceland’s landscape. This region is a must-visit for those exploring the north of the island.
The Battle of Iceland – VR Experience
The “1238 The Battle of Iceland” experience is at the heart of exploring Iceland’s past. This is probably the most unique experience on our list of best tours in North Iceland. This immersive presentation welcomes visitors of all ages, inviting them to engage with history in a modern and interactive way. The exhibition is in the town of Sauðárkrókur, west of Akureyri.
Unlike conventional museums, this exhibition focuses on bringing history to life through virtual reality technology. It’s designed to captivate everyone, from history enthusiasts to those with little prior interest. The immersive, interactive installation offers a new and artful way to experience history.
The exhibition’s centrepiece is the Sturlung Era (1220 – 1262) from the Icelandic Sagas, the most tumultuous and violent period in Iceland’s history. This era, known for its brutal clan clashes and civil war, ended Iceland’s independence. The exhibition recreates this saga through interactive technology, offering visitors an engaging and dramatic insight into Iceland’s past. It’s not just about observing history; it’s about experiencing it in a vivid and impactful way.
“1238 The Battle of Iceland” offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse oneself in one of the most critical periods of Icelandic history, brought to life through cutting-edge technology.
Mývatn Nature Baths
The Mývatn Nature Baths offer a distinctive geothermal bathing experience in Iceland. The water for the lagoon has a warm and inviting temperature between 36-40°C. It comes directly from the National Power Company’s borehole in Bjarnarflag. There are similarities between the Mývatn Nature Baths and the Blue Lagoon. But most agree that the former is a more personal experience.
The water has a unique composition. It is rich in minerals and alkaline, characteristics that make it particularly beneficial for bathing. Its chemical makeup naturally inhibits the growth of unwanted bacteria and vegetation, eliminating the need for chlorides or other disinfectants. This results in a pure and natural bathing experience. An important note for visitors: the geothermal water in this area has a high sulfur content, more so than in other regions of Iceland.
While sulfur is known for its positive effects on respiratory ailments and skin conditions, it can tarnish and damage jewellery made of brass or silver. Therefore, it’s advisable to remove such items before entering the water. Adjacent to the lagoon, the Mývatn Nature Baths also feature two steam baths. Constructed directly over a geothermal area, these steam baths offer an immersive experience as natural, sulfur-free steam rises through holes in the floor. Maintaining a temperature of around 50°C with nearly 100% humidity, these steam baths provide a deeply relaxing environment. In 2019, windows were added to these baths, allowing guests to enjoy the stunning views while they relax.
Guests can alternate between the steam baths and cooling down in the outdoor shower, making the most of this unique, natural spa experience.
The Beerbath Spa
Last but not least on our list of the best tours in North Iceland: Bjórböðin SPA is a spa located in Árskógssandur, which is situated in the north of Iceland. The spa offers a unique experience where you can relax and de-stress by soaking in warm beer. Beer yeast is used in different ways, and the most common form is in a tablet, where the yeast’s effects are very beneficial to the body.
The beer bath is one of the most popular experiences at the spa, where you can bathe in both young beer and live beer yeast for several hours. This has a great effect on the body and skin, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
In addition to the beer baths, all the tubs also have a draft beer tap so visitors aged 20 and over can enjoy a cold beer while they bathe. The spa also has an outside hot tub for bigger groups and a new restaurant that serves beer-related food.
North Iceland is Definitely Worth the Visit
As we end our exploration of the best tours in North Iceland, it’s evident that this region provides a wide range of experiences for all kinds of travellers. From the breathtaking natural beauty of the Diamond Circle to the unique geothermal marvels of the Myvatn Nature Baths, each tour offers a chance to connect deeply with the land and its history.
The best tours in North Iceland showcase the region’s stunning natural wonders and provide insight into Icelandic culture and tradition. They encourage you to experience the magic of the north, and we hope you will consider travelling to that part of Iceland.