Travel Update


Kerlingafjöll in Iceland

Best Things to Do in Iceland on Your Private Tour

By: Greg
Last Updated: 08/08/2022

Home to volcanoes and icebergs, waterfalls and geysers, lagoons and rainbows, expect a singular kind of magic on Iceland private tours. Set at the edge of the Arctic Circle, on one of the world’s most active volcanic areas, the Land of Fire and Ice is a place like no other.

Whether you're a newbie or have visited Iceland before, discover our definitive list of the best private tours in Iceland.

1. Explore the Ring Road 

One of the best ways to get to know a country is by driving. Iceland happens to be encircled by a route called the Ring Road, which takes you past a whole host of celebrated attractions.

Going on a privately led tour of the Ring Road will give you a comprehensive overview of the island. You’ll be able to experience the surreal landscapes of the glacier lagoon, the moon-like terrain of the Lake Mývatn area, and the most magical waterfalls around the country.

As someone else does the driving, you get to enjoy the view out of the window. 

What are the highlights on a private tour of the Ring Road?

The capital city: Reykjavík is where you’ll depart from any tour along the Ring Road. Even with a short time here, you could shop and dine down the trendy Laugavegur street. Or explore the nation’s most vaunted galleries and museums. Whale-watching tours are also available from the city harbour.

The Blue Lagoon: Situated just under an hour from Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon is a place where you can dive into Iceland’s geothermal landscape. You can even visit shortly after or before hopping off the plane if you fancy it. 

The Golden Circle: Set in the southwest of the island, a short distance from the capital, you’ll find the iconic Golden Circle. Headline acts include the many-tiered waterfall Gullfoss, the UNESCO-listed Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, and the explosive hot spring area of Geysir.

Waterfalls: You'll find so many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, on top of the Golden Circle's impressive Gullfoss. One of our favourites is the world-famous Seljalandsfoss – the one you can walk behind. But there's also Skógafoss just along the south coast, and many more along the way. 

Rugged coastline: From the black sand beaches right by Vík í Mýrdal, to the steep cliffs and basalt columns of Reynisdrangar, the dramatic shores of the east are a photographer’s dream.

Icebergs ahoy: On the Ring Road you can see the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where floating icebergs slide by. Afterwards, visit the nearby Diamond Beach, where glittering icy monoliths dot the shore.  

person walking on diamond beach

Lake Mývatn: Explore the eerie moonscape of the Námaskarð pass and Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters. 

Akureyri: It is known in Iceland as the "Capital of the North". Explore with a local tour guide to learn about the history and sites of this lovely harbourside town. 

Horse riding: Skagafjörður is known as the “Mecca of the Icelandic Horse”, where you can ride through the remarkable landscape on these hardy and friendly horses.

Hot springs, more waterfalls, and Borgarfjörður: See Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver, the cascading waterfall of Hraunfossar, and the land of Icelandic sagas: Borgarfjörður.

2. Find adventure in the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a famous area because it holds, at its heart, some of Iceland's most celebrated cultural and natural attractions. You could add it to your Ring Road itinerary or there are plenty of private day tours around this famed area.

What are the highlights of a private tour in the Golden Circle?

Þingvellir National Park: This UNESCO-listed park, just a short journey east of Reykjavík, is home to the Alþing. For 800 years this location served as the site of Iceland’s parliament.

Gullfoss: The thundering might of the "Golden Falls" has made Gullfoss one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions.

Geysir: Explore Iceland’s Geysir geothermal region, filled with hot springs thanks to the area’s alignment with the tectonic plates. Keep an eye out for Geysir's active neighbour Strokkur, which erupts every 6-10 minutes.

Kerið: This beautiful blue lake is set in the caldera of a volcano that erupted roughly 3,000 years ago.

Silfra: Dive or snorkel between two tectonic plates, in glacial water so clear that underwater visibility stretches to 100 metres (328 feet)! 

person walking to waterfall

3. Get to know Iceland’s highlands

Did you know Iceland has a highland region? The interior highlands are rugged and less travelled, making them an even more memorable destination. Here you'll find soaring mountains, epic hiking trails, hot springs and more.

For travellers wanting to really get off the beaten track, we offer 4x4 private tours around Iceland's highlands. This is an ideal trip in the summer, where you can make the most of your days under the eye of Iceland’s midnight sun.

What are some highlights in Iceland’s highlands?

Langjökull glacier: On the highland passes, and into the Kaldidalur valley, you’ll come across the Langjökull glacier. With a small group, go on a guided excursion inside ice caves or man-made ice tunnels to experience the glacier in a different way. 

Þjórsárdalur valley: Adventure yourself into "no man’s land" and explore the ethereal lava fields of the Þjórsárdalur valley. Once prosperous farmland, the mighty Hekla volcano saw the landscape dramatically reformed in 1104.

Landmannalaugar: You may have seen the most active hot spring, but have you bathed in one? In the Landmannalaugar area, you can do just that – try the nature baths and hot pools for a perfect panacea after a day of hitting the hiking trails. 

Hekla: Want to see the source of all the volcanic activity that has shaped so much of Iceland’s landscape? Go to Hekla, where in days gone by, it was thought to be the gateway to hell. 

Reykholt: Culture vultures will also be keen for a day trip to Reykholt. This was once the home of the 13th-century saga writer, Snorri Sturluson.

people hiking in the highlands

4. Tour Iceland’s south coast

If you’ve come for the ice and fire, the south coast of Iceland is where you’ll find it. Icebergs languidly float off the coast, only to find their polished and glittering remains on volcanic black-sand beaches. 

A private tour in the south incorporates the Golden Circle too. It'll also allow you a host of experiences, from trekking across glaciers to diving between tectonic plates, and bird watching off a coastline made up of dizzying cliffs.

What are some highlights in Iceland’s south coast?

Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss: See these legendary waterfalls! The mighty Skógafoss, with a width of 25 metres (82 feet), and Seljalandsfoss, which offers you the chance to glimpse behind the waterfall.

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon: Explore the meandering beauty of the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. Carved out by glacial waters and covered with emerald moss, this destination is made of fairytales.

Vik: Visit the seaside village of Vik, where you can duck into small restaurants and local taverns for a slice of real Icelandic life. This is a great spot to look out for cute puffins too!

Reynisfjara beach: Right next to Vik you’ll find Reynisfjara beach, whose volcanic black sands frame huge basalt columns. 

Vatnajökull National Park: Take a glacier hike from Skaftafell or sail the still waters of Jökulsárlón to see giant icebergs. All while marvelling at the highest peak in Iceland: Hvannadalshnúkur.

people on reynisfjara beach

5. Experience Iceland’s northern lights

Iceland is one of the premier places in the world to hunt for the northern lights. If this is a bucket list item you’ve yet to cross off, you could have just found the way to do it. 

Private tours geared towards seeing the northern lights will take you to more remote areas where there is no light pollution, so you can see the full might of the aurora borealis. 

What are some highlights on a northern lights private tour in Iceland?

Eyjafjallajökull volcano and Gígjökull glacier: Get driven down this limited-access mountain road and experience the truly rugged terrain of Iceland. Look out for glacial rivers and mountain passes.

Húsadalur: Rest up in the mountain huts of Húsadalur, where the views are spectacular and the saunas are soothing (especially once you’ve spent an afternoon hiking). Best of all, the height and the clarity of the sky are perfect for seeing the northern lights. 

Seljalandsfoss: Step behind the curtain of cascading waters of Seljalandsfoss, a childhood dream come true. Here you might admire other natural light phenomena: rainbows. 

northern lights over thingvellir

6. Go on a luxury retreat to Iceland

Iceland may be known for being rugged, but that doesn’t mean you need to rough it on holiday to experience the best this country has to offer. In fact, if anything, embracing a little luxury will afford you some of the most unique adventures in the Land of Fire and Ice. 

What are some highlights on a luxury private tour of Iceland?

Snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier: Explore this glacier with a unique form of Icelandic travel: on a snowmobile. An experienced guide takes you on a tour on this ice cap for an unforgettable day of sightseeing.

Blue Lagoon: Sure, it’s easy to add to any itinerary, but a luxury retreat to the Blue Lagoon gives you a chance to make the most of the spa and the pool. Blend great views and relaxation with this attraction. 

Glacier Lagoon: Hop on a boat at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and watch the world, and enormous icebergs float by. Then, see where they end up by strolling on Diamond Beach, so-called because of the sparkling ice shards that stud the black sands.

Gljúfrabúi: Known as the "hidden waterfall," the enchanting waters of the Gljúfurá river fall into an obscured canyon, and finding its hiding place is one of the most rewarding activities on this private tour. 

Eyjafjallajökull: Be awed by the majestic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, source of the infamous 2010 eruption, a fantastic photo opportunity for budding photographers.

ReykjavíkBeyond the capital’s popular restaurants, shops, galleries, and museums, is a full catalogue of cool things you can do here. See the iconic Sun Voyager sculpture, stroll the old harbour area, and duck into the impressive Hallgrímskirkja church before you depart. 

woman in the blue lagoon

For the Iceland private adventure of a lifetime, let Nordic Visitor plan your trip for you. You’ll have a dedicated travel consultant to arrange everything on your behalf. This way, your experience will be in good hands from start to finish. 

You'll enjoy handpicked accommodation and we'll even select an exclusive driver-guide for you. We'll focus on matching your local guide with your interests, whether you like hiking, history, or thrilling excursions. 

Nordic Visitor organises memorable private guided tours of Iceland with our local know-how.

Get in touch with our Iceland experts to start planning your dream getaway. We’re happy to help advise you on which itinerary would best suit the kind of adventure you’re after. 

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Post by: Greg

Greg Perkins is from Edinburgh, Scotland, but he adopted Iceland as his second country when Scotland (typically) managed not to qualify for football's Euro 2016 tournament. His passions include travel, English literature, and board games. Among his top travel experiences are sailing along Geirangerfjord with classically trained singers providing the soundtrack, seeing Sólheimajökull glacier up close in South Iceland, and witnessing the unspoiled beauty of New Zealand's Doubtful Sound fjord.

Find Greg on LinkedIn.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.