5 Adventures: From Whale Watching to Horseback Riding in North Iceland

Photographing Iceland

Just beep and the sheep will move out the way! If you find yourself in one of the most-adventure filled regions of Iceland: the north (yes, there are plenty of sheep that dot the countryside and sometimes like to park themselves in the middle of the two lane highway) than you should check out the Arctic Coast Way, the country’s first official tourist route in Iceland that opened in June 2019.

Locals recommend traveling this exciting route-think beer baths, geothermal pools, horseback riding, and Viking virtual reality-from April to November. The website, arcticcoast.is shows which peninsulas are open or closed during the year. Since the route is still developing, Iceland is encouraging their citizens to develop new activities to link along the Arctic Coast Way for tourists to experience. Not to fret, there are a TON of adventure stops that you should make on the 560-mile route if you are game for a wild Icelandic adventure. Here are the top five:

North Iceland

Viking For A Day

Along the route, you arrive at the town of Sauðárkrókur and visit the newly opened museum 1238: Battle of Iceland. The museum features the only virtual reality experience in Iceland. If you have kids, this is a great stop for families, as there are several virtual reality booths inside a spacious dark room. The virtual reality experience follows the battle of Örlygsstaðir that shaped Icelandic history and was the beginning of the end of Iceland’s independence. You can take up weapons like stones and axes and take part in fighting in the battle.

icelandhorsetours.com

Horseback Ride, Icelandic-Style

Andres and Luke are an Icelandic-German family that operates Icelandhorsetours.com. Their farm, Helluland, is home to around 100 horses that the couple will use for horse tours in the area. Some of the sights you can request to trek while horseback include along a black sand beach; ride to the hot springs of Grettislaug; or along the mountainous peaks of the Hegranes Peninsula.

Look Iceland

Drink and Soak in Beer

If you are a beer fanatic (or just enjoy the latest wellness trend), then you must pay a visit to the Bjórböðin Beer Spa which features a spa setting with beer ingredients. The most impressive are the 7 bath tubs made from Kambala wood, with beer draught at every tub for anybody over 20 years of age. Inside the beer bath, you bathe in a foaming tub filled with beer, water, hops and yeast. Doctors in the Czech Republic prescribe beer baths to people with skin problems so the owner brought the concept back to Iceland. The live yeast helps regeneration of the skin, while hops have antioxidants and acids to balance pH in the skin.

Gentle Giants

Whale Watch From a Speedboat

With the Gentle Giants whale watching tour that leaves from the harbor in the town of Husavik, you suit up in protective overalls to take a wave crashing ride on a RIB boat to look for whales. As you hold on to the handles, you search the picturesque bay, home to several migrating whales and dolphin species that you have a chance of spotting while on the tour. You may see mammals like humpback whales, minke whales, sperm whales, orcas, or white-beaked dolphins.

Iceland Travel

Hike in a National Park

Drive the craggy and scenic Tjörnes Peninsula portion of the Arctic Coast Way towards Ásbyrgi National Park. The park is beautiful and serene, being a well forested horse-shoe shaped canyon. There are many hiking tracks in the park that range from a mild-half hour hike that overlooks a mystical moss covered pond, to a 7 hour hike that is the most challenging route where you can see the remains of catastrophic floods in the Jökulsá River.

I've been an outdoor and adventure travel writer for over 8 years. My writing has appeared in national publications such as National Geographic Traveler, Men's Journal, ...