Iceland is known as one of the most diverse, beautiful places in the world. Known as “the land of fire and ice” it’s no secret that it’s filled with dramatic mountain ranges, volcanoes, clear blue lakes, thermal pools, and much more to experience.
While there are plenty of great ways to see this natural beauty from land, one of the best ways to cover it all is from an aerial view. While airplanes are great for transportation, helicopters take the cake when it comes to sightseeing.
If you really want to experience Iceland in all its splendor, check out one of the top Iceland helicopter tours available!
Best Iceland Helicopter Tours
|Mountain Helicopter Tour with Summit Landing from Reykjavik||Reykjavik Helicopter Flight: Geothermal Landscapes|
|Departure Location:||Nauthólsvegur, 102 Reykjavík||Nauthólsvegur, 102 Reykjavík|
|Departure Time:||Anytime from 9 am to 5 pm||Anytime from 9 am to 5 pm|
|Duration:||30 to 45 minutes||Around 1 hour|
|Includes:||Professional pilot, summit landing||Professional pilot, commentary|
Quick Answer: The 2 Best Rated Iceland Helicopter Tours For 2023
- Mountain Helicopter Tour with Summit Landing from Reykjavik
- Reykjavik Helicopter Flight: Geothermal Landscapes
Iceland Helicopter Tour Reviews
- Duration: 30 to 45 minutes
- Departure: Nauthólsvegur, 102 Reykjavík
- Departure Time: Anytime from 9 am to 5 pm
- Includes: Professional pilot, summit landing
The Mountain Helicopter Tour with Summit Landing from Reykjavik is an unreal excursion that is perfect for people of all experience levels. Lasting 30 to 45 minutes and with the ability to schedule throughout the entire day, it’s super easy to fit into even the busiest of schedules.
If you want to try out a tour that most people haven’t, this is a great option. Meet up with your pilot at the Reykjavik Domestic Airport at the agreed-upon time and they’ll provide you with an informative briefing.
They’ll tell you what you can expect throughout the entire tour and answer any questions you may have at this time.
Now, it’s time to don all necessary equipment and take a seat either next to your professional pilot or in the row of seats behind them. This is a tour that’s fun to do in small groups but can also be done solo.
Once you’re up in the air, you’ll head towards Mount Esja and land on one of the summits! You’ll have around 20 minutes here to look around and take in the insane views. Fly over Reykjavik city where you’ll surely recognize some of the sights you’ve already seen from the ground.
If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see a volcano erupting and other natural phenomena! Of course, it’s not guaranteed as the pilots cannot predict something like this, but that only adds to the excitement. The pilots are incredibly engaging, providing fun anecdotes and informative commentary about the areas as you pass by.
You can expect a very smooth flight, with a high-quality helicopter and professional pilot that knows just about everything about what to see in Iceland. The views you’ll get to see are absolutely breathtaking, and this mode of transport is perfect for adrenaline junkies.
100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience
- Duration: Around 1 hour
- Departure: Nauthólsvegur, 102 Reykjavík
- Departure Time: Anytime from 9 am to 5 pm
- Includes: Professional pilot, commentary
Next up is the Reykjavik Helicopter Flight: Geothermal Landscapes tour. Lasting approximately 1 hour long, it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule as well. You can choose any start time (so long as it’s not already booked) between 9 am to 5pm, however morning flights tend to be particularly beautiful.
Once you arrive at Nordurflug Helicopter Tour Base, you’ll meet your professional pilot who will welcome you and give you a safety briefing. At this time, you can ask any questions you may have to ensure everyone feels comfortable boarding. The helicopter is very well-maintained and looks pristine.
Climb on board, buckle up, and enjoy the view! You’ll start heading east of Reykjavik and get further and further away from civilization. Your first stop is the legendary Geothermal Park Hveragerdi, where you’ll have plenty of time to explore on land.
This picturesque spot is somewhere the majority of tourists don’t get to experience, so make sure to take photos! The hot springs located high up the mountains certainly is unique.
Throughout the entire smooth and expertly-navigated flight, your pilot will offer up an interesting narrative. You’ll learn all about everywhere you fly over and pass by, which only enhances what you’re seeing.
Blasting geysers, heat vents, craters, hot springs and more are all there to experience from a birds-eye view!
Flying over Reykjavik city is also quite the experience, as you’ll see the concert hall, conference centre, and many other notable landmarks you may already recognize. Iceland is absolutely a country that you have to see from the air to really appreciate it the way it should be.
100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience
Iceland Travel Guide
There are many reasons the Land of Fire and Ice has seen an explosion in tourism since 2019. Not only can you see the Northern Lights, active volcanoes, glaciers, and puffins, you can also relax in a geothermal spa and even bake bread inside a pot buried underground.
What you decide to do in this fascinating country is your choice, but you should take the time to do some research before you go. This guide is here to inform you where you can go, what you can do, and how you can get there, because we want you to have the best vacation of your life in Iceland.
Airports & Entry
Most visitors to Iceland arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Although Iceland only has a population of 359 thousand people, in 2018 this busy airport handled 9.8 million passengers. Despite the number of visitors, there is only one terminal. You will find the check-in times minimal, with an average 20-minute waiting time at the security check.
Inside the terminal, you will find everything clearly signposted in English. Charging points for cellphones and laptops are provided in the waiting area along with free Wi-Fi.
Strollers are provided for children, and there is a dedicated kids’ play area. The usual selection of food outlets and shops are found on the upper floor of the main building. Manned information stands are located throughout the airport.
It is 30 miles from the airport to Reykjavik, the capital city. The speed limit is 55 mph, but the drive usually takes 50 minutes due to traffic. Shuttle bus services link KEF to the city, which you can book in advance online or pay for at the airport.
Some hotels offer airport collection, and you should ask about that when you book your room. You can, of course, jump in a taxi at the airport, but it will be extremely expensive compared to the airport bus service. Car rental is available at the airport, but it is advisable to book in advance.
With so many exciting things to do and see in Iceland, you’re guaranteed to have a great holiday. However, things do not always go to plan, so here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your visit.
Tip #1: If you want to see the Aurora Borealis, go between September and March
It’s easier to view the Northern Lights when the sky is at its darkest. In Iceland, the nights are especially long between September and March, but the sky doesn’t grow dark enough to view this magical phenomenon during the summer months. However, do not plan a visit around a full moon, because its light can dampen the impact of this natural light display. The best days to go are around the time of a new moon.
Tip #2: Check out the SolarHam website
If you are especially interested in the Aurora Borealis and want to earn your Geek Badge, check out the SolarHam website. This techy site provides a 3-day geomagnetic forecast, which is useful for aurora hunters to select the best time to view the Northern Lights. The same site provides a satellite map of where the natural light show is right now, so you can look up if you’re near.
Tip #3: Take your time to enjoy all the attractions of Iceland
There’s so much to see in Iceland, it would be a crime not to explore and experience as much as you are able in the time you have. While you are there, do not miss the opportunity to see so many unforgettable natural phenomena in one place.
A great way to see all the national parks is with a horseback riding tour! There is nowhere else on the planet where you can see active volcanoes, glaciers, and icebergs, all in one national park. A great way to explore is with an ATV tour of the park.
Tip #4: Book everything in advance, especially in winter
Tourism is on the rise in Iceland, and hotel rooms, tours, and attractions get fully-booked ahead of time. Don’t miss out on seeing the Northern Lights from the best vantage point possible because all the tours were booked-up before you arrived. Many tours like the ones detailed above offer a 24-hour-in-advance free cancellation, so you take no financial risk booking. Ask about free cancellation when buying your ticket.
Tip #5: Impress your friends with quintessentially Icelandic souvenirs
The budget chain store Bonus stocks many unique Icelandic products, such as Omnom chocolate, Icelandic specialty teas, herbal sea salt blends, and licorice mixed with chocolate. At Bonus, you can pick up great, inexpensive gifts for your friends! Vinbuoin, the state-run liquor store, sells a fine selection of renowned Icelandic spirits, including Iceland’s signature tipple, Brennivin.
And if you like to sort through other folks’ debris for the hidden treasures, a special weekend market is held at Kolaportio in downtown Reykjavik where Icelanders come to sell off their unwanted goods when moving to a new house. You could find anything!
Restaurants & Eating Out
Because of Iceland’s geographical position and climate, vegetables and grains are rare in traditional foods, and many famous dishes focus on preserved seafood or meat. Also, food was scarce in yesteryears, so every part of an animal or fish was eaten. You’ll find many traditional meals involve fish or meat that is salted, smoked, dried, or fermented. Watch out for such culinary delights as baked sheep’s head and fermented shark.
Seafood restaurants are common throughout Iceland, and all serve “fish of the day”, which is usually salmon, monkfish, haddock, or cod. However, if you wish, you can seek out some of the more exotic options. Humar is a kind of lobster caught off the south coast of Iceland, renowned for its tender and tasty flesh.
It is served fried, baked or grilled, though it can also be found as a pizza topping! Plokkfishkur is a fish stew, made to the chef’s specific recipe but usually combining white fish with onions, potatoes, milk, and flour. Harofiskur is a snack you can buy in any grocery store. It is dried stockfish, eaten with butter or straight out of a bag.
Because it is difficult to grow wheat in Iceland, there are many traditional varieties of rye bread, like flatkaka, baked in thin disks on hot stones. One variety of rye bread you should try is rugbrauo, a sweet-tasting, dark bread.
The reason rugbrauo is so interesting for visitors to Iceland is that a common baking technique is to bury a dough-filled pot near one of the many hot springs, such as Fontana Hot Springs, and use geothermal heat to bake the bread. Rugbrauo baked that way is also called hyerabrauo (hot-spring bread).
Icelanders don’t only eat fish and rye bread. Sheep are the most common livestock in Iceland, so lamb is often on the menu. Sheep wander freely around the countryside, eating seaweed, grass, and berries, which tends to make lamb tender with a mild flavor.
Smoked lamb is called hangikjöt and is often served boiled during the winter holidays. Also watch out for varieties of meat you won’t see in most other countries, like puffin, horse, and whale. Despite international concern over puffins and whales, they are still commonly consumed in Iceland.
A meal on vacation isn’t complete without dessert. Popular local sweets include rugbrauosis (rye bread ice cream), pönnukökur (Icelandic pancakes), and snuour (cinnamon bread covered in caramel or chocolate). A dairy product unique to Iceland is skyr.
It is a kind of sour milk cheese eaten like yogurt and often sweetened and flavored with fruit or vanilla.
Nightlife & Entertainment
With long, cold nights throughout the winter, it’s no surprise Icelanders love their nightlife, and much of it is centered where most of the people live—Reykjavik. Because the capital is so small, most of the clubs and bars are within walking distance of one another. In fact, many are along one street, Laugavegur, the commercial artery of downtown.
Most social venues are informal and entrance fees rare. When Icelanders go out for the night, they tend to begin late, and many clubs and bars don’t get busy until after midnight. This is in part because alcohol in bars is expensive, so locals drink at home before setting out.
Many clubs and bars stay open as late as 5 am. Cocktail bars are a recent addition to Iceland’s nightlife, but with the booming tourist trade, they are rapidly expanding.
And don’t worry too much about safety at night. In 2019, the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney ranked Iceland the most peaceful nation on Earth for the 12th year running. Crime rates in Reykjavik are probably lower than anywhere you have ever lived.
Iceland is a small country covering an area slightly smaller than Kentucky. If you wanted to drive from Reykjavik on the west coast to Faskruosfjorour on the east coast, the 425 miles route would take only 8½ hours.
However, because of its small population outside of the capital, you cannot rely on public transport to go sightseeing around the country or reach the best place to view the northern lights. This leaves you with two options: hiring a car or booking a coach tour, like the 3-day Golden Circle tour detailed above.
Within the capital and its immediate area, you do have more options: bus, taxi, bicycle, or walk. The public bus service is inexpensive and efficient, and you can ask for help to find the right bus from your hotel reception. Given that Reykjavik is so small a city, taxis are affordable.
If you want a little exercise, bicycle rentals are available in many hotels, and the city is crisscrossed by dedicated bicycle paths. If you decide to walk, make sure you wrap up well. The weather can deteriorate rapidly in Iceland.
Over the past few years, Iceland has seen a huge expansion in tourism. With a 378% increase since 2010, hotel rooms fill up quickly. Through Christmas and summer, hotels are usually fully booked. Since 228 of Iceland’s 359 thousand citizens live within the capital and its immediate hinterland, settlements throughout the rest of Iceland are small and rooms for visitors limited. Most hotels are in the capital.
You will probably find it most convenient to stay in Reykjavik. You will find a broad range of hotels there, it is near the airport, and many of the attractions along with most of the nightlife are found there or nearby. Many organized tours to other parts of Iceland and major tourist attractions set out from Reykjavik, such as most of the Northern Lights tours detailed above.
Within the downtown and central area of Reykjavik you will find a choice of luxury hotels, like the Hotel Borg downtown and The Icelandair Hotel Marina, overlooking the harbor. If you head a little more out of the center, you’ll find more affordable hostels, such as The Capital Inn and Bus Hostel Reykjavik.
There are some popular hotels outside of the capital near to tourist attractions, such as Hotel Skaftafell in the Vatnajökull National Park, which offers spectacular views of Iceland’s largest mountain, or Skyrhusid Guesthouse near Lake Jökulsarion in the south. Wherever you decide to stay, the important thing is to book in advance. If you don’t, you will miss out on the best rooms.
Iceland is not the place to go if you want year-round sunshine and dry weather. In fact, on 22nd December there are only 4 hours of daylight, because that is the shortest day. That’s great if you want to see the Aurora Borealis, since it can only be seen during dark nights, but not so good for other sightseeing. In contrast, the longest day boasts 21 hours of daylight, 21st June.
The “warm” summer period covers June, July, and August, with an average daily high of 550F and a low of 460F. Yes, 550F is their summer high! Summers are short and cloudy. The winter period covers November through March, two months longer than summer, and is cold, wet, windy, and overcast, with frequent snow. The average daily high drops to 350F in January with a low of 270F.
If your main interest is the Northern Lights, you should go anytime September through March, because the sky is dark enough to view those fantastic electromagnetic displays. If the Aurora Borealis does not interest you, you’ll get the warmest weather and longer days from the end of June to mid-August.
The Northern Lights are not the only unique and fascinating attraction in Iceland. The Land of Fire and Ice is the best place in the world to see and experience the majesty and power of two extremes in Nature: glaciers and volcanoes.
12 miles from KEF is the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Here you can laze in pools of hot, milky blue water heated by a lava flow. Nearby stands the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant, which uses superheated water from the lava flow to generate electricity and also provide heat for a municipal water heating system.
There are geothermal spas like the Blu Lagoon throughout Iceland, so wherever you choose to stay, you can find one near you and experience the power of molten rock.
If you are there in the winter, be sure to see the migrating whales. To have the best chance of see them, that a whale watching tour. The boat captains know the best places to go to see them.
If ice and Arctic landscapes interest you, head 140 miles east from Reykjavik to Vatnajökull National Park, which is centered on Vatnajökull glacier and the surrounding beautiful landscape. This park covers 14% of Iceland and is filled with glacial rivers and active volcanoes. To fully see it, take a tour of the glaciers and be sure to see the ice caves.
Vatnajökull glacier empties into the glacial lake of Jökulsarion in the south, where you can see 100-feet-tall icebergs freshly broken away from the glacier. Jökulsarion served as a setting in several major Hollywood movies. On your drive back to Reykjavik, you can see two beautiful waterfalls around Skogar. The first, Skogafoss, is an impressive waterfall and a popular destination for Icelandic day-trippers.
18 miles west of Skogafoss is picturesque Seljalandsfoss waterfall. A path allows sightseers to pass behind the curtain of water as it falls into the crystal-clear plunge pool.
If it’s man-made cultural and historical attractions you seek, you’ll find plenty to do and see around Reykjavik. The capital’s earliest history stretches back to 874, but it only became a true city in 1785.
Around Reykjavik, you’ll find an interesting assortment of museums and tourist attractions, like the National Museum of Iceland and the Reykjavik Maritime Museum.
A famous landmark visitors flock to see is the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which is the largest church in Iceland. This unique structure was designed by a local architect to resemble the glaciers and mountains of Iceland.