Looking for a unique way to go around the island? Iceland bike tours offer options for both adventurous and leisurely travelers. It is indeed a great yet different way to explore the country. You can tailor it to suit your holiday in whatever way you want, be it short, long, or something in the middle. The city, the countryside, or the highlands, a bike will take you everywhere.
Iceland bike tours are incredible, despite weather challenges, they do work really well! Keep reading to find out why.
Why an Iceland Bike Tour?
It’s no secret that Iceland is the land of adventure, legends, and otherworldly landscapes. Traveling these lands on your own is the right way to go (in our opinion), and we’re constantly looking for a way to maximize this feeling.
There are multiple ways of getting close to nature and exploring paths you simply can’t take with a car. Hiking is the most popular way, since certain paths are only accessible on foot. Horseback riding in Iceland is for the ones who want a special experience like they had in the olden days. Taking an Iceland bike tour is for those who want to get to places that are off the beaten path, and still be able to cover some distance.
When you go on an Iceland bike tour, the possibilities are endless. You can enjoy anything and everything. From barreling down a mountainside at full speed to having one of the many (less adrenaline-infused) guided cycling tours in Iceland. You can even turn it into the main event of the holiday and bike around Iceland!
Mountain Biking in Iceland
Iceland and mountains are more or less synonymous with each other. So, it comes as no surprise to anyone that mountain biking in Iceland is widely available. If you want to get a real thrill of the ride, then going full speed down a trail on a mountain bike in Iceland is something you need to try.
Icelanders love adventures, so having an Iceland bike tour or two to accommodate this is not unexpected. In the summer months, many of the ski slopes get transformed into self-guided bike tours in Iceland. There, visitors can get their adrenaline pumping in amazing environments. Don’t worry about getting lost on these routes. The way is down, just stay on the trail.
Before embarking on a mountain bike adventure in Iceland, it's important to review the list of trails and their difficulty levels. Go over the list of Iceland mountain bike trails and how tough they are.
It’s also good manners on these trails to keep an eye out for the hikers and such. Remember, they often have the right of way. Most are seldom prepared to make an action movie dive to the side in case an overexcited mountain biker comes towards them at full speed.
Sometimes, getting around town is easier when you don’t have to worry about parking in Reykjavík as soon as you want to go into a place. This city is a pristine example of a city that accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists. There are routes laid out around the entire city so that you can go on Reykjavík bike tours without having to worry about car traffic.
If you rather want to explore the city yourself without a guide, simply head over to a Reykjavík bike rental and get your wheels. If you’re new to biking around town, we suggest getting on one of the Iceland bicycle tours to get used to navigating the streets on two wheels.
Getting out of the city is always preferable in Iceland. Don’t get us wrong, the Icelandic towns are beautiful and have a lot to offer. Still, the countryside is where you find the nature that makes Iceland the country it is. The countryside is also the best area to be in to have a chance to see the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Since Iceland doesn’t really have the highways that most of us are used to, you can take your bike on practically any public road. You’ll find that the main roads are paved, so biking in Iceland can be done on almost any type of bike. Just make sure to get a bike that can also handle rougher roads, so you don’t get stuck on the paved roads and miss out on the amazing spots on the gravel roads.
If you really want to get into the tougher part of the countryside, book an Iceland gravel road bike tour. These can take you to hard-to-reach areas that you wouldn’t find otherwise.
On the subject of tours and such, we will always be fans of doing a self-guided bike tour in Iceland. However, we’re no strangers to bringing a guide on some Iceland bike trips. They will know the ins and outs of the area they offer their Iceland bike tour in, so we’re not afraid to get some expert help.
For the most part, when you go on an Iceland bike tour, you are doing so with the purpose of visiting places or experiencing certain areas. With this in mind, it’s preferable to have an expert that can tell you more about the area or attraction you’re visiting.
Guided bike tours also have the added benefit of often supplying you with a bike, helmet, and anything else you might need. Most tours will pick you up and take you to the area you want to explore. You don’t have to take the bike for tens of kilometers before you can start the actual Iceland bike tour.
Getting picked up and pampered is a nice way to run a holiday, but for some, being pampered is not why they came to Iceland. Braving the roads with very little packing and being at the helm of your own adventure can be the very kick you need to make this holiday a memorable one.
For example: driving Ring Road 1 is an experience. Managing to bike the entire route is something else completely. Even if it is a terrible cliché, there is something in the saying that the journey itself can be the goal of a trip. We fully support anyone who decides to challenge themselves rather than being pampered.
You can find bike rentals in the major towns and tourism areas. Getting on the two-wheeler and hitting the road is always close at hand if you want to see what you’re made of.
Some Biking Routes in Iceland
Iceland Ring Road
The extreme end of taking on the country roads is taking on Ring Road 1. Before you book a trip like this, you need to check out the weather by season in Iceland. You don’t want to ride into bad weather along this road on your Iceland bike tour.
This is by far the longest Iceland bike tour you can take, so make sure you’re up for the challenge. Ring Road 1 is paved all the way, but remember that Iceland is a mountain country, so brace yourself for some pretty steep hills from time to time.
Iceland South Coast Lighthouse Trail
Consider one of the shorter and easier Iceland cycling routes if you prefer a proper outing without a week-long undertaking. The south coast lighthouse trail uses three lighthouses as stops and has a combined length of 45 kilometers.
You start at Selvogsviti, go past Hafnarnesviti, and end at Knarrarosvi. Each lighthouse has a nearby village where you can stop for something to eat, and maybe sleep if you end the tour late.
As we said earlier, the possibilities for Iceland bike trips around Reykjavík are plenty and well thought through. Reykjavík offers well-planned bike routes that cover the city and surrounding areas. But that's not it, it was planned along with organized Reykjavík bike tours.
These tours range between 5 and 24 kilometers and are made with themes like the History Route, Lighthouse Route, and Elf Route. All of them come with designated stops and are reachable from any bike path in the city.
Before renting a bike in Reykjavík for city tours, keep in mind that these tours are usually short and easy. They are very suitable as a half-day activity if you stick to taking only one of the routes.
The most popular route in the country is also available for those who wish to tackle it on a bike. Cycling the Golden Circle in Iceland is not a super-easy tour to make, but it will be incredibly rewarding once it’s done. If you go on an Iceland bike tour with a company, you can choose to get picked up in Reykjavík and only do the cycling along the route itself.
We don’t recommend ever biking all the way from Reykjavík and then doing the Golden Circle unless you are planning on doing that for a couple of days. A tour where you get picked up and only ride the Golden Circle is estimated to take about 8 hours.
That's if you make the proper stops and actually enjoy the attractions. Another 90 kilometers to go back and forth to Reykjavík will add about 6 hours of pedaling, so we don’t recommend doing it for just one day.
The most remote and possibly the most scenic Iceland bike tour you can make is to take on the Westfjords. Cycling around the Icelandic Westfjords is not for the faint of heart as it takes you through fjords, mountains, and remote areas of the country.
If you are the adventurous kind, checking out the Iceland cycling routes in the Westfjords is a must. You can choose to either rent a bike in the Westfjords and be on your merry way, or book one of the Iceland cycling tours in the Westfjords for a guided experience.
The roads in the Westfjords have recently gotten an upgrade, so you’ll find that most of them are in good condition and easy to ride on. There are still some areas with less than pristine road conditions, but that’s just a part of the adventure.
Tips for Your Iceland Bike Tour
You can go on an Iceland bike tour in a myriad of ways, so all you need to do is determine when, where, how, and why before you get on the bike and start exploring. Some cycling Iceland tips are:
Cycling Iceland has a great couple of maps that you should use to plan your trip.
Download the “112”-app so you can easily give the authorities your location if you get in trouble. Also, remember that “112” is the number to call in case of an emergency. It is the Icelandic equivalent of “911” in the U.S.
Camp at the camps and not just wherever you want. Camping in Iceland is regulated due to the large number of visitors, so keep your Iceland bike tour kosher and follow the rules.
Rent a car in Iceland that is big enough to hold your bike if you’re not planning on using your bike as your only means of transport.
Check the weather at Vedur.is continuously for the latest forecast so you don’t unnecessarily run into bad weather.
You’re in Control of Your Itinerary
So, how long to do a bike tour of Iceland? As long as you’d like. It’s going to be impossible to fit the entire country in one holiday, so try to focus on simply visiting the attractions and areas you want to see. Relax and enjoy yourself on your Iceland bike tour, It’s the way to do Iceland.