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Sustainable Experiences and Ecotourism in Iceland

Iceland is a country renowned for its natural state and sustainability, which makes it the perfect destination for those who are keen to make responsible travel choices that will preserve the local community and have minimal impact on the environment. Take a look at our guide which is full of tips on ecotourism and sustainable experiences in Iceland that you can enjoy with a clear conscience.

Ecotourism in Iceland

Ecotourism is a form of travel which involves using sustainable transport, choosing a destination with natural attractions, appreciating local cultural values and ensuring your trip doesn’t have a negative impact on the country you are visiting. 

Iceland is a prime location for ecotourism due to government-backed initiatives that aim to protect the environment. The Icelandic Tourist Board is key to ensuring sustainable tourism and focuses much of its resources on developing tourism that will benefit locals and communities. 

natural shot of the landscape at Jokulsarlon, Iceland

Is it possible to travel to Iceland sustainably?

All forms of overseas travel will have some level of environmental impact, particularly when travelling by air. But there are some choices you can make to minimalise and even begin to offset this impact. This includes:

  • Taking a direct flight to your destination
  • Reducing the number of flights that you take each year
  • Choosing an airline with newer planes that use newer technology and lighter materials 
  • Packing light and taking hand luggage only (although this may seem like an initially difficult task when travelling to Iceland, remember there are plenty of places to hire warm clothes and hiking gear.)
  • Finding a trusted organisation that takes monetary donations to offset your carbon footprint through projects and schemes

What are the most sustainable experiences in Iceland?

Iceland is absolutely bursting with sustainable experiences, welcoming communities and natural wonders that will guarantee to make the trip one that you’ll always remember. Some of the most sustainable experiences you can enjoy in Iceland include:

Horseback Riding Tours

Support a local farm by taking a tour on the back of an Icelandic horse. Get to know this friendly species in the farmyard before settling into the saddle and heading off to see the surrounding sights. Some farms even offer the opportunity to groom the horses as part of the experience. 

If horseback riding isn’t for you, perhaps try dog sledding as an alternative form of transport to tour the stunning countryside. 

Join a Walking Tour

Walking tours in Iceland are a great way to get to know new people, learn about the area and maybe even find some delicious cuisine from a local eatery. In Reykjavik, there are many free walking tours available that allow you the opportunity to make a donation of your choice to the local guide you walk with. 

Aerial view of Reykjavik, Iceland

Eat Local

Iceland has a delicious gourmet offering featuring ingredients that are sourced directly from the island and the surrounding waters. Travellers that eat local food reduce the demand for imported food items from overseas, which is not a sustainable way of eating. Some of the delicious local food includes fish, lamb, Skyr and rye bread. 

The huge amount of geothermal and hydropower that is produced on the island means that the energy used to cook your food is likely to be sustainable too!

Experience Nature at Its Best

The natural attractions in Iceland are abundant. From catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights and admiring the falls at Gulfoss to snorkelling between tectonic plates and hiking to the Geldingadalur volcano - there is no shortage of scenery to admire. 

To make your travels around Iceland as sustainable as possible, be sure to plan your itinerary in such a way that you are travelling around the island making stops along the way, and not going backwards and forward from a base location. 

Additional Tips for Ecotourism in Iceland

Other things that you can do to ensure your trip to Iceland is sustainable and responsible include:

  1. Supporting local accommodation such as a farmhouse or campsite 
  2. Purchasing souvenirs from local stores selling goods that are made in Iceland
  3. Filling up your water bottle with Iceland’s natural tap water instead of buying bottled water
  4. Leaving nature as you find it, untouched and unspoilt. 

Want to know why Iceland is a great choice of destination for responsible travellers with a passion for the world that we live in? Find out how sustainable Iceland is in our blog.