Visit Iceland - Official Tourist Info for Iceland
a woman driving with a kayak between rock formations in Iceland's westfjords

Paddling through the serenity of the Westfjords

All aboard - Kayaking and Paddleboarding in Iceland

All rivers flow to the sea – and Iceland has many of them! Since none of them are navigable for ships or big boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (short SUP boards) are ideal for exploring Iceland‘s waterways. These watersports have immensely gained in popularity and expertise in Iceland during the last years. Short tours and day trips are offered in all regions.

5 reasons to start paddling

a group of stand-up-paddleboarders on a fjord

Exploring local wildlife, enjoying the silence, and focusing on nature‘s beauty - it's all about being in the moment

If you want to get closer in touch with nature then by just looking at it through the car window, kayaking and stand-up paddling are good options for you! Here's why:

Not the sporty type? Don‘t worry: these water activities are suitable for everyone, also for kids! You don‘t have to know anything to start with, since beginner tours are especially popular and teach everyone the necessary basics.

two seals swimming next to icebergs in a glacier lagoon

Seals are by nature curious, and it's very likely that you meet some on a sea kayak trip

Safety: due to very cold water temperatures, tour operators provide their customers with drysuits and all necessary safety gear. In case you’re experienced and want go out by yourself, we advise you to take the same precautions. Besides the cold waters, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are very safe outdoor activities!

These sports are quick and easy to learn, make for great physical exercise, and are also stress reductive: to focus only on the water and your regular body movements, allows you to unwind and be more aware of your environment.

Since you are in the very midst of Icelandic nature, whilst paddling on the sea or a lake, you´ll very likely have animal encounters in the form of birds. Puffins, seals, and maybe even dolphins or whales might join you while paddling on the ocean.

Iceland is ideal for giving paddling or kayaking a go and who knows? You might even find yourself a new hobby to practice at home! So let‘s take a look:

Stand-up paddleboarding - What‘SUP in Iceland?

How does it work?

Stand-up paddling or paddleboarding is a sport with roots in ancient times. What was originally used as a means of transportation, gained high popularity as a water sport amongst all age groups in recent years. One stands or kneels on a wide stand-up paddle board that is either hard or inflatable and propels oneself forward with a paddle. It is a gentle but effective cardio workout and at the same time unwinding and relaxing.

woman doing yoga on a stand up paddle board

SUP boards are also wide enough to practice yoga on them!

Mix and match – SUP boarding in combination with other hobbies

SUP surfing,- yoga, -touring and even -fishing are variations to the classic stand-up paddleboard tour! But it looks easier than it is: the calmer the waters, the more soothing the experience. For beginners and to find its own balance first, we recommend lakes, calm rivers, and smooth fjords. With rougher weather and more waves comes more action!

Popular stand-up paddling locations in Iceland

Akureyri harbor, Hvalfjörður (whale fjord), the towns Arnastapi and Stykkishólmur on Snæfellsnes peninsula, Grótta lighthouse on Seltjarnanes peninsula

Kayaking in Iceland - a comfy front row seat on the North Atlantic

How does it work?

Sitting in a Kayak is another popular means of transportation: Sit-on-top Kayaks are especially popular since they are very user-friendly, wider, and more stable than sit-in Kayaks. One can just hop on or off them, there is no sense of confinement and for more comfort on longer trips some of them even have a backrest. Because they are suitable for beginners as well and very safe, they are the most used ones.

two people kayaking in a glacier lagoon

Extreme kayaking and easygoing tours - find your own pace

Iceland has lately also become a dream destination for professional extreme kayakers, who want to explore new whitewater in the highlands of the Island and plunge down waterfalls in hazardous maneuvers.

kayaking in a glacier lagoon includes close encounters with icebergs

But for the majority of kayakers, our fjords, rivers, lakes, and lagoons offer quite enough spectacular scenery. Tours offered range from 2 hours to 3 days and everybody finds one for his own pace.  

Popular kayaking locations in Iceland

Around the famous Game-of-Thrones mountain Kirkjufell on Snæfellsness, around Heitifoss – a steaming waterfall near Akureyri, Stokkseyri, tours in the Westfjords and around Ísafjörður, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Get inspired

You might also be interested in:

Kayaking and Paddleboarding