Are you a senior citizen looking for an unforgettable travel experience? Have you ever wanted to explore the majestic and serene beauty of Iceland? Well, then look no further!
From its stunning landscape and relaxed atmosphere, to its rich cultural heritage and dynamic history, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a great place to visit.
As an almost-senior who just returned from a tour of this amazing country, I’ve got all the information here to help you see why Iceland is one of the best destinations for seniors.
Whether you’re traveling alone or with your special someone, I’ll share everything from the must-see attractions and interesting activities that will keep older adults entertained during their stay, to some insider tips on how to make sure that your trip is a safe and enjoyable one.
Don’t forget about the amazing local cuisine either – Icelandic food offers something for everyone!
So let’s get started – it’s time to find out if Iceland is really as wonderful as many people say it is.
Is Iceland Elderly Friendly?
Iceland is an elderly friendly country that makes a great choice for seniors who are looking to explore destinations filled with adventure and culture. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and easy access to outdoor activities, the country offers something for everyone – regardless of age!
I was amazed to find that Iceland’s tourism industry is still in its infancy because they certainly seem to have it all together.
It seems that the (in)famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that erupted in 2010 and disrupted air traffic from Europe for several days was a blessing for Iceland because it brought this beautiful country to the attention of travelers looking for a unique vacation.
Despite it being relatively new to the travel scene, we found it very accommodating and easy for tourists of all ages to explore.
There are many things to be aware of when visiting Iceland, which I’ll go into in this article, however the country has paid special attention to making sure their attractions and activities are suitable for all ages.
There are even plenty of options available for those who may be physically limited or unable to partake in more strenuous activities.
For instance, whale watching tours can be done by boat or from the shoreline so that even seniors with mobility issues can enjoy this activity.
Day tours from the capital city of Reykjavik will take you to gorgeous natural sites without any driving on your part.
Additionally, there are guided walking tours throughout Reykjavik, as well as cultural experiences like museums, movie screenings, and concerts.
These allow seniors to experience the culture without having to engage in physically demanding activities.
At the end of a long day, you can relax at one of Iceland’s many hot springs or geothermal pools.
Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities to go snorkeling or scuba diving around Iceland’s coastlines and see some of its most stunning underwater vistas.
Benefits Of Senior Travel To Iceland
For seniors, traveling to Iceland can be a great way to get away from it all. The country’s dramatic landscape and outdoor activities provide plenty of opportunities for adventure, while its diverse culture offers something for everyone.
Additionally, Iceland’s safety record is excellent.
Crime rates are very low and it’s one of the safest countries to visit in the world, making it perfect for seniors who want to explore but also feel secure in their travels.
Finally, Icelanders are known for their hospitality and welcoming nature – so you can be sure that your visit will be stress-free. Really – I think Icelanders wrote the book on hospitality.
We never had an issue with asking for help or directions while we were there. They even were understanding and patient (or made it seem so) when elderly tourists or children were slow to cross the street or were meandering along the sidewalks in Reykjavik and blocking other pedestrians.
We found them especially accommodating in restaurants when confused tourists (us!) asked for help navigating heretofore unheard of regional foods.
Planning Your Trip to Iceland – What To Know
When planning your trip to Iceland, do keep in mind that there is a lot of walking involved on an Iceland vacation. We logged a minimum of 13,000 steps a day.
However, we had several seniors in our tour group who had trouble walking or who used a cane and there were still plenty of ways to modify things (even in natural areas) to make them as accessible as possible.
Here are some tips for seniors on how to enjoy the sights and attractions of Iceland safely.
1. Make use of accessible transportation: Iceland has a well-developed public transportation system that makes it easy for seniors to get around. Additionally, many tour companies offer bus tours and taxi services that are suitable for elderly travelers.
2. Be aware of the weather and make sure you pack appropriate clothing and warm up after being outside exploring the sights. I cannot emphasize this enough!! Iceland’s climate can be unpredictable and is often cold and wet. It can change on a dime.
We saw it beautiful and sunny in the morning and snowing by lunchtime when were there in mid-March. And it was windy. All. The. Time.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking it’ll be balmy and warm in mid-summer, because the wind is still cold and it rains a lot in the summer:
“The average temperature during the summer in Iceland is around 10°C (50°F) but it can go as high as 20-25°C (68-77°F) and as low as 6-9°C (43-48°F). The weather is still very unpredictable during the summer and we can have the sun shining one minute but raining the next minute.” – FunIceland.com.
3. Choose accommodations wisely: Accommodations in Iceland range from budget hostels to luxury hotels, so it’s important to choose a place that is comfortable and suitable for your needs as an older traveler.
For example, if you have mobility issues then consider staying somewhere with easy access or an elevator. Additionally, if you’re looking for something more luxurious then there are plenty of options.
4. Go slowly and be mindful: With its wild landscapes and immense beauty, Iceland can be a bit overwhelming to older travelers who may experience fatigue faster than younger folks.
So take your time to explore the country at your own pace, enjoy the scenery and don’t forget to relax! This is where day tours or several-day bus tours can be very helpful.
Make sure to plan ahead and check the weather conditions so that you can make informed decisions about activities.
5. Enjoy entertainment tailored for seniors: There are plenty of fun events and activities around Iceland that cater specifically to seniors. From Icelandic cuisine tasting tours to whale watching excursions, there is something for everyone!
And if you’re up for it, why not try some of the local hot springs, such as the Blue Lagoon located about 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik?
There’s nothing quite like a relaxing soak in one of Iceland’s natural geothermal pools.
6. Look for senior discounts: The retirement age in Iceland is 67, so don’t expect to get a senior discount unless you are that age or over. That said, some hotels specifically market to those ages 50 and over, such as Elderhostel and ElderTreks.
Frommer’s notes that AARP and Travelocity have partnered to make the AARP Passport, which can get you discounts on air and hotel packages in Iceland if you are a member of AARP.
NOTE: there are risks to traveling by air that can affect seniors. Read about them here so you can reduce your risk when flying.
Things To Do In Iceland For Seniors
From natural wonders to fabulous food and exploring a new cultures, there are plenty of things for seniors to do in Iceland.
1. Take a boat tour around the stunning Fjords: Enjoy breathtaking views of some of Iceland’s most majestic fjords as you take a cruise along its coastline. The Faxaflói Bay and the Breiðafjörður are two popular destinations for boat tours, where you can watch whales, seals and sea birds in their natural habitat.
2. Explore Thingvellir National Park: Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers plenty of activities for seniors.
Visit the historic Icelandic Parliament site within the park and explore its rugged terrain from paved hiking paths, or hike to Öxaráfoss waterfall—a beautiful spot with cascading waterfalls that offer spectacular views of the ravine below.
3. Relax at the Blue Lagoon: Don’t miss out on a visit to Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon—a geothermal spa that offers a range of treatments and therapies, from massages to facials. It’s the perfect spot for seniors to relax and enjoy their holiday in a peaceful setting.
4. Take in the local culture: Seniors can explore the history and culture of Iceland with visits to its many museums, galleries, churches, and other attractions.
Make sure you check out Reykjavík’s Hallgrímskirkja church, Harpa Concert Hall, and one of the oldest wooden buildings in the city—the Viking Maritime Museum.
5. Sample Icelandic delicacies: Iceland is known for its unique culinary offerings, so be sure to sample some of the local dishes while you’re in town.
The food scene is full of unique and delicious dishes, from traditional lamb soup to freshly caught fish.
Make sure you try some of the local specialties like fermented shark (I took the plunge!) and sweet skyr yogurt.
6. Take in a show: Seniors can catch a show at one of Reykjavík’s many theaters and concert halls.
From opera to folk tales, there are plenty of performances to choose from that will keep you entertained during your stay.
7. Enjoy the great outdoors: With its rolling hills, majestic mountains and glaciers, stunning waterfalls and volcanoes, Iceland offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world—perfect for seniors who want to explore nature at its finest.
Take a boat tour around the harbor in Reykjavik or go for a leisurely stroll through one of its many national parks so you can experience Iceland’s natural beauty up close.
8. Visit some charming villages: There are plenty of quaint little towns dotted throughout Iceland that are perfect for seniors who want to soak in local history and culture.
From traditional fishing villages to vibrant art communities, exploring these small-town gems is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
9. Enjoy some delicious Icelandic cuisine: Iceland is known for its unique culinary offerings, so be sure to sample some of the local dishes while you’re in town.
From traditional fish stew and rye bread to skyr (made from Icelandic yogurt) and sweet treats like kleinur or pönnukökur, there’s something for everyone’s taste buds here.
10. Enjoy the nightlife: From lively music venues to cozy bars, Iceland has something for everyone when it comes to nightlife. If you’re looking for a place to kick back and relax, there are plenty of pubs where you can grab a drink and mingle with locals or other travelers.
11. Have an adventure: Whether you want to go whale watching, horseback riding, or glacier climbing, Iceland is full of exciting adventures just waiting to be experienced by seniors. Take some time during your stay in Iceland and try something new.
Popular Iceland Sightseeing Attractions for Seniors
If you’re a senior looking to explore the stunning landscapes of Iceland, you’ll find it is a great destination for seniors to discover some unique and incredible sites. Here are some highlights for seniors visiting Iceland:
1. The Golden Circle – A classic tour route that takes visitors past some of the most iconic attractions in all of Iceland, including Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, Vatnajökull National Park, and Geysir Hot Springs – perfect for those who want to experience the best of Icelandic nature without having to venture too far off-road.
Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its stunning scenery makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland.
Gullfoss Waterfall is an impressive two-tiered cascade that plunges 32 meters into the Hvítá River.
Vatnajökull National Park is immense and one of the largest glaciers in Europe. “Average thickness of the ice in the glacier is 400 meters (1,300 ft) and a maximum thickness is 1.000 meters (3,300 ft).” – FunIceland.com
Geysir Hot Springs spews boiling water up to 30 meters into the air every few minutes.
The majority of places like this are a short walk from the car, but you can see beautiful natural vistas outside the cities everywhere you look – entirely from the comfort of your car or a tour bus.
2. Northern Lights – For those who are lucky enough to be visiting Iceland during the winter months, there is no better way to experience the stunning aurora borealis than with a guided tour of the night sky.
From Reykjavik, hundreds of companies offer specialized tours that take visitors out into the countryside for a spectacular view of one of nature’s most amazing displays of light.
3. Whale Watching – A trip out onto the open seas gives seniors an opportunity to see majestic giants such as humpback whales, minkes and even orcas in their natural habitat.
Most whale watching tours include informative guides who will explain about different species that can be seen or heard along the journey.
4. Hot Springs – Iceland is known for its naturally occurring hot springs and geothermal pools which provide an ideal way for seniors to relax.
Many of these sites are equipped with therapeutic facilities such as massages, saunas and steam rooms.
How To Prepare For The Weather In Iceland
If you are a senior planning to visit Iceland, you should be aware that the weather can vary greatly and can change very rapidly. It is important to be prepared for all types of weather before embarking on your journey.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for the unpredictable Icelandic weather:
Wearing multiple layers of clothing will allow you to adjust quickly to changing temperatures throughout the day. This way, if it gets colder or warmer than expected, you’ll have the ability to add or subtract clothes as needed.
In winter, think tshirts with a long-sleeved turtle shirt over that, with a thin fleece shirt on top and a sweater. For pants, we wore leggings with jeans and waterproof pants (more on that in a second). We also wore warm hiking boots daily.
In summer, it can still be cold (average temps are in the 50s F (10 – 12 C), so you will likely still want to bring those waterproof pants (Iceland gets a lot of rain in the summer), a hat, light gloves, and definitely waterproof hiking boots.
I was there just as winter turned to spring and I knew it would still be winter there, even if the calendar said otherwise. I lived nearly two decades in Colorado, so I thought I had my clothing figured out.
Then, our tour guide sent specifics for things we should pack – in addition to clothes we could layer:
- Crampons for snowy sidewalks or icy areas around waterfalls or when walking in the high country.
- Waterproof / windproof pants for windy or snowy days or for being near the waterfalls on windy days. I thought I would wear these maybe once, but ended up wearing them every single day. Because in certain places, the wind was totally unlike anything I’ve experienced in Colorado (try standing on a viewing platform near a waterfall in a 40 mph wind with higher gusts!).
- Gaiters to keep your neck warm. Because – see my prior point. Also, it’s probably cheaper to buy them before your trip than while in the country.
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Hiking poles could be helpful if you don’t normally use a cane but feel you might want the extra help for balancing on uneven ground.
- If you do use a cane, consider bringing ice tips along so you can change out your cane tip and get better traction in icy spots (a regular rubber tip will just slip on an icy surface).
2) Bring waterproof gear: As I just said, Iceland’s high precipitation means that even in summer months rain could be likely so it is best to come prepared with waterproof coats, pants, and shoes.
3) Bring sunscreen: Icelandic summers can be surprisingly sunny sometimes and we had several sunny days during our early spring trip, so don’t forget to pack a high-factor sunscreen with you!
Tips For Finding Senior Friendly Accommodations In Iceland
Senior-friendly accommodations, including accessible hotel rooms and guesthouses, are essential for getting the most out of your trip to Iceland as a senior.
Here are some tips to make sure you’re finding the perfect place to stay:
1. Look for hotels that offer senior discounts and special amenities like wheelchair access or grab bars in the bathroom. Not all accommodations on the island have these types of amenities.
2. Consider staying at guesthouses instead of traditional hotel rooms – they tend to be more affordable and often provide additional perks like free breakfast or laundry services.
Plus, many can be found right near popular attractions, so you won’t need to worry about getting around.
But – if your mobility is limited, be sure to ask if they have elevators if they are more than one story. We stayed at one hotel with our tour group and it was three stories, with no elevators.
The seniors with limited mobility in our group were able to get rooms on the first floor, close to the restaurant so they didn’t have to walk too far, but that may not always be the case, so ask first.
3. You can also look into renting an RV or camper van during your visit to Iceland – these provide the convenience of sightseeing without having to worry about finding a place to stay and packing up each day.
They’re perfect for seniors who want to explore at their own pace. Plus, you’ll get the amazing views of the countryside that come along with it!
We saw several camper vans at some of the famous waterfalls, but one warning: I watched a video on traveling in them and the young couple mentioned that they were poorly insulated and therefore, freezing at night.
They only spent one night out of twelve or so in the van because of it, so do some research before you rent one!
How Many Nights Do You Need In Iceland?
The answer to how many nights you need in Iceland really depends on what you want to do and see. It’s a very diverse country with lots of different attractions – from glaciers and geysers, to hot springs, waterfalls, and historic sites.
If you just want to relax and take in the natural beauty of Iceland then three or four days would be enough.
However, if you’re interested in exploring more of the country then I’d recommend spending at least five days there. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the great outdoors as well as learn more about Iceland’s unique culture and history.
Personally, I’d recommend planning to stay there for at least five nights – after all, you’re traveling a fair distance to get to the country, so why do that only to turn around and head back home right away?
I was there for seven days and could have easily stayed longer. Seven days was just enough to get a taste of the country. There’s so much to explore that you could easily fill two weeks or more with activities.
7 Day Suggested Itinerary For Iceland
Day 1: Start your tour in Reykjavik and explore the city.
- Visit the Harpa Concert Hall
- Stroll around the harbor
- Wander through the boutique shops at Laugavegur street
- Check out the shops along the Rainbow Road
- Go to the top of Hallgrimskirkja church to take in the city sights (watch out for the bells that ring every 15 minutes though – they’ll make your head ring if you’re up there when they go off!).
Day 2: Continue your exploration of Reykjavik with a visit to one or more of the city’s museums to learn more about Iceland’s history.
- I’d suggest a food tour or a walking tour so you can learn about the city or sample some of Iceland’s food (like lamb or Icelandic hot dogs.
- If you’re more adventurous, try fermented shark or puffin!).
Day 3: Head out along the Ring Road (Route 1) in your rental car (or on a day tour from Reykjavik) and spend the day exploring the Golden Circle.
This includes þingvellir National Park (the site of Iceland’s oldest parliament and where the tectonic plates that separate Europe and North America dramatically come together), Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir Hot Springs geothermal area.
It’s about 140 miles (230 km) to do this and takes about 3 hours of driving time. Be sure to allow extra time to take pictures because the scenery is amazing.
Day 4: Travel out to Snaefellsnes Peninsula and take a hike up one of its volcanoes or simply enjoy its incredible views. The drive is about two and a half hours, one way, from Reykjavik.
Also, while you’re there, make sure to check out Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall.
Day 5: Make a stop at Reynisfjara, one of many black sand beaches in this island nation. This stunning spot is often listed among the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Look for the trolls in the water (rock formations) and the dramatic basalt-columned cliffs that are reminiscent of Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.
Right next to Reynisfjara are the dramatic Dyrhólaey cliffs, which you might have seen on Game of Thrones or Vikings. The photo above was taken on the cliffs and looking across Reynisfjara beach to the three Trolls.
Stay overnight in the nearby town of Vik so you can see glaciers tomorrow or head back to Reykjavik if you’re out of time.
Day 6: From your hotel in Vik, head along the South coast, passing through lava fields and volcanic landscapes. You’ll find Vatnajökull National Park and within that, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. You might even catch a glimpse of playful seals here!
Next to the lagoon is Diamond Beach, so named because of the beautiful icebergs that float down from the lagoon to the ocean, looking like diamonds shining on the sand. You can even walk through ice caves!
It’s about a 6 hour drive back to Reykjavik, so I would suggest either staying in a guesthouse or B & B here or going back to Vik for the night.
Day 7: Drive back to Reykjavik from Vik (or Vatnajökull National Park if you chose to stay there).
Finish the day with a soak in the Blue Lagoon hot spring pool which is about a 45 minute drive from the downtown area of Reykjavik. The warm waters are said to cure skin diseases and will be generally relaxing after all that driving!
What Is The Best Month To See Iceland?
The best month to see Iceland really depends on your goal for your trip. Are you interested in seeing it when it is fresh and green or are you interested in the Northern Lights?
We wanted to see the Northern Lights, so we went in mid-March. The best chance to view the Northern Lights in Iceland is between mid-September and early April because the nights are longer, giving you a better chance of seeing this amazing celestial phenomenon.
The best month to visit Iceland, however, is generally June through August. This is when the days are longest and you can take full advantage of more hours of daylight to explore all that the country has to offer.
The weather during this time is milder than other months of the year, but it is still important to come prepared with waterproof clothing and shoes.
In addition, June through August brings an abundance of wildlife, including puffins and whales!
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, consider visiting Iceland during the summer season. The long days between May and September are perfect for viewing for the Midnight Sun — a phenomenon where the sun never sets below the horizon. It’s one of nature’s most wondrous displays!
No matter what time of year you visit Iceland, be sure to bring your camera — you won’t want to miss the stunning views of waterfalls, geothermal springs, and glaciers.
Iceland is an amazing destination for senior travelers and all ages alike. With breathtaking views, abundant wildlife, and the chance to view the Midnight Sun during summer months, Iceland offers something truly magical for visitors of any age!
Just be sure to come prepared with waterproof clothing and shoes so you can make the most of your time in this beautiful country.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or a relaxing getaway, Iceland could be just the place to create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags and enjoy all that Iceland has to offer!