Why you should go
An otherworldly place of fire and ice, marooned near the top of the globe, Iceland is where the mighty forces of nature have created a playground for adventure riding. Outside buzzing and bustling Reykjavík and Akureyri, this is a land of tiny settlements, fishing villages and farmsteads dotted along a rugged coastline, fjords and in small valleys, where you can enjoy peace, good food and craft beers. Isolated roads and gravel tracks take you past glaciers, lava fields, tundra, geysers, hot springs and waterfalls in the pristine wilderness.
Venture into the interior and you’ll find an uninhabited moonscape, dominated by volcanoes and glaciers; mother nature at her most wild and creative. Truly a place for stress-free riding: stop, breathe and drink in the views.
What’s it like to ride there?
Heavenly. Traffic is negligible and largely you’ll have the road to yourself. You can cover a lot of the island on paved roads, which are good quality. The main gravel routes are also good and well graded and can be tackled with just the basics of off-road training.
If you want to up the ante, the lessergraded ‘F-roads’ are where to look but make sure you and your bike are up to it. By law, only off-road-capable vehicles, such as 4x4s or adventure bikes fitted with the right tyres, can use them.
The weather can also be challenging, with strong winds and ‘four seasons in one day’ due to how far north Iceland is. There is plenty of fuel, but many services are unmanned which means a credit card with PIN number to fill up.
See Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, the settler building architecture and experience the vibrant downtown bars and restaurants. Ride by Iceland’s geothermal pipeline, an amazing achievement with over 85% percent of houses in Iceland being heated with geothermal energy. See the largest glacier in Europe. Ride past Vatnajökull, familiar to Game of Thrones fans as “Beyond the Wall” Take on the motorcycle challenge of the infamous F-35 interior road across Iceland, between the Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers. Westfjords, the most remote and isolated part of Iceland, where you can ride deserted and twisty roads along the fjords and spot whales. Go native with Icelandic cuisine — if fermented shark sounds too extreme, then you can always sample smoked puffin, with a shot of Brennivín, an Icelandic Schnapps.
Getting your bike there
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could ride up to Hirtshals in Denmark and catch a ferry from there with www. smyrilline.com, or you can freight your bike direct from the UK and fly out there to meet it for around £1200. Hire bikes are also available between £200-300 per day, depending on size and spec.
When to go
Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable. In summer there’s a fair chance of bright and sunny days, with temperatures reaching 17°C, but good is generally punctuated with bad: rain, wind and plummeting temperatures can hit at any time. June to August is your best bet but many F-roads are impassable until the end of June or later because of wet and muddy conditions due to the spring thaw. It’s also worth bearing in mind that most museums and attractions are only open from late May to early September too.
Sublime riding in one of the most alien landscapes on earth