Aerial sightseeing is mushrooming these days, and it's easy to see why. Pilots can fly almost anywhere, and many remote areas are difficult to reach by other means.
Prices may be less prohibitive than you think. Airplane tours run anywhere from 5,000kr ($80/£40) for 20 minutes aloft to 20,000kr ($320/£160)for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Helicopter tours are far more expensive, but maneuvers are more thrilling.
Aerial tours are scheduled by arrangement, and flight paths are usually negotiable. The minimum number of passengers ranges from two to six. If your head count is fewer, ask to team up with another group. Flights are frequently cancelled because of weather and wind conditions, so leave wiggle room in your itinerary. And prepare yourself for buffeting in the wind -- all the planes are 4- to 10-seaters.
Reykjavík has three similarly priced tour operators, all based at the city's domestic airport. Eagle Air (tel. 562-4200; www.eagleair.is) has a 30-minute tour of the capital area (7,500kr/$120/£60 per person); a 4-hour midnight sun tour to Grímsey Island (30,000kr/$480/£240); and package tours combining aerial sightseeing with boat trips, white-water rafting, and snowmobiling on Vatnajökull. Fjarðaflug (tel. 562-6500; www.fjardaflug.is) and Odin Air (tel. 551-0880; www.odinair.is) also have tempting flight menus. Fjarðaflug's 1 3/4-hour "South Iceland" tour -- which costs 17,900kr ($286/£143) and takes in Tþingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss, Mt. Hekla, Landmannalaugar, and Tþórsmörk -- is particularly grand.
Mountaineers of Iceland, Skútuvogur 12E, Reykjavík (tel. 580-9900; www.mountaineers.is), and Mountain Taxi, Trönuhrauni 7, Hafnarfjörður (tel. 544-5252; www.mountaintaxi.is), tie helicopter rides into Super Jeep romps on glaciers. Mountain Taxi also customizes helicopter excursions; the price for up to six people averages 150,000kr ($2,400/£1,200) for each hour of flying time.
Outside the capital, Mýflug Air (tel. 464-4400; www.myflug.is), based at Mývatn's Reykjahlíð airfield, is conveniently close to Krafla, Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, Askja, Kverkfjöll, and other striking landmarks. Eagle Air, Fjarðaflug, and Mýflug Air all arrange tours from Akureyri. Atlantsflug (tel. 486-2406; www.atf.is) is based at Skaftafell National Park, close to Núpsstaðarskógar, the Laki craters, and Landmannalaugar.