FlyOver Iceland is one of Reykjavik’s newer attractions, having opened in the Autumn of 2019 in the Grandi Harbor District, about a 20-minute walk from the city centre. This indoor attraction includes two pre-shows, but the highlight of any visit is a motion-seated flight simulation over Iceland‘s many natural wonders, made possible with an enormous 20-metre wraparound spherical screen.
FlyOver Iceland is the result of years of collaboration spearheaded by Creative Director Rick Rothschild who was a creative executive at Disney for more than 30 years. His work combined with that of skilled helicopter pilot Jón Björnsson, who shot some scenes in Game of Thrones among others, eminent composer Kjartan Holm and illustrator Brain Pilkington, comes together for the incredibly immersive attraction that you can visit today.
We were invited to arrive approximately 30 minutes before our ride was due to begin so that we could get booked in and use the Kaffi Grandi coffee house prior to our flight. They serve light snacks and all the usual things you might expect. Because we travelled to the venue by electric scooter, we made good time and arrived even earlier so our booking was helpfully and efficiently moved to the an earlier flight to save on excessive waiting.
About 10 minutes before the ride, everyone was called upstairs where there is a green screen and we could have a photograph of our group taken – one photograph of us just standing normally, and another of us with our arms outstretched, pretending to fly. These are optionally available for purchase, against a variety of Iceland backdrops, at the end of the experience. No photography is allowed inside the experience, so you’ll have to make do with stock imagery and my description from hereon in.
In the first of the pre-shows, we entered a darkened room which turns out to be an ancient Viking longhouse where an Icelandic storyteller tells one of his fireside tales as shadows come to life on the wall behind him.
In the second pre-show, known as Well of Time, we delve further into Iceland’s history, guided by a local troll named Sú Vitra, who led us through three different acts. First, you’ll feel the power of the land as the strong and often violent forces of nature take shape. Next is the arrival of man and the introduction of Þetta Reddast (a commonly-used Iceland phrase which means “it will all work out ok”). Finally, discover how Icelandic people have made a life on this island. Life continues, no matter what.
With the pre-shows complete, it’s time for the main event – the immersive flight experience! We were led through to a line of seats where we could sit down and buckle up. Yes, you wear seat belts for this part!
We could leave any belongings beneath our seat but, once the simulation gets under way, our seats rose a little from the ground and the barrier we saw before us fell away to give the full flying experience.
With our feet dangling beneath us, we had that real sense of flight. And the views and video footage that we experienced are second to none.
We visited FlyOver Iceland towards the end of our time in Iceland, which I think was the right way around, as it meant we could relate more intimately to many of the scenes that we saw, such as the scenes of Reynisfjara beach and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
And what’s important to try to get across (but you’ll need to visit yourself for the full experience) is that FlyOver Iceland is not just about sitting in an elevated chair and staring at a large screen. It’s so much more immersive than that. Our seats twisted and turned as we were cooled by the chill of the Arctic wind, took in the scents of lupins whilst flying over a flower-filled meadow, and our faces felt the cool mist from a nearby waterfall.
In fact, the experience is so physically realistic, using state-of-the-art technology that had us swooping across magical landscapes, that some people do feel nauseous from it – thankfully, that didn’t happen to any of us (or to anyone else that I could visibly notice) but it is something to bear in mind if you are prone to motion sickness.
The ride itself is exhilarating and fun, even at one point passing under a natural arch, and the scenery throughout is nothing short of breathtaking. And after our flight, we could see a map of the locations that were covered during the experience. These include the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, the mountains of Hörgársveit, the Island of Elliðaey, the Aldeyjarfoss waterfalls, the city of Reykjavík and more. There is also a gift shop.
FlyOver Iceland opens at 10am and the ride operates every 15 minutes until 6.45pm. The experience costs 4,990 ISK for ages 13 and over, or 2,495 ISK for children aged 12 and under. (Children must be accompanied by an adult or guardian (14 years or older) and be at least 100cm (40 inches) tall.)
Some might think this is quite costly for an experience that takes 35 minutes (just 8.5 minutes of which is the flying ride). However, nothing is cheap in Iceland and, compared with a helicopter flight experience, which would cost you upwards of ten times this amount, then it’s really not so bad. And of course you cover so much more than could possibly hope to experience from a single helicopter flight.
For more of an idea of what to expect, see the trailer below:
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Planning a trip to Iceland yourself? You can watch a video from our trip to Iceland here:
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by FlyOver Iceland. Our trip to Iceland was also sponsored by Helly Hansen.