“I love the outdoors and there are very few places left in the world as unspoiled as Iceland,” the Magic Mike star, 40, tells PEOPLE. He and a few friends recently explored the Scandinavian island’s famously rugged — and freezing — terrain on a trip led by Eddie Bauer athlete KC Deane.
“I wanted to have an adventure,” he says of the bucket list experience. “I’ve never seen anything like this country. These are things that you read in books as a child — you don’t think they exist anywhere other than your mind.”
Though he says the whole week was “the most incredible adventure of my life,” he puts one day’s lineup at the top of his list: “It started with us finding a Banksy under a bridge next to a black sand beach littered with giant chunks of ice that bent the rays of the rising sun.” He then “suited up for a five-mile kayak across a glacier lagoon full of icebergs and curious seals.” Lunch on the beach, exploring the inside of an ice cave, hiking over the top of a glacier and the “best piece of fish I’ve ever had” rounded out the day.
But, he notes, that’s just the way things go in the spectacular location: “Seriously, every day was a series of adventures like that.”
Climbing a mountain on the fourth day of his trip proved challenging even for the famously physically fit star. “It was a pretty serious incline,” he says. But his Iceland playlist — including songs by GusGus, Pantera and of course, some Björk — motivated him. And, he notes, “the view from the top and run back down were worth it.”
Though Manganiello, who is married to Modern Family’s Sofía Vergara, says he’d “do everything again,” for now, he’s got other travel priorities: His next stop? “Home to spend some time with my wife.”