There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them.
— Sylvia Plath
Welcome to Iceland! Today is about getting acclimated to this spectacular country and experiencing the sites on your own until we meet for a welcome dinner in the lively downtown Reykjavik. If your flight arrives in the morning, we recommend visiting the Blue Lagoon for a soak in the warm mineral-rich waters to recover from your flight. Reykjavik has a rich history and a visit to the National Museum of Iceland and the Sage Museum is must. Before dinner, do a little shopping or people watching on the main street of Laugavegur, or visit the stunning Hallgrimskirkja church and the Harpa Concert Hall with their geologicially-inspired architecture.
Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
Our journey begins with a tour of the Golden Circle and some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural wonders. We will visit the site where Vikings first gathered in the oldest parliament in 930 AD in Þingvellir National Park and marvel at the site of Almannagjá Canyon, one of only two places on the planet where diverging tectonic plates can be observed on land. We’ll take a walk on one of the numerous lovely walking trails and view the crystal clear waters in the Silfra fissure. We’ll stop for lunch at one of Iceland’s hidden gems – The Fridheimar Tomato and Horse Farm. After lunch we’ll head to the highly active Geysir hot spring area with boiling mud pits, exploding geysers and the lively Strokkur which spouts water 30 meters (100 feet) into the air every few minutes. When we’re done exploring this area, we’ll travel to the iconic Gulfoss waterfall for a spectacular view of the power and beauty of water and rock. We’ll finish the day with a lovely dinner at our hotel near Gulfoss.
Hotel: Hotel Gulfoss
On day two we will visit the lesser-known Þjórsárdalur valley where we’ll have the option to hike to a restored Viking longhouse or just explore the volcanic fairyland of the Gjain Gorge. We’ll also visit Skógafoss, a stunning broad waterfall that you can walk right up to—but prepare to get drenched if you do! We’ll dry off with a visit to the nearby Skogar Museum to explore a restored turf house, church, and other historic buildings from the old days of Iceland. Afterward, we’ll take a brief stroll on the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach to see the black basalt cliffs and the Reynisdrangar sea stacks. Reynisfjara Beach is also a great puffin watching location. After this exhilarating day, we’ll spend the night in the Guest House Hrifunes where we can enjoy the beautiful view and a delicious dinner.
Hotel: Guest House Hrifunes
Today is a day of breathtaking landscapes, expansive “sandur” glacial outwash plains, glaciers, rivers and icy lagoons, volcanoes, and majestic mountain peaks. We’ll visit Vatnajokull National Park and have the option of taking a ~3 mi hike to the Svartifoss waterfall, one of the most scenic waterfalls in Iceland, or just exploring the region around the Skaftafell Visitor Center. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the mystical Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon with its surreal ice formation that change color with the shifting clouds. Our last stop of the day will be to the nearby Diamond Beach to see the millions of glistening ice chunks scattered across a black sand beach. We’ll spend the evening back at the lovely Guest House Hrifunes.
Hotel: Guest House Hrifunes
We’ll start the day with a hike on the dramatic Solheimajokull Glacier to explore the ice sculptures, water cauldrons, ridges, and deep crevasses of this beautiful landscape. After lunch, we’ll visit the famous Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the lesser known Gljúfrabúi Waterfall. Seljalandsfoss plunges over 60 m (nearly 200 ft) to a pool below and it’s actually possible to walk behind the waterfall. From there, we’ll head to the Lava Museum to experience some high-tech visualization of the geologic processes that are responsible for the beauty of Iceland. We’ll then head to Landeyjahofn harbor and board a ferry for Heimaey Island. Heimaey Island is the largest island in the Westman Island chain and is the only one that is inhabited. In 1973, the island became famous when the volcano Edfell erupted and buried a good portion of the town. Once we arrive at Heimaey, we’ll head to the Hotel Vestmannaeyjar to relax then regroup for an elegant dinner in the Einsi Kaldi Restaurant.
Hotel: Hotel Vestmannaeyar
Today we’ll get to take our time exploring the island of Heimaey, also known as the “Pompeii of the North.” You will have the option of visiting several sites on your own this day, including the Eldheimar Museum where you can revisit the volcanic eruption that buried much of the island in 1973. You can stroll through the Sæheimar Natural History Museum and Aquarium or go for a more strenuous hike on the still-steaming Edfell Volcano. Rent a bike and ride it out to Storhofdi to see the largest puffin colony in Iceland or climb the challenging series of ladders and ropes to the peak of Heimaklettur for a spectacular view of the island. For those of you that can’t get enough geology, you can take a boat ride to Surtsey, the youngest of the Westman Islands that was formed by a submarine volcanic eruption between 1963 and 1967, or stick with your rock-loving tour guide to learn about current research that connects ancient Lake Bonneville of Utah to this actively growing island in Iceland! Lunch and dinner are on your own this day and you’ll have a variety of options to choose from ranging from fine dining to craft beers at the local Brothers Brewery.
Hotel: Hotel Vestmannaeyar
This day will be packed full of variety as we head north toward the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. In the morning you’ll have the option of visiting Iceland’s largest geothermal energy plant or hiking up the iconic Reykjadalur Valley for a refreshing soak in a natural hot spring. We’ll stop for lunch in Hvergerthi for lunch along the way where you can chose from a variety of quaint restaurants for lunch including the world-famous Gottis Ice Cream shop (believe it or not, Iceland has the best ice cream in the world and they eat it year-round!). In the afternoon we’ll head to some of Iceland’s lesser-visited waterfalls including Braunarfoss which emanates from underneath a lava flow. We’ll travel along the western coastline weaving until we reach our hotel in the quaint town of Snæfellsbær.
Hotel: Guest House Langaholt
On our final day of the trip we will circle the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to visit beaches, lava fields, volcanoes and glaciers that make up the Snæfellsnes National Park. This part of Iceland is considered to contain glorious examples of all of the island’s unique features in a microcosm which will be a perfect grand finale to our trip! We’ll take a pleasant stroll along the coastline between the towns of Arnastapi and Hellnar to see some bizarre rock formations, visit a rare (for Iceland that is) white sand beach, and finish our tour of with a visit to the iconic Mt. Kirkjufell. From there, we’ll head back to Reykjavik for a farewell dinner in the heart of this lively town.
Hotel: Centerhotel Arnarhvoll
Photos courtesy of Audrey, Simon Bonaventure, Dan (catching up), Thomas Qulne, David Stanley, Judy Zone, Brl
July 21-28, 2019
Double Occupancy: $5900 per person
Single Supplement: $6650 per person
Airfare is not included.
Reserve your spot!