Travel throughout West, South and North Iceland, seeing the very best of this magnificent country, whilst also maximizing your chances of seeing the fabled Northern Lights. An extensive and leisurely journey.
Maximum group size: 16 persons
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Day 1: Welcome To Iceland
On arrival, transfer by coach from Keflavik Airport to your accommodation in Reykjavík where you spend the night.
The city centre is a small area characterised by eclectic and colourful houses, good shopping, dining and drinking. Reykjavík has recently established itself as a haven for food lovers, with numerous restaurants taking advantage of the abundance of local seafood, meat and game. Reykjavik has many wonderful museums including the National Museum displaying artefacts from the first settlement to the modern age, giving an excellent overview of Iceland’s history and culture, the Reykjavik 871+2 Settlement Museum, an archaeological museum based around a 10th-century Viking longhouse unearthed in 2001, the Reykjavik Art Museum and the National Gallery.
Day 2: Reykjavik City Tour, Borgarfjörður Saga Valley and Hraunfossar & Barnafoss Waterfalls
Meet your tour guide and fellow travellers at 09:00hrs and start with a Reykjavík city tour, to see some of the capital's highlights. Then the tour heads west. The Borgarfjörður valley is known as the Saga valley of west Iceland, because many important historical events took place there. You'll have the chance to climb Grábrók volcano crater, then take the chill off at Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot springs, which produce 180 litres per second of nearly-boiling water, at 97°C. Nearby is Hraunfossar, a series of waterfalls pouring from beneath a 1 kilometer wide lava field, forming countless creeks and cascades, small and big streaming, out of the lava. From here, a track leads upstream to Barnafoss (the 'Children’s Falls'), with a footbridge you can cross for great views of the water, churning violently as it channels through the ravine below.
You'll spend two nights in Borganes, west Iceland. The afternoon includes a Northern Lights lecture and after dinner, step out into the hotel's gardens in search of the Aurora Borealis, followed by a hot chocolate or tea.
Day 3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula & Fjord Cruise
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula (the 'Peninsula of the Snowy Mountain') juts out from Iceland's west coast, like a long arm with a clenched fist at its tip and is, in many ways, a microcosm of the whole island. A rugged mountain chain runs its length. You'll travel to the charming fishing town of Stykkishólmur for a cruise on the Breiðafjörður fjord. After a light lunch a uniquely Icelandic 'treat' awaits you at Bjarnarhöfn, where they make Hákarl (fermented shark). Then, depending on weather conditions, we hope to visit Grundafjordur fishing village, a place with an impressive coastline and mountains, lakes and waterfalls behind the village. Jutting out into the bay rises one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, Mt Kirkjufell. During the return to Borganes, your guide has some helpful hints about how to best photograph the Aurora. Once darkness falls, perhaps enjoy soaking in the hotel's outdoor hot tubs, while you gaze up at the arctic night skies.
Day 4: Golden Circle, Geothermal Taste & Icelandic Horses
Travel along the scenic shores of Hvalfjörður fjord, then inland to Thingvellir National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we take the 'Golden Circle' route, see steam rising from Geysir geothermal fields with its various hot springs and bubbling pools. The area includes the original geyser, now dormant, but replaced by Strokkur (The 'Churn'), which erupts regularly at 5-10 minute intervals.
Upon arrival, the chef of Restaurant Geysir takes us to the geothermal area, to taste freshly-baked hot spring bread, served with Icelandic butter, geothermally-boiled eggs and herring. This meal is best enjoyed served with a small glass of very cold Geysir Schnapps! Continue to Gullfoss (the 'Golden Falls'), a double waterfall that tumbles 34 metres into the Hvítá River. In the afternoon, you'll visit some stables to learn about the history and special qualities of the Icelandic horse, then on to a geothermal greenhouse- Iceland relies heavily on geothermal energy, and a huge amount of food is grown in large heated greenhouses- before reaching your accommodation in South Iceland. Tonight, step into the darkness and search for the elusive Northern Lights, amidst the peace and stillness of rural Iceland.
Day 5: Natural Wonders Of South Iceland & Eyjafjallajökull Volcano
Travel further along the south coast, and stop at Eyjafjallajökull Information Centre, to learn about living next to a glacier and active volcano. Further east, we visit one of Iceland's finest folk musuems, with an outstanding collection of farm and domestic artefacts typical of Iceland’s past, along with several turf-roofed houses. Nearby is Skógafoss waterfall, at 60 metres high one of the country's most impressive waterfalls. In the afternoon, we take a stroll along the bird cliffs at Reynisfjara in south Iceland. Spend two nights near Kirkjubaejarklaustur in Vatnajökull National Park, next to Europe’s largest glacier. If the Aurora is visible, it will be picture perfect!
Day 6: Skaftafell National Park & Vatnajökull Glacier
Today's itinerary is all glaciers, ice and icebergs. Travel to Jokulsarlon, a glacial lagoon filled with icebergs. There is plenty of free time to explore the extraordinary sights. You may even see seals swimming in arctic waters and you can walk on the black sandy beach where large icebergs get stranded. Afternoon visit to the tiny turf church at Hof and time at Europe's largest National Park, Vatnajökull. With Iceland's highest mountains and Europe's largest glacier, it has an area of 12,000 square kilometres. Tonight enjoy a Northern Lights film presentation before your last chances to perhaps see the Northern Lights shimmer and dance across the night sky.
Day 7: South Shore, Lava Beaches, Coastal Villages & Blue Lagoon
Today we cross Eldhraun lava fields to Vik's impressive black lava beaches, high bird cliffs and pounding waves. Further west, we reach the high and narrow Seljalandsfoss waterfall, plunging from the mountain. There is a trail that goes behind the falling water and offers some interesting views - provided you don't mind getting a bit wet! Afternoon arrival in Reykjavik, where you will have free time to explore the capital at your own pace. In the evening, travel over lava fields to the famous Blue Lagoon, where you can enjoy a soak in the warm, aquamarine waters. Then enjoy a traditional Icelandic dinner in a local restaurant in Grindavik or Sandgerdi, with one last nocturnal tour to seek the Aurora Borealis. We return to Reykjavik at around midnight.
DAY 8: Reykjavik Leisure Day & Northern Lights Fjord Cruise
Enjoy a day exploring Iceland's capital- visit museums, do some shopping, enjoy a spa treatment or go on an optional whale watching tour. Tonight (weather permitting) enjoy a Northern Lights hunt by boat- an amazing experience. We sail away from the coastline and the lights of Reykjavik and look out for the Aurora Borealis, with the beautiful mountains and the city lights in the background - something you won't forget. The tour takes 2.5-3hrs, departing from Reykjavik's old harbour.
Day 9: Volcano Crater, Seals, Mountains & Fjords
This morning we depart Reykjavik and travel west, passing the town of Borgarnes, with a stop to climb the perfectly shaped and well preserved, Grábrók volcano crater, walking up to the rim. In the afternoon we visit a natural history & seal museum in a small fishing village, and stroll around the local harbour. Further north we stop at the turf church of Víðimýri, which has been extensively restored to its original form and is widely considered one of the purest and most beautiful examples of traditional Icelandic architecture. The timbers of the church were selected from the driftwood coming ashore along the Skagafjörður peninsula, and the churchyard gate with its bells is said to have been here since Christianity was adopted in Iceland, around the year 1000. Then we travel along scenic fjord landscapes and over several challenging mountain passes until we reach Sigulufjordur, Iceland's northern most town. In the evening, if conditions look good, we take a short walk to search for the Northern Lights.
Day 10: Iceland's Northernmost Town
This morning we explore Siglufjordur, the herring capital of the North Atlantic, and visit the renowned Herring Era Museum. Herring fishing was one of the main forces shaping modern Icelandic society, and the museum cleverly showcases the history and impact of fishing, and life in the north.
In the afternoon, we drive along Eyjafjörður, Iceland's longest fjord, which offers an amazing mountain panorama. The Tröllaskagi peninsula is named after the giant trolls who, according to Icelandic folktales, each spring run into the peninsula's towering glaciers, deep valleys and alpine mountains to hide from the ever present midnight sun! These spectacular fjord landscapes take you past several small and charming fishing villages. Along the way, we stop at a deserted fjord valley that even most Icelanders have not seen yet, as well as a local brewery for a taste one of Iceland's many micro-beers. We reach Lake Mývatn, a shallow lake situated in an area of high volcanic activity, not far from Krafla volcano. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich array of waterlife, especially ducks. Join an evening lecture about Northern Lights and after dinner, don't miss the chance to search for the magical auroras.
Day 11: Lava Formations of Dimmuborgir, Search For The Trolls & Snow Adventures
This morning we go for a snowshoe trip (or a hike if there is not enough snow) through the lava formations of Dimmuborgir, the 'dark castles', twisted towers of coagulated rock which have breached the earth’s surface to form a field full of giant pillars and arches. These dramatic structures are not known to exist anywhere else in the world on dry land, and you might get a glimpse of the trolls who are said to live here! The afternoon is free - explore the many pseudo craters or walk along the lake shores. Or just relax and enjoy the wonderful light of a northern winter afternoon. Later you might join an optional tour on cross-country skis or by snowmobile (weather permitting, and to be purchased locally only). In the evening, take a relaxing soak at Mývatn Nature Baths, in waters that contain a unique blend of minerals, silicates and geothermal micro-organisms and benefit both skin and spirit alike.
Day 12: Explore Lake Mývatn
Lake Mývatn is known for its geological wonders and active bird life, and for recording Iceland's coldest winter temperatures. In the morning, we take an easy walk through the bizarre lava formations and landscape at Kálfaströnd, followed by a walk around the Höfði peninsula. In contrast to the Dimmuborgir 'dark castles', here you can walk through a refreshingly green and forested area leading to a series of viewpoints, each offering different lakeside vistas and sights of the picturesque lava formations submerged within the lake itself. In the afternoon, we travel to the hot springs area of Námaskarð, with bubbling mud pools and steaming solfataras. We then visit the Mývatn Nature Baths, for a dip in the warm waters and a taste of traditional Icelandic dark bread, baked underground using geothermal heat. In the evening, enjoy a video presentation about the Northern Lights, then after a delicious dinner, enjoy a hot drink around an open fire and under the stars on the hotel terrace. Don't forget to keep an eye out for the Northern Lights.
Day 13: Birds, Christmas Garden & The Capital Of North Iceland
Start the day with a visit to the Mývatn bird museum. A well renowned destination for bird watchers, Lake Mývatn has breeding populations of some rare birds, including Barrow´s Goldeneye. At the museum you can see the displays of varied birdlife, and learn about the different species. Then on to Goðafoss, the waterfalls of the Gods. Next stop is the Christmas Garden, a small museum and shop where there are countless items connected to the festive season from all parts of the world. Finally on to Akureyri, where the afternoon is at leisure. Akureyri sits on the north coast under snowcapped peaks at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord, where signs of the earth’s power – glaciers, volcanoes, lava fields and stacks of basalt – are all around. This relaxed, small city is an easy-going place. Perhaps visit the Botanic Gardens, the Akureyri Museum with its well designed exhibitions, beautiful museum garden and 19th century church, or stroll Kaupvangsstræti, also known as 'Arts Alley', which curves through the middle of Akureyri and is the city's centre of cultural life. Depending on the weather, tonight there will be a short excursion into the darkness to hunt the Aurora Borealis.
Day 14: History, Design & Horses In Skagafjörður
We travel back west over the mountains to Skagafjörður, known as the valley of horses, and home to many ancient farms. We visit the folk museum and turf farm at Glaumbær. The buildings of the farm date from different periods in the 18th and 19th centuries, when turf construction was widely used due to a severe shortage of trees. In the afternoon, we visit a tannery at Sauðárkrókur, where fish skin is expertly processed into beautiful, soft, high-quality leather. We then continue south, with a stop for coffee & cake at a horse stables, where we will also learn about the history and special gaits of the Icelandic horse. We reach Reykjavík around 18:00hrs.
Day 15 Departure
Transfer by coach from your accommodation in Reykjavík to Keflavík Airport.
Maximum group size: 16 persons
Extra nights in Reykjavik can be added - please enquire
07, 14 and 21 March; 3, 17 and 31 October; 14 November
Departures 2018: 30 January; 06, 13. 20 and 27 February; 06, 13 and 20 March
Includes: 14 nights accommodation in 3 star hotels all with private facilties and daily breakfast; arrival & departure airport transfer by coach; Fully escorted 12-day bus tour with English speaking guide; 3x light lunch, 4x dinners, 8 x midnight refreshments; Fjord Cruise on Breiðafjörður fjord and light lunch in Stykkishólmur; Visit to traditional shark curing farm; Hot spring Tasting with geothermally cooked bread and eggs; Visit to Icelandic horse stables & geothermal greenhouse; Visit to multimedia presentation at Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Information Center; Admission to Skógar folk museum and turf houses; Entrance with towel at Blue Lagoon; Visit to natural history & seal museum; Admission and guided tour at herring museum; Visit to local micro-beer brewery; Hot steam baked bread tasting in North Iceland; Entrance with towel at Mývatn Nature Baths; Snow shoe hike (or hike if no snow) in lava labyrinth; Visit to Mývatn bird museum; Visit to Christmas house & garden near Akureyri; Visit to Víðimýri turf church, Glaumbær folk museum & turf farm and tannery in Skagafjörður; Horse show, coffee & cake at local horse farm; Northern Lights fjord cruise from Reykjavik (in case of cancellation, tour is replaced by a dinner at Kopar Restaurant in Reykjavík); Northern Lights program during 12 evenings with a combination of lectures, presentations, film and guided searches for the Northern Lights; dinner at Use of winter & Northern Lights explorer equipment being simple non-slip snow & ice grippers, spikes for shoes and a flash light.
Excludes: Optional activities
Accommodation is in comfortable tourist-class hotels, all rooms with shower/wc, in the following hotels (or similar): Day 1 Reykjavik Centerhotel Arnarhvoll; Days 2+3 West Iceland Icelandair Hotel Hamar; Day 4 South Iceland Fosshotel Hekla; Days 5+6 Vatnajökull Region FossHotel Nupar; Days 7+8 Reykjavik Centerhotel Arnarhvoll; Day 9 North Iceland Siglufjörður New Hotel Siglo; Days 10+11+12 North Iceland Mývatn Hotel Sel-Mývatn; Day 13 North Iceland Akureyri Hotel Kea; Day 14 Reykjavík KeaHotel Reykjavik Lights.
Please note the itinerary may be subject to change at short notice due to weather conditions, causing certain outdoor excursions/ activities to be cancelled or modified. If so, your guide will try to find reasonable alternatives where and whenever possible, but the cost for any such cancelled or modified excursions/activities will not be refunded.
This tour is a combination of our Northern Lights Exploration in a Winter Wonderland and North Iceland and the Aurora tours so there may be a change of tour leader and travellers after Day 8.
The spectacular sky-light shows known as the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are frequently seen in Iceland from September through April, on clear and crisp nights. White and green are usually the dominant colours, but sometimes there are traces of red and blue also. The appearance of the Lights is of course at the discretion of Mother Nature, and sightings are not guaranteed.
Nordic Travel is 100% Australian owned and operated
|Price per person FROM:|
Includes: 14 nights accommodation in 3 star hotels all with private facilties and daily breakfast; arrival & departure airport transfer by coach; Fully escorted 12-day bus tour with English speaking guide; 3x light lunch, 4x dinners, 8 x midnight refreshments; Fjord Cruise on Breiðafjörður fjord and light lunch in Stykkishólmur; Visit to traditional shark curing farm; Hot spring Tasting with geothermally cooked bread and eggs; Visit to Icelandic horse stables & geothermal greenhouse; Visit to multimedia presentation at Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Information Center; Admission to Skógar folk museum and turf houses; Entrance with towel at Blue Lagoon; Visit to natural history & seal museum; Admission and guided tour at herring museum; Visit to local micro-beer brewery; Hot steam baked bread tasting in North Iceland; Entrance with towel at Mývatn Nature Baths; Snow shoe hike (or hike if no snow) in lava labyrinth; Visit to Mývatn bird museum; Visit to Christmas house & garden near Akureyri; Visit to Víðimýri turf church, Glaumbær folk museum & turf farm and tannery in Skagafjörður; Horse show, coffee & cake at local horse farm; Northern Lights fjord cruise from Reykjavik (in case of cancellation, tour is replaced by a dinner at Kopar Restaurant in Reykjavík); Northern Lights program during 12 evenings with a combination of lectures, presentations, film and guided searches for the Northern Lights; Use of winter & Northern Lights explorer equipment being simple non-slip snow & ice grippers, spikes for shoes and a flash light.
|North Iceland and the Aurora||8 days||Exploration of West and North Iceland||Oct - Mar|
|Northern Lights Exploration in a Winter Wonderland||8 days||Touring + nightly Northern Lights activities||Oct - Apr|
|Volcanoes, Glaciers & Northern Lights||5 days||Highlights of Iceland's south||Oct - Apr|