Venture to the Icelandic countryside to celebrate Christmas. Winter is a magical time of the year to visit Iceland - the air is crisp, the ground is snowy and magic is in the air. Enjoy two nights in Reykjavik and two nights in the countryside, exploring Southwest Iceland. Famous for its natural wonders and cultural sites, this area is also known for glittering glaciers, snow-clad mountains, giant lava fields and steaming hot springs. Bathe in the mineral rich geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, walk on a black lava beach, visit an Icelandic horse farm, travel close to famous Eyjafjallajökull Volcano and more. In the evenings, while in the countryside, soak in an outdoor hot tub at your accommodation and gaze at the Arctic night skies, to search for the Aurora. The chances of seeing the lights are much better here, as you are far away from light pollution.
23 December Reykjavik Arrival
Coach transfer from Keflavík Airport to your hotel or nearest bus stop in Reykjavik. The small, city centre is characterised by eclectic, colourful houses, good shopping and dining. Having been recently established as a haven for food lovers, numerous restaurants take great 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. Overnight in Reykjavik.
24 December Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon & Christmas Celebration
At 09:00hrs, meet your guide and fellow travellers, to start your tour. See the Christmas spirit of Iceland's capital, then head out to Reykjanes Peninsula with its hot springs, bird cliffs, mountains, lighthouses and fishing villages. At the day's end, soak off your travels in the warm blue waters of the famous Blue Lagoon. We then stay for two nights in South Iceland.
In the evening, celebrate Christmas the Icelandic way. Before dinner, join a guided bus tour to visit the Christmas lights in the villages of Hvolsvöllur and Hella. The traditional Christmas lights had their origins in the Middle Ages when people needed to keep the lights in their abodes during the Winter Solstice. In Iceland, the tradition finds its roots in the Pagan Old Norse beliefs when people would keep the fire alive inside the central pit of the Viking longhouses to keep the darkness of the Winter Solstice outside. Your festive dinner is served at Árhús Restaurant on the river banks in Hella, which is a small village in South Iceland. Drink a toast of sparkling wine as you enjoy a special Icelandic Christmas Celebration.
Once darkness falls, you can search for the Northern Lights from the darkness of the hotel gardens.
25 December South Iceland and optional Glacier Hike
Today we head along the south coast and reach an area near the active Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which lies beneath Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. We stop at the high, narrow Seljalandsfoss Waterfall which plunges from the mountain. Next, we visit Skógar Folk Museum, which contains an outstanding collection of farm and domestic artefacts from Iceland's past and several turf-built houses. Nearby is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the country - the 60m high Skógafoss Waterfall.
Afternoon optional glacier hike. Sólheimajökull glacier tongue extends from the great Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, down to the South Coast's sandy plains. The spectacular surroundings are marked by rugged and majestic rock formations thoroughly shaped by the glacier. On this fun, safe and easy/moderate glacier walk, you get to explore the wonderland of ice sculptures, water cauldrons, ridges and deep crevasses on breathtaking Sólheimajökull Glacier. While enjoying all of the glacier's features, you will learn more about the behaviour of glaciers and their impact on nature. No experience needed - your expert glacier guide will be with you at all times and will teach you how to use the crampons and ice axe. This special experience, one of the many retreating glaciers of the world is sure to leave lasting memories. Duration 3hrs - approx. 90mins on the ice and a 30-40min walk, each way, from the car park to to the glacier's edge. You will need to book this hike in advance, please enquire.
If you do not wish to do the glacier hike, you will (instead) continue further south, to stroll on the unique black lava beaches next to the amazing bird cliffs at Reynisfjara, near Vík. If the night is clear, you might see the lights swirling in a wild and carefree dance across the heavens in dramatic shapes, colours, patterns and sizes from the hotel gardens.
26 December Icelandic Horses, Golden Circle and Culinary Experience
This morning, we visit a local stable to learn about the history and special qualities of unique, Icelandic horses. Then it is onwards to a geothermal greenhouse - Iceland relies heavily on geothermal energy and a huge amount of food is grown in large, heated greenhouses. Then, as you approach the Geysir geothermal fields, you will see steam rising from a distance. Here there are a variety of hot springs and bubbling pools including Strokkur (the Churn), which erupts at 5-10 minute intervals. Continue to Gullfoss (Golden Falls), a double waterfall that tumbles 34m into the Hvítá River - a wonderful sight in winter. Then inland to Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before returning for your final night in Reykjavik. Today's program includes a culinary treat at a traditional restaurant located in downtown Reykjavík, return hotel transfer included.
27 December Reykjavik Departure
Coach transfer from your hotel or nearest bus stop to Keflavik Airport where your tour arrangements end.
2024 departure: 23 December
Maximum group size: 40 persons
This tour is offered with two accommodation options:-
Budget: Hotel Cabin, Reykjavik (or similar) and Árhús Cottages, Hella
Comfort: Klettur Hotel, Reykjavík (or similar) and Hotel Stracta, Hella
Pre and post nights can be added in Reykjavík - please enquire