Travelers from all over the world are drawn to the island of ‘Fire and Ice’ as it offers some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes and awe-inspiring scenery. In fact, the descent into Iceland could lead one to believe that they have been transported to an alternative planet as the view from the plane is suddenly interrupted by endless miles of moss-grown lava fields! As you explore the island, the abundance of natural wonder quickly begins to reveal itself. Many of the country’s national treasures can be found along the country’s southern coast however, the northern and western coastlines possess their own unique beauty and natural diversity.
Icelandic journeys often begin in the northernmost capital of the world, Reykjavik, which is surrounded by wonderous backdrops and endless views of the turquoise blue sea. Here you can immerse yourself in Icelandic culture as you meet warmhearted locals, explore the city and visit prominent landmarks, shops and art galleries that allow you to connect with Iceland’s past and present.
As you venture out of Reykjavik, you will be immediately captivated by limitless horizons, majestic waterfalls and epic rock formations found within the island’s lava coastline. Thermal pools and hot springs are plentiful. Volcanos are active and glaciers are waiting to be explored. Boat excursions are very much a part of the Icelandic experience, as are whale watching and fishing expeditions. Take the ferry to Tiny Grimsey, an inhabited island known for its location as it is exactly where the Arctic Circle crosses.
Visiting Iceland in the fall and winter months presents unique experiences only available at that time of year such as “The Crystal Cave,” which will dazzle you. Weather permitting, explore the highlands, find a hidden thermal pool or simply take in the evening stars. Thrill seekers can take to the top of the snowcapped glaciers via snowmobile. Any, finally, on the coldest of nights the skies are illuminated by the glorious Northern Lights.
Itinerary 1: Iceland
Days 1 & 2: Reykjavik
Begin your stay in Iceland with a walking tour of the city. Visit famous landmarks, museums and browse through local boutiques and eateries. Take in the charm of its colorful picturesque homes, beautiful churches and museums. Inside the heart of Reykjavik, what most call Old Reykjavik, the National Museum of Iceland and the Arts Museum provide an excellent overview of Iceland’s history and culture. Head to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church, an emblematic structure representing the night landscapes and extreme elements for which Iceland is known. Walk to Old Harbor where you will be drawn to Harpa, the Icelandic Arts Center, whose epic and innovative Nordic design is unlike any structure on earth.
Embark on a two-hour whale watching expedition. Humpbacks, orcas and minkie whales are plentiful during the summer months and it is with utmost certainty that you will come into contact with one or more of these magnificent creatures.
Foodies will not be disappointed as Iceland’s local fare does not disappoint. Delectable farm-to-table cuisine includes dishes that range from succulent Icelandic lamb served with densely steamed Dark Rye Bread to freshly caught smoked haddock paired with potatoes and local sykr yogurt. For those missing the comfort foods of home, make a stop to Bæjarins beztu Icelandic hot dog stand while in Rekjeiavik, a local favorite! And not for the faint of heart, sample a taste of the overly potent fermented shark.
Day 3: Golden Circle
Iceland’s “Golden Circle” will allow you to get up-close and personal with geysers Geysir and Strokkur; experience the fury of Gullfoss, Iceland’s “Golden waterfall”; walk along the crater of Kerið and take a short hike through Thingvellir National Park. Then head to Langjökull glacier for a little adventure. Once you arrive at the top of the glacier, join a one-hour snowmobile tour.
Days 4 & 5: Vik area
Visit the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, situated along the Seljalandsá river, where guests can actually walk behind the cascading falls along a pathway. Horseback ride through acres of lush countryside on an Icelandic horse, which have a distinctive look, small boxy shape and gentle disposition.
Continue your journey east to the towering Skógafoss waterfall—curious travelers can experience its powerful rush from both the bottom and top of the falls. You can choose to climb the 400+ mountain sketched steps to the top of the highland where you will have the opportunity to experience the tranquility Skógá river or hike the popular Fimmvorduhals trail.
The most famous of Iceland’s black beaches can be found outside of Vik. Reynisfjara’s ominous black volcanic sands and gusty shoreline draws you in but proceed with caution towards the unforgiving wave breaks. Synonymous with Reynisfjara are the distinguished basalt columns of Reynisdrangar. The two are often photographed together as they exude the juxtapositions for which Iceland is known.
Be overwhelmed by the beauty of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and taken back by shimming icebergs washed up on the iconic black volcanic sands of Diamond Beach. Take a boat tour through the lagoon as the captain navigates through icebergs as they break-off into the great Atlantic sea.
Day 6: Westman Islands/Vik
Drive to Landeyjahoefn for a half-day trip to the Westman Islands where you can visit Heimaey, the Pompeii of the North. This is the largest of the islands known for a volcanic eruption in 1973. Heimaey appeals to birdwatchers as it is home the largest puffin colony in the North Atlantic.
Day 7: ATV Tour/Reykjavik
A three-hour ATV tour along less traveled paths through the highlands and mountains takes you between two of Iceland‘s most famous and notorious volcanos, Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull. You will cross small rivers and visit waterfalls and caves along the way. Head back to Reykjavik for the evening where you can enjoy a four-hour private Reykjavik gourmet walk including food, beer & wine tasting.
Day 8: Blue Lagoon/Reykjavik
End your Icelandic visit with a rejuvenating soak in the famous healing waters of the iconic Blue Lagoon, named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic. Enjoy a transformative, luxury-filled day at the Blue Lagoon Retreat Hotel & Spa.
Day 9: Depart for home