Day 1 – Welcome to Reykjavik
On arrival at the airport, you’ll be warmly greeted by our experienced Icelandic guide and escorted to your hotel for an early breakfast before touring the capital. Your sightseeing takes you along the city’s spectacular coastline and harbor district and through the vibrant university area and colorful Old Quarter with its traditional wooden homes. From the glass-domed Pearl, an innovative building that showcases sustainable Icelandic architecture and design, you’ll have terrific views of Reykjavik. You’ll also see the Hofdi House, the simple, turn-of-the-century clapboard house where Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1986, the historic event that effectively marked the end of the Cold War. Finally, a guided visit through the Northern Lights Center reveals the science, popular stories and ancient legends that surround the Aurora Borealis; spectacular Northern Lights images from top Icelandic photographers are also on display… It’s the perfect introduction to the upcoming expeditions that will take you out into the night in search of this unforgettable spectacle. Then check in to the Alda Hotel where you’ll have time to relax before a congenial welcome dinner with wine and beer.
Later this evening, weather permitting, you’ll set out with your guide to search for the Northern Lights. This excursion will take you outside of the city where the near-total darkness vastly improves your chances to witness one of the most amazing spectacles on the planet. If the conditions this evening are not favorable, this excursion may be rescheduled for tomorrow. (B+D)
Day 2 – Explore the Golden Circle
Travel to Thingvellir National Park, a unique geological site where two tectonic plates meet. On the shores of Lake Thingvallavatn, you’ll see the world’s oldest democratic Parliament, founded more than 1,000 years ago! Then thrill to one of Iceland’s most famous geological wonders – the Strokkur Geyser that regularly erupts 100 feet into the air. At the Golden Waterfall, you’ll thrill to a thunderous cascade of icy water that plunges into a deep gorge. Then spend time on a family-owned village farm where you’ll see Icelandic horses, have lunch, and learn how greenhouse vegetables are able to thrive in this northerly climate.
In the afternoon, you’ll delight in a rejuvenating visit to the Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths. The fun begins as a sealed loaf pan is dug out of the hot earth. Served fresh from the ground with locally churned Icelandic butter, this home-made, Earth-baked bread is a tasty way to experience the island’s geothermal forces. Situated on the shores of Lake Laugarvatn, the Fontana Baths offer a variety of geothermal pools for you to enjoy this afternoon; varying in depth and temperature, they’re all filled from natural hot springs that have been harnessed for this purpose for almost a century. Return to your city-center hotel where your evening is at leisure. Our in-the-know guide will be happy to make personal dining recommendations.
If weather conditions last night were not favorable, tonight offers another chance to join your guide for our Northern Lights excursion outside of the city. (B+L)
Day 3 – Onward to Akureyri
After a leisurely breakfast and relaxing start to your day, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight to Akureyri. Set between mountains and sea on the picturesque north coast of Iceland, this captivating town boasts charming architecture and a thriving cultural scene of restaurants, cafes, galleries and boutiques. On arrival, your guided city tour is a fantastic introduction to its history and modern-day vibrancy. Upon checking in to the 4-star Hotel Kea, you’ll have time to settle in and relax.
Later this evening, you’ll set out in an all-terrain Super Jeep venturing 65 miles into the rugged landscapes around Lake Myvatn to the Myvatn Nature Baths. With its soothing, mineral-rich waters naturally heated to between 97° and 104°, this is a wonderful place to end the day and this evening’s adventure. With clear conditions, the return drive to Akureyri offers another chance to observe the shimmering display of the Aurora Borealis. (B+D)
Day 4 – Local Flavors of the Northern Coast
Today’s exclusive excursion reveals the tastes and traditions of this remote region. Traveling along the rugged coast to visit small rural villages and by ferry to the picturesque island of Hrisey, you’ll spend time with residents who are eager to share their gastronomic knowledge – much of it passed down from generation to generation. These friendly Icelanders will offer authentic insight into their lives as fishermen, micro-brewers and farmers. Along the way, you’ll get to sample some wonderful, locally sourced products including beer, salted cod and fresh fish. (B)
Day 5 – The Eyjafjordur Coast
With spectacular mountains and pristine seas, North Iceland’s longest fjord is a wonderful place to explore. Despite its northern latitude not far from the Arctic Circle, the winter temperatures here are surprisingly mild - with December to February lows averaging above 20°. Indeed, despite the rugged terrain, the Eyjafjordur is a land of sheltered farms, quiet fishing villages, beautiful old churches, and nearly deserted black sand beaches – all steeped in Viking history. Accompanied by our expert guide, you’ll spend this day discovering the enduring traditions, inspiring beauty and captivating way of life here along the fjord’s coast.
In the small seaside town of Siglufjordur, set in a narrow fjord of the same name, you’ll tour the award-winning Herring Era Museum. Set in historic buildings like a 1907 fish-salting station and bunkhouse and a 1930’s-era fishmeal and oil factory, this unique museum showcases the history and gripping true-life stories of Iceland’s maritime legacy – especially the herring industry which played an enormous role in the country’s development throughout the 20th century. Back in Akureyri, your evening is free to relax, explore and dine as you wish. (B)
Day 6 – Return to Reykjavik
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight back to the capital. On arrival, you’ll be escorted once again to the Alda Hotel. Take advantage of our hotel’s city-center location to explore and enjoy more of Reykjavik at your own pace. This evening’s farewell dinner is at one of our favorite restaurants in the city. (B+D)
Day 7 – Farewell Reykjavik
We’ll take you to the airport today for your flight home. If you wish, you can check out a bit earlier and delight in a swim in the famous Blue Lagoon before continuing to the airport. (B)