Across the island from Reykjavik to Akureyri and the beautiful northern fjords, our expert guides will immerse you in the life, history, culture and cuisine of their homeland. Relaxing geothermal lagoons and excursions to hunt for the Aurora Borealis far from city lights complete our winter Iceland adventure!
Day 1 – Welcome to Reykjavik
On arrival at the airport, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the city center. First, we’ll take you to the stylish Apotek 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 Apotek Hotel where A+R guests enjoy an upgrade to Superior Rooms. Later this evening, you’ll enjoy a congenial welcome dinner with wine and beer. Meals B+D
Day 2 – Akureyri + The Northern Fjords
After a leisurely breakfast, 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, set out with your engaging guide to discover the pristine beauty and timeless traditions that endure along the fjords of the northern coast. Along the way, you’ll explore the colorful harborfront of Dalvik, a small but thriving fishing port, and walk along a pristine black sand beach. In the seaside community 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 heritage – especially the herring industry which played an enormous role in the country’s development through the 20th century. Before returning to Akureyri, you’ll also visit Iceland’s first micro-brewery where you’ll enjoy a tasting of their craft beers.
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. Enjoy a leisurely 3-night stay at the charming Hotel Kea in the heart of town. Meals B
Day 3 – Life in the Far North
In the engaging company of your Icelandic guide, today’s specially arranged touring will immerse you in the timeless traditions and daily life of the folks who live in this wildly beautiful part of the island. Stopping by several small countryside churches is a wonderful way to gain deeper insight into the country’s strong Christian heritage – one that traces its roots to the 11th century when Norse Gods were outlawed and Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the island.
Sit down to lunch at a unique and inviting café set on a working farm and delight in true Icelandic hospitality as we introduce you to local residents – intimate experiences you won’t find on other tours. Tonight, we’ll take you out of town once again into the still and dark countryside to search for the Aurora Borealis. Meals B+L
Day 4 – Waterfall of the Gods + Lake Myvatn
After breakfast, the day’s sightseeing begins with the spectacular Godafoss Waterfall! Behold this thundering cascade that plunges 40 feet across a chasm that stretches nearly 100 feet across, and hear the colorful tale of how it got its name… In the year 1000 after Christianity was declared the official religion of Iceland, statues of Norse Gods were hurled into the Falls – earning these cascades its name as the “Waterfall of the Gods.” Then discover the unusual lava pillars and other striking volcanic formations of the aptly named “Dark Castles.” Continue to the steaming fumaroles of Hverir and a warm, startlingly clear underground river at the Grjotagja Rift.
Your sightseeing ends at the Myvatn Natural Baths where you can unwind in steaming geothermal pools surrounded by lava fields overlooking Lake Myvatn. For lunch, you’ll enjoy traditional Icelandic specialties prepared from locally-sourced products - accompanied by bread freshly baked in the Earth using only natural geothermal heat! Before returning to your hotel, you’ll also tour the Sigurgeirs Bird Museum, an astonishing private collection devoted to the many unique bird species that nest here in Iceland. Tonight you’ll dine at a stylish local restaurant highly regarded for its regional specialties. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 – Fly Back to Reykjavik
This morning, 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 Apotek Hotel in the heart of the city. The balance of your afternoon and evening are free to enjoy as you wish. Reykjavik is a friendly, easy-to-navigate city and our hotel’s central location makes it convenient to step out and explore at your own pace. Meals B
Day 6 – Explore the Golden Circle
Travel to Thingvellir National Park, a unique geological site where two tectonic plates meet – and the only place where you can see the Mid-Atlantic Rift above sea level. As you descend into the valley, the steep cliffs that you’ll see are quite literally the edge of North America; as you continue to the other side of the Park, you’ll be ascending onto the Eurasian Continent! Reaching the tranquil 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 behold a thunderous cascade of icy water that plunges into a deep gorge.
Today you’ll also visit a skyr facility to see how Iceland’s unique yogurt is made – and to enjoy a tasting of this fresh, healthful local favorite. 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. End your day at one of Iceland’s most famous natural wonders. The geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon originate more than 6,000 feet below ground and reach the Earth’s surface at temperatures that usually range from 98 º to 104º. On its way to the surface, these waters absorb silica and other minerals that give the Lagoon its distinctive and captivating blue color. Then return to your hotel in Reykjavik where the evening is free to relax, enjoy and dine as you wish. Meals B+L
Day 7 - Farewell Reykjavik
We’ll take you to the airport today for your flight home. Meals B