- Trek atop a tongue of the massive Vatnajökull glacier, and ride a boat among the icebergs of Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.
- Climb a black sand slope to the headland of Ingólfshöfdi, a private nature reserve where Iceland's first settlers landed.
- Explore bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and lava castles around Lake Mývatn.
- Hike up Reynisfjall mountain, one of the most beautiful coastal walks in southern Iceland.
Iceland is a land sculpted by lava and ice, where geysers burst and glaciers gleam and emerald valleys stretch all the way to the ocean. On an exhilarating journey, encounter this wonderland of geological extremes close up. Experience the mighty forces still shaping the landscape as you explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir National Park. Hike up Reynisfjall mountain, one of southern Iceland's most scenic coastal walks, and encounter stunning waterfalls. Trek across crackling glacial ice, float among blue icebergs in a spectacular glacial lake, and soak in turquoise thermal pools. Then discover the otherworldly bubbling mudpools and steam vents of Námaskarð, and the legends behind Dimmuborgir’s black volcanic formations.
Arrive in Reykjavík and transfer to a local restaurant in the heart of the city. After breakfast and a trip orientation, delve into this colorful capital on a guided tour through the Old Town. Spend the afternoon exploring the city on your own, taking in its eclectic architecture, warming up in a cozy café, or soaking in one of its many thermal baths. Tonight, gather for a welcome dinner.
Explore the geological wonders of Iceland’s Golden Circle. Traverse the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site located at the point where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and trace the shoreline of Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake. Visit the site of the world’s oldest still extant parliament, the Althing, convened in A.D. 930. Visit the waterfall of Öxarárfoss as well as Gullfoss, or “golden falls,” a powerful, 100-foot double cascade. Further east is the geothermal area of Geysir, a sulfurous landscape of mud pots, mineral formations, and the spouting Strokkur geyser. (3–4 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
Drive along Iceland's scenic southern coast towards the Eyjafjallajökull volcano whose 2010 eruption sent clouds of ash into the atmosphere of the North Atlantic. Visit the Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur to learn about the fiery forces that have shaped this island. Stop at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the foothills of the volcano, and visit the beautiful cascades of Skógafoss. This afternoon, arrive at Sólheimajökull, a vast glacial tongue that extends from the mighty Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Set out on a hike along a panoramic trail that provides breathtaking views of Eyjafjallajökull. (6–7 miles hiking, 5 hours)
Begin the day at the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara, then hike up the Reynisfjall mountain and cross to the picturesque village of Vík. Drive to the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, home to the Systrafoss waterfall and an unusual basalt rock formation known as the “church floor.” Later, continue to our hotel and have dinner. (4–6 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
Learn about the creation of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest national park, as we hike up to Svartifoss waterfall, framed by black basaltic columns. After a picnic lunch, get outfitted for a walk across the ice. Atop Svínafellsjökull, the tongue of one of Europe’s largest glaciers, explore chasms and crevasses sculpted by meltwater and see the moraine created by the glacier’s bulldozing power. (3 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
Embark on a hike on Ingólfshöfðdi headland, home to Iceland’s first Nordic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson. Explore this beautiful nature reserve, where puffins, great skuas, and other seabirds nest during part of the year. Continue to the spectacular Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, approaching its glassy waters on foot, and take a boat ride between floating icebergs calved from the glacier’s edge. (1-2 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Visit the Gamlabúð Folk Museum in Höfn. Then set out for one of Iceland’s most geologically active areas at Lake Mývatn, rich with lava pillars, volcanic cones, and bubbling mud pits. A birder’s paradise, the lake hosts more duck species than anywhere else in Europe. (6-7 hours driving)
Begin the day with a hike to the top of Námafjall, a towering volcanic mountain. Visit Krafla Geothermal Power Station and learn about this environmentally friendly way of tapping into Earth’s energy. Then head further east to the enormous Dettifoss waterfall, considered Europe's most powerful waterfall, and hike down to the edge of the falls. Continue to Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, one of the deepest canyons in Iceland. (10-12 miles hiking, 4–7 hours)
Today we explore the area of Myvatn. Make a short stop at Grjotagja, a rift crevasse. With its crystal clear warm water, this was once a popular place for bathing until geothermic changes made the water too hot for comfort. Hike across a lava desert to the Hverfjall crater, and then visit Dimmuborgir—a volcanic wonderland harboring elves and trolls, according to Icelandic folklore. Before flying back to Reykjavík, visit Goðafoss waterfall—one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. (3–4 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
From Reykjavík, drive south across the dramatic Reykjanes Peninsula and visit the “bridge between continents”—which spans a rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Cross the short footbridge, walking from one continent to another. Then continue to the lava fields of Grindavík, home to the famous Blue Lagoon. Enjoy a rejuvenating soak in its mineral-rich, turquoise waters. Afterward, transfer to Keflavík Airport for your flight home.