- Encounter stunning waterfalls and intriguing volcanic landscapes, from bubbling mud pots to curious lava towers.
- Meet with a marine biologist at a research center in Húsavík before embarking on a whale-watching excursion.
- Experience the majesty and mythology of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, home to black-pebble beaches; lava caves; and sweeping, verdant slopes.
- Stay at a sustainable lodge where local art, cuisine, and Nordic design converge.
Blanketed with lava fields and glaciers and simmering with volcanic activity, Iceland is full of geological surprises. Set out into some of the country’s less traveled corners to experience its raw beauty and the innovative culture that has developed on this far-flung island. See stunning waterfalls, and descend into a massive lava cave. Visit traditional turf farmhouses, and spend time in small communities, from the fishing village of Siglufjörður, to the tiny island of Hrísey.
Arrive at Keflavik Airport (KEF), and transfer to our hotel in the heart of Reykjavík. Set out on an afternoon walking tour of downtown Reykjavík, then gather for a lively welcome dinner tonight.
Spend today discovering the sites of the legendary Golden Circle. Hear about the oldest surviving democratic parliament in the world at Thingvellir National Park, set along the shores of Iceland’s second largest lake. Since the parliament first convened in A.D. 930, the walls of the surrounding canyon have drifted further apart, pulled by the tectonic plates that diverge here. Continue to Geysir, a hotbed of geothermal activity where fumaroles steam and geysers burst high into the air. Linger at Strokkur Geyser to catch its dramatic eruptions every 15 or so minutes. After a lunch of regional specialties, visit the magnificent falls of Gullfoss, where a wide, two-tiered wall of water tumbles into a narrow gorge. Return to Reykjavík and check out the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene on your own tonight.
Drive inland to our sustainable hotel situated amid rolling hills at the edge of the central highlands. Stop at Deildartunguhver thermal spring, whose abundant and powerful waters provide central heating for nearby towns. Descend into Viðgelmir, a vast lava cave that has yielded traces of Viking habitation, then visit two gorgeous waterfalls: Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Tonight, enjoy a delightful dinner while gazing out at the surrounding landscape from the hotel restaurant’s panoramic windows.
Spend a full day exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, where sweeping mountains harbor all manner of geological and mythological curiosities. See spectacular Kirkjufell, a lone peak that has been featured in Game of Thrones; then follow the coast to the black-pebble beach at Djúpalónssandur.
This morning, journey to Iceland’s northern reaches, stopping along the way at a picturesque waterfall and at the natural volcanic plug of Borgarvirki, used as an ancient fortress. After lunch in a seaside town, visit Iceland's oldest stone church at Hólar í Hjaltadal and learn about the archaeological excavations here. Continue to the enchanting town of Siglufjörður, nestled between the mountains and the sea, and settle into our hotel, perched right on the marina.
Visit the Herring Museum Exhibition before taking a morning ferry to Hrísey, a tiny island in Eyjafjörður fjord, known for its abundant birdlife. Hop in a farm wagon for an island tour, and keep your eye out for ptarmigans walking nonchalantly down the street. Continue to majestic Goðafoss, named “the waterfall of the gods” after a pagan leader threw idols of Norse gods over the falls when Iceland embraced Christianity a thousand years ago. Spend tonight in Mývatn, one of Iceland’s most geothermally active areas.
Trace the edge of Víti Crater, created by an eruption in 1724, and take in the otherworldly beauty of its turquoise lake. Walk among the unique rock formations of the horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi, a canyon created—according to legend—by a hoof print of a Norse god’s eight-legged horse. Encounter the sheer might of Dettifoss, often reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, before returning to Mývatn.
Begin the day with a revitalizing soak at the Mývatn Nature Baths, mineral hot springs set within a dramatic lava landscape. Then venture into Grjótagjá Cave to see a stunning underground spring heated by volcanic activity. Wander through a stark terrain of bubbling mud pools and hissing fumaroles at Námaskarð, and later encounter a different kind of volcanic landscape amid the lava towers of Dimmuborgir, which legend claims to be a gateway to the underworld. Continue to the waterfront town of Akureyri for the night.
Journey north to Húsavik, the island’s “whale capital,” for a visit to a University of Iceland research center. Here, meet with a marine biologist and learn about research supported by National Geographic to monitor cetacean populations and bycatch—unwanted fish that are captured during large-scale fishing operations— leading to decimated fish populations. Then head out on a thrilling whale-watching excursion, searching for humpback, minke, and blue whales. Take advantage of a free afternoon to explore Akureyri before gathering to toast our journey.
Take a morning flight from Akureyri to Reykjavík’s domestic airport and drive to the Blue Lagoon for a final soak in Iceland’s mineral-rich volcanic waters. Transfer to Keflavik Airport (KEF) and catch your flight home.