- Encounter stunning waterfalls, intriguing volcanic landscapes, from gurgling mud pots to curious lava towers.
- Meet with a marine biologist at a research center in Húsavík before a whale-watching excursion.
- Experience the majesty and mythology of Snæfellsnes, home to black-pebble beaches; lava caves; and sweeping, verdant slopes featured in Game of Thrones.
- Stay at Hotel Húsafell, a National Geographic Unique 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 the country’s less traveled corners to experience its raw beauty and the hardy and inventive culture that has developed on this far-flung island. See stunning waterfalls, and descend into a massive lava tube. Visit traditional turf farmhouses, and spend time in small fishing villages from Húsavík to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Arrive at Keflavik International Airport, 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 democratic parliament in the world at Thingvellir National Park, set along the shores of Iceland’s largest lake. Since the parliament first convened in 903 A.D., the walls of the surrounding canyon have drifted further apart, pulled by the tectonic plates that converge 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 few 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 Hotel Húsafell, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World situated amid rolling hills at the edge of the wild highlands. Along the way, embark on a thrilling 4X4 excursion to get up close to Iceland’s second largest glacier, the mighty Langjökull. Stop at Deildartunguhver thermal springs, whose abundant waters provide central heating for nearby towns. Descend into Vidgelmir, a vast lava cave that has yielded traces of Viking habitation then visit two gorgeous waterfalls: Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Tonight, enjoy a delightful dinner with a view at the hotel.
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 to visit a waterfall and to learn about traditional life in Iceland at the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum, housed within authentic turf farmhouses. Settle in for the night in the seaside town of Siglufjörður.
Take 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.
Pay a visit to the Krafla Power Station to see how geothermal energy is harnessed to generate 500 GWh of clean energy annually. Trace the edge of Viti Crater, created by an eruption in 1724, and take in the otherworldly beauty of its steaming 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, 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, hissing fumaroles, and steaming springs at Námaskarð, and later encounter a different kind of volcanic landscape amid the lava towers of Dimmuborgir, a whimsical landscape thought to connect Earth with 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 witha 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. Continue to the airport in Keflavik for your flight home.