ARRIVE REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND
Arrive in Reykjavík and transfer to your modern boutique hotel in the city center. Tonight, join fellow guests for a welcome dinner.
REYKJAVÍK | True Cosmopolitan Capital
Spend the day exploring both the contemporary and traditional sides of this cultured coastal capital. Start with a visit to a small workshop, where a local craftsman reveals the tradition of Nordic knife-making, which dates back to the Viking era. Continue to the National Museum of Iceland, which tells the story of Iceland’s founding through some 2,000 objects, including a medieval ship of the type used to settle the island. You then visit Hallgrímskirkja church, the city’s most prominent landmark, inspired by the towering forms of Iceland’s volcanic landscapes. Stop by some Icelandic design shops, and then take a private tour of the Harpa, a cutting-edge performance center built in 2011 to stage everything from jazz quintets to operas. This award-winning structure features a striking colored glass façade designed to evoke Iceland’s basalt landscape. Venture out of town to your rustic 52-room hotel in the countryside.
THORSMORK | Forces of Nature
After breakfast, embark on a Super Jeep tour through Thorsmork (Thor’s Valley), a vast nature reserve of snowy peaks, jade-green slopes and glacial rivers trickling through dark volcanic earth. In a land already known for scenic beauty, Thorsmork is a gem among gems, and a paradise for trekkers and photographers. Explore today with a skilled driver-guide, who leads you along the trails and rivers while discussing the reserve’s history, geology and wildlife.
SOUTH ICELAND | A Stunning Coastal Drive
Along with the Amalfi Coast and Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, the shore of southern Iceland offers one of the most scenic drives in all of Europe. Enjoy a morning’s drive along this enticing coastline, stopping to explore waterfalls, black sand beaches and glaciers. Perched atop two adjoining tectonic plates, Iceland is one of the most seismologically active places in the world; learn how this has shaped the island with a visit to the Lava Center, where state-of-the-art exhibits reveal the fascinating facts behind earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural forces. By contrast, the Skogar Folk Museum tells a more human story, depicting life in Iceland from the Viking era and through the subsequent centuries.
HÚSAFELL & WEST ICELAND | Saga Sites
Thingvellir National Park is that rare locale that is significant both as a scenic wonder and a cultural treasure: a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament more than 1,000 years ago. It’s also one of the few places you can straddle two continents at once, as the conjunction of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates is exposed here. After exploring the park, continue to Friðheimar, a geothermally heated organic greenhouse, for a tour and freshly prepared lunch. Next, visit the regularly erupting Strokkur geyser and stunning Gullfoss, where milky green glacial water plummets down Iceland’s most famous waterfall. Dine tonight at your sustainable boutique hotel surrounded by Icelandic nature.
HÚSAFELL & WEST ICELAND | Langjökull Ice Cap
Begin today’s adventure at Deildartunguhver, the highest-flow hot spring in Europe, which provides heat to villages and towns up to 40 miles away. This is followed by stops at Hraunfossar and fabled Barnafoss waterfalls. After lunch, ride in a specially equipped eight-wheel truck on the colossal Langjökull ice cap — Europe’s second-largest glacier — which, at its highest point, sits 4,760 feet above sea level. Descend into man-made tunnels carved deep into the glacier, exploring stages of glacial formation, blue-hued dens and even a chapel.
SIGLUFJÖRÐUR & NORTH ICELAND | The Sea
Journey to the working fishing village of Siglufjörður, stopping en route at Skagafjorður Heritage Museum, which recreates life on a 19th-century estate, even reproducing a village street with a blacksmith and carpenter. Follow this with lunch in quaint Blönduós. The glacial river Blanda flows through this small town, giving it a serene and scenic air. Continue to Hofsós for a dip in a thermal swimming pool, set on a hillside overlooking the sea, and designed by the same architect behind Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. This is one of the most renowned pools in Iceland and is a favorite of locals. Dinner tonight is at your boutique hotel in the heart of a small fishing village.
DALVIK | A Seagoing Safari
Icelandic waters are home to more than the game fish that have made fishing one of the country’s biggest industries. There are also some 20 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises swimming off these shores, everything from the small harbor porpoise to the massive blue whale, still the largest animal ever to have lived on the earth. Join an experienced crew of whale- and dolphin-spotters for an extraordinary safari at sea, and see how many of these amazing creatures you encounter. Orcas (also known as killer whales) also frequent these waters, along with humpback whales, sperm whales, minke whales and white-beaked dolphins. Following your voyage, enjoy time at leisure to explore pretty Siglufjörður. In addition to its scenic attractions, the town offers a pair of small museums (devoted to herring and folk music), charming local architecture and several inviting cafés.
AKUREYRI & REYKJAVÍK | Coastal Culture
Venture to Akureyri, Iceland’s buzzy small city on the north coast. Visit its botanical gardens, among the northernmost of their kind and home to over 400 species of native flora. After lunch, explore the beautiful old town on a walking tour. Depart for the airport and fly to Reykjavík, where you check in to your hotel. Tonight, your farewell dinner features traditional Icelandic dishes.
This morning, enjoy breakfast before your flight home.