Arrive in Reykjavik, and transfer to your modern boutique hotel in the city centre. Tonight, join fellow guests for a welcome dinner. Stay: Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre (D)
Spend the day exploring both the contemporary and traditional sides of this cultured coastal capital. Start with a visit 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 Hallgrimskirkja church, the city's most prominent landmark. Pause to take in the exterior of the Harpa, a cutting-edge performance centre built in 2011. This award-winning structure features a striking coloured-glass façade designed to evoke Iceland's basalt landscape.
Proceed to the Blue Lagoon for lunch and to experience its invigorating waters. The lagoon is fed by natural runoff from a clean geothermal powerplant, emerging rich in silica that lends the water its unmistakable blue hue. The water is also high in salts and algae, giving it therapeutic benefits sworn to by visitors from all corners of the world. Relax and enjoy the soothing pools amid beautiful volcanic landscapes.
Continue to the Reykjanes peninsula at the southwestern end of Iceland, a stark volcanic landscape of black lava fields and smouldering, sulphurous craters. Nearby Krysuvikurbjarg, which you visit next, is a series of cliffs known for harbouring a range of birdlife as well as an area strong in Icelandic folk tradition. Following your visit, transfer to your hotel. Stay: Landhotel (B/L/D)
After breakfast, embark on a Super Jeep tour through Thorsmork (“Valley of Thor”), 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, 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.
After working up an appetite in the great outdoors, stop in the midst of the wild for an al fresco barbecue lunch, taking in the fresh air and striking beauty of this rugged natural setting. Stay: Landhotel (B/L/D)
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 and black-sand beaches.
Iceland is one of the world’s most seismologically active places; 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, volcanos and other natural forces. By contrast, the Skogar Folk Museum tells a more human story, depicting life in Iceland from the Viking era and beyond. Stay: Landhotel (B/L/D)
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 Fridheimar, 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. Your adventure continues at Deildartunguhver, the highest-flow hot spring in Europe, which provides heat to villages and towns up to 65 kilometres away. Relax in thermal baths fed by the hot spring's invigorating waters, then enjoy a dinner of fresh, local, farm-produced ingredients overlooking this powerful natural wonder. Stay: Hotel Husafell (B/L/D)
Enjoy a visit to the magnificent lava tube Vidgelmir Cave. The lava tube was formed around the year 900 and is the largest volcanic cave in Iceland. Don a helmet and headlamp to explore the otherworldly interior, taking in the amazing colours and formations that lay hidden in darkness for centuries. Following your cave visit, gather at a local bistro for lunch.
Then, ride in a specially equipped eight-wheeled truck on the colossal Langjokull ice cap — Europe's second-largest glacier — which, at its highest point, sits 1,450 metres 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. Stay: Hotel Husafell (B/L/D)
Today, enjoy stops at Hraunfossar and fabled Barnafoss waterfall. Then, visit a local family farm in Hvalfjordur, a beautiful fjord in West Iceland. Due to the fjord's depth, the U.S. Navy was able to keep their warships hidden here during World War II. Experience Icelandic life firsthand at a local farm that has been in the same family since 1887 and where three generations now live together. You also taste delicious food and drink produced by the farmers, some of which are prize winners, such as smoked blueberry-cured mutton, smoked lamb and home-brewed dandelion wine.
In the afternoon, return to Reykjavik to embark on a thrilling whale-watching boat ride. About 20 species, such as blue whales, fin whales, minkes and humpbacks, each with its own characteristics and behaviours, visit Icelandic waters throughout the year. Marvel as these magnificent giants surface, sometimes within a few yards of your vessel, affording you an unforgettable, up-close wildlife encounter. Afterward, head to the city centre, where you enjoy dinner at a restaurant specializing in traditional Icelandic cuisine. Stay: Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre (B/L/D)
Enjoy breakfast before your flight home. (B)
A&K's Tours & Cruises