Explore the dramatic landscapes of Iceland during its most vivid season. In the winter months, this small island nation is transformed into a magical world of black lava fields blanketed in snow, waterfalls flowing amid shimmering ice, and night skies painted with the Northern Lights and their great cascades of color. On our new winter journey, experience the extreme contrasts of Iceland’s fire and ice as we trek across snow-covered fields shrouded in geothermal steam, weather sub-zero temperatures from the warmth of outdoor thermal baths, and take in views of a glacier-capped volcano.
See the Northern Lights at their brightest, weather permitting, far from civilization's glow.
See how Vikings lived at the Eiriksstadir Living Museum, including Erik the Red’s farm and birthplace of Leif Eriksson, said to have discovered America.
Experience volcanism, exploring lava fields, the Eldborg (Fire Fortress) spatter cone and Vatnshellir lava cave.
Stay in the heart of Stykkishólmur, a charming Icelandic fishing village, and enjoy whale watching and hiking along nearby black-sand beaches.
Activity Level: Moderate
We will be hiking 1 to 3 hours per day (3 to 5 miles) on moderate to steep grades, in variable weather conditions. Most days will have options for more, or less, hiking.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Reykjavík
Arrive in Reykjavík and transfer to our hotel located near the waterfront and offering scenic views over Faxaflói Bay. After breakfast, 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 at a downtown restaurant.
CenterHotel Arnarhvoll (B, D)
Day 2 — Golden Circle/ Reykjavík
Get introduced to Iceland’s scenic countryside on a tour of the celebrated Golden Circle. Start at Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site located at the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The park is also home to Althing, the world’s oldest — and still operating — parliament. After lunching at a local farm, continue to Geysir, the hot-water jet stream for which all other geysers are named. End the day at Gullfoss, a powerful waterfall especially picturesque in the winter when its double cascades shimmer amid ice and snow. Tonight enjoy an evening at leisure in Reykjavík. Centerhotel Arnarhvoll (B, L)
Day 3 — West Iceland
Travel through the wild and rugged landscapes of West Iceland, and climb the slopes of Mt. Hestfjall for views over the vast plains of this stunning countryside. After lunch, visit two impressive waterfalls: the Hraunfossar, a series of gentle cascades flowing directly from a lava field, and the more powerful Barnafoss. Walk through the steam-shrouded geothermal fields surrounding nearby Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring. Finish the day in Borgarnes and learn about the discovery and settlement of Iceland, as well as the country’s fascinating Saga era, at the town’s Settlement Centre. (2–3 miles hiking, 2–3 hours) Icelandair Hotel Hamar (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Our exploration of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula begins at Snæfellsjökull National Park, a remote, otherworldly landscape with a glacier-capped volcano at its center. Trek across the Eldborgarhraun lava field to the majestic Eldborg, or Fire Fortress, a symmetric volcanic spatter cone whose slopes rise nearly 200 feet above its base. After lunch, descend deep underground into Vatnshellir cave, a cavern of fascinating lava formations. Transfer to our hotel on the outskirts of the park, and choose to spend the afternoon relaxing or hiking through the surrounding lava fields to a historic church. (2 miles hiking, 1 hour) Hotel Búðir (B, L, D)
Day 5 — Djúpalónssandur/Stykkishólmur
This morning, head to Djupalonssandur, a scenic stretch of coast on the western end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Hike along its dramatic cliffs and black-pebble beaches to Dritvík cove, taking in views of the craggy rock formations rising out of the surrounding ocean waters. Lunch in a charming seaside town before traveling to Grundarfjörður, the embarkation point for our two-hour whale-watching tour. Then settle into a quaint hotel in the neighboring fishing village of Stykkishólmur, our home for the next two nights. Hotel Egilsen (B, L, D)
Day 6 — Stykkishólmur
Start the day at Stykkishólmur’s Volcano Museum, owned by the renowned volcanologist and National Geographic grantee Dr. Haraldur Sigurdsson. Then tackle the short, steep hike to the summit of Mt. Helgafell where we’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the coastline and nearby snow-covered peaks. After lunch, drive along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula’s north shore to the Eiríksstaðir Living Museum. This historic farm is said to be the former home of Erik the Red and birthplace of Leif Eriksson, the Viking explorer who is considered to have been the first European to land in America. (1 mile hiking, 1 hour) Hotel Egilsen (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Reykjavík
Return to Reykjavík where we’ll check into our hotel and enjoy lunch downtown. This afternoon, choose between going horseback riding on a smooth-gaited Icelandic horse or visiting Árbæjarsafn, an outdoor museum exhibiting aspects of historical life in Iceland. Tonight, toast the week’s adventures at a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers. CenterHotel Arnarhvoll (B, L, D)
Day 8 — Reykjavík
Travel to the black-lava fields of Grindavík, home to the famous Blue Lagoon. Soak in its mineral-rich, turquoise waters, and experience the unique sensation of having your body submerged in warmth and your head exposed to freezing temperatures. After a rejuvenating dip, transfer to Kelflavík Airport to catch your flight home. (B)
Pricing starts at $7,000 per person, double occupancy. For a single room add $800. International airfare to/from Reykjavík is not included in the adventure cost.
Accommodations (hotels, tents and cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, and if such are available, you can pay a single supplement fee. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we can assign a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom you can share, a single supplement fee will apply.
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.