Volcanoes, Geysers, Hot Springs, Lava Fields, Glaciers And More
One of the most popular Nordic countries, Iceland is full of dramatic landscapes as the country is dotted with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava fields, glaciers and more. The sky at night is bright from May to August, while the full midnight sun lasts the week before and after the summer solstice. The northernmost capital on the planet, Reykjavík is a thriving metropolitan city that welcomes with its Nordic personality, delicious cuisine and vibrant cultural scene with world-class history and art museums.
Starting in Reykjavik, you can enjoy a private, authentic food tour through the city’s unique neighborhoods, while staying in one of the cities’ best hotels, right in the heart of the city. Reykjavik is establishing itself as a haven for food lovers. Taking advantage of its local seafood and game, the city is a prime destination for those wishing to sample ‘new nordic’ cuisine. At some point during our time in Reykjavik, we always recommend a visit to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, a harborside hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavik. Since 1937, the stand has been serving the Icelandic incarnation of the hot dog, made with a combination of pork, beef and lamb, that has become a staple in the city. For an authentic Icelandic experience, go for a hot dog with eina med ollu, or ‘the works’ — ketchup, sweet mustard, raw and fried onions and remoulade.
While in the city, become immersed in the history and culture of the country dating back to the Vikings and medieval times via the famed National Museum of Iceland. Guides will then provide all the needed equipment and lead you on short excursions to some of the area’s most stunning views across the nearby Langjökull Glacier, Iceland’s second largest ice cap, and the quaint islands of Akurey and Lundey and their colonies of colorful puffins.
A short drive southwest from Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa and one of the country’s most visited attractions. The man-made lagoon is located in a lava field near Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula and is surrounded by enchanting mountain ridges. The water has an average temperature range of 37–39 °C (99–102 °F) and a milky blue shade due to its high mineral content — the legend behind the lagoon’s famed healing powers.
You then take a tour of the Golden Circle with more of Iceland’s famous natural attractions, Geysir and Gullfoss. Geysir, a famous hot spring in the geothermal area of Haukadalur Valley, has boiling mud pits and exploding geysers, including the lively Strokkur which spouts water 30 meters (100 feet) into the air every few minutes. The roaring Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, located in the canyon of the Hvítá River where the water cascades down in a powerful display.
A sparsely populated country (roughly one-third of the 360,000 population live in Reykjavik), Iceland has some of the most majestic parks for hiking (or, alternatively, helicopter rides). Close by Reykjavik are Thingvellir National Park, an area where most of Iceland’s geologic and political evolutions began, and Glymur Waterfall, one of Iceland’s prizes as it is the country’s second largest waterfall at 198 meters (649 feet) tall (but not a hike for those who have a fear of heights). Just a few hours east and south are The Laugahraun Lava Field, formed in a 1477 volcanic eruption and one of the most iconic and beautiful destinations in all of Iceland. The wild, arctic Myrdalsjokull Glacier Park is caked in ice year round. Skaftafell remains an incredibly popular national park amidst a massive range of landscapes, from wildflower covered valleys to glacier lagoons to neatly hidden waterfalls. One trip experts will help you set routes and locations that match a your desired levels of activity and difficulty.
You next can fly or drive to Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city and self-proclaimed capital of North Iceland, which can come as a bit of a hidden charm. With its humble population of 18,000 people, this fishing port with a beautiful harbor sits on the edges of the Eyjafjörður, the fourth largest fjord in Iceland. Akureyri’s center is packed with colorful independent cafes and teahouses.
In Akureyri, you dine in premier restaurants and stay at the four-star Hotel Kea, which features a view of the Eyjafjörður. You can also visit the Mývatn Nature Baths and enjoy a relaxing dip in the soothing mineral rich waters situated among stunning natural beauty. Set on geothermally heated pools and steam baths, the Mývatn Nature Baths are a modern continuation of the centuries old Icelandic bathing tradition (and an alternative to the more crowded Blue Lagoon). We have options for you to join a cruise to whale watch, visit Goðafoss (the ‘Waterfall of the Gods’) or relax with a massage in the day spa!
Let one of our Iceland experts build a custom trip to see the best that Iceland has to offer!