Travel to a wonderland of ice-encrusted waterfalls, crystalline caves, and black-sand beaches dusted with diamantine ice blocks. This is Iceland in the winter, a fantasy landscape that never gets too cold thanks to its Gulf Stream position. Short sunlight hours are made beautiful as the low-hanging sun bathes the country in golden light during the winter days, and darkness brings glimpses of the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky during the long nights. Witness Iceland’s iconic natural scenes with a dusting of pure snow. Float in comforting, warm thermal pools beneath the stars. Explore a glacier from within its pure blue ice tunnels—an opportunity that only winter visitors may experience. Iceland is special year-round—but magical in the winter.
Make It Your Adventure
Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.
5 nights from only $1695
Experience Copenhagen and see what makes it "the happiest city in the world." In the winter you'll get a special sense of the Danish concept hygge—a feeling of warmth, well-being, and all-around coziness engendered in the city's candlelit cafes. Wander Copenhagen at your own pace, along cobbled streets between brightly-hued houses, through whimsical Christiania, and past its many canals.View Extension Itinerary
Depart from the U.S.
After an overnight flight from the U.S., you'll arrive in the early morning at Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland. You'll be met by an O.A.T. representative and transfer to our hotel, where you’ll enjoy breakfast. Begin getting acquainted with Reykjavik on an orientation walk in the neighborhood around the hotel with your Trip Leader this afternoon. After some leisure time, gather for a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers, including those from our Copenhagen, Denmark trip extension.
Today we'll discover more of Iceland's marvels as we explore the Golden Circle, a ring of natural highlights: UNESCO World Heritage Site Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and the surrounding hot springs, and Gullfoss waterfall. First, we'll have breakfast at our hotel and then depart while the sun has yet to crest the horizon. Then, we'll make our way to Thingvellir National Park, the location of a major rift between two tectonic plates—the Eurasian and North American—which creates a rift valley in the land. The snowcapped mountains surrounding this plain, dotted with canyons, caves, streams and springs, form a striking natural amphitheater. It's not surprising that the world's oldest Parliament was formed here over a thousand years ago. Then, we’ll visit Geysir, the geyser from which all others take their name. Geysir is silent these days, but we'll witness the dramatic columns of water that shoot into the air from nearby Strokkur geyser. In this area of intense geothermal activity, puddles of water on the ground literally boil.
After lunch on our own, we’ll end our tour of the Golden Circle at the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, which features three tiers of rushing white water that flow into a hundred-foot-deep canyon. On our way to the Myrdalur area, we’ll stop at the dramatic Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which in summer is arguably Iceland’s most-photographed natural wonder. Winter offers a different perspective from the crowded peak season. Located along the Southern Ring Road, Seljalandsfoss cascades 200 feet into a pool below and often sports incredible icicle formations, causing a unique contrast of time standing still against the rushing plunge of water.
Dinner this evening is at our hotel in the Myrdalur area. Afterward, if weather conditions allow, we’ll venture out into the night and try to spot the Northern Lights.
We kick off today’s discoveries by exploring the Skaftafell region of southeast Iceland. Once a national park of its own, Skaftafell is now a preserved area within Vatnajokull National Park, flanked by glaciers and jagged mountain peaks. Visiting Skaftafell in winter is vastly different from summer, as the glaciers crawl down to the lowland and the ice changes in appearance from white to blue. Here we’ll hike among a dramatic mountain landscape toward the Svinafellsjokull glacier tongue.
This afternoon we’ll dine at a local restaurant for lunch and then make our way to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. We’ll walk along the black sand shores of the lagoon (which is also the deepest lake in Iceland, at over 814 feet) and look for icebergs that have calved from the glacier’s edge. During our beachside hike we’ll encounter large blocks of ice that have broken off from icebergs and washed up on the shore. Described as giant diamonds sparkling in the light, these massive ice blocks range from milky white to crystal blue, forming a stunning contrast along the black sand.
We'll return to our hotel in Vík this evening. Dinner this evening is on your own.
This morning we make our way to the seaside settlement of Vik, where you have time to make your own discoveries. Your Trip Leader can provide you with suggestions, which may include walking along the black sand beaches, taking an exhilarating dip in a geothermal pool, or browsing the local artisan shops that sell everything from handmade glass, pottery, and wool. Or, join us on an optional Super Truck tour along Iceland’s southern shore. We’ll board 16-passenger all-terrain vehicles that will take us to the black sand beaches and glaciers (weather permitting) that make Iceland truly magical in the wintertime.
We’ll have lunch together near the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano, whose eruption stopped global air traffic for days in 2010 thanks to the massive ash cloud it produced. After lunch, we’ll learn more about this slumbering giant at the Thorvaldseyri Visitor Center, then go to Skogafoss (the word foss means “waterfall” in Icelandic). At 82 feet wide with a drop of 200 feet, Skogafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in the country—and most accessible.
Later this afternoon, we’ll visit a horse farm, where we’ll meet some affable and charming Icelandic horses, which were first brought to the country by Viking settlers. This evening, we’ll check into our hotel in Fludir and have dinner there. If the skies are clear, after dinner we’ll set off with our Trip Leader in search of the Northern Lights.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll head to a family-owned and operated greenhouse, where we’ll learn about Iceland’s greenhouse horticulture and the use of geothermal energy, which allows plants and produce to thrive with the use of artificial sunlight. The greenhouse specializes in cultivating mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes, which will be used in today’s lunch at the onsite restaurant—which we'll help prepare with our hosts.
Dinner tonight is on your own in Fludir. Weather permitting, we’ll head back out for a special nighttime excursion to the Secret Lagoon. This natural hot spring in Fludir is Iceland’s oldest community pool. We’ll briefly brave the frigid air temperatures to don bathing suits and float in the warm, soothing waters of the lagoon. With very few visitors in the evening and little-to-no light pollution, we’ll be able to float in the bath-like lagoon while keeping watch for the hypnotic dance of the Northern Lights across the night sky (if weather conditions allow).
After breakfast this morning, we set out for the Reykholt region, where we’ll discover some of Iceland’s lesser-known natural wonders. Hraunfossar, which translates to “lava waterfall”, is an unusual natural phenomena where over a half mile of subterranean cold springs seep through a lava field and cascade into the Hvita River.
Next, we’ll explore Langjokull, Europe’s second-largest glacier—but this time we’ll experience the glacier from the inside. We’ll journey via truck to the mouth of a man-made ice tunnel into the heart of the glacier ice cap. Once inside, we’ll walk around among the gleaming white and blue ice tunnels and peer down into the glacier’s massive crevasses.
Early this evening, we’ll head back to Reykjavik, where we’ll check into our hotel. Tonight, we’ll take the city’s modern public transit system into a local neighborhood for a Home-Hosted Dinner.
This morning we’ll visit the Ocean Cluster House in Reykjavik’s Old Harbor area, where we’ll learn about sustainable fishing and how local entrepreneurs are working to make medical and natural supplements from seafood by-products. Our group will also have the opportunity to speak with a local to discuss the controversies behind Iceland’s whaling industry and fishing quota system.
After lunch on our own in the harbor, we’ll have the afternoon to make our own discoveries in eclectic and cosmopolitan Reykjavik, or you may join an Optional Tour to the iconic and relaxing Blue Lagoon. This evening our group will meet up for our Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
After an early breakfast this morning, we’ll check out of our hotel and depart for Viking World, a museum dedicated to the Viking settlement and legends of the North Atlantic. Here on display is the Icelander, an exact replica of Leif Eriksson’s ship, which sailed from Iceland to New York to mark the millennial celebration of Eriksson’s journey to the New World.
After lunch on your own, you’ll transfer to the airport for your flight home or to begin your post-trip extension to Worlds of Fire: Iceland’s Westman Islands.
3 nights from only $1595
Few places are as off the beaten path as the remote Westman Islands, an archipelago off of Iceland’s southern coast blessed with a kaleidoscopic beauty of red cliffs, black sand, and green countryside, framed by blue sea and sky. Experience the scenic, historic, and cultural gifts of one of Iceland’s major fishing ports. This is a unique destination rarely seen by Americans.View Extension Itinerary