Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!
Travel to Iceland, a world away yet tantalizingly close. This O.A.T. travel adventure showcases Iceland's natural beauty and Viking heritage from a truly Icelandic perspective—through its inhabitants. Meet hardy locals who carve a living from both the land and sea in farming communities and fishing villages. Discover the history of this isolated nation preserved in a series of enchanting medieval tales known as the Sagas. In the beautiful capital city of Reykjavik, witness the creativity of a city that harnessed the power of nature to provide sustainable heat and electricity to its inhabitants. Raft on the Hvita River, watch for whales, and journey to within 40 miles of the Arctic Circle at Akureyri. Icelandic culture and traditions, together with the power of nature, combine for an unforgettable adventure in an unspoiled land of stark beauty.
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 and the premier home of the Atlantic puffin. This is a unique destination rarely seen by Americans.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, then enjoy breakfast. Begin getting acquainted with Reykjavik on an orientation walk in the neighborhood around the hotel with your Trip Leader this afternoon. Later, gather for a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers, including those from our Worlds of Fire: Iceland's Westman Islands trip extension.
We'll depart Reykjavik after breakfast and head into the rolling meadows of the verdant Borgarfjordur agricultural district. We'll view the "magic waterfalls" of Hraunfossar, a 2,900-foot stretch of lava where crystal-clear springs splash through the volcanic rocks. As we continue through the unspoiled landscape, we enjoy views of colorful mountain cliffs, pristine fjords, and fertile valleys where horses graze. This is the region that inspired 13th-century poet and native son Snorri Sturluson, the most celebrated figure in Icelandic/Nordic literature. In a country known for its thermal hot springs, the Deildartunguhver thermal area is in a class by itself. Emitting nearly 50 gallons of boiling water per second, it has the highest flow of any hot spring in Europe.
Then, we'll discover some of Iceland's Saga-like history at the Settlement Center in Borgarnes. This award-winning center retells the Norse settlement of Iceland, giving us an insight into the country's founding.
After lunch on our own, we drive to Helgafell ("holy mountain"), a sacred hill about 250 feet high. After our hike up Helgafell, we continue to Stykkisholmur, the largest town on scenic Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The town's location makes it an ideal jumping-off point for many of Iceland's highlights, including Snaefellsnes Peninsula National Park.
Enjoy dinner tonight at our hotel, followed by a vicinity walk to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings.
This morning in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we'll explore the area that marks the entry point to Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
We'll continue to the fishing village of Arnarstapi, known for its constantly changing weather. The village is situated along a coastline punctuated by fascinating geologic features like arches, basalt cliffs, and blowholes. We'll hike to a yellow-sand beach and along the dramatic rocky coastline followed by lunch in the Hellnar valley.
Then we'll discover another side of Icelandic culture on a visit to a shark farm. Here we'll have the opportunity to taste a national delicacy—hákarl, made from aged shark meat. It's not for the faint of heart, but our host will help us understand the Icelandic legacy of processing shark meat, as well as the country's maritime history.
Dinner will be on your own this evening in Stykkisholmur.
After breakfast this morning, we'll depart Stykkisholmur for the Eiriksstadir Museum, once the site of the home of Erik the Red, father of the legendary Viking Leif Eiriksson. Known as "Leif the Lucky," Erik's famous son discovered America around AD 1000. We'll learn more about their story from historic interpreters at this living museum.
Then we'll visit a local horse farm to meet affable Icelandic horses first brought to the country by Viking settlers. We'll learn more about these horses, and their place in Icelandic culture, as we hear firsthand from the family that owns the horse farm. We'll also enjoy lunch at the horse farm. Then, we'll journey to Skagafjordur, where we'll visit exhibitions centered around an old turf farmhouse and witness vivid reminders of 18th- and 19th-century life in rural Iceland.
Afterward we'll continue to Akureyri, Iceland's second largest urban area. Situated on the northern fjords near the Arctic Circle, Akureyri is improbably sunny and enjoys a mild climate in spite of its location.
This evening, we'll have dinner together at our hotel.
Today we begin with a visit to Godafoss ("waterfall of the gods"), where the current carries rushing water along a glacial river and over the rocks, falling 40 feet into the pool below. It is said to have gained its name when one of the leaders of the country's parliament disposed of his statues of Norse gods at this waterfall upon the adoption of Christianity as the official religion in the year 1000.
Later today, we'll discover the Lake Myvatn area, sculpted throughout the ages by volcanic eruptions and renowned for its diverse bird population, with ducks, gyrfalcons, plovers, ptarmigans, and more. We'll explore the pseudocrater field, formed by steam explosions when lava flowed over wet earth, at Skutustadir. Afterward, we'll visit the whimsical "black castles" lava formations of Dimmuborgir, where a lonely troll is said to have lived. After lunch at a local restaurant, we witness some of Iceland's more recent volcanic activity during a stop at a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Námaskard geothermic area.
Then we travel overland back to Akureyri. Upon arrival, we'll explore the city, visiting the harbor and then the Botanical Gardens.
Back in Akureyri, you'll have some free time to relax before enjoying a Home-Hosted Dinner this evening.
After breakfast, we head for the picturesque fishing village of Dalvik, where we'll set sail on a restored fishing vessel from the harbor for a whale-watching excursion. The onboard staff members are experts on local marine life, and with their help, we hope to spot minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises and humpback whales in the waters of the Northern Atlantic. Please note: Whale watching is weather dependent and relies upon the cooperation of migratory patterns, which can be difficult to accurately predict. The boat is not exclusive to OAT travelers. If necessary, an alternate activity will be provided.
After lunch at a local restaurant in Dalvik, we return to Akureyri, where we'll have some free time for independent exploring.
Dinner tonight is on your own.
We transfer to the airport for our flight to Reykjavik after an early breakfast this morning. Today we'll discover more of Iceland's marvels as we circumnavigate the Golden Circle, a ring of natural highlights: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir hot spring area and Gullfoss waterfall. First, we'll stop at Thingvellir National Park, the location of a major rift between two tectonic plates—the Eurasian and North American—which creates a dramatic fissure 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. Lunch is on our own after the visit at Thingvellir.
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.
Our Golden Circle tour continues with a visit to the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, which features three tiers of rushing white water that flow into a hundred-foot-deep crevice. Then, we'll enjoy meeting locals as we visit a flower farm that relies on geothermal energy to grow lilies, roses and other species.
We'll continue overland to Selfoss and check into our hotel. Selfoss is the largest town in South Iceland and the gateway to all that this area of rich farmland and natural wonders has to offer. Located on the banks of the Olfusa River, it is home to around 6,300 inhabitants. We'll have dinner at our hotel this evening.
After breakfast this morning, we’ll visit the Thorvaldseyri visitor center. Established in 2011, this facility allows guests to experience what it's like living in the shadow of an active volcano.
Afterward, we'll journey to the south coast and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Then, in Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland, we'll go off-road driving for an included Super Jeep Tour, introducing you to the black beaches. Our next stop is the wispy Seljalandsfoss (the word foss means “waterfall” in Icelandic). Located near the Seljalands farm, this picturesque waterfall drops about 200 feet over the rocky cliffs of the country's southern coastline. We'll also have views of the glacial Markafljot River.
Dinner is on your own tonight.
After breakfast, we'll visit a geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi that, together with four other plants, provides 30% of the electricity needed by the Icelandic people. It is a combined heat and power plant developed to meet increasing demand for energy in an environmentally friendly way. We'll learn more about Iceland's progressive approach to sustainable resources as we tour the plant. Then, at Grindavik fishing village, we set off on All-Terrain Vehicles for a tour of the lava fields and black sands along Iceland's scenic coastline. Perched on our ATV vehicles should allow dramatic views of the Atlantic and even some of the shipwrecks that have run aground in this region over the past century. Please note: ATV tour is weather dependent; a driver's license is needed if you are driving the vehicle, but not if you are a passenger.
After lunch on your own in Grindavik, we'll visit the iconic Blue Lagoon, Iceland's best-known geothermal pool, where locals and visitors alike enjoy the healing waters and mineral-rich mud of this man-made oasis in the midst of a lava field. You'll have the chance to relax lagoon-side and take a dip in the healing waters.
Afterward we'll continue to Reykjavik, the world's most northerly capital, and choose from one of the city's many restaurants for dinner on our own.
Called the "biggest little city," Reykjavik and its suburbs are home to more than 200,000 people, more than half the country's population. Its aptly chosen name means "smoky bay," and it is the site where Iceland's first settler, Ingolfur Arnorson, built a farm in AD 874. This morning, we'll visit the National Museum of Iceland.
After lunch on your own, you're free to pursue individual interests in Iceland's charming capital. Then, later this evening, we'll enjoy a Farewell Dinner at our hotel with our fellow travelers.
After breakfast, we'll transfer to the airport for your flight home or to begin your post-trip extension, Greenland: Gateway to the Arctic.
Please note: Depending on your air itinerary, trips returning in September and October will include an extra night in the U.S. upon arrival. This will not apply to travelers whose final destination is New York or Boston.
4 nights from only $2895
Cleverly christened “Greenland” by Erik the Red in an effort to attract settlers, 80 percent of this nation’s land mass is covered in ice caps, with picturesque towns and villages clustered along the coasts. After you travel through Iceland, come breathe the pure air, witness the magnificent icebergs, experience the Inuit way of life, and discover a land as exotic as it is remote.View Extension Itinerary