The South Coast of Iceland
Day 1 - The Golden Circle and South Coast
We pick you up between 08:00 and 08:30 from your accommodation or a nearby pick up point. The sights of the famous Golden Circle are the first places we will see. Our first stop is at Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site with incredible geology and great historical and cultural significance. Less than 60 years after Iceland was settled by the Vikings, the Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi, was established at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) in the year 930. You will see the flag marking the Law Rock where great declarations and speeches were delivered. A sturdy cliff, part of the Almannagjá gorge, formed by the Eurasian and North American plates edging apart, defines the eastern boundary of Þingvellir. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge extends beneath the Þingvallavatn, the picturesque Þingvellir Lake, creating Silfra Fissure, which is recognized as one of the top snorkeling and diving sites in the world.
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Our second Golden Circle visit will be to Geysir, the very famous geothermal hot spring area in the valley of Haukadalur. We will see Strokkur, a highly active hot spring, which erupts vast jets of super-hot scalding water and steam every 5 to 10 minutes, these boiling spouts are often propelled 30 meters high. Great Geysir, the best known erupting hot spring ever, whose name bequeathed to us the word English word ‘Geyser´, has been dormant for many years. Our final Golden Circle attraction is Gullfoss Waterfall. Here you will witness the awesome power of the Hvítá river, as the roaring torrent drops in two stages of 11 m and 21 m.
Following the Ring Road along the scenic south coast will bring us to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall which is our next stop. We give you long enough to really make the most of a very unusual opportunity. A pathway threads its way behind the waterfall, it is good to put on your rainwear because there can be a lot of spray - to see the very best of Seljalandsfoss you really should walk behind the cascade. This is a beautiful and elegant waterfall from any angle!
Another waterfall is next on the agenda, Skógafoss Waterfall is a stunning and powerful cascade which drops 60 m. There is a pathway from the eastern side of these falls which higher up goes through the high pass at Fimmvörðuháls. This is the area where the first 2010 eruption took place before the Eyjafjallajökull eruption got underway. The mountain glacier scenery around Skógafoss, is, on a clear day, mesmerizing. The single or double rainbows generated by the spray of the falls on sunny days are magical. After a day of majestic sights your final stop will be at Reynisfjara black sand beach, make certain to visit the amazing basalt column cave and cliffs. A short distance away you will see the Reynisdrangar formations, they do, indeed, resemble the trolls of the famous Icelandic legend, who were turned into stone by the sunshine! Your accommodation for the night will be at a country hotel in the area around Vík, the southernmost village in Iceland.
Tour route overview
Day 2 - Vík - Skaftafell - Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon - Höfn
After breakfast we head through the south coast to Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park, where you will enjoy an amazing glacier hike. So many of Iceland´s natural wonders can be found within the 13,600 km2 wilderness area of this national park. To name a few, Hvannadalshnúkur, the highest mountain peak in Iceland, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, now so famous many people just refer to it as ‘the ice lagoon’ and Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. On this tour we will take you to all three of Iceland´s national parks, Vatnajökull, Þingvellir and Snæfellsjökull. The Icelanders take the protection of their wilderness areas very seriously!
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The meet up point for your glacier hike on a tongue of Vatnajökull is at Skaftafell. You will be issued with ice crampons and all the other glacier gear, our certified glacier guide will explain everything and you will be ready to head onto a glacier tongue or outlet glacier of Vatnajökull. Various outlet glaciers reach towards the ocean on the south coast, each one is an amazing, living and moving ice-world. Your expert glacier guide will show you the crevasses which trace myriad web of pathways, creating stunning ridges and ice features. You will learn how the glacier changes and moves and how meltwater drains through to the base of the glacier.
At the end of your glacier hike our warm minibus will be waiting to welcome you. There is more glacial magic to come, next up, is a visit to see the incredible floating icebergs at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. You will see these mystical ice-giants gliding serenely by before you enter the car park. You might experience a touch of deja vu! The lagoon has been a star location for James Bond action footage, documentaries and other movies. The huge lagoon began to form at the edge of the receding Breiðamerkurjökull glacier around 1934. Very large and unbelievably shaped icebergs break free of the glacier, you will see amazing blue ice and sometimes threads of gray volcanic ash running through them. Sometimes these natural ice forms roll over or even split apart, watching this is mesmerizing, a really great video opportunity, you cannot plan it - but if it happens film it! The vistas at Jökulsárlón are totally spellbinding.
The Icebergs are all heading towards the Atlantic Ocean close to the Glacier Lagoon. Quite a few are fetched up by the tide onto the black sands of the Diamond Beach where their opalescent forms shimmer like diamond jewels or pure quartz crystals, shot through with blue.
In the evening we will rest at comfortable accommodation in the Höfn area, this popular coastal town is known as the ‘Lobster Capital of Iceland’.
Explore the glacier...
Day 3 - East Fjords - Djúpivogur - Egilsstaðir
The majestic scenery of the East Fjords stretches out ahead of us today, in these parts the Ring Road threads a winding and meandering pathway between jagged mountains and impossibly steep and beautiful Fjords. Each Fjord offers sensational but very different scenery as hairpin bends unfold to reveal landscape after landscape.
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Djúpivogur is a tiny and charming fishing village of 1130 people. The salty Atlantic Ocean lapping at the black sand beaches bring a beautiful reminder that wild and raw nature is all around you. There are important bird habitats in this area, making it very attractive to bird watchers, as well as hikers and loves of unspoiled nature and stupendous mountain scenery. Visit on a calm day and feel the peace, come on a day when the wild wind is blowing and you will appreciate the wildness of Djúpivogur.
Our journey through the East Fjords will bring us to Egilsstaðir, beside the Lagarfljót river and lake, home to the legend of the giant Largarfljót Worm, Largarfljótasormurinn. This squirming water creature is said to reside in the depths of the lake and to show itself from time to time! We will explore the area and stretch our legs with an easy 3 hour hike to the 118 m high Hengifoss Waterfall. The cliffs which frame this waterfall are very unusual, a succession of volcanic eruptions has left layers of red strata which trace through them, as they embrace the waterfall before it drops into a dramatic gorge. On this hike you will see another waterfall with a totally unique ‘frame´, Litlanes Waterfall is flanked by truly enormous hexagonal basalt columns. Make sure you have plenty of battery in your camera today, photogenic sights abound!
Your accommodation for the night will be in the lovely area around Egilsstaðir.
See Breathtaking waterfalls all over Iceland
Day 4 - Dettifoss, Lake Mývatn, Goðafoss - Akureyri
The fabulous highlights of North Iceland await us today as we head from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri. Of course, we stop to show you some wonderful places along the way! We take you up to Möðrudalur, at 469 m this has been the highest farm in Iceland for a few generations. This very remote farming community is now host to the highest coffee house in the land. We aim to arrive at the breathtaking Dettifoss waterfall at a quieter time, when we can stand before the crashing torrent in open-mouthed wonder. The glacial river, Jökulsá á Fjöllum, thundering through the 44 meter drop gives these falls the most powerful flow rate in Europe, an astonishing 193 m3/s (6,816 cu ft/s). Dettifoss is, by a large margin, the most powerful waterfall in Iceland.
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We journey from tumultuous glacial torrents to the mystical, steam clouded horizons of the geothermal area at Námaskarð with its boiling mud pools, many of them sporting vivid colors. Gentle clouds of sulfur scented steam pouring from multiple fumaroles drift over the land. The nearby Mývatn Nature Baths make good use of all that geothermal heat! The alkaline and mineral rich water which fills the baths is around 130°C when it is pumped out of the earth, it has to be cooled down to around 38°C. The minerals and overall composition of the water prevent their being any need for chlorine or chemicals to be added. A visit to the Mývatn Nature Baths is next on the agenda, the bathing fee is not included in your tour price but this is something you really should not miss out on! If you don´t want to go in the water, you could enjoy the cafeteria or stroll around exploring the lunar landscapes around the baths.
Hverfjall, a volcano crater, formed in an eruption 2500 years ago, is next. We will take you to see the atmospheric and at times troll-like lava formations at Dimmuborgir - this area is often referred to as the ‘dark cities’. The roof of a massive lava tube collapsed leaving behind the, at times towering, Dimmuborgir lava ‘statues’, all completely natural and fashioned single-handedly by nature. Some will, very likely, remind you of figures or various things.
We will enjoy more Lake Mývatn scenery on our way to Goðafoss Waterfall. You will see this hypnotically beautiful waterfall looming before you from the Ring Road. Don´t worry, we will give you time to explore and enjoy Godafoss before we continue our journey! We will head along Eyjafjörður Fjord towards Akureyri, known as the Capital of the North.
Your hotel will be in the Akureyri area.
Be ready for some seriously gorgeous photo opportunities!
Day 5 - Whale watching from Dalvík - Siglufjörður -Tröllaskagi - Bifröst
You have an exciting whale watching boat trip from Dalvík to look forward to today! These tours have a great success rate, dolphins or whales are spotted on 98% of tours. Humpback whales are most often seen but plenty of dolphins, porpoises and other ocean wildlife are usually spotted too, and sometimes seals.
The journey to Dalvík will take you through Akureyri. With around 19,000 people this city has the largest population away from the Reykjavík area. Your journey along Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland, will take you through little hamlets clinging like limpets to the hillside. When we get to Dalvík, a truly charming and still traditional fishing village, we will head straight for the whale watching boats. You have seen Eyjafjörður from the land, now you will see it from the water!
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The boat will take you in whichever direction is good to spot whales and great ocean wildlife. You are offered the opportunity to try your hand with sea angling. What happens to the fish you catch? When you get back to the harbor, it is barbecued and you get to try Icelandic ocean-fresh fish.
Next up, is the Tröllaskagi peninsula, well known for its towering mountains and spellbinding ocean scenery. After you leave Dalvík, the mountains keep getting higher and steeper, between Ólafsfjörður and Siglufjörður a couple of tunnels will take you under the mountains, in between the tunnels you will get a view of Héðinsfjörður, an uninhabited fjord. Before the tunnels were built the road to Siglufjörður, from either side was impassable in winter. Despite the isolation, in the early twentieth century the promise of big money from giant shoals of herring was like a magnet. Siglufjörður became known as the the Herring Capital of the Atlantic, remote or not, people flocked there and a klondike kind of excitement overtook the town. As suddenly as they arrived, the huge shoals of herring went away, those times are richly embroidered in the fabric of Siglufjörður, there are Herring Era Museums and a lot of info around this charming town.
Passing agricultural areas and horse farms we head to Bifröst, a small university community. Your accommodation for the night will be at a country hotel in this area.
Akureyri in the north of Iceland
Day 6 - Borgarfjörður - Reykholt - Hraunfossar - Borgarnes
We continue our journey west around the Ring Road, stopping at Grábrók, a volcano crater with fabulous views across the lava fields and beyond on a clear day. We will enjoy a short hike to the top to fully enjoy the Borgarfjörður vistas. In 2016 Borgarfjörður in West Iceland was listed by Lonely Planet as a best travel destination.
After our bracing walk we continue our journey to visit Europe´s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver. So much hot water is a wonderful resource, particularly in a cool climate. The people of Bjorgarfjörður use it to fill swimming pools, for domestic bathing and to heat buildings and homes in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes. Traveling onwards we will stop at Hraunfossar Waterfall, here thousands of tiny ice-cold cascades tumble out of the edge of the Hallmundarhraun lava field, these unusual falls form a graceful and very wide sweep. Before we turn our attention to Icelandic history we will enjoy another waterfall visit. A legend tells the tale of the tragic accident which it is said the be the reason these falls are called Barnafoss, the name means ‘Children´s Falls’. Barnafoss is very photogenic.
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We move on to the next attraction, the historical site of Reykholt, staying a moment longer with the theme of water we will visit Snorralaug, this hot spring pool is the bathing place of Snorri Sturluson, a very wealthy and powerful Chieftain during the Sturlungaöld (‘the Sturlung Age’). Snorri held multiple Chieftainships as well as being a lawyer, historian and the author of Icelandic Sagas, including Heimskringla which tells the story of the Norwegian Kings.
We drop you off at your hotel in the Borgarnes area.
We'll visit Kirkjufell, in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Day 7 - Borgarnes-Snaefelles Peninsula-Reykjavík
Our Snæfellsnes specialist guide will pick you up from your hotel in Borgarnes at around 10:00 for some Snæfellsness magic, with the glittering Snæfellsnes glacier at the end of the peninsula!
We stop at the traditional and charming fishing village of Arnarstapi, here we give you enough time to take a walk to really appreciate the wild and fabulous coastal scenery. Next up, there is the option to enjoy exploring (extra cost) the subterranean world within Vatnshellir, a lava tube cave in the heart of the Snæfellsnes National Park. Your qualified caving guide will explain how the cave was formed, when molten magma flowed beneath petrifying lava, and tell you all about the incredible lava formations. Maybe, as you explore beneath the surface of the lava field, you will feel like a character in the Jules Verne novel, A Journey to the Center of Earth. The author placed the entrance to the center of the earth within Snæfellsjökull, the glacier at the end of this peninsula! You can book the caving tour as an extra when you arrange your tour.
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We visit Hellnar and Arnarstapi, really picturesque villages, we enjoy the sensational scenery all around us and get ourselves some lunch (not included). Continuing around the coast a little will bring us to the beautiful black pebble beach at Djúpalónssandur. We take a short hike down to the beach to explore and watch the white-tipped ocean waves rolling up the steep beach. These smooth black pebbles are known as Djúpalóns Perlan (which means ‘Deep Pool Pearls’). The amazingly-shaped cliffs around the beach add great drama and beauty, but also, sometimes danger, you will see the remains of the British trawler, Epine, which came to grief here. You will see the ‘lifting stones’, the local fisherman used in former times to prove their strength. Hefting these boulders is not easy, will you give it a try?
Stops are made at Mount Kirkjufell, this picturesque mountain is a real favorite of artists and photographers, making it one of the most often reproduced images of Iceland. Your final stop will be to see the geometric basalt columns at Gerðuberg, this ‘belt’ of columns offers yet another photo opportunity.
After 7 magnificent days of sightseeing in Iceland we drop you off in Reykjavík where we picked you up, leaving you with matchless memories!
Reynisfjara black sand beach...