Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik
Arrival Day - Reykjavík City Sightseeing
Tour route overview
Today you get to explore the City of Reykjavík - you make your own exciting itinerary!
Downtown Reykjavik - Charming!
Read more about your day in Reykjavik
Today you get to explore the City of Reykjavík - you make your own exciting itinerary!
Maybe, you want to wander around and get your bearings? Strolling along two great Reykjavík shopping streets, the famous Laugavegur, and the slightly less well known, Skólavörðustigur, you will really get a feel for the essence of Reykjavík. Our tip is to explore the small places, these usually have the strongest character and more unusual items. For the best view ever over the city visit the Hallgrímskirkja church and go to the top of the tower. Many are puzzled by the shape of this tall and iconic white church, it does rather resemble the pipes of a great pipe organ. The design was actually inspired by Svartifoss, the black waterfall at Skaftafell. A white church inspired by a black basalt waterfall? Maybe, you will believe us when we say the Icelanders are quirky folk!
Take your time and browse, relax in a coffee house, bar or restaurant, then think about a gallery or museum or two, there is an amazing choice. Larger art galleries include Reykjavík Art Museum, the National Gallery of Iceland and Kjarvalsstaðir. Get to know Icelandic culture at the Culture House, the development of Iceland as a nation at the National Museum, or visit The Settlement Exhibition, built around the remains of a real settlement age Reykjavík homestead. If you want something more unusual give The Icelandic Phallological Museum a try, this is better known as ‘the only Penis Museum in the World’!
The city´s thermal swimming pools are open from early until late. Outdoor bathing is a very popular all year round pursuit in Iceland, so there are quite a few thermal pools dotted around Reykjavík, their hot tubs are blissful! Laugardalslaug is the largest outdoor pool but the smaller ones are incredibly charming too.
More tips for enjoying Reykjavík can be found here, new places spring up all the time so keep your eyes open when you are walking around! More info about Icelandic museums, landmarks and attractions, many of which are in Reykjavík can be found here.
Your hotel or guest house will not be far from Reykjavík´s attractions. A regular bus service, connecting all districts with the city center is run by Strætó. You will find their timetables and information in English here.
Day 1: Golden Circle & South Coast
Strokkur spouting in the Sunset
Right from the start this tour is crammed full of the greatest gems that Icelandic nature can provide. The amazing and very famous Golden Circle attractions are first on the agenda after we pick everyone up between 08:00 and 08:30 in the morning.
Day 1 - Full itinerary
Your first stop is at Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir to the Icelanders). The national park has been granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO, due to its great geological and historical importance. This is the site of the oldest continuously operating national parliament in the world. Alþing, the Icelandic Parliament, first met here in the year 930 AD/CE, the Icelandic Parliament is still called the Alþing (Althing) today. The grandeur of the geology here would have given these ancient open-air parliamentary sessions an almost mythical ambience. You can clearly see the dramatic plate-edge of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, tracing its way right through Þingvellir. This rugged cliff was created by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates moving apart, continental drift continues to occur at a rate of over 2 cm per annum. The scenery here is very photogenic and overwhelmingly awe-inspiring.
Next, we visit Geysir, to see the amazingly active geyser hot spring, Strokkur, hurtling enormous volumes of hot water and steam up to 25 meters high - a truly astonishing sight and another marvelous photo opportunity. If you miss the scalding watery blast, have no worries, you will witness another superheated eruption in 5 to 10 minutes. Strokkur is situated very close to the Great Geysir, the spouting hot spring which gifted the word ‘geyser’ to the English language. When you watch a geyser erupt you feel spine-tinglingly close to the primal forces of nature. Steaming fumaroles and simmering hot springs will be all around you, evidencing the great geothermal forces at work beneath the earth here in the lovely Haukadalur valley.
The thundering Hvítá river (the White River) crashing through the stunning Gullfoss Waterfall is your final Golden Circle attraction. In English Gullfoss means ‘the Golden Falls’, a translucent golden mist can be seen around the tumultuous flow as it cascades through drops of 11 m and 21 m. On a sunny day, if you are lucky, a beautiful rainbow will arch over the stunning canyon - a really fabulous sight.
The incredible sights and experience continue - we make a couple more stops along the journey to your country hotel close to Vík, the southernmost village in Iceland. Two sensational 60 m high waterfalls await us, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss! At Seljalandsfoss there is the incredible opportunity to walk the pathway behind the tumbling cascade, giving you a truly unique view. The high former sea cliffs form the dropping point for the scintillating Skógafoss waterfall, the generous flow descends into the gloriously tranquil calmness of the Skóga river below.
Öxarárfoss at Þingvellir
Day 2: Vík - Skaftafell - Glacier Lagoon - Höfn
Today is filled with incredible experiences, everything from Reynisfjara black sand beach, the expansive Eldhraun lava field, glacier hiking from Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park and the incredible Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon - this is a day of incredible diversity and magnificent natural wonders. Your night will be spent in Höfn.
We'll stop at the magical "Diamond Beach"
Day 2 - Full itinerary
First up is a visit to the black beach at Reynisfjara where you will see the stunning cave, formed from incredibly imposing angular basalt columns. Walking along the beach you will get views of the famous Reynisdrangar peaks, these crazily shaped and troll-like basalt forms stand above the ocean just off-shore. Not surprisingly, they have given rise to some troll-folklore!
On the way to Skaftafell we cross the Eldhraun lava field, the first of the lunar-like landscapes we will show you over the next few days. Sensational views of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, home to Katla, one of the most capricious volcanoes of all time, and Eyjafjallajökull, another infamous volcano mountain glacier, loom high on the horizon to your left along the way. Approaching Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park you will see abundant vegetation and birch trees. This area, beneath the jagged mountain peaks and glaciers, is sheltered with a gentler climate than that of the surrounding area. The scenery is majestic and dramatically contrasting.
One of our expert glacier guides will escort you on a magical three-hour glacier hike on a tongue of Vatnajökull, the mightiest glacier in all of Europe. Your guide will ensure you are safe when you are hiking and climbing and make sure the experience is a really fun and fascinating one. The glacier is stunning but there is more to this blue/white ice wonderland than meets the eye! Along the way you will learn some incredible glacier facts and see sights which will be treasured memories forever.
Now for the serene beauty and crystal clear sapphire water of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the black sands of the mesmerizing Diamond Beach. This coal-black volcanic beach is lapped by the Atlantic waves which bring quite a few blue/white icebergs ashore. These luminous ice-forms sitting on the dark dramatic sand give this place a truly mystical feel, this sight will surely make your spine tingle! Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon contains some of the most famous vistas in Iceland, action scenes from a couple of James Bond and other movies were filmed at this ice lagoon, so you might recognize some of the stunning scenery. Most people are astounded by the incredible shapes, blue tones and the large size of many of the icebergs. The lagoon, beneath the majesty of Vatnajökull´s icecap is vast. Your camera really will work over-time here! After a day of magic we will then make our way to our accommodation in Höfn, this little town is the feted lobster Capital of Iceland.
It's common to spot seals chilling on the Jokulsarlon lagoon
Day 3: East Fjords - Djúpivogur - Egilsstaðir
The Eastfjords offer breathtaking mountain views
In the morning we will take you to visit Djúpivogur, a charming fishing village in the East Fjords, you then enjoy a hike to see the beautiful Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Waterfalls. Your night will be spent at a country hotel in the Egilsstaðir area.
Day 3 - Full itinerary
Today we will really get to know the remote gems hidden in the spectacular East Fjords. We promise you, as beautiful fjords and sharp-toothed mountains fill the horizon again and again, you will not be able to take your eyes off the incredible views for even one moment! The highlights along the way include the remote and simply stunning peninsula of Hvalnes. You will also see the very beautiful and starkly contrasting sights between Lóns and Álftafjarðar, an amazingly beautiful fjord. The Þvottárskriður landslides created some very unusual scenery in this region.
Your first stop will be at Djúpivogur, this still traditional fishing village clings like a limpet to the edge of the land. This little community is best known for its wild nature, bird habitats, and a much admired outdoor sculpture, Eggin í Gleðivík (meaning The Eggs of Merry Bay). The sculpture and the bird habitats are not unrelated, the 34 eggs of the sculpture represent the 34 bird species which regularly inhabit the area, it is far lovelier than it sounds!
Then we take an exhilarating three-hour hike to Hengifoss, the second highest waterfall in Iceland (128 m). You will really marvel at this unusual cascade which tumbles down a series of steps, making this a really amazing place to explore and take photos. Today we have two stunning and unique waterfalls to show you, Litlanesfoss is next. This scintillating waterfall is surrounded by enormous hexagonal basalt columns, people who have seen both describe it as a small version of the Giant´s Causeway, with a waterfall in the center. There are so many totally amazing sights to see on this hike, including an incredibly beautiful gorge displaying colored layers left by thousands of years of volcanic eruptions. After your hike we will go to our accommodation for the night, a country hotel at Egilsstaðir.
Day 4: Dettifoss - Mývatn - Godafoss - Akureyri
Akureyri - Capital of the north
Visit Dettifoss waterfall, the cascade with the highest flow rate in Europe. See incredible geothermal and lava areas, totally relax at Mýtvatn Nature Baths, and visit the sensationally beautiful Godafoss waterfall before finishing the day near Akureyri. Your accommodation will be in this area.
Day 4 - Full itinerary
Our journey to North Iceland will take us to Möðrudalur, where you will find the highest farm and restaurant in Iceland at a height of 469 m. You will have time get yourself a bite to eat and to admire the incredible views over the panoramic wilderness landscapes below you. Then we travel onwards to experience the thunderous power and majesty of Dettifoss waterfall. The violent force of this vast torrent will leave you feeling totally in awe of Icelandic nature. This is a day of great contrasts, the crystal clear and tranquil waters of Lake Mývatn are next on the agenda, with otherworldly scenery and a plentiful birdlife greatly enhances the beauty here.
Your next attraction is the lunar-like vistas, steaming fumaroles and boiling multi-colored mud pots at the Námaskarð geothermal area. This place is sure to leave you feeling as though you have taken flight and arrived on another planet with starkly barren and yet incredibly beautiful scenes! Continuing with the unearthly theme we journey onwards to visit the Hverfjall volcano crater and the Dimmuborgir lava formations. Your guide will tell you how these amazing lava shapes, which are often called ‘the Dark Castles’, were created, and the rich mythology that is linked to them. On this tour, but especially today, you will witness the incredibly different sides of Icelandic nature, from the barest Arctic desert-lands to the lush fertility around Lake Mývatn.
After seeing so many extraordinary places it is time for some relaxation. The soothing, softly alkaline and mineral rich waters of Mývatn Nature Baths await you. The Icelandic name for these baths is Jarðbóðin, meaning ‘the earth baths’ because the scalding hot water flows up straight from the earth! Don´t worry, it is cooled to a comfortable temperature - you will feel as though you are immersing yourself in a perfect warm bath! Bathing can be booked with your tour or you can pay when you arrive. If you don´t want to bathe you can get something to eat in the café or take a wander around and explore the area.
Finally, a stop is made at Goðafoss, a glorious crescent shaped waterfall. A famous legend links to Goðafoss, this is the waterfall into which Iceland´s last great Pagan leader is said to have cast his statues of the Pagan Gods when Iceland converted to Christianity. Our journey will then take us alongside Eyjafjörður, this long fjord is surrounded by mountains, the scenery is here is mind-blowing. Near the apex of the fjord we will come to Akureyri, your accommodation for the night will be at a country hotel in this area.
Day 5: Whale watching in Dalvík - Siglufjörður -Tröllaskagi - Bifröst
Whale watching from Dalvik is included!
If there is time we make a short visit to Akureyri before we head to Dalvík for an exciting whale watching boat trip, you can even try your hand at fishing if you would like to. You will also see one of the most amazing fishing communities in Iceland, Siglufjörður. Your country hotel will be at Bifröst.
Day 5 - Full itinerary
Today is a dream day for lovers of wildlife and beautiful Icelandic nature. From Akureyri our route to Dalvík follows the western side of stunning Eyjafjörður (the Island Fjord). The views are absolute eye-candy, with towering mountains and open ocean views. The mountains keep getting steeper as we approach Dalvík, a totally charming village which is still a traditional fishing community.
Your three hour whale watching trip will take you skimming across the Eyjafjörður fjord in search of the most majestic mammals alive. There is nothing like spotting a whale in the flesh in its natural habitat. Minke and humpback whales are most often seen, sometimes, though, travelers spot the largest animal alive, a magnificent Blue Whale. Dolphins and porpoises are usually seen, with seals also being spotted fairly often. This is a water wildlife paradise, with many ocean birds and, in the puffin season, a great many puffins. Dolphins, porpoises and whales often swim really close to the boat, giving you a fabulous experience of Icelandic ocean wildlife. Our friendly whale watching guides will give you the chance to try some sea angling, giving you a real feel for Icelandic life. When you return to dry land the fish is cooked, and right on the Dalvík harbor-side you can taste fish straight from the ocean. Today is a day which will delight your senses!
Our next port of call is Siglufjörður, a little town with a really exciting fishing history that is commemorated all around the town. It is, perhaps, hard to believe now that this picturesque place was referred to as ‘the herring capital of Europe’ in the first half of the 20th century. Those truly magnificent shoals of herring, known as ‘the silver of the sea’, then departed these waters as mysteriously as they had arrived!
We continue our journey around Tröllaskagi, a magnificent peninsula. The name means ‘the Troll Peninsula’ and, not surprisingly, this area is steeped in local legends. This stunning drive will take you through charming villages and lush farmlands, leaving with you with a real feel for the way people live in the country. Remember, this is a day for wildlife! You will see lots of small but very sturdy Icelandic horses grazing in their fields - horse farms are more plentiful here than in any other part of Iceland. Your night will be spent at a hotel in the little university centered community at Bifröst.
Day 6: Borgarfjörður - Reykholt - Hraunfossar - Hvalfjörður - Reykjavík
Hraunfossar waterfalls in West Iceland
The final day of your amazing trip around Iceland has a water and history theme! You will visit Deildartunguhver hot spring before continuing to the Hraunfossar cascade, where glacial water pours out straight from the lava field. Your final stop is at the historic site of Reykholt, the famed home of the Icelandic historian and prolific writer of Icelandic Sagas, Snorri Sturluson.
Day 6 - Full itinerary
We will enjoy the wonders of West Iceland, in 2016 Lonely Planet voted this part of Iceland as one of their best holiday destinations. We will be exploring the splendid natural wonders and sights in the Borgarfjörður area today. A short hike to the top of Grábrók, a volcano crater, is first on the agenda, there are superb views across the lava and over the whole area.
Onwards to Deildartunguhver, this fabulous bubbling hot spring pumps out more steaming hot water than any other hot spring in Europe. Next we will visit Barnafoss waterfall, the name means ‘the Children´s Falls, according to Icelandic folklore errant children are said to have met their deaths in the falls, which explains why this picturesque waterfall is so named. We also take you to see the totally unique Hraunfossar cascade. These gorgeous falls extend in a wide arc, with the water pouring out of the edge of the lava field in many thousands of tiny trickling streams. By some miracle of nature the glacial water has traveled through the porous lava all the way from Langjökull glacier.
This sensational trip which has brought you fabulous adventures, stunning wildlife, majestic scenery, and so many glorious Icelandic experiences will conclude with a little history! Your final stop is at Reykholt, home to one of Iceland´s most famous sons and revered historical figures, Snorri Sturluson. Many would say to get a true appreciation of Iceland you have to know something about this incredible man whose life spanned the 12th and 13th centuries. Some important aspects of Norse mythology would have been lost forever if Snorri had not recorded them in the Icelandic Sagas. You will see Snorralaug, the pool where Snorri is said to have bathed, this pool is thought to go back to the 10th century, which is incredibly old for a man-made feature in Iceland. Dipping their fingers into the water, many present day visitors are somewhat surprised to discover this pool is still pleasantly warm.
Your journey back to Reykjavík will take you through the beautiful scenery and wildlife around Hvalfjörður. We expect to arrive in the capital around 17:00-18:00 (depends on the weather). You will be dropped off at your accommodation in Reykjavík or the closest authorized pick up location.
Final Day - Reykjavik
Today you get a second chance to catch up on any Reykjavík must-see sights and experiences you missed out on before your tour. Check off anything remaining on your Capital City of Iceland bucket list - this lively and culture-rich city on the edge of the Arctic offers so many possibilities. If you stay around the city, you are sure to find plenty of new things to see, or, maybe, there are places where you wanted to linger longer!
If you didn´t swim in an outdoor thermal pool on your first day, we suggest you give this peculiarly Icelandic experience a try before you leave. The largest swimming pool in Iceland is at Laugardalslaug, beside Grasagarðurinn, Reykjavík´s beautiful botanical gardens. It is very easy to walk from the city or to take a Strætó bus. There are some lovely pools around, Sundhöllin on Baronsstígur is a charming pool right in the heart of Reykjavík, built in 1937, the indoor pool has an old-world charm and there is a recently constructed outdoor pool too.
Walking and cycling paths connect the City of Reykjavík with some really stunning areas, some closer to the city than others. So walking or hiring a bike is a great option too. Seltjarnarnes is a really spectacular peninsula with absolutely amazing scenery, situated within easy walking distance of the city center. Mosfellsbær is a beautiful community a little further away, either of these places and many more can easily be reached by Strætó buses. You could browse the city some more, learn more about Icelandic culture in a museum, max out on arts in a gallery, or even do one final and incredible adventure activity tour - maybe, there are too many choices but you get to choose!