An Introduction to Iceland
Though it's become more and more of a popular destination in recent years, Iceland remains a country defined by little other than raw natural beauty. On a weeklong trip explore the vast and varied natural landscapes; from volcanoes to lagoons and waterfalls to geysers.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Soak in the mineral-rich, geothermal waters of Blue Lagoon.
- Descend 400ft into the crater of Thrihnukagigur Volcano.
- Watch as thousands of tons of icy water thunder down into the gorge at Gullfoss Waterfall - also known as the 'Golden Waterfall'.
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Day 1: UK - Reykjavik
Arrive into Keflavik International Airport on the outskirts of Reykjavik and pick up your car hire, which should be ready and waiting. From there, drive for around twenty minutes inland until you reach Blue Lagoon.
Blue Lagoon is a truly unique experience, and the perfect introduction to the Iceland of your imagination. A spa, set in the middle of a huge lava field, the lagoon is fed by mineral-rich, geothermal sea water that is recognised for its revitalising properties. The water derives its milky-blue colour from the silica, mineral salts and algae. As well as wallowing in the warm water, you can enjoy a sauna, steam bath or even an in-water massage. The on-site Lava restaurant offers delicious food and might be a good spot to have lunch afterwards. Once you've sufficiently soaked, dry off and get back in the car to drive on to Reykjavik , which is only 40 minutes from the lagoon. When you get there you will have the afternoon free to relax and perhaps get an early night after your journey.
Day 2: Reykjavik
This morning you will be collected by a private transfer and head into the mountains above Reykjavik, to Thrihnukagigur Volcano. From here we've planned an awesome Icelandic experience for you - you're going to be venturing inside the volcano crater!
After making a short 30 minute hike to the edge of the crater you will find a small hut where you can have a cup of coffee and will be introduced to your guides and get kitted out in harnesses and helmets. From here you will board a specially adapted lift which will take you down 400ft through the top crater and onto the floor of the chamber. Your guides will explain all about how the volcano was formed and then how the first brave man was winched down on ropes by his friends into the crater - the lift is an awful lot more comfortable! Once inside, you will have the opportunity to walk around the chamber and marvel at the astonishing colours and calmness of the cave- it's quite unlike anywhere else on earth. You'll be down in the crater for around 40 minutes so will have plenty of time to take photos before heading back up to the surface and meeting your driver to take you back to the city. You'll have the afternoon free to relax and perhaps might want to take a trip to the Whale Museum which makes a great little outing.
Day 3: Golden Circle Tour
Wake up nice and early and enjoy a big breakfast ready for a busy day exploring the Golden Circle today. Your private guide will meet you at your hotel and drive you east; you'll be out for most of the day.
Your trip will include Þingvellir National Park, which is one of Iceland's most significant historical sites because it was here that Iceland's first parliament was founded in 930 AD. In addition it is one of the few spots in the world where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes above water; the area is an enormous geologic rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. From Þingvellir you head along mountain tracks towards the world-renowned geothermal area of the Geysir hot springs, this is where the name originates for all geysers across the world! You will see one of the most active geysers in the area, Strokkur, spouting up to 30 meters. From here you continue on to Gullfoss Waterfall which is also known as the "the Golden waterfall". This waterfall is one of the most stunning in all of Iceland and you will see thousands of tons of icy water thunder majestically down in a double-fall into the deep gorge, so close you can feel the spray on your face.
Day 4: Reykjavik – Snaefellsnes
It's time to leave Reykjavik for now and head two and half hours north west to Olafsvik in the Snaefellsnes peninsula, a starkly beautiful land form jutting out into the North Atlantic. Closely connected with the Norse sagas, this region was also the birthplace of Leif Eriksson, the first European to reach America (some 500 years before Columbus), and is often referred to as 'Iceland in a Nutshell' as it is home to mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and much else of what makes the country so great.
When you arrive in Olafsvik, join an afternoon boat tour which will take you out to look for some whales. There's nowhere better in Iceland to look for sperm whales and orcas and you'll also hopefully spot minke whales, humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbour porpoises - there's a lot to keep your eyes peeled for! The landscape is magnificent around the glacier the views of it are even better from the sea. You'll be out for around three hours or so. Afterwards, hop in the car and head to find your hotel for a warm shower and a good dinner.
Day 5: Snaefellsness
This morning, we have organised that you go on a private tour of Vatnshellir, which is an 8000 year old lava tube created by a volcanic eruption from the nearby Purkhólar crater. This is the most accessible cave in Iceland and you will follow the path of the lava flow, about 200 meters into the cave and 35 meters below the surface, to see an amazing display of colourful lava formations.
Inside the lava tube there are two main sections. The upper section has great features and unique formations of lava statues curved on the sides of the lava tube. The lower part of the lava cave, which can be reached by a long and narrow staircase, takes you deep down underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world for thousands of years. Visiting this beautiful cave offers a unique experience as you'll be in the total darkness of the lava cave, with nothing but you, your guide and utter silence around you - magic. Once you find your way outside you'll then be exploring the more of the peninsula with your guide. With black beaches, shipwrecks and mountains to see you've got a busy day of exploring ahead!
Day 6: Snaefellsness – Reykjavik
After a good breakfast, get back in your car to make the two hour drive back to Reykjavik this morning. Once you get there and check in to your hotel, spend the afternoon exploring Reykjavik city - the world's most northerly capital.
This is a small but colourful city, full of character and creativity. Since art is at the forefront of modern day Reykjavik life we recommend that you start the afternoon at Reykjavík Art Museum and National Gallery, then wander around the pretty streets photographing any cool graffiti and quirky art instillations you happen to come across. Afterwards you'll definitely want to make the most of the many great restaurants in the city - after all you've been so busy exploring you haven't done too much wining and dining yet. Kolabrautin restaurant in Harpa Concert Hall, right on the waterfront, has hands down the best location in the city and offers diners a fantastic fusion of Icelandic and Italian cuisine, making it a real must try!
Day 7: Snaefellsness - UK
Sadly the adventure is over and it's time to get back to the day jobs - we know, it sucks! Make the three hour drive to Keflavik International Airport where you can drop the car off and check in for your flight home, arriving in plenty of time for a cup of tea in your own bed.
Harriet, Kate L and Charlotte H are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.