- Soak in the Blue Lagoon and tour colorful Reykjavík
- Embark on a multiday hike in the Icelandic highlands
- Visit the waterfalls and beaches of Iceland's south
- Go ice caving, hike glaciers, and see the northern lights
|Arrive in Iceland, Blue Lagoon & Downtown Reykjavík
|Transfer to Landmannalaugar, Laugavegur Trek Day 1
|Laugavegur Trek Day 2
|Laugavegur Trek Day 3
|Laugavegur Trek Day 4, Transfer to Reykjavík
|Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Vík: Waterfalls & Coast
|Katla Ice Cave, Lava Show & Paragliding
|Glacier Hike & Diamond Beach, Drive to Höfn
|Drive to the Eastfjords, Streiti Jeep Tour
|Drive to Egilsstaðir, Canyon Tour & Vök Baths
|Drive to Lake Mývatn, Visit Waterfalls, Canyons & Caves
|Drive to Akureyri, Visit Goðafoss & Whale Watching
|Scenic Flight to Reykjavík, Museum & Viking Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Blue Lagoon & Downtown Reykjavík
Welcome to Iceland! People flock to this volcanic country on the edge of the Arctic Circle to witness the grand spectacle of Mother Nature. The highlights run the gamut from massive glaciers to natural hot springs to vast lava fields, thundering waterfalls, and everything in between. You'll experience all of it, on foot and by car, on a trip that will take you around the island.
The action begins right on arrival at the Keflavík Airport on Iceland's west side. A driver will meet you at the terminal and take you to the famous Blue Lagoon. Surrounded by volcanic fields, the lagoon's milky-blue coloring comes from its rich mineral content, algae, and silica. This benefits your skin and is great for rejuvenation. So relax, enjoy the soak, swim under the human-made waterfall, and maybe treat yourself to a white-mud facial at the on-site day spa.
Later, transfer about 45 minutes to Reykjavík, Iceland's dynamic and colorful capital. After checking into your hotel, you can head out on foot and explore. Take photos of the impressive Sun Voyager dreamboat sculpture on the waterfront and perhaps tour the iconic Harpa Concert Hall. You certainly don't want to miss Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland's tallest church, which sits on a hill overlooking downtown.
Day 2: Transfer to Landmannalaugar, Laugavegur Trek (Day 1)
Get ready for a trip to the highlands. In the morning, you'll meet a driver in a 4WD vehicle outfitted to handle Iceland's rugged backroads. The drive will take you east from the capital, about three hours to Landmannalaugar, located in Iceland's untamed interior. The region is famous for its multicolored mountains, volcanic terrain, and geothermal landscapes, including hot springs, steam vents, and bubbling mud pools. It also offers some of Iceland's best hiking and camping, which you'll take advantage of.
This four-day group trek follows the 34-mile (55 km) Laugavegur Trail through varied landscapes, including colorful mountains, glacial rivers, green valleys, arctic birch forests, and more. Today's 5-mile (8 km) hike begins at the Laugahraun lava field and Vondugil canyon, famous for rainbow-colored mountains like Brennisteinsalda, which rises 2,805 feet (855 m). This is a hut-to-hut hike, and on your way to the first cabin, you'll pass breathtaking scenery like Graenagil canyon and the Blahnukar volcano. After arriving at the hut, you'll enjoy dinner with your group.
Day 3: Laugavegur Trek (Day 2)Wake up early and leave the hut with your group. Today's route is a full-day hike that covers 15 miles (24 km) and involves a total ascent of 2,952 feet (900 m). It's a long trek but one filled with plenty of natural wonders, including hot springs, rhyolite mountains, rivers, and glassy Lake Álftavatn. You can spot plenty of exotic birdlife near this body of water, including Arctic terns, snipes, oystercatchers, and more. Another highlight is the otherworldly Hrafntinnusker, a black rock obsidian desert. You'll overnight at another mountain hut near the lake.
Day 4: Laugavegur Trek (Day 3)
After a good night's sleep and an energizing breakfast, your group will set off yet again. Today's 9.5-mile (15 km) hike takes 6-7 hours to complete and begins with wading across a stream on your way to the vast gravel desert of Mælifellssandur. On the way to the highland plain of Emstrur, your group will pass the cones of the Stórasúla and Hattafell volcanoes.
If there's good visibility, you'll also be treated to views of Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. The volcanoes beneath these impressive icecaps are still active, and in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull's eruptive power sent ash soaring to 30,000 feet (9,144), severely disrupting air traffic. Mýrdalsjökull shrouds the capricious Katla under its ice cap.
Then, continue to Botnar, a green oasis amid a black-sand desert. On the way, you'll pass near Markarfljótsgljúfur, a gaping, 656-foot (200 m) deep canyon carved by a glacial river. In this area, you'll arrive at your mountain hut accommodation. Enjoy one last convivial dinner with your hiking group before heading to bed.
Day 5: Laugavegur Trek (Day 4, Transfer to Reykjavík
It's the last day of the trek! After breakfast with the group, you'll leave the Emstrur area on foot and continue along the trail to Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk), a mountain range named after the Norse god Thor. There's more incredible scenery along this 9.5-mile (15 km) route as you pass glaciers, gorges, and Mount Einhyrningur (Unicorn Mountain).
As you get closer to Þórsmörk, the landscapes and flora will begin to change. A few trees will appear—harbingers of the glorious birch forests that are famous in the region. It's in these woods that the Laugavegur Trail ends, and you can celebrate with your group. Then, meet a driver for the transfer back to Reykjavík, passing landmarks like the storybook Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the way.
Day 6: Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Vík: Waterfalls & Coast
This morning, pick up your rental car and hit the road on a scenic drive to some of the most incredible spots in southern Iceland. You'll leave Reykjavík down Route 1 (Ring Road) on a journey to Vík, a scenic town on the south coast. The drive takes about 2.5 hours, but you'll stop at plenty of showstopping landmarks on the way. One example is Seljalandsfoss, a romantic waterfall that plunges 200 feet (60 m) into a lagoon. A real highlight is the hiking trail leading behind these falls.
Next up is Skógarfoss. Located a mile outside the town of Skógar, this thundering waterfall cascades 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into the Skógá River. According to local legend, a Viking hid a treasure chest behind these falls. Many people have searched for it over the years, but it remains elusive—perhaps you'll be the lucky one to find it. Closer to Vík, you'll stop on the coast at Reynisfjara. This beach is famous for its Reynisdrangar sea stacks—huge basalt hexagonal formations rising up out of the sand.
Also near Vík is Dyrhólaey, a massive rock promontory and natural arch home to colonies of puffins. You can stop to admire the panoramic clifftop views looking out to the ocean, plus the arch is one of the most Instagrammable coastal features in Iceland. Afterward, continue a few minutes to Vík and check into your hotel. The town itself is fairly small, but one highlight you can enjoy is a stroll on its black volcanic beach hemmed in by towering coastal cliffs. Then enjoy dinner at a cozy restaurant in town.
Day 7: Katla Ice Cave, Lava Show & Paragliding
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Today, you'll immerse yourself (literally) in the wonders of this region's Katla UNESCO Geopark, the first such designated area in Iceland. Set out in the morning for the first adventure of the day: an ice cave tour. You'll drive to a glacier in the geopark and meet an expert guide to receive your equipment and go over safety protocols. Then, together, you'll enter the cave and explore shimmering walls and vast chasms of ice for an hour or two.
Afterward, you'll return to town and experience the only indoor lava show in the world. This hourlong spectacle begins with a short video about the geological history of Iceland. Then, you'll put on your safety goggles and watch as 2,000°F (1,100°C) lava streams into the showroom, recreating an actual eruption in miniature. Hear the sizzle and pop as molten rock flows over ice; feel the heat of the resulting steam.
Cap the day with an exciting paragliding adventure. Iceland has become the unofficial capital of paragliding in the far north of the world. It's not hard to see why. The mountains and great offshore winds make the area around Vík the perfect place to enjoy this popular adventure sport. Even if you've never paraglided before, not to worry—you can enjoy a tandem flight with a pro instructor as you soar over Iceland's southern coast for an hour. After returning to land, you can toast the experience at a bar or restaurant in town.
Day 8: Glacier Hike & Diamond Beach, Drive to Höfn
In the morning, drive to the nearby Skaftafell Nature Reserve, an outlet glacier extending from Vatnajökull, which is Europe's largest glacier at 3,130 square miles (8,100 sq km). You won't merely be admiring it from afar—you'll strap on crampons, grab an ice ax, and hike across its surface. Upon arrival, meet your guide and receive your equipment and a safety demonstration. Then, step onto the ice and enjoy a walk over what seems like an alien planet. The scenery on this three-hour excursion is spectacular, as you'll pass ice formations, glacial ridges, and deep crevasses.
Later, you'll take a drive from Vík across lava fields to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon on the coast. The drive takes 2.5 hours, but you can stop on the way to visit natural attractions. One option is to enjoy the viewpoints and marvel at the otherworldly rock formations of the Fjaðrárgljúfur river canyon. There are a couple of famous waterfalls on the way, too, including Skaftafell and Svartifoss. The latter plunges 65 feet (20 m) over basalt cliffs and is accessible via a scenic 3-mile (5 km) trail.
Eventually, you'll arrive at Jökulsárlón. At 656 feet (200 m), this is the deepest lake in Iceland. The icebergs floating on its surface are over 1,000 years old, and if you're lucky, you might spot seals and small whales in the water or on shore. Then, follow the lagoon to the shores of the adjacent Diamond Beach. This black-sand beach is famous for the iceberg fragments that drift ashore from the lagoon and which gleam like diamonds in the sunlight. Enjoy a stroll on the beach, then continue the drive about an hour up the coast to your hotel in Höfn, a charming fishing village on a narrow peninsula.
Day 9: Drive to the Eastfjords, Streiti Jeep Tour
Say goodbye to southern Iceland as you embark on a trip to the remote Eastfjords region on the east coast. You'll follow Route 1 on a scenic drive that passes charming villages, secluded waterfalls, dramatic mountains, and expansive valleys. Your destination is the fishing town of Breiðdalsvík, which sits on a cove of the same name. It's about a two-hour journey, but there will be many stops along the way to enjoy the great outdoors.
If you like, stop in the eastern Vatnajökull region for a quick hike around the Stafafellsfjöll mountains. Besides the rugged canyons, these landscapes are tinged with various colors owing to rhyolite and other colorful rocks. In contrast, the lush valleys offer a good chance of spotting reindeer.
Upon arrival in Breiddalsvik, you'll check into your hotel, then meet a guide/driver and hop in a specially outfitted Jeep for a two-hour trip along the Streiti coastal area. During this off-road tour, you'll pass the highlights of this rugged and wild stretch of coast, including black-sand beaches, expansive fjords, broad valleys, and stunning waterfalls. At the end of the tour, you'll return to town. For dinner, try the local reindeer or fjord-fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants.
Day 10: Drive to Egilsstaðir, Canyon Tour & Vök Baths
Continue your road trip up the Eastfjords coast to Egilsstaðir, a town on the banks of the Lagarfljót River. The drive takes a little over an hour and crosses a scenic mountain pass, after which you can stop for a detour at pleasant towns like Seyðisfjörður. Located on the fjord of the same name, the area offers plenty of outdoor activities, including nature hikes leading to lakes and waterfalls. Don't miss the little blue church in town, which is right out of a fairy tale.
Later, you'll arrive in Egilsstaði, the largest town in the Eastfjords region with 3,000 inhabitants. After checking in at your hotel, you'll meet a driver for another exciting Jeep tour. Today's excursion will take you around Stuðlagil Canyon, where a blue glacial river flows between sheer walls of polygonal basalt columns. You can stop for a brief hike to an observation platform where you can snap photos and enjoy panoramic canyon views.
Afterward, you'll return to Egilsstaði. Once back, perhaps take the edge off the day with a long soak in Vök Baths. These serene geothermal pools are located a mere five-minute drive northwest of the town. In the evening, head to a restaurant for a meal highlighting farm-fresh produce and wash it down with locally made beer.
Day 11: Drive to Lake Mývatn, Visit Waterfalls, Canyons & Caves
After breakfast, you'll leave Egilsstaðir on a drive to the north of Iceland. This region is just as far off the tourist trail as the Eastfjords and no less stunning. You'll find some of Iceland's most unique natural wonders in the north, particularly around the area of Lake Mývatn. This area boasts the highest concentration of geothermal sites in Iceland.
You'll make plenty of stops during the two-hour drive northwest to Mývatn. One highlight is Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. This cascade is 144 feet (44 m) high and 330 feet (100 m) wide, and its thundering water can be heard from afar. You'll also stop at Ásbyrgi, a forested glacial canyon. It's accessible via a network of hiking trails leading to viewpoints where you can marvel at this vast gorge's distinctive horseshoe shape.
Later, explore some more of the area's top sites, including the mud pools and steaming sulfuric vents at Hverir. Heading south, next up is Grjótagjá cave, filled with a crystal-clear azure hot spring made famous as a romantic setting in the HBO series "Game of Thrones." Eventually, you'll arrive in the town at Lake Mývatn. If you like, end the day with another soak, this time at the Mývatn Nature Baths, a series of geothermally heated pools and steam baths.
Day 12: Drive to Akureyri, Visit Goðafoss & Whale Watching
Leave in the morning on the hour's drive to Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest city with a population of around 18,000. On the way, you'll stop at Goðafoss waterfall, known as the "Waterfall of the Gods." Located on the right side of Route 1, this natural wonder spans a width of 98 feet (30 m) and plunges 12 m (39 feet) into a river gorge. There are different vantage points around the falls from which you can take great photos, so don't be shy about hiking around.
Afterward, you can head toward the Eyjafjord, across from Akureyri, for a relaxing pit stop. Here, you'll find the Forest Lagoon, a geothermal spa nestled in the green forests of the Vaðlaskógur region. Besides the natural hot springs, this large complex includes a bistro, two infinity pools with swim-up bars, a cold tub, and a sauna.
Later, you'll arrive in Akureyri. After checking in to your hotel, you'll head to the pier and hop on a boat to spot the humpback whales that congregate in the Eyjafjord. Back on land, you can take a walk on the waterfront or head to the city center to see the Swiss-inspired Akureyrarkirkja, a twin-steepled Lutheran church. In the evening, take advantage of the city's burgeoning dining and nightlife scene.
Day 13: Scenic Flight to Reykjavík, Museum & Viking Tour
In the morning, you'll drop off your rental car and head to the airport in Akureyri to board a plane for the 35-minute flight south to Reykjavík. During the scenic journey, you'll get a birds-eye view of more of Iceland's natural splendor, including glaciers and fjords. Back in Reykjavík, you'll visit The Pearl, an iconic museum and cultural center. Here, you'll enjoy the interactive exhibits at the "Wonders of Iceland" experience, followed by the Áróra Northern Lights Planetarium Show, a remarkable fusion of art and technology that will bring you face-to-face with the magic of the aurora borealis.
After leaving the center, you'll take a private city tour with an unusual twist—a local Viking guide leads it. This cultural excursion will take you to the capital's iconic sites and hidden corners, all with expert commentary from your guide regarding the area's history. As an added treat, when you part ways with your guide, they'll leave you with insider recommendations for local bars, restaurants, and shops.