- Tour lava and ice caves throughout Iceland
- See massive waterfalls on a road trip along the Golden Circle
- Go snowmobiling and hiking on Iceland's largest glaciers
- Ride quad bikes along the Reykjanes Peninsula and see the northern lights
|Day 1||Arrive in Iceland, Reykjavík to Húsafell, Glacier Tour||Húsafell|
|Day 2||Drive to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Beaches, Towns & Lava Cave Tour||Arnarstapi|
|Day 3||Drive the Golden Circle, Snowmobiling at Langjökull Glacier||Golden Circle|
|Day 4||South Coast Waterfalls & Super Jeep Ice Cave Tour||Vík|
|Day 5||Explore River Canyons, Skaftafell Glacier Hike||Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|Day 6||South Coast to Reykjanes Peninsula, Quad Biking & Northern Lights||Reykjanes Peninsula|
|Day 7||Drive to Keflavík via the Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Reykjavík to Húsafell, Glacier Tour
Welcome to Iceland! This northern volcanic island is a hotbed of geological wonders whose settlement dates back over 1,000 years to the Viking Age. After arriving at Keflavík International Airport, you'll pick up your rental car and drive 45 minutes east to the capital of Reykjavík. From here, turn north and continue up the coast to the Borgarfjörður fjord. Along the way, you can stop at any number of natural attractions and historic villages.
One option is the port town of Akranes, whose Folk Museum is a real crowd-pleaser. Established in 1959, it's an open-air museum featuring 19th-century buildings and Icelandic boats. After Akranes, you could visit a nearby lighthouse that houses a photography exhibition, then stretch your legs with a hike around Hvalfjörður, a scenic fjord surrounded by volcanic mountains.
Upon arrival in Borgarfjörður, you'll drive east to the farm area of Húsafell, where you'll check in to your hotel. Then head out for a 3.5-hour tour of nearby Langjökull, Iceland's second-largest glacier. Experience the wild beauty of this ice cap as you hop in a modified glacier vehicle and race up the white slopes along with your guide. You'll also get to venture deep inside man-made ice tunnels leading to the blue heart of this 9,500-year-old ice flow. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 2: Drive to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Beaches, Towns & Lava Cave Tour
In the morning, drive north to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and stop for a stroll on the rugged seaside cliffs between the fishing villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar. Next, visit the Lóndrangar lava rock towers, which overlook the ocean and make a great photo opportunity. Nearby is Djúpalónssandur, an otherworldly black-sand beach with jagged lava rock formations and debris from a shipwreck. Once a prominent fishing village, today, there remain four stones of various sizes that sea captains used to test the strength of potential sailors.
Near the western end of the peninsula is the Saxhóll crater. A walk up some stairs to the rim reveals excellent views of the surrounding area. South of Saxhóll is Vatnshellir Cave, an 8-000-year-old lava tube you'll get to explore on a one-hour tour. Descend spiral stairs 114 feet (35 m) down into the earth and hike through the 656-foot (200 m) natural tunnel, whose walls are colored red, green, and yellow from the mineral content.
After Vatnshellir Cave, head to the north side and end at Kirkjufellsfoss, whose three waterfalls are complimented by the rounded point of Mount Kirkjufell in the background. You can spend the night in Grundarfjörður, near the waterfall, or continue to the larger town of Stykkishólmur. On the way, stop at the Shark Museum and taste hákarl (fermented shark), an Icelandic staple. Or, for something less adventurous, enjoy dinner at one of the cozy restaurants in the area.
Day 3: Drive the Golden Circle, Snowmobiling at Langjökull Glacier
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Today you'll head back down toward Reykjavík and embark on a drive along the famous Golden Circle. This 190-mile (300 km) route features some of southern Iceland's most popular natural attractions. First up is Þingvellir National Park and Law Rock. It was at this outcropping during the Middle Ages that chieftains met once a year to air grievances and recite new laws. Also in the park is the Silfra fissure, a rift located in a crystalline lake on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It's the only place in the world where you can dive between two continents.
Next is the Geysir geothermal area. With its bubbling mud pits, steam vents, and erupting geysers, this is one of the most impressive geothermal zones in the country. The geyser is rarely active these days but can reach up to 230 feet (70 m) when it does erupt. However, the area, which covers much of the Haukadalur Valley, is also home to the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts like clockwork every 5-10 minutes and can reach up to 130 feet (40 m).
Then it's on to Gullfoss, one of Iceland's most impressive waterfalls. You can follow trails to the top of the falls or view them above the canyon's edge. Cap the day with the snowmobile ride of a lifetime at Langjökull, Iceland's second-largest glacier. It begins with a transfer off-road to a glacier hut, from which you'll receive the requisite gear and instructions. Then hop on the snowmobile and zip along the trails led by an expert guide. Afterward, you'll head to a nearby hotel, where you'll overnight.
Day 4: South Coast Waterfalls & Super Jeep Ice Cave Tour
Get ready for a scenic drive down Route 1 (Ring Road) along the southern coast of Iceland. One of the highlights you'll pass is Urriðafoss, a waterfall on Iceland's longest river of Þjórsá. The falls here aren't big, but they do cascade at high speeds over rugged lava rocks. You can also stretch your legs at Kvernufoss, a small canyon near Seljalandsfoss, where a romantic waterfall plunges 200 feet (60 m) into a lagoon.
Next up is Skógarfoss. Located just outside the town of Skógar, this thundering waterfall cascades 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into the Skógá River. Then, near the southernmost tip of Iceland, you'll pass the town of Vík, known for its scenic coastal cliffs and volcanic beaches. Nearby is Dyrhólaey, a 393-foot (120 m) rock promontory whose name derives from its massive natural arch (Dyrhólaey translates to "door-hole"). After enjoying the views, you can stroll the black sands of Reynisfjara Beach, whose jagged rock formations lend it an otherworldly quality.
Later, you'll meet a guide in Vík, hop in a Super Jeep 4WD, and embark on a quick but unforgettable ice-cave tour. It's a scenic 30-60-minute ride to a hidden ice cave near a glacier, and upon arrival, you'll receive your equipment and a safety briefing. Then it will be time to head into the cave for up to an hour of exploration. It's a great activity for individuals or families, as the minimum age is six. Afterward, you'll return to Vík and check in to your hotel.
Day 5: Explore River Canyons, Skaftafell Glacier Hike
In the morning, leave Vík and drive east on Route 1 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 unique rock formations of the Fjaðrárgljúfur river canyon. There are also a couple of famous waterfalls on the way, including Skaftafell.
Speaking of which, today, you'll strap on the crampons and embark on a four-hour hike around an outlet glacier at Skaftafell. This icy giant extends from the mighty Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Your adventure starts when you meet a certified glacier guide in Skaftafell. After receiving your equipment and safety instructions, you'll step onto the glacier and traverse the surface of this 1,000-year-old ice, which gleams in white and blue. It will feel as if you're walking on the surface of an alien planet.
After walking the ice fields, you can continue driving to 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. Then, follow the lagoon to the adjacent Diamond Beach. This black-sand beach is famous for the iceberg fragments that drift ashore from the lagoon and which gleam like gemstones in the sunlight. At the end of the day, you'll head to a nearby town, where you'll overnight.
Day 6: South Coast to Reykjanes Peninsula, Quad Biking & Northern Lights
Hop in the car this morning and hit the road for the return drive back up the southern coast to the Reykjanes Peninsula. Just like the previous days, there will be plenty of places you can stop and enjoy the scenery. One local landmark is Hjörleifshöfði. Known as the "Yoda cave," the entrance to this mountain cavern is actually shaped like the diminutive character from "Star Wars." You can also stop at Eldhraun lava field. This enormous field of moss-covered lava rocks resulted from a fissure eruption in 1783 and is believed to have been one of the greatest lava flows in history.
Upon arrival on the Reykjanes Peninsula, you'll trade the car for a quad bike and take a 3.5-hour ride to the natural highlights of the area. This includes Sandvik, a black sandy beach where scenes from the film "Flags of Our Fathers" were shot; the Bridge Between Continents, a footbridge over a fissure separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates; and Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, which dates to 1878. It's a fun activity for the whole family, with children as young as six welcome.After the quad trip, you'll check in to your hotel. However, the activities don't stop there. When the sun goes down in Iceland, the sky often lights up with the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. If conditions are ideal, you'll embark on a 4.5-hour tour in which you'll travel to a remote area on the peninsula free of light pollution. Here, under the clear sky, you'll marvel at this spectacle caused by solar storms interacting with the earth's magnetic field to create wavy curtains of light.
Day 7: Drive to Keflavík via the Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart
It's time to bid a fond farewell to Iceland. After breakfast, you'll drive to the airport, but the adventure isn't over yet. Depending on your departure time, you can stop and enjoy some highlights of the southern peninsula, like its charming fishing villages, lava fields, and the Reykjanes Geopark.
One such highlight is Krýsuvík. This geothermal area is situated on Iceland's tectonic plates and thus is filled with hot springs, steam vents, and mud pots. Similarly, you can visit the bubbling mud cauldrons at Gunnuhver Hot Springs, named after a female ghost who was supposedly trapped here by a priest 400 years ago. Temperatures at these springs are a balmy 572°F (300°C), so stay well within the marked pathways. Afterward, you can drop off your rental car and board your flight home. Safe travels!