Northern Lights Exploration
Purples, greens and blues dance across the dark night sky, ribboning in pretty patterns to bathe the landscape in light. The aurora borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights, is one of nature’s most breathtaking shows. And as you anticipate each night, there’s a host of natural wonders to see – from glistening glaciers to fiery volcanos and tumbling falls that cascade into ice-blue lakes.
If you’re looking for an adventure that has everything from miraculous natural phenomena to breathtaking scenery, and a fascinating culture to diverse yet delicious cuisine, this fully-inclusive experience is for you.
Tour Duration: 11 nights
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Day 1: Depart the UK for Reykjavík, Iceland’s coastal capital. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to your hotel by your local leader who will offer some interesting introductory facts about the region. Tonight, get to know your fellow guests over a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Embark on a tour that will reveal the fascinating history of Iceland’s oldest city. Passing the church of Hallgrimskirkja through the university district, your first stop is City Hall. From here, head past the harbour and spot the city’s abundant sculptures and public artwork. Admire the view out to the mountains from the balcony of the Perlan. While you won’t be looking for the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, with the city lights making them difficult to see, you will start learning about them with a visit to Aurora House. This afternoon is at your leisure.
Day 3: Perhaps surprisingly, the Icelandic people are the third largest consumers of cheese in the world, and today you’ll find out why. Uncover the fascinating tradition that lies behind Icelandic cheese and Skyr, a yoghurt-like low-fat dairy product that is often mixed with porridge or fruit for dessert. Later, visit Volcano House to discover more about Iceland’s 200 volcanoes, tectonic activity and mineral makeup.
Day 4: Travel west towards the Borgarfjörður Valley, the setting for many Icelandic sagas. Framed by pretty mountains, shimmering glaciers and ice-blue waters, this is a place of outstanding natural beauty. Explore birch-covered lava fields to find natural springs bubbling through the earth and see the magnificent Hraunfossar Falls which seems to appear from nowhere to tumble into the pale blue river below. Continue up to Barnafoss Falls and beyond to historic Reykholt, the home of the 13th-Century saga-writer Snorri Sturluson. Finish the afternoon with a visit to the rim of the Grábrók Volcano. Tonight you begin your eagerly-anticipated Northern Lights spotting. Head out with your knowledgeable guide in search of the aurora borealis, dancing in colour across the dark night sky, and enjoy midnight snacks as you wait.
Day 5: Travel to the quaint fishing town of Stykkishólmur and embark on an enchanting two-and-a-half hour cruise through the Breiðafjörður fjord with its fascinating cliff faces and enjoy a special sushi tasting of delicious scallops and sea urchin plucked fresh from the ocean. Back ashore, head south and journey out on yet another aurora-spotting adventure complete with midnight snacks.
Day 6: Today is all about Iceland’s breathtaking natural beauty as you continue along a scenic mountain route, past the country’s largest lake, Thingvallavatn, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Þingvellir National Park. Walk around the Alþingi, the oldest extant parliamentary institution in the world and one of Iceland’s most sacred sites. Head further into the park and take in the remarkable geological vistas, with the Mid-Atlantic Rift clearly visible. From here, you’ll travel on to the Kerið Crater to see the calm vivid blue lake that sits at the bottom of its bowl-like crater. Travel on to the waterfall Gullfoss, one of the most beautiful in Iceland. The last stop on your beauty-tour is the three-valleyed geothermal area of Haukadalur where you will see the geysers of Geysir and Strokkur.
Day 7: Journey to Hveragerði, a town that boasts hot bubbling springs at its centre. Here, you will boil an egg in the waters and savour some of the delicious local bread cooked in the ground by the steam. Later, head to the charming seaside villages of Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki. At a nearby restaurant, you’ll enjoy one of the highlights of the day – a superb langoustine dinner.
Day 8: Today heralds a day of ice and culture. Visit the spectacular Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers, the latter of which sits above an active volcano. You’ll then enjoy the towering sight of Skógafoss waterfall before heading to the Skogar folk museum to uncover the history of Iceland’s unique culture and heritage. From here, the adventure is far from over, with a visit to the Sólheimajökull ice-wall, the village of Vík í Mýrdal and the volcanic black-sand beach of Reynisfjara. Your final stop is the small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Day 9: Visit Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier in Europe, covering around 8% of Iceland. Towering above this glistening field of ice is the country’s highest peak – Hvannadalshnjúkur. Rugged moors, jagged peaks, glacial rivers, babbling brooks and sandy plains define the beauty of Skaftafell National Park. After lunch, enjoy a brief stop at the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, an outlet of the massive Vatnajökull glacier. Your final stop of the day is at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.
Day 10: One of your trip highlights awaits today – a short one-hour glacier walk. Provided with crampons, you’ll head out across the flat ice of the Sólheimajökull glacier during this once-in-a-lifetime experience and get some enviable snaps. For those who don’t want to head out on the ice, wander around and take in your idyllic surrounds. Later, you’ll pay a visit to the Eyjafjallajökull visitor centre. It’s out to enjoy the landscapes again as you head to the ribbon-like waterfall of Seljalandsfoss. There are few sights in the world more beautiful than this, and for those who aren’t afraid of getting wet, a walk behind the falls is a must. Tonight, as with every night outside of Reykjavik, you’ll head out to spot the aurora.
Day 11: Grand, barren and ribboned with fissures where lava once flowed, the Reykjanes peninsula is worth a stop. From here, head to a nearby lighthouse before crossing a small bridge that spans the continental plates of America and Eurasia. Lunch promises more Icelandic delicacies, with a seafood and crab feast fresh from the sea. Your last stop is a museum where you will see a traditional Viking ship. Enjoy your final evening spotting the northern lights.
Day 12: This morning brings the perfect way to end your Icelandic adventure – a visit to the sensational Blue Lagoon. Sat in the middle of a dramatic lava field, this expanse of water is naturally warmed by geothermal activity. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the rejuvenating waters as you take in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Iceland one last time before being transferred to Reykjavik for your flight back to the UK.