country

Classic Highlights Of Iceland

Spend 8 days exploring glaciers, lava fields, national parks, volcanic crater lakes, waterfalls, and more. Plus, see the northern lights!

Destinations Explored

1

Reykjavík

2

Greater Iceland

Map with locations highlighted

Just south of the Arctic Circle and bursting with active volcanoes, Iceland truly is the land of ice and fire. Given its unique position on the globe, Iceland boasts a variety of dramatic geographic features: glaciers, volcanoes, fjords, geysers, black sand beaches, and lava fields. In just over a week, you'll experience the best that this enchanting country has to offer. The itinerary is suitable for families, young couples, and friends alike looking for an adventurous escape. 

Key Highlights

Explore the hidden world of the lava fields on a caving tour of Leidarendi Cave

See the gorgeous northern lights and picturesque light houses by night

Take a glacier hike along Sólheimajökull

Relax in the magic waters of the Blue Lagoon

Best Times to Visit

June - September

Sample Trip Itinerary

Day 1-2

Reykjavik

Arrival at Keflavik International Airport.

Accommodation in Reykjavik

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Embark on a private walking tour with a Viking

The perfect introduction to Reykjavik, this walking tour will help you get your bearings in the city. You'll visit all of the must-see landmarks—such as Hallgrímskirkja Church (your guide will teach you how to pronounce that), the Harpa concert hall, and the Reykjavik pond—as well as the hidden gems that most tourists miss. Along the way, your private guide will bring you through the fascinating history of Iceland (and its mythology!) while pointing out the best spots to eat and drink. 

Explore the lava fields on an underground tour of Leidarendi Cave

Discover what's underneath all the lava in Iceland on a tour of Leidarendi. The 900-meter-long cave is pitch black, but you'll get a helmet with a headlight to explore the lava formations (stalactites and drip stalagmites), which were formed more than 2,000 years ago. Be prepared—you may need to hunch and crawl a bit! 

See the northern lights and iconic lighthouses at night

No visit to Iceland is complete without a tour of the iconic northern lights or the country's many lighthouses, which once played a vital role in warning fishing vessels of impeding danger. During this private experience, you'll visit both the Gardskagi lighthouse (the tallest in Iceland, which offers a stunning view) and Reykjanes auxiliary lighthouse. There will also be a tripod available for you to capture a photo of the northern lights. And hot chocolate/Icelandic drinking chocolate, too! 

Day 3-4

Golden Circle

1.5 to 2 hours of total driving time.

Accommodation in Golden Circle

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Explore Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir (or Thingvellir) is a historic national park just east of Reykjavík that's located in a rift valley caused by the separation of two tectonic plates (which explains the rocky cliffs and fissures). It's best known for the Alþing (Althing), which was the site of Iceland's parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries and exists today as the oldest surviving parliament in the world. Be sure to also explore the tiny but charming Þingvellir Church tucked away in the woods, next to which sits a peaceful, small cemetery.

See the volcanic crater lake, Kerið

Kerid Crater, and the lake that fills it, is one of the major sights along the Golden Circle. Not far from Selfoss, Kerid Crater is remarkably beautiful—it’s mirror-like lake, surrounding pine forest, and dramatic vistas make this a must visit for hikers. It also boasts some of the best photo ops in all of Iceland. Wear your hiking gear and climb to the top for the best views.

Visit the scenic Faxi waterfall in the Tungufljót river

Faxi is a stunningly beautiful, cascading waterfall located in the Tungufljót river that many travelers (unfortunately) overlook. For the best vantage point, head to the viewing platform just below the parking lot and above the waterfall, or make your way up to the traditional Icelandic rettir where farmers herd their sheep in the fall. If you're lucky, you may also spot some salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

Although the waterfall can't be seen from Route 35, that's the best road to take since it leads to the hot springs at Geysir and to Gullfoss, the Golden waterfall. 

See Iceland's iconic Gullfoss waterfall

Gullfoss, also known as the "Golden Waterfall," is a two-tiered waterfall that dramatically drops 70 meters deep into the narrow canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. For the best views of this breathtaking natural marvel, you'll walk along the path from the parking lot to the viewing platform. 

Explore Geysir Hot Spring from an ATV

Under the guidance of an expert, you'll traverse the lunar landscape of the erosion-blasted Haukadalsheiði plateau by buggy, which is similar to an ATV. You'll explore the rocky Kjölur highland road, Langjökull glacier, Bláfell volcano and Sandvatn glacier lagoon.

Visit Bruarfoss ("Blue Waterfall")

Brúarfoss waterfall earned its reputation as Iceland's bluest waterfall due to its stunningly vibrant blue hues. Although the only way to get here is to hike, it's worth the 4.4-mile round-trip trek—especially since, along the way, you'll pass smaller (but still picturesque) waterfalls. 

Soak in the steam baths and geothermal pools

Spend the afternoon taking in the unique healing powers of the geothermal springs. Relax in the mod wading pools before popping into the cedar-lined steam room that's fed by a natural vent below. If you get hungry, stop by the Geothermal Bakery, where bread is baked for 24 hours underground. And if you're feeling especially adventurous, take a dip in the refreshing lake. 

Day 5-6

Southern Iceland

2 to 2.5 hours of total driving time.

Accommodation in Southern Iceland

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Take a snowmobile tour of Mýrdalsjökull glacier

During this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, you'll snowmobile on top of Mýrdalsjökull glacier and across the icecap covering Katla volcano—one of Iceland's largest—while catching breathtaking views of South Iceland. Bonus points for the fact that your guide will provide you with everything you need (special clothing, helmets, etc). Just bring yourself! 

Hike along the Sólheimajökull glacier

Hike Sólheimajökull glacier alongside an experienced guide on this small group adventure, which is available all year round. An outlet from the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, Sólheimajökull is surrounded by some of Iceland's most iconic volcanoes—and even transforms into a glacier lagoon during the summer.

Explore the Katla ice cave by Jeep and/or foot

On this guided tour, you'll visit the 800-year-old (still active) Katla volcanic ice cave, which is located about 45 minutes north of Vík. Along the scenic ride, your driver will bring you through the ruggedly beautiful landscape complete with verdant green mountains and pitch-black lava sand plains from previous eruptions.

Day 7

Eastern Iceland

2 to 2.5 hours of total driving time.

Accommodation in Eastern Iceland

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Walk on impacted ice during a glacier hike at Skaftafell National Park

Embark on a breathtaking hike across Europe's oldest glacier, Vatnajökull. Not only will you discover what it feels like to walk on impacted ice, but you'll also catch stunning views of the ice-capped peaks of Skaftafell National Park while using crampons, ice axes, and harnesses to see crevasses and deep cracks on the surface. Your expert guide will introduce you to the history of the glacier and teach you about the vertical shafts (aka moulins) which form when melting water makes its way into the fissures and cracks. 

Take a glacier lagoon boat tour to see Jökulsárlón

This glacier lagoon boat tour begins at the Ice Lagoon truck. From there, you'll sail with a small group and expert guide on a zodiac boat through Jökulsárlón, an expansive lake in the southern corner of Vatnajökull National Park. Traversing the glacier's edge, you'll reach the point where the iceberg splits off from Vatnajökull, Europe's biggest glacier. 

Day 8

Blue Lagoon

5 hours of total driving time.

Accommodation in Blue Lagoon

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Indulge in the waters of the Blue Lagoon

Embrace the natural beauty of Iceland’s geothermal landscape while indulging in the ultimate spa treatment. You'll enjoy full access to the blue-white waters, along with a Silica skin-purifying mud mask, saunas, and steam rooms. Enjoy a perfect back massage under the Waterfall, a man-made falls designed specifically for tension relief, then be sure to check out the swim-up Lagoon bar for a cocktail without leaving the water. When you’re fully soothed and steamed, dine at the stunning Lava restaurant, which is carved directly into the black volcanic rock overlooking the lagoon. 

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Essential Iceland

Reykjavík, Greater Iceland

Prices start from $3810 per person.

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Carol’s Family Trip to Japan

“The experience was out of this world! Anything that we requested or that we were interested in, Sarah was able to accommodate it for us.”

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Omar’s London & Paris Family Vacation with Kids

“We really enjoyed the mix of cultural, food and shopping experiences. Most of all, it was great to hit the ground with a plan for each day, but also improvise depending on how our kids were feeling.”

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Deborah & Lew’s 25th Wedding Anniversary in Italy

“Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I had some specific ideas about what to see—what art, what part of the countryside, etc. Elena (our trip designer) was very patient with me as we worked out just the right itinerary.”

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Carol’s Family Trip to Japan

“The experience was out of this world! Anything that we requested or that we were interested in, Sarah was able to accommodate it for us.”

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Omar’s London & Paris Family Vacation with Kids

“We really enjoyed the mix of cultural, food and shopping experiences. Most of all, it was great to hit the ground with a plan for each day, but also improvise depending on how our kids were feeling.”

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Deborah & Lew’s 25th Wedding Anniversary in Italy

“Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I had some specific ideas about what to see—what art, what part of the countryside, etc. Elena (our trip designer) was very patient with me as we worked out just the right itinerary.”