No landscape in Europe comes near the spectacular extremes of Iceland’s volcanoes, lava fields, ash deserts, waterfalls, hot springs, glaciers and geysers. In some parts it is so remote from civilisation that the last link in the circuit was only completed in 1974, and some sections are still laid to gravel rather than tarmac. Highlights include the stretches skirting the rocky vistas of the south coast, the extraordinary bleak, though beautiful, crossing of the north-east ash fields (here you can take a short diversion to the thunderous waterfall at Dettifoss), the hot springs at Myvatn, and whale-watching at Husavik (another detour) on the north coast.
On arrival to Keflavik or Reykjavik Airport, you will be greeted by a driver who will take you to your accommodation in Reykjavík. After settling in, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the vibrant city centre with its abundance of museums, restaurants and bars to suit all tastes.
If you're interested in checking out Icelandic design or experiencing the city's thriving coffee culture, head to the main street, Laugavegur, and enjoy its various shops and cosy cafes.
Enjoy spectacular nature from the comfort of a cozy 35 m2 Luxury Dome with a soft king size bed covered in sheepskins, a burning fireplace. Marvel at the dancing northern lights and starry skies through the large windows, with Mt. Esja, the queen of Reykjavík’s mountain range, providing a stunning and often snowcapped backdrop to the north.
Today, day 2, you will be introduced to your 4x4 vehicle and briefed on your trip. You will then have the day to drive through the stunning regions of Borgarfjörður, Hraunfossar & Barnafossar efore making your way to Hótel Húsafell.
Borgarfjordur takes its name from the farm of viking and poet Egill Skallagrimsson, of Egil’s Saga fame. Several farms and townships are in the fjord, the largest rural area being the town Borgarnes, a commerce and service center for a large part of the southwest. Hvita river runs through the fjord and the mountains of the district are highly scenic and varied, lending further beauty to the area. Natural attractions further include the Hraunfossar waterfalls, streaming out of Hallmundarhraun lava over a distance of about 900 m into Hvita river. In the same lava field is Surtshellir, the most famous and longest lava cave in Iceland.
Hraunfossar & Barnafossar is a A series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 metres out of the Hallmundarhraun, a lava field which flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjökull. The waterfalls pour into the Hvítá river from ledges of less porous rock in the lava. The name hraun comes from the Icelandic word for lava. A few meters from Hraunfossar, there is another waterfall called Barnafoss. Its name, the waterfall of the children, comes from an accident which is said to have taken place here in former times.
On day 2, you will make your way to Snæfellsness, a 90- km long peninsula comprises a world of diversity. Snæfellsnes South includes spectacular mountains, a multitude of bird species nesting on treacherous cliffs, beaches of sand and pebbles popular among horsemen and rock skimmers, remnants and relics scattered here and there of times and ways of life long past. Saga sites and hiking trails.
In north of Snæfellsness peninsula are many treasures to be found, including the sleepy village of Stykkisholmur and the town of Grundarfjörður, where you can go looking for Orca whales, and the most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufell.
A unique whale watching tour from Ólafsvík. Nowhere else in Icelandis there a better chance to see two of the ocean’s top predators, spermwhales and orcas, than along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula coastline. Theorcas are more often seen early in the summer, during May and June,but there is a chance of seeing them all the way through the summermonths. Regularly on this tour you see Minke whales, humpbackwhales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbour porpoises. On some rareoccasions you have the privilege of watching pilot whales migratingpast the peninsula in large aggregations. The landscape is magnificentaround the glacier Snæfellsjökull, and even more so from sea.
A guided walk into the mighty Víðgelmir lava tube with the aid of all-new access walkway, and state of the art feature lighting system. Thisis a trip that the whole family can enjoy. Caves are often dark, tightand uninviting places; however this is not the case on The CaveExplorer tour. Leading from one great hall to the next the path is litslightly flowing through this magical underworld. The stunning beautyof the cave lies in the amazing colors and rock formations that used tohide in the dark. With fixed lights at selected locations this impressivecave can now be enjoyed with all that it has to offer.
Make your way to Vatnsnes peninsula in the North of Iceland harbours - home to one of the largest seal colonies in the country. It is also home to Hvítserkur, a monolithic rock formation. It ́s name means ́white shirt ́ as it is half covered in white bird guano. It has been compared to a dragon drinking from the water, an elephant, rhino, but legend has it that it is a troll, petrified from the sunlight.
From here, you can either do either of the below activities, or make your way to the hotel.
Glaumbær Folk Museum
The Skagafjörður Heritage Museum (Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga) was established in 1948, following the departure of the last inhabitants at the Glaumbær old farm house in 1947. The useum’s first exhibition at the Glaumbær turf farm opened in 1952. This farmhouse corresponds to the typical buildings used in Iceland for centuries. The turf house currently exhibits artifacts focusing on rural daily life in the 18th and19th century. The Heritage House presents exhibitions on the interaction of individuals with their social environment. Exhibits show four tradesmen’s workshops (a carpenter, a blacksmith, a watch maker and a saddle maker) dating from the 20th century, personal history of the local novelist Guðrún Baldvina Árnadóttir as well as sample from private collections.
Syðra-Skörðugil is a horse farm in the heart of Skagafjörður. Syðra-Skörðugil has been owned by the same family since 1940 so the farm has a long history of farming. They have a great selection of riding paths with magnificent view.
The road along the west coast leads to Hófsos, a small town with a two-faced look: the anonymity of most of it contrasts with the enchanting area of the peaceful harbor, liven up by pastel coloured old wooden houses all around. But the main highlight of the town is the outdoor swimming pool, probably the most impressive in the country. Built on avertical cliff over the sea, from here you’d have beautiful views of Skagafjörður and its islands. Tröllaskagi, the Troll Peninsula, is marked by the high and dense mountains which cover it all. The highest point is mount Kerling, Kerlingarfjöll, with its 1538mt, and two fjords flank the peninsula. Skagafjörður on the West is the gateway to northwesternIceland while Eyjafjörður on the East gets the name from the presence of an island in it: Hrísey, a pleasant green and flat island. Siglufjörður, is in the northernmost part of the peninsula, framed by steep mountain slopes on three sides and by the water of a small fjord on the fourth.After Siglufjörður you’ll run across the end-of-the-world looking fishing village of Ólafsfjörður and the next town is Dalvík, connected to the islands of Hrísey and Grimsey.
Beer bath, where you bathe in both young beer and live beer yeast, without showering it of until some hours later, has an extremely powerful effect on the body and skin. This treatment is both cleansing for the skin and has a very positive effect on health. The Bath tubs are made from Kambala wood and when taking a beer bath, you bathe in a big tub filled with beer, water, hops and yeast. The bathwater is un-drinkable, but there is a beer draught at every tub.
Another two days of sight seeing - you have the below options at your disposal.
Goðafoss, or ́Waterfall of the Gods ́ is a beautiful waterfall in theBárðardalur district in North Central Iceland. At over 12 metres high and30 meters wide, it is a wonderful place to gaze upon the waters ofSkjálfandafljót river cascading down from a lava field that is over 7000years old. The name of the waterfall is very important and significant inIcelandic history, which was the conversion to Christianity fromheathendom. Þorgeir Þorkelsson, a local chieftan and lawspeaker,declared that Iceland should no longer worship the Nordic gods, butinstead should be Christians, throwing their idols and symbols into thefalls, hence the name ́Waterfall of the Gods ́ ́.
Lake Myvatn's area is about 37 square kilometres. Numerous bays andcreeks incise its coastline and the lake comprises some fifty islands andislets. The lake is not very deep, its average depth being 2.5 metres,and the maximum depth is 4 metres. The ecosystem of Lake Myvatn isunique. The lake derives its name from the profusion of midges thatpervade the area. Bird life is extremely diverse and more species ofduck are believed to live around Lake Myvatn than anywhere else inthe world. The natural environment of the area is very diverse and thelandscape has a unique character, being formed by volcanic activity.
Húsavík is the oldest settlement in Iceland, besides being the largest town in Þingeyjarsýsla district and the service centre for the surrounding area. The Museum House at Húsavík, as the inhabitants of the district call their cultural centre, houses part of the South Þingeyjarsýsla District Museum, a maritime museum, natural history museum, folk museum, district archives, photograph archives, and an art gallery. And of course we must not forget that Húsavík is also home to the Whale Museum . There are also two whale watching companies to choose from in Húsavík, and a sail through the ocean waves in pursuit of these wonderful creatures is an experience no one should miss and will certainly never be forgotten.
A glacial canyon and forest in the north of Iceland, located approximately 38 kilometres east of Húsavík on the Diamond Circle road. The horseshoe-shaped depression is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and measures approximately 3.5 km in length and over 1km wide.
Dettifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the second most powerful waterfall in Europe after the Rhine Falls. Dettifoss is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, which flows from the Vatnajökull glacier and collects water from a large area in Northeast Iceland.
The Mývatn Nature Baths is located in the popular Lake Mývatn Geothermal area. The water supplies for the lagoon run straight from the National Power Company ́s bore hole in Bjarnarflag. The water has a temperature of about 130°C when it arrives to the huge basin beside the lagoon itself forming an impressive, man-made hot spring.Altogether, the lagoon and the basin contain around 3.5 million litresof water with a temperature of 36 - 40°C. The two steam baths arebuilt straight on top of a geothermal area and the sulphurfree steamrises up through holes in the floor. Typically the temperature is around50°C and the humidity is close to 100%.
Three more wonderful highlights take in during your time at The Lake Hotel. You will overnight here for two nights.
The farm of Sænautasel, situated up in the highland of Jökuldalsheiði, was inhabited from 1843-1943. In the years 1875-1880, however, it was left abandoned as a result of the lavish ash fall emanating from volcano Askja during 1875 eruption. Rumour has it that the farm served as a model for “Independent People”, the most popular novel of Iceland’s only Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness. Now rebuilt, the interior and exterior of the turf buildings are open to visitors during the summer.Guided tours help reveal the conditions of earlier Icelandic generations.Refreshments in traditional style are offered.
Hallormsstaður National Forest
Hallormsstaðaskógur is Iceland's largest forest. Experiments with imported tree species were initiated here in 1903; in 1938, the first larch grove was planted, demonstrating that wood cultivation wasfeasible in Iceland. In fact, the woods are an extensive and congenial area, and in late summer large quantities of berries and mushrooms areyours for the taking. At Hallormsstaður is a home economics ́ school with dormitories, which initially only accepted women, now educates both sexes. It is placed in a stately building dating from 1930. The Hallormsstaður arboretum is unique in Iceland, comprising a collection of around 70 tree species. Many enjoy stralling through the arboretum, and there are well-marked trails throughout much of the surrounding woodland, clearly indicated on a map published by the Forest Services.
Seyðisfjörður, a fjord skilfully carved by the ice age glacier, is distinguished by excellent harbour facilities and Norwegian heritage. Seyðisfjörður has been an important trading centre from the nineteenth century up to modern times, due to natural harbour and proximity to the European continent. The colourful, Norwegian-stylewooden houses, dating from the early years of the 20th. centuryrender this village unique in Iceland. Walking trails around town, out along the coast, or by the Fjarðará River, allow for many pleasurable and relaxing experiences. During summer, Seyðisfjörður offers a thriving arts scene, with visiting artists and growing community of artists residents.
Now you head into Austurland (East Iceland) which covers an area of 15,792 KM2 and is inhabited by 10,300 people. This part of Iceland is characterized by small villages, dramatic coastlines, narrow fjords, waterfalls and mountains. The nature is always close and the scenery is breathtaking. The destination offers outstanding outdoor experiences all year around. A great range of some of Europe’s best hiking trails, rugged and exciting highlands.
Visit the Glacier Lagoon. Glacier Lagoon started to form in 1934 when the glacier Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet of Vatnajökull, started to retreat in the area. Huge blocks of ice constantly break off the glacier and largeicebergs float on the lagoon. Today the size of the lagoon is estimated to be around 25 square kilometers and it's constantly getting larger asapproximately 500 square meters of ice break off the glacier every year. The lagoon is up to 250 meters deep which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland. The surface is at sea level and sea water flows into the lagoon at high tide.
This glacier lagoon boat tour is a 45 minutes guided zodiac boat touralong floating icebergs and giant glaciers. Fjallsárlón is an isolatedglacial lagoon in the realm of Vatnajökull. Arriving to the lagoon is likestepping into a dreamlike world that offers spectacular sights.Iceland's tallest volcano, the Öræfajökull glacier, looms above thelagoon and reaches down to the water where icebergs break off intothe lake and drift serenely around before melting.
Overnight at Fosshótel Glacier Lagoon.
Onwards to the South Coast! Along the South Coast you will see some of the most splendid and popular natural phenomena in Iceland. You will see two beautiful waterfalls, the 60 meters high Skógarfoss in the river Skógá and the unique Seljalandsfoss, also 60 meters high with a thin cascade and afoot path behind it at the bottom of the cliff. The small peninsula, orpromontory, Dyrhólaey (meaning: the hill-island with the door-hole)was formerly an island of volcanic origin. The view from up there is magnificent; to the north is the big glacier Mýrdalsjökull, to the east, the black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar rise from the sea and the whole coastline to the west. In front of the peninsula, there is a gigantic black arch of lava standing in the sea, which gave the peninsula its name. In the summertime, many puffins nest on the cliff faces of Dyrhólaey. Dyrhólaey has been a natural reserve since 1978.
Visti Landmannalaugar: Located at the foot of a lava field from an eruption in 1480, Landmannalaugar is famous for its spectacular landscape and adventurous hiking trails. This pearl of the interior is situated in a valley between colourful mountains at the dark edge of the rhyolite lava field Laugahraun. Many hot and cold springs create the warm pool from which the area takes its name. The banks of the brook are boggy and lushly vegetated and people are kindly asked to use the wooden path across the bog to the brook. The surroundings of Landmannalaugar are too colourful and magnificent to describe with words. The mountains are split with gullies and gorges, one of which, the Jökulgil, is about 13 km long.
Optional Activity: AG101 - Glacier Discovery
This is an informative, safe and easy glacier walk on the Sólheimajökullglacier tongue. Your certified glacier guide will lead you through a frozen wonderland of different shades of glacier ice; white ice, blue ice, and crystal clear ice. You will get to see deep crevasses and water cauldrons in a safe manner, along with other interesting features of the glacier. During the hike, you will have plenty of photo opportunities and your expert guide will share his wisdom about the ever-changing landscapes of the Icelandic glaciers, their formation and interplay with the surrounding volcanoes and mountains. No technical skills are needed for this tour and you will be provided with all the necessary glacier equipment. This is a great, family-friendly, way to experience the Icelandic glaciers.
Today make your way back to the Golden Circle. The famous Golden Circle route covers about 300 kilometers from Reykjavík into the southern uplands. The three primary stops on the route are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Þingvellir National Park is very important to every Icelander for historical and political reasons. The name means „ParliamentPlains‟ but Alþingi - The National Parliament of Iceland - was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798.
You will return to Reykjavík and overnight at Hotel Canopy. Set across six connected houses, the hotel joins a neighbourhood rich with history, colour and life. You will be introduced to the area with a local treat at check-in. Take to two wheels and explore the vibrant streets - the hotel provides the bikes. The rooms and suites are styled in shades of ocean and volcanic rock and have all the comforts youcrave. Just-Right Rooms have a 48-inch TV, mini-refrigerator, bedding designed exclusively for Canopy for comfier, better sleep - and the WiFi is free.
Optional Activity: Secret Lagoon
A natural hot spring located in the small village of Flúðir, in in theGolden Circle area. The Lagoon has been kept natural and the steam rising into the air gives the place a magical feeling. The warm water holds 38-40°C all year. Around the Secret Lagoon you will find several geo thermal springs coming from the ground. A walking path has been built for guests so they can have a closer look at the boiling, spouting hot springs. The Lagoon has facilities next to the hot springs with showers, bar and a sitting area. Entrance + towel rental
Optional Activity: Friðheimar Greenhouse
At Friðheimar they strive to grow the tastiest tomatoes they can, while respecting nature. Their tomatoes are cultivated all year round using the latest technology, in an environmentally-friendly way: green energy, pure water and organic pest controls combine to produce fresh, healthful tomatoes. Visitors gain an insight into the processes of greenhouse horticulture, with a short and informative talk on the subject – and in fact it is quite remarkable that it should be possible to grow vegetables in this cold climate, by creating warm Mediterranean conditions, all year round, through the long dark winter.
Drop your rental car at the airport in good time for your international flight home.
Over the years we have researched and refined the list of vehicle equipment that we provide. The equipment is identical in every vehicle but we always ensure you have the essentials for each country and its respective driving conditions.
We have access to a range of vehicles for this itinerary. Should you wish to use another vehicle, just let us know and we will include it it your itinerary.
All our itineraries are tailor made, but here are some of our favourite routes and camp combinations.