Start: Reykjavik Finish: Reykjavik
Physical rating: Low, Moderate
Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Vegans
Tour code: ICE
Group size: 4 - 18
Tour operated in:
Extra tourhub saving: $68
Follow Iceland's famous Ring Road and discover the volcanoes, waterfalls and glaciers that make up the countries dramatic landscape. Walk between two continents at Thingvellir National Park, see the mighty Gullfoss Waterfall and watch Strokkur Geysir erupt.
Northern Lights - Stay up late and watch the Aurora Borealis light up the sky
Hrisey Island - Discover Hrisey's laid back pace of life with a Viking guide
Snow cat or super jeep ride - Take an exhilarating ride up Kaldbakur Mountain
Today the adventure begins with a transfer from Keflavik Airport (KEF) to our hotel on the public FlyBus shuttle bus service. On arrival at Keflavik Airport please proceed to the FlyBus desk which is located in the arrivals hall, a FlyBus representative will give you a voucher and direct you to the bus. Buses leave every 35-40 minutes and the drive to the hotel will take approximately 45 minutes. On the drive from the airport to the hotel you'll get your first glimpse of the blackened and rocky volcanic scenery found on this part of the island.
There are no activities planned today so you are free to arrive at a time that suits you. After checking-in to the hotel, you may have time to explore a little of the world's most northerly capital. Bustling with cosmopolitan energy and surrounded by pure, unpolluted nature, Reykjavik is a city of striking contrasts. Small colourful corrugated iron houses nestle next to futuristic glass buildings; state-of-the-art facilities lie beside rugged volcanic terrain and international influences mingle with Icelandic national traditions. All this creates a unique culture where old embraces new.
On this holiday you'll be accompanied by a local Leader from days 2 to 8, so this evening you are free to settle in and enjoy this charming city.
This morning we leave Reykjavik and drive to Iceland's second city, Akureyri where we will spend the next two nights. The journey will take between five to eight hours, depending on road conditions. However, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop along the way to stretch our legs and take photos of the stunning winter scenery.
One of the scenic stops along the way will be in the small fishing town of Akranes, just north-west of Reykjavik. This traditional town is home to two of Iceland's 104 lighthouses and from where they stand on the edge of the peninsula we will be afforded panoramic views over the fjord. If we're lucky enough to have a clear sky we will be able to see across the fjord to Reykjavik.We'll stop at a local farm in Hraunsnef for a relaxed lunch before continuing north.
Standing on the shores of the country's longest fjord, Akureyri is a pretty town, with a thriving arts community. It is seen as the cultural heart of the north of the island and its galleries and Lutheran cathedral are worth a visit.
After yesterday's long drive we have a relaxed start to the morning. After breakfast we'll make our way to the harbour, stopping at viewpoint and an old fish factory along the way. The factory is no longer in use but is a great insight to the regions main industry.
From Arskogstrond we take a 15-minute ferry ride to Hrisey Island. Here, together with a local guide, we will have the chance to experience the slow pace of life on the island, discover some of its rich Viking history and try a traditional fish lunch. After exploring the island we return to the mainland, where we will visit a small brewery for the chance to taste the locally produced beers before heading back to Akureyri for the evening.
Today we will ride into the mountains on a snow cat vehicle. The journey to the summit of Kaldbakur Mountain takes around 45 minutes, during which we are rewarded with spectacular views of the snow covered peaks. .
After fulfilling the tradition of signing the Kaldbakur guest book that is kept in a cairn on the top of the mountain, we begin our descent back down the mountain. This is a true snowy adventure, so make sure you wrap up warm and get ready for a thrilling ride!
If you are travelling in October-December or there hasn't been enough snow to operate the snow cat then we visit another mountain nearby and enjoy an exciting super-jeep excursion instead. These 10 feet high monsters can cross glacial moraine, lava flows and fast-flowing rivers with relative ease. In fact, you won't believe what the drivers can make them do, but fear not - they do this for a living!
We leave the mountains behind and spend the afternoon discovering Iceland's waterfalls. Starting with Godafoss, known as 'the waterfall of the gods', it is particularly spectacular in winter when the clear blue waters partially freeze.
In the afternoon we explore Lake Myvatn. This active volcanic area was formed 3800 years ago when a lava flow blocked the valley. Here we will be treated to the surreal sight of steam rising from ground vents through the snow-covered ground. We will also see a variety of fascinating rock formations caused by past lava eruptions.
After a day exploring, we take a soothing dip in the Nature Baths, where we will find a man-made lagoon to swim in and natural steam baths to relax in. Your leader will endeavour to time this with sunset so you can relax below the red and pink skies and watch the sun go down over a beautifully frozen Lake Myvatn. The Nature Baths here are a great quieter alternative to the busier Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik - they offer the same wonderful experience but with less people around you.
Today we have a longer drive, through the small village of Egilsstadir to the Wilderness Centre, our home for the night. Depending on the road conditions the drive will take approximately 7-8 hours, there will be plenty of stops along the way to break the journey.
On arrival we will experience true Icelandic culture as we stay in a 1940's originally-restored farmhouse. The farmhouse is a living museum and has been decorated in the fashion of times gone by and are true to the taste of the past owners, including original furnishings and objects. The rooms here are simple and do not have en suite bathrooms, instead there are shared bathrooms for us to use during our stay. We'll have dinner with our hosts tonight, a typical Icelandic family meal which will often be locally reared lamb, lots of vegetables and salads followed by rhurbarb pie.
The Wilderness centre is superbly-positioned for viewing the Northern Lights so if the conditions are right it's worth staying up late!
Today, we drive along the eastern coastal road to the fishing town of Hofn, admiring the wind-swept sea views along the way. We also hope to catch our first glimpses of Vatnajokull - the largest ice cap in Europe.
On the way we will stop in small villages and walk along the deserted beaches of the east coast. We arrive in Hofn in the late afternoon and the evening is free to relax.
Guesthouse Smyrlabjorg is a family run establishment, located next to Iceland's Ring Road. All rooms are decorated in a country house style & include a TV & ensuite. Most rooms have views of the Atlantic Ocean, while others overlook the mountains. There is also a restaurant on site that serves homemade dishes made from local produce.
Continuing our circumnavigation of the island, we'll see more of the Vatnajokull Glacier before stopping at the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. Here, we can marvel at newly formed icebergs as they make their way out to sea. The ice is breaking off from the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier and the icebergs then slowly float through the lagoon and out to sea under a bridge for the main number one road. On one of the bridge's pillars there is painting, supposedly by Banksy, of a headless polar bear pushing a shopping trolley.
You can see the icebergs drifting out into the ocean whilst others sit lazily on the black sand beaches waiting for the current to sweep them away. The sparkling ice gives the beach its name - Diamond Beach.
Tonight's hotel is in the remote countryside, providing us with another chance to look out for the Northern Lights.
Located just a 5-minute drive from Vik's black sand beach, Hotel Katla is a countryside Hotel that offers stunning views of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Rooms are spacious & classically decorated, all including a TV & an ensuite. The hotels offers free Wi-Fi in the lobby, as well as free access to the outdoor geothermal hot tubs & fitness centre. The hotel also has an in-house restaurant that serves a buffet breakfast & local specialities for dinner.
Today, we take a tour of Iceland's 'Golden Circle', which includes many of the natural wonders which make the country so famous. Thingvellir is a rare site of both historical and geological importance. Meaning 'Parliament Plains', this was the location of Iceland's first National Assembly from 930AD until 1798 and, as such, is hugely significant in the country's cultural heritage. What's more, the impressive landscape sits on a unique spot where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge can be seen on dry land before disappearing to the ocean floor where it spends most of its existence. This provides the quirky opportunity to place one foot on the North American tectonic plate and one foot on the Eurasian plate.
We move on to the Gullfoss, known as the 'Golden Waterfall', due to the way it cascades into a deep gorge with tremendous force. Regarded by many as one of the most beautiful falls in the world, it often remains partially frozen during the winter months. Geysir is our next stop, with the claim to fame that, as the first spouting spring known to Europeans, it gave all such springs their name. However, it is the Strokkur, meaning 'The Butter Churn', which is the main attraction these days, due to its impressive 100 feet eruptions every few minutes.
We return to Reykjavik this afternoon, where we will have a short sightseeing tour by bus to help us orientate ourselves before checking in to our hotel. The food scene in Reykjavik is impressive and this evening is free for a final dinner in one of the capitals many restaurants.
Our trip ends after breakfast this morning. The transfer back to Keflavik airport (KEF) will be on the public FlyBus shuttle bus service and your leader will provide you with the details of your pick up time and with your voucher for this service.
Please note: The itinerary for this tour is subject to amendment due to weather or road conditions. Winter is a beautiful time to visit Iceland, but the weather can be unpredictable and snow can have a big impact on travel times. Consequently, it may be necessary to alter the order of the itinerary or to change inclusions whilst on tour.
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It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.
We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.
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At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.
Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.
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We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.
We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.
Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.
All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.
Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.
Yes on most of our trips.
Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o
Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.
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Extra tourhub saving: $70
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