Experience an enchanting land of geological extremes on a circumnavigation of Iceland. Encounter vast volcanic landscapes and the world’s youngest island, walk on lava fields and ice sheets, and feel the spray of gushing hot springs and cascading waterfalls. Go birding on the Arctic Circle, kayak into fjords and serene bays, and hike along magnificent and remote stretches of the coast. Cap off the adventure with a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon.
Explore Europe’s largest ice cap and explore the lava-sculpted landscapes of the Westman Islands.
Soak in hot springs, and see boiling mud pots and the thundering Godafoss Waterfall
Get up close to spectacular sculptures in ice on a cruise among the scattered icebergs of Jökulsárlón.
Go whale-watching and spot birdlife on the shores of Iceland and its surrounding isles.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Reykjavík, Iceland
Arrive in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital. On a walking tour of the Old Town, step into the Hallgrimskirkja, a church whose steeple soars to 210 feet, making it the highest building in Iceland. Learn about Norse culture at the National Museum, and browse a collection of Viking treasures and artifacts, and unusual whalebone carvings. Embark the National Geographic Explorer. (L,D)
Day 3 — Exploring the West Coast of Iceland
Navigate Iceland’s wild western frontier, sailing past the soaring Latrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. Continue to Flatey island, a trading post for many centuries, and take walks around the charming hamlet that sprang up here. Explore the coast by Zodiac this afternoon. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Ísafjördur
Located in the Western Fjords, the town of Ísafjördur lies on a tiny spit jutting out into the water against a backdrop of steep hills. The town is renowned for its traditional eider down production and is a great place for hiking, kayaking and spotting eider duck. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Exploring Iceland’s Northern Coast
Start the day in Siglufjordur, the center of a once-thriving herring industry, and stop by the Herring Museum for a talk and a tasting. Continue to picturesque Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city—with a population of just under 18,000. Stroll through the narrow lanes of the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and see unusual Icelandic flora at the botanical garden. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Mývatn and Húsavík
Drive to Mývatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland, and encounter a wondrous landscape of craters, lakes, and lava flows. See the bubbling mud pools at Hverarönd and continue through the Krafla geothermal area to the volcanic crater at Viti. Then take in an unforgettable sight: Godafoss, the thundering “waterfall of the gods,” which stretches some 90 feet and tumbles more than 35 feet into the glacial river Skjálfandafljót. Meet the ship in Húsavík, and set sail for the tiny island of Grímsey, situated right on the Arctic Circle. Explore the coast by Zodiac and experience the midnight sun of summer. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Exploring the Langanes
Iceland’s rugged east coast is an unspoiled stretch of rocky outcrops, hidden coves, and hills that beckon hikers. Today’s schedule is flexible so that we can take advantage of wildlife sightings and explore this beautiful landscape with our naturalists by Zodiac and on foot. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Djúpivogur
Dock in Djúpivogur and venture onto the vast Vatnajökull ice cap, the third largest in the world. For a closer look at the ice, take a boat ride through Jökulsárlón, a lagoon strewn with spectacular icebergs sculpted into all shapes and sizes by the elements. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Westman Islands
The Westman Islands were formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and are among the youngest of the world’s archipelagos. In 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—which we’ll see as we cruise past the coast. In 1973, the island of Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbor. Visit the crater, where the earth is still hot, and take in amazing views of areas that were engulfed by lava. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Reykjavík /U.S.
We complete our circumnavigation today and disembark in Reykjavík. Enjoy lunch in town, and take a soak in the gem-colored geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon before our flight home. (B,L,D)
Photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson have collectively photographed more than 50 stories for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. They have spent most of their careers working in Europe, shooting stories from the Arctic and Scandinavia to Italy and France. Sisse and Cotton have been awarded prizes by Pictures of the Year International, the National Press Photographers Association, White House Press Photographers Association, and Communication Arts. Based in Denmark, Sisse and Cotton will share their love of photography and their insights into the history and legacy of the Vikings.
Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson will join the following departure: