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With simmering volcanoes and spouting geysers, glaciers and icebergs, and deeply carved fjords, Iceland is a land where geology comes to life. Discover these extreme landscapes as a family, venturing into ancient caves, cruising to islands buzzing with birdlife, and taking a dip in burbling hot springs. Learn about pirates, sea monsters, and the island’s rich mythology, and enjoy time to get to know native Icelanders—from artisans and storytellers to local families and kids.
Kids correspond with Icelandic pen pals prior to the trip, and then meet up with them in person to play traditional Icelandic games.
Explore waterfalls, fjords, caves, volcanoes, and rocky islands in the geological wonderland of Iceland.
Go spelunking in a massive cave system, and meet a volcanologist and National Geographic grantee to learn about Iceland’s geology.
Hear riveting tales of elves, ghosts, and sea monsters from Iceland’s rich folklore tradition.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Reykjavík, Iceland
Arrive in Iceland early and stop for a dip in the Blue Lagoon, a perfect introduction to Iceland’s geothermal landscape. Explore the lagoon’s volcanic origins, learn about the curative powers of its naturally heated seawater and take a dip in these steaming springs if you wish. Check into your Reykjavík hotel and enjoy lunch on your own. In the afternoon's walking tour, photograph colorfully painted houses and the immense Hallgrímskirkja Church or take in the fascinating Settlement Exhibition at the Reykjavík City Museum. Then meet our pen pals for an afternoon of fun activities before gathering this evening for a welcome dinner. Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina (B,D)
Day 2 — Golden Circle
Travel to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the rift valley between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates. Against a backdrop of mountains and a wildflower-dotted lava plan stands the ancient stone site of the Althing, the world’s oldest and still-governing legislative assembly. Here adults can join a local expert for a guided walk around the old parliament grounds while young explorers participate in a fun, educational project with a park ranger. Savor lunch at a local farm, complete with homemade ice cream then continue to the geothermal wonderland of Geysir, where the Strokkur geyser shoots hot water 90 feet in the air. At Gullfoss, or “Golden Falls,” take a spectacular ridge-top hike to witness the powerful force of the Hvítá Rivera as it drops nearly 100 feet in two voluminous cascades. Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Westfjords Peninsula
This morning, fly to the Westfjords Peninsula and discover a pristine landscape of fjords and fishing villages tucked into tiny harbors. Take a guided walk through Ísafjörður, meeting locals and learning about the history of the peninsula at the Westfjords Heritage Museum. After lunch at a traditional fish storehouse, take a boat trip to the island of Vigur, home to thousands of seabirds. Taste traditional treats with a local family at their 19th-century farmstead and return to Ísafjörður for dinner.
Hotel Horn (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Arnarfjörður/Patreksfjörður
Travel deeper into the fjord-laced heart of this wild and beautiful peninsula to Arnarfjörður and visit the tiny village of Hrafnseyri, the birthplace of Iceland’s national hero Jón Sigurðsson. Hike to the top of some of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls for extraordinary views and slip behind Göngufoss falls for a watery perspective on the world. After a picnic lunch, travel south to Patreksfjörður. Enjoy the afternoon exploring the city. Fosshótel Westfjords (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Patreksfjörður/ Stykkishólmur
Early this morning, head to the soaring Látrabjarg cliffs, Europe’s westernmost point and home to one of the largest colonies of nesting seabirds in Europe. Photograph fearless puffins and learn to identify kittiwakes, northern fulmars, Arctic terns, guillemots, auks, razorbills and many more as the waves crash far below. Hop on a ferry at noon and arrive in Stykkishólmur, on the Snæfellsjökull peninsula for an afternoon at leisure. Hotel Egilsen (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Stykkishólmur
Explore the world of volcanoes in-depth during a private tour of Stykkishólmur’s Eldfjallasafn Volcano Museum led by renowned volcanologist, National Geographic grantee Haraldur Sigurðsson. This afternoon, board a fishing boat to explore a few of the 2,500 rocky islets just off the coast and enjoy a sushi buffet straight from the sea or visit a traditional dairy farm and learn how the Icelandic yogurt, skyr, is made. Enjoy dinner this evening at a local restaurant.
Hotel Egilsen (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Snæfellsjökull National Park
Head into Snæfellsjökull National Park and listen to local folktales as we hike the Arnarstapi- Hellnar Trail, with striking views of unusual lava formations. Go spelunking in a lava-formed cave system to find a huge, secret cavern deep within the Earth. This afternoon, we make our way back to Rekjavik and enjoy a special farewell dinner. Hilton Reykjavik Nordica (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Reykjavík
This morning, saddle up for a ride on an Icelandic horse – a smaller, pony-size species known for its smooth-as-silk gait or relax in the nearby village of Hveragerði, with its bubbling and hissing geothermal site located right in the center of town. Then transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
About this Expedition
We tap into National Geographic’s vast network to design unique travel experiences for the whole family, filled with hands-on activities and memorable moments. A special aspect of this expedition is the Kid-to-Kid Connection, which links every young traveler with a pen pal of similar age in Iceland. Kids will meet up with their Icelandic pen pals in the capital of Reykjavík. They'll play Kubb, an old Viking game, and a friendly round of soccer before sharing ice cream treats as they get to know each other better.
Our dynamic Expedition Leaders enrich each experience with their insights, knowledge, and energy, and a Young Explorer Leader joins every group to facilitate fun activities that help kids get the most out of the places we go. As we travel, we’ll also meet up with fascinating people doing meaningful work in the field.