Grand Tour of Iceland
12 days, 11 nights: All Year
The Grand Tour circles the island counter-clockwise from Reykjavik. Each day includes a combination of light hiking and other activities. Highlights include Lake Myvatn, Dettifoss waterfalls, the fjords of the East coast, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Vatnajokull glacier, as well as the beaches, headlands, and waterfalls of the South.
Day 1, Welcome to Iceland!
Our car service will pick you up at the airport and drive you to Reykjavik, where you check into your downtown hotel. Spend the day at leisure with recommendations from us.
Day 2, Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss
We start the day with a drive to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thingvellir is located in the dramatic rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates pull apart, clearly visible at the great Almannagjá or Everyman’s Gorge. After lunch, proceed to Geysir, the place that gave its name to the phenomenon worldwide. From here, a 10-minute drive takes you to Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, Iceland’s most famous (and some say most beautiful) waterfall. In the afternoon, a scenic drive through classic Icelandic farmland delivers you to your hotel in time for dinner.
Day 3, Iceland´s South Coast
Today, we drive along the south coast of Iceland, taking in some of its most dramatic scenery, exploring waterfalls and black-sand beaches along the way. After visits to the breathtaking Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, we´ll explore Dyrholaey promontory and the town of Vik. Then we´ll traverse the Laki lava field, one of the world´s largest, before settling in near the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
Day 4, Skaftafell National Park
Start the day with a 2-3 hour hike in Skaftafell, Europe´s largest national park, which encompasses a breathtaking collection of peaks and glaciers and varied flora and fauna. Our path will take us past scenic waterfalls, with commanding views of glacier tongues and black desert sands stretching out to sea. We´ll picnic overlooking Skaftafellsjokull glacier and, if we´re lucky, we´ll observe Iceland´s highest peak, Hvannadalshnjukur. Later in the day, we´ll go on a 45-minute boat ride on Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon. Two James Bond movies were filmed in this fantastic location and floating among the ice you may spot seals, eider ducks, and, even witness the glacier calving into the crystal turquoise waters.
Day 5, East Fjords of Iceland
Today, we´ll explore the fjords and mountain passes of the East Coast, before ending the day in Seydisfjordur, one of Iceland’s most picturesque coastal towns. Nestled in a long, calm, fjord, lined with snow-capped mountains and tumbling waterfalls, the town is known for its colorful 19th century houses. We will stay here for two nights.
Day 6, Seydisfjordur
Today, we´ll visit Skálanes Nature Reserve, home to over 40 different species of birds and other wildlife. Located at the mouth of the fjord, Skalanes offers beautiful walking and hiking opportunities and includes a visit to the Skalanes farm where we enjoy a homemade lunch. We´ll use the late afternoon and evening to explore the village of Seydisfjordur, including the Skaftfell Cultural Center, which hosts visiting artists from all over the world.
Day 7, Highland Heaths and Dettifoss
Heading out from Seydisfjordur, we traverse a highland desert. By late morning, we should be at Dettifoss, Europe´s largest and most powerful waterfall. We then make our way along Jökulsargljufur canyon to Asbyrgi, and from there to Lake Mývatn, where we will spend the next two nights. After dinner, consider basking in the geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths, the north´s version of the Blue Lagoon.
Day 8, Lake Mývatn
There is much to see around Lake Myvatn, which is famous for its rich bird life and geological formations. We´ll spend today exploring its bubbling geothermal mudflats, picturesque volcanic craters, recent lava fields (still steaming!), and grassy shoals teeming with water birds. In the late afternoon, consider a scenic 1-2 hour chartered flight over the surrounding area — or as far south as Vatnajökull glacier.
Day 9, Skagafjordur
Today, we leave Lake Myvatn and make our way to the Skagafjordur region in the northwest. It is a beautiful drive through mountain valleys, high up over heaths and through scenic farmlands. On the way, we´ll stop at beautiful Godafoss waterfalls and spend a few hours in Akureyri, Iceland´s second largest town with a population of 17,000. We will stay for two nights in Skagafjordur. The region is known for the quality of its horses. After checking into our hotel, we´ll visit a local ranch and go for a 1-2 hour ride on the friendly Icelandic horse.
Day 10, Towards Reykjavik
Today, we sit back and enjoy the scenic drive back to Reykjavík. We will make stops along the way including the Grabrok lavafield, one of the most rugged and beautiful moss-covered lava fields in Iceland and Glanni waterfall which is believed by many local people to be the dwelling place of elves and trolls. Glanni is in Nordura river, known as the queen of rivers due to its abundance of salmon and trout. Arrive in Reykjavik in the afternoon.
Day 11, Free Day in Reykjavik
Enjoy a free day in the city with recommendations from us. Consider going on a whale watching tour from the old harbor or a biking tour of the center. Or, you can stroll to the city lake and feed the ducks and swans.
Day 12, Blue Lagoon and Departure
Guests leaving in the afternoon may consider a day at the Blue Lagoon spa before arriving at the airport before departure.