Iceland Culture & Wilderness Small Group Tour
Odyssey’s Iceland cultural & wilderness small group tour is a 16-day circumnavigation of this fascinating island, designed for mature-aged or senior travellers. During this small group tour, we experience Iceland’s spectacular landscapes filled with glaciers, geysers, and waterfalls, as we cruise among Arctic icebergs at great destinations such as Vatnajokull National Park, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, and Snaefellsness National Park. Surrounded by natural wonders such as geysir, volcanic craters, and the famous Strokkur Geysir and Gulfoss Waterfall, we will also go whale watching in the fishing village of Husavik. At Illugastadir we will spot seals from the coast. If you are travelling on a September departure to Iceland with Odyssey Traveller, you may even be in luck to see the Northern Lights.
Our fully escorted guided tours offer fresh insights into the history of Iceland, from settlement to the present day, with the help of an Odyssey Program Leader and local tour guides.
Iceland Small Group Tour Itinerary
Iceland’s climate, dramatic geological activity, and unique history provide visitors with amazing landscapes and experiences. Together, we learn about Iceland's flora and fauna, as well as its Viking past.
Our Iceland small group tour begins in the south coast, in the nation’s historic and charming capital, followed by trips from Reykjavik. We begin by enjoying a morning lecture on contemporary Iceland, followed by a field trip to explore the icons of the city. We stop at Perlan (The Pearl) where we enjoy an excellent panoramic view of the whole city. Afterwards, we visit the National Museum of Iceland. Here, we gain new insights into the history of the Icelandic nation from its settlement to the present day. Later on, we head to the Blue Lagoon, where we experience the naturally warm baths before returning to Reykjavik.
Reykjavik is a city full of surprises and contradictions. It is the capital city but not much bigger than a small town. Physically remote from the rest of the world, it has modern technology right at its heart. In winter, the city is scoured by blizzards and experiences never-ending night, but in summer, the streets are washed with 22 hours of daylight. When Iceland came under Danish rule, Reykjavik was designated as the administrative centre in 1786, and seat of parliament in 1843. When Iceland transitioned to self-rule (and later, to an independent republic), the city served as its capital.
As the capital and largest city of Iceland, Reykjavik will most likely be your first port of entry into this fairly isolated island country. Iceland’s nearest neighbour in Europe is Scotland, lying 800 kilometres (500 miles) away. It takes roughly five hours to fly to Reykjavík from New York, and three hours from London. Home to 40 percent of Iceland’s total population, Reykjavik is a colourful capital city not much larger than a small town. Perched on the country’s rugged coastline, the city is proud of its natural setting and striking architecture and thrilling culture.
The city is the location of the Keflavik International Airport, and is Iceland’s commercial, industrial, and cultural centre. Popular among tourists, Reykjavik, in addition to its art galleries and natural wonders, is also renowned for its nightlife, with its numerous restaurants, bars, and clubs. We will visit the Old Harbour area, once a service harbour that is now a cosmopolitan tourist attraction, and experience a walking history tour of Old Reykjavik in the city centre. Its Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, with its striking honeycomb design, has won the prestigious Mies Van der Roe architectural award. The National Museum contains artefacts that tell the story of Iceland’s history. View the eye-catching Lutheran church, Hallgrímskirkja, a place of worship for most Icelanders, as a huge majority (80%) are members of the Lutheran State Church.
One of the highlights of our Iceland cultural and wilderness tour is a visit to UNESCO World Heritage listed Thingvellir National Park, part of Iceland's Golden Circle. We also enjoy a bird-watching cruise among the picturesque Breidafjordur Islands. In addition, we have the opportunity to meet the locals in many towns and hamlets, and savour many Icelandic delicacies.
Our Iceland cultural and wilderness tour is designed for the mature couple or single traveller interested in discovering the many facets of Iceland. As such, the tour is fully escorted, with local guides providing deep insights into the history, culture, geomorphology, and wildlife of this remote country. You can start expanding your knowledge by reading our country profile on Iceland or articles about why Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman, and what can we learn about happiness from Iceland.
As an extension to the Iceland Small Group Tour, Odyssey offers a tour to Greenland, under the name Discover Greenland.
For more details about this tour, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
- Group size is limited to 18 travellers
Overview: We will enjoy a welcome dinner in Reykjavík, followed by a briefing by local guide.
Accommodation: Hotel Reykjavik Natura or similar
Overview: A morning lecture on contemporary Iceland is followed by a field trip to explore the icons of the city. We stop at Perlan (The Pearl), where we enjoy an excellent panoramic view of the whole city. We also visit the National Museum of Iceland, which will give us insight into the history of the Icelandic nation from its settlement to the present day. In the afternoon we head to the Blue Lagoon to experience the naturally warm baths famous in Iceland. The lagoon is rich in silica and said to be good for the skin. We return to Reykjavik, Iceland’s historic and charming capital, and the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Reykjavik is a place full of surprises and contradictions. It is a capital city but not much bigger than a small town, a city remote from the world but, with modern technology, right at its heart. In fact it is known as one of the party capitals of the world where there is a sense of things happening! The city combines colourful buildings with quirky people and a capricious soul. In winter the city is scoured by blizzards and doused in never-ending night, but in summer the streets are washed with 22 hours of daylight. Reykjavik is a city that treasures its Viking past but lives for the present and the future. We explore the stark white Hallgrims Church, the old Parliament, the bright modern city hall and visit the impressive Museum of Iceland which traces the history of the country with fascinating displays.
Accommodation: Hotel Reykjavik Natura or similar
Overview: We leave Reykjavik and head to Thingvellir National Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is the former site of the world’s oldest parliament and is an excellent location to learn about the movement of the earth’s continental plates and to see how that movement affects Iceland today. From the National Park, we drive to the Borgarfjordur region, visiting the Hraunfossar waterfalls where the water seems to emerge from beneath a 1000 year old lava field. We pause at the Deildartunguhver hot springs, from which the local farms and villages obtain their hot water and heat their houses. We visit Reykholt, the homestead of the famous Saga writer, Snorri Sturluson, where we have a lecture on Snorri Sturluson, the Middle Ages & the Struggle for Independence. We stay 2 nights in the Borganfjordur Region.
Accommodation: Icelandair Hotel Hamar or similar.
Overview: Today’s full day field trip takes us to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is dominated by the Snaefellsjokull glacier, where according to Jules Verne‘s book “the entrance to the centre of the earth” can be found. We meet farmer Hildibrandur at Bjarnarhofn farm and visit his tiny wooden church and get a taste of his special Icelandic delicacy, shark meat. We also pass through small fishing villages as we circumvent the peninsula and pause in the bay at Djupalonssandur to view the unique Londrangar cliffs and the picturesque village of Arnarstapi. This evening there is a display of local folk music and dancing at our hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel Stykkishólmur or similar.
Overview: This morning we travel to the village of Stykkisholmur for a short bird watching cruise among the picturesque Breidafjordur islands, before continuing our journey north and embarking on the afternoon ferry to Brjanslaekur on the southern part of the Westfjords. We stay overnight at the tiny village of Flokalundur.
Accommodation: Hotel Flokalundur or similar.
Overview: This morning we drive to Latrabjarg, the most westerly point of Europe, where we view the the longest cliff in Europe, and catch a glimpse of some of the millions of seabirds which it hosts. From Latrabjarg we continue to Isafjordur town, the capital of the Westfjords, an area of majestic mountains and deep blue fjords. Our journey takes us over Dynjandisheidi mountain pass with a stop at the Dynjandi waterfall in Arnarfjordur, the largest waterfall of the Westfjords. En route we also see Hrafnseyri, the birth place of Jon Sigurdsson, Iceland’s most famous independence hero, and climb over the Hrafnseyrarheidi mountain pass before continuing to Thingeyri village at the Dyrafjordur fjord. From Thingeyri we make our way to the neigbouring village of Flateyri on the fjord of Onundarfjordur, and just before arriving in Isafjordur (population of just 4000) we pass the Westfjords tunnel. We overnight in dramatic and historic Isafjordur.
Accommodation: Hotel Ísafjörður or similar.
Overview: This morning’s field trip takes us on a guided walk around the old town of Isafjordur to view some of the oldest buildings in Iceland. We also visit the cultural museum to learn about the interesting history of Isafjordur and the life of its inhabitants. From Isafjordur we drive along the impressive fjord of Isafjardardjup which is in turn intersected by numerous smaller fjords and pass over the mountain road of Steingrimsfjardarheidi from where there is a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and fjords. Our journey continues past the fishing village of Holmavik and then via Steingrimsfjordur fjord to our overnight in the Hrutafjordur area.
Accommodation: Hotel Gauksmýri or similar.
Overview: From Hrutafjordur we drive to the Vatnsnes Peninsula which is home to one of the largest seal colonies in Iceland. Our first stop is at Illugastadir where seals can be spotted from the coast. We then continue to Hvitserkur, a huge sea-eroded cliff rising 15 metres from the ocean, and then to the Skagafjordur region, renowned for horse breeding. We visit the fascinating farmhouse museum at Glaumbaer before continuing over the Oxnadalsheidi mountain pass into Akureyri, the bustling second largest city in Iceland. There is a short guided visit to Akureyri before arriving at our hotel in Eyjafjordur region for an overnight stay and a lecture on the geology of Iceland.
Accommodation: Kea Hotel Akureyri or similar.
Overview: Today we continue our journey towards Lake Myvatn. En route we visit Godafoss, the “Waterfall of the Gods” and we spend the remainder of the day exploring Lake Myvatn. Here we experience some of the area’s impressive geological phenomena including pseudo craters at Skutustadir, lava sculptures at Dimmuborgir (Dark Castles), and bubbling mud pools at Namaskard. We also pause at the explosive crater Viti (Hell) from the late 18th century and (volcanic activity permitting!) walk in the Leirhnjukur volcanic area and its lava field (where eruptions took place between 1975 and 1984). The lake area is also of worldwide renown for its rich bird life, especially the many species of duck breeding by the lake. We visit Sigurgeir’s bird museum, the largest private bird collection in Iceland, before checking in at our hotel in the Lake Myvatn area for a 2 night stay.
Accommodation: Selhotel Myvatn or similar.
Overview: We will take a full day’s field trip today as we drive to the fishing village of Husavik from where we take a boat to try and spot some of the many whales which pass the Icelandic shores. The afternoon is spent in the Jokulsargljufur National Park where we visit Asbyrgi, the horseshoe-shaped canyon, which according to legend was formed by the hoof of Odin‘s horse Sleipnir. We also pause at Hljodaklettar to experience the strange acoustics of the rock.
Accommodation: Selhotel Mývatn or similar
Overview: Today we cross the highland desert of Modrudalsoraefi to Egilsstadir. En route we take a detour to discover the powerful Dettifoss waterfall and once we arrive in Egilsstadir, the largest town of Eastern Iceland, we explore scenic Lake Logurinn. The lake is Iceland’s third largest lake, beautifully scenic but, according to the Sagas, home to a legendary monster. We also drive through the largest forest of Iceland, Hallormsstadaskogur, and view the picturesque waterfall of Hengifoss, Iceland‘s second highest, before staying overnight in Egilsstadir.
Accommodation: Icelandair Hotel Hérað or similar.
Overview: Our journey traverses Eastern Iceland where we pass through typical fishing villages and where we visit the mind-boggling Rock & Mineral Collection of Petra Sveinsdottir in Stodvarfjordur. As we descend to Hofn on Hornafjordur we catch a magnificent view of the largest glacier in Iceland, Vatnajokull. We spend the night in a country hotel beneath the glacier and explore the Vatnajokull glacier, the biggest ice cap in Europe, by special jeep.
Accommodation: Hotel Höfn / Waitlist Fosshotel Vatnajökull or similar.
Overview: Our first stop today is at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon where we take a short boat ride among icebergs in the lagoon before continuing to the Skaftafell National Park where we spend some time walking among the glaciers. We then drive over the sands to Kirkjubaejarklaustur area for our overnight stay.
Accommodation: Icelandair Hotel Kirkjubæjarklaustur or similar.
Overview: From Kirkjubaejarklaustur we head west over the black sands of Myrdalssandur to the tiny green village of Vik. We pause to view the cliffs at Dyrholaey, which is a paradise for bird watchers but closed to visitors during the nesting season from early May to late June, and explore the area close to the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, visiting the fascinating folk museum and the dramatic Skogafoss waterfall at Skogar river. Here we will spend the night.
Accommodation: Hotel Skógar or similar.
Overview: Today we meet local farmers at Asolfsskali and hear about what effects the eruption in March/April 2010 had on their farm life before heading to the Icelandic highlands. Today’s field trip takes us to the interior and to Landmannalaugar with its many colored rhyolite mountains and obsidian lava field. There are many walking possibilities in this area where we can climb Blabhnjukur (Blue mountain), walk into Graenagil (Green Gorge) or up Brennisteinsalda (Sulfur hill) and possibly over Laugahraun (hot source lava). We also have the chance to bathe in a natural hot springs.
Accommodation: Icelandair Hotel Flúðir or similar.
Overview: We commence our journey today with a visit to a horse and tomato farm at Fridheimar. Here we learn about farming in this inhospitable terrain as we enjoy a short show by Icelandic horses and learn how fruit and vegetables are grown in Iceland’s short growing season, peeking into their greenhouses and tasting the delicious tomatoes cultivated with geothermal energy the whole year round. After our farm visit we continue to Gullfoss, “The Golden Waterfall,” a hugely powerful and beautiful waterfall that plunges in 2 stages into a drift valley and also experience Iceland’s famous geothermal area where we see the active Strokkur Geyser bursting forth every few minutes in a cloud of steam. We learn how Icelanders capture this geothermal power at the Hellisheidi power plant before return to Reykjavik for our farewell dinner and last overnight in Iceland.
Accommodation: Hotel Reykjavik Natura or similar.
Overview: Our tour ends in Reykjavík.
What’s included in our Tour
- 16 nights of hotel accommodation.
- 16 breakfasts and 12 dinners.
- Transport in comfortable and modern coaches with a driver guide.
- All excursions, entrance fees as per itinerary.
- Services of a Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
- Service charges and gratuities.
- Detailed preparatory information.
What’s not included in our Tour
- International airfares and departure taxes.
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.