Learn about April Merenda's (Cofounder of GWT) business memoir "It's Your Life...Live IT!" — A must read for every Gutsy Woman!

Untamed Iceland

Terms & Conditions

Trip Date
Price from
$4995
Number of Days
14
Highlights & Inclusions

Available Pre-trip: Westman Islands: Volcanic Landscapes & Puffins

  • Explore in a small group of 8-16 travelers (average group size of 13)
  • All land transportation and 1 internal flight
  • Accommodations for 11 nights, plus 1 night in the U.S. on trips that return in September and October (does not apply to travelers whose final destination is New York or Boston)
  • 25 meals—12 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Dinner)
  • 25 small group activities
  • Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Experience Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next adventure

 

Itinerary

A world away yet tantalizingly close, Iceland is a magical island of pure and unspoiled natural beauty. One of the least-populated nations on Earth—and nowhere near as cold as its name implies—Iceland is a verdant paradise of electric green valleys punctuated by craggy mountains, steaming hot springs, boiling mud pools, and lava fields said to be inhabited by elves. Here, our small group will afford us the opportunity to meet hardy locals who have historically carved a living from both the land and sea in farming communities and fishing villages, as well as discover the history of this isolated nation preserved in a series of medieval tales known as the Sagas. Their customs and traditions are inspired from centuries of folk tales passed down from generation to generation, and are full of magic, ghosts, elves, and huldufolk (hidden people).

Although shaped by its past, Iceland continues to push the progressive envelope and continuously ranks at the top of better life indexes for its strong quality of life. You’ll get further insight into the lives of these resilient people during A Day in the Life of an Icelandic horse farm where we'll stay overnight. In Akureyri, engage in a Controversial Topic about the divisive practice of wind farming—a newly added feature for 2021—and later, in the capital city of Reykjavik, witness the creativity of a city that has harnessed the power of nature to provide sustainable energy to its inhabitants. Icelandic culture and traditions combine for an unforgettable adventure in an unspoiled land.

And whenever you’d like, you have the freedom to explore more of Iceland on your own: Break off from the group for independent discoveries—like taking a dip in Laugardalslaug public swimming pool or enjoying a fishing excursion off the coast.

 

DAY 1 Depart U.S.

 

Afternoon/Evening: You’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Reykjavik, Iceland.

 

DAY 2 Arrive Reykjavik, Iceland • Overland to Selfoss

 

Destination: Selfoss
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Hotel Selfoss or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: You'll arrive in Reykjavik sometime in the early to late morning, depending on your specific flight arrangements. Upon arrival, expect to spend about 45 minutes clearing customs and completing any health guidelines your airline requires. Travelers who have reserved their airfare with O.A.T. will also have their temperature checked by your Trip Experience Leader or O.A.T. representative before boarding your transfer vehicle, per our NEW health and safety protocols; those who do not reserve airfare with us will have their temperature checked upon arrival at the hotel. You will then be escorted to your hotel in Selfoss by private car in groups of 1-2 or by private minivan in groups of 3-4, depending on the number of travelers who arrived with you. The transfer is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on traffic.

Upon arrival in Selfoss, we’ll check in, receive our room assignments, and meet up with our Trip Experience Leader and those travelers who took our Westman Islands: Volcanic Landscapes & Puffins pre-trip extension. Depending on where we stay, the hotel may feature a restaurant and bar. Typical room amenities may include wireless Internet, flat-screen TVs, minibars, private bath and tea- and coffee-making facilities. You’ll have some free time to settle in and unpack. Selfoss is the largest town in South Iceland and the gateway to all that this area of rich farmland and natural wonders has to offer. Located on the banks of the Olfusa River, it is home to around 8,500 inhabitants.

Lunch: On your own—ask your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions on where to dine.

Afternoon: Around 12:30pm, and again at 2pm if you have a later flight, our small group will gather together for the first time for an orientation walk around the vicinity of our hotel. Your Trip Experience Leader will help you get acclimated with the area, and point out nearby ATMs and local markets. The remainder of the afternoon is free to relax and settle in after your overnight flight.

Later, our group will gather for a Welcome Briefing at the hotel around 5:30pm. During this briefing, we will review our itinerary in more detail (including any changes that may need to occur). Our Trip Experience Leader will also discuss logistics, safety and emergency procedures, and answer any questions we may have.

Dinner: At the hotel, around 6:30pm, featuring local cuisine. Our Welcome Dinner will be a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travelers and toast to the journey ahead.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries—check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Perhaps you'd like to stroll along the Olfusa River or explore the neighborhoods of Selfoss for a truly local experience.

 

DAY 3 Seljalandsfoss Waterfall • Controversial Topic: Iceland’s disappearing glaciers and the effects of climate change with guide Ingo • Super Truck tour

 

Destination: Selfoss
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Hotel Selfoss or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: Around 8:30am, we'll depart for Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, situated along Iceland’s Ring Road. Melting glacier water pours over a rocky cliff, creating a 180-foot waterfall shrouded in great clouds of mist. Upon arrival around 5pm, we'll spend about 30 minutes walking around the foot of the falls. Here we’ll witness the raw, roaring power of this natural site (which truly must be seen—and heard—to understand). Seeing this waterfall will show our small group the effects of climate change firsthand and the dangers of an ice-less Iceland.

We'll then depart for the Volcano Hotel around 11:15am, where we'll stop for lunch.

Lunch: Around 11:30am at Volcano Hotel, featuring local cuisine.

Afternoon: Following our meal, we'll sit down with our local guide, Ingo, to discuss the Controversial Topic of the detrimental effects of climate change on Iceland’s glaciers. As 10% of Iceland's land mass is covered in glaciers, the continued warming of the planet threatens to radically alter this delicate environment—perhaps permanently.

Carbon emissions, which have been directly linked to global warming, have been on the rise in Iceland since 2014 due to increased air and marine travel, the result of Iceland's burgeoning tourism industry. Ironically, many of these tourists come to Iceland to see the glaciers whose very existence their presence is threatening. Additionally, Iceland gets about 73% of its renewable energy from hydro-power resources, which are powered by glaciers and glacial rivers. With such a great reliance on glaciers—both for purposes of tourism and energy resources—climate change presents a problem to modern Icelandic society.

Ingo is passionate about Iceland's unique landscape and educating the public about climate concerns and sustainable travel. As we'll learn from him, the fate of Iceland's glaciers looks grim: The Ok glacier (also called “Okjökull”), once comprised of more than 3,000 kilometers of ice, was the first glacier in Iceland to lose its status in 2014; since then, 56 more glaciers have vanished in northern Iceland, melting into crater lakes. Climate studies predict that all of Iceland’s glaciers will disappear within the next 200 years or so. The time to act to reverse the glaciers' tragic fate, scientists urge, is now.

But hope is not lost: Many believe that stringent government policies to lower carbon emissions could alter the glaciers' trajectory. At 16.9 tons of carbon emissions per capita compared to an EU average of 7.3 tons, Iceland's emissions are the highest in Europe. Unfortunately, many Icelandic people feel that the government is not taking appropriate actions to combat this serious problem.

Take this opportunity to ask Ingo any questions you may have about the effects of climate change on Icelandic glaciers and how it will affect Iceland’s renewable energy resources. Perhaps you’ll ask him what steps Icelandic citizens are taking at home to combat climate change.

Around 1pm, we'll transfer 10 minutes by private motorcoach to Vik Village, where we'll get a true taste of the rugged Icelandic landscape with a Super Jeep Tour, an off-road driving experience led by a local guide. Depending on the weather, we may drive to the dormant glacier of Kotlujokull, or alternatively, we'll head to Hofdabrekku Heidi Mountain.

At about 5pm, we'll board our motorcoach and drive 1.5 hours back to our hotel in Selfoss, where you will have the remainder of your day free to explore on your own.

Dinner: On your own. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Perhaps you'd like to enjoy fresh lamb shank, a popular dish among locals.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Your Trip Experience Leader is happy to provide suggestions.

 

DAY 4 Explore the Golden Circle

 

Destination: Borgarnes
Meals included: B
Accommodations: Hotel Selfoss or similar

Morning: Around 8:30am, we'll take a private motorcoach ride to discover more of Iceland's marvels as we circumnavigate the Golden Circle, a ring of natural highlights: Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot spring area, and Thingvellir National Park.

Our first stop will be Gullfoss waterfall, located approximately 1 hour from Selfoss, which features two tiers of rushing white water that flow into a hundred-foot-deep crevice. Each day, thousands of gallons of water plummet here, and on sunny days, it's a particularly beautiful sight to see the rainbows which form in the mist.

We'll spend about 5 minutes at the falls before departing for a 10-minute drive to Geysir, the geyser from which all others take their name. Geysir is silent these days, but we'll witness the columns of water that shoot into the air from nearby Strokkur geyser. In this area of intense geothermal activity, puddles of water on the ground literally boil. We'll explore Geysir for approximately 1 hour before pausing for lunch this afternoon.

Lunch: On your own around 1pm in the vicinity of the Geysir hot spring. Your Trip Experience Leader is happy to provide you with options, such as Hotel Restaurant Geysir or Kantina.

Afternoon: Around 2pm, we’ll depart for a 45-minute drive by private motorcoach to Thingvellir National Park. The park sits in a major rift between two tectonic plates—the Eurasian and North American. This rift creates a valley in the land, ringed by rocky cliffs and fault lines. The mountains surrounding this plain, dotted with canyons, caves, streams and springs, form a natural amphitheater. It's not surprising that the world's oldest Parliament was formed here.

After our explorations in Thingvellir National Park, we'll head back to our hotel.

Dinner: On your own this evening. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries—check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Perhaps you'd like to spend your evening relaxing in the local Borgarnes swimming pools (both hot and cold pools available), located just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Swimming is a popular pastime among Icelanders, providing the opportunity to observe and mingle with them.

 

DAY 5 Visit wool studio • Lunch at settlement center in Borgarnes • Overland to Stykkisholmur

 

Destination: Stykkisholmur
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Hotel Stykkisholmur or similar

Morning: We'll depart the hotel around 9am for a short private motorcoach ride to a local wool studio for an interactive session on wool dying, spinning, and knitting. Because of our small group size, we'll be able to help craft wool products using traditional techniques and speak openly with the studio owner about the Icelandic wool industry. We'll learn how natural ingredients are utilized throughout the production process, as well as why Icelanders have become so dependent on wool products over the centuries.

At about 10:30am, we'll depart for Borgarnes, situated right outside the scenic Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Lunch: Around 12:30pm at the Settlement Center, an organization devoted to educating visitors about Iceland's history, as well as introducing them to one of the best known heroes of the Icelandic Sagas, Egil Skalla-Grimsson.

Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy some free time in Borgarnes before departing for Stykkisholmur at about 2:30pm. Upon arrival, we'll check in to our hotel and later join our Trip Experience Leader on an orientation walk around the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Your Trip Experience Leader is happy to provide ideas.

 

DAY 6 Discover Snaefellsnes Peninsula

 

Destination: Stykkisholmur
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Hotel Stykkisholmur or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: This morning, we'll embark a private motorcoach around 9am to continue our explorations around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, including the area that marks the entry point to Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. The peninsula boasts a famous glacier-peaked volcano, black-sand beaches and rock formations, making it an optimal place to discover the natural beauty of the country.

Around 11am, we'll arrive in the fishing village of Arnarstapi, known for its constantly changing weather. The village is situated along a coastline punctuated by unique geologic features like arches, basalt cliffs, and blowholes. We'll hike along the rocky coastline for approximately 1 hour, taking in the natural sights of this area.

Lunch: Around noon at Samkomuhusid, a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll depart around 1pm for a leisurely 2-hour drive toward Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum. Along the way, we'll pass through a number of small fishing villages, including Hellissandur, Olafsvik, and Grundarfjordur. Upon arrival at the museum, we'll discover another side of Icelandic culture: here we'll have the opportunity to taste a national delicacy—hakarl, made from aged shark meat. It's not for the faint of heart, but our small group size will afford us the opportunity to learn from our host who will help us understand the Icelandic legacy of processing shark meat, as well as the country's maritime history during an intimate conversation. The shark meat takes between 4-6 months to process and is traditionally consumed with “brennivin,” at one time the only hard liquor found in Iceland and often referred to as “Black Death.”

Around 4:15pm, we'll depart by private motorcoach for the approximate 30-minute drive back to the hotel in Borgarnes, where you'll have the rest of the day free.

Dinner: On your own. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions. Perhaps you will venture to Englendingavik, a cozy, historic restaurant on the bay, which specializes in fish and lamb dishes.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Your Trip Experience Leader is happy to provide ideas.

 

DAY 7 A Day in the Life of an Icelandic horse farm

 

Destination: Daeli
Meals included: B L D

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Our agenda today features our NEW A Day in the Life experience at a family-run farm in Daeli. This unique opportunity provides a window into rural Icelandic life, as well as time to get to know the hard-working locals who live and work here. We'll also have the chance to learn about the iconic Icelandic horse, a vital livestock that has made life in this remote land possible. Read more about this exclusive experience below.

Activity Note: Depending on your departure, some groups will spend A Day in the Life on a different family-run farm. Activities will be comparable to those detailed below, including the opportunity to enjoy a farm-fresh lunch with farmstead owners, meet local farm workers and Icelandic horses, and explore the family-run farm.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: After breakfast, we'll depart around 8am for the approximately 3-hour drive to a family-run farm near Daeli for our NEW A Day in the Life experience, where we’ll meet the owner and his or her family. During our stay, we’ll get an intimate look into everyday life on the farm and learn what it's like to live in such a remote area. We'll also learn about Icelandic horses, what makes them unique and how they are bred.

The Icelandic Horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland by Norse settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. These settlers venerated the horses in North Germanic mythology, as they were crucial to the survival and advancement of their civilization. As most horses would not thrive in Iceland's harsh climate, the Icelandic Horse developed unique characteristics that make it suitable for the often severe environment through centuries of selective breeding. Historically, they were intended to assist local farmers with sheepherding; however, today, they are also used for leisure, showing, and racing. These horses were bred from ponies, so they tend to be small in stature. Despite their size, they are known to be hardy and long-lived, and the government aims to maintain their good health by outlawing the import and export of horses, minimizing the risk of disease.

Shortly before 1pm, we'll drive 5 minutes to Daeli.

Lunch: Around 1pm at the farm.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll enjoy a 30-minute horse show before joining the family for a 1-hour walk around the grounds. This a great opportunity to experience life in the Icelandic countryside firsthand as we learn about farming practices and hear from the farm workers.

At about 4pm, you'll have 2.5 hours of free time to explore. Perhaps you'll walk the grounds with your Trip Experience Leader, or sit and watch the horses frolick in the fields.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm at the farm.

Evening: At about 7:30pm, you'll have the chance to settle into our accommodations. The facilities include a restaurant, bar and lounge. Typical room amenities include Wireless Internet, a private bath and countryside views. The rest of the evening is free to explore.

 

DAY 8 Overland to Akureyri • Burial Rites Monument • Herring Era Museum & Folksong Museum

 

Destination: Akureyri
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring international options.

Morning: We'll depart the hotel at 8:30am for a 20-minute drive to the Burial Rites Monument to hear the haunting story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the alleged murderess of her lover Natan Ketilsson and the last person to be executed in Iceland during a double beheading in 1830. We’ll uncover the complexities of the chilling tale captured by author Hannah Kent in her novel, Burial Rites.

At about 9:15am, we'll begin our 2.5-hour journey to Siglufjorour, a fishing village nestled in a narrow fjord along the coast of northern Iceland.

Lunch: On your own around 11:45am—consult with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Perhaps you'll rub elbows with the locals at Fish and Chips, a popular quick service restaurant known for its namesake dish.

Afternoon: Around 12:30pm, we'll visit two local museums, beginning with the Herring Era Museum, the largest maritime museum in Iceland. Witness eleven different types of boats, a documentary about herring fisheries, and more. Then, we'll continue to the Folk Music Centre, opened in 2006 by Reverend Bjarni Thorsteinsson, where we'll be introduced to Icelandic folk music through the Reverend's extensive collection of CDs and videos of people singing, chanting, or playing musical instruments.

Then, at 2pm, we'll continue on for the approximately one hour and 15-minute drive to Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest urban area. Situated on the northern fjords near the Arctic Circle, Akureyri is improbably sunny and enjoys a mild climate in spite of its location. Upon arrival, we'll check in to our hotel and receive our room assignments. Depending on where we stay, the hotel may feature an outdoor swimming pool, golf course, and on-site restaurant. Typical room amenities include a telephone, flat-screen TV, wireless Internet access, and private bathroom with hair dryer.

Beginning around 5pm, we'll embark on a 1-hour orientation walk through the town with our Trip Experience Leader, which includes a visit to the Botanical Gardens—a peaceful garden showcasing local and international flora. The orientation walk is an ideal time to glean ideas from your Trip Experience Leader about what sort of activities you'd like to seek out.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm at the hotel.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Perhaps you'd like to discuss what you learned and enjoyed today with your fellow travelers.

 

DAY 9 Visit Hverabraud & Namafjall • Walking tour of Dimmuborgir • Godafoss Waterfall • Home-Hosted Dinner

 

Destination: Akureyri
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri or similar

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: This evening's activities will feature a Home-Hosted Dinner with a local family in Akureyri, allowing us the opportunity to venture inside their home and enjoy home-cooked Icelandic cuisine. These intimate meals are a time for sharing stories, experiencing local culture up close and personal, and asking any questions we might have about our discoveries. Read more about this experience below.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: This morning we'll depart by private motorcoach around 8:30am for the approximately 1-hour and 45-minute drive to the Lake Myvatn area, sculpted throughout the ages by volcanic eruptions and renowned for its diverse bird population, with ducks, gyrfalcons, plovers, ptarmigans, and more. Along the way, we'll stop around 10:15am to visit Hverabraud, where we'll observe how locals harness geothermal energy to make homemade bread. Then, we'll reboard our private motorcoach for a 10-minute drive to Namafjall, where we'll witness the bubbling, hot mud pools native to this area. After, we'll continue on toward the Lake Myvatn area, and upon arrival at Skutustadir, explore the pseudocrater field, formed by steam explosions when lava flowed over wet earth. We'll also witness some of Iceland's more recent volcanic activity during a stop at a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Námaskard geothermic area. Around noon, we'll visit the whimsical "black castle" lava formations of Dimmuborgir, where a lonely troll is said to have lived. We'll spend approximately 1 hour exploring here before departing for a short drive to lunch.

Lunch: Around 1pm at Sel Hotel, featuring regional cuisine.

Afternoon: Around 2:45pm, we'll continue on by private motorcoach for the 30-minute drive to Godafoss ("waterfall of the gods"), where the current carries rushing water along a glacial river and over the rocks, falling 40 feet into the pool below. It is said to have gained its name when one of the leaders of the country's parliament disposed of his statues of Norse gods at this waterfall upon the adoption of Christianity as the official religion in the year 1000.

Then, around 4:15pm, we'll drive 30 minutes back to our hotel in Akureyri, where we'll have a couple of hours to rest or discover the area on our own. Around 6pm, we'll break into smaller groups of no more than 5 and depart for the home of a local family either on foot or by private motorcoach (depending on where our Home-Hosted Dinner is for the evening), arriving approximately 10 minutes later.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm we’ll be welcomed into the home of a local family, where we'll join them at their dinner table and see how they go through their daily lives—where they live, what they cook, how they eat, and how they feel about their homeland. Our hosts are from a variety of economic backgrounds, including teachers (or former teachers), doctors, and working-class families. Some families have school-aged children, grandparents, or grandchildren at home, and some are retired couples. For our Home-Hosted Dinner, we’ll share a homecooked meal featuring traditional Icelandic foods, such as lamb soup or fried fish and potatoes.

We’re afforded this special privilege by our small group size; by dining in groups of no more than 8, we’re given the chance to enter local homes and connect on a one-to-one level, and to even share a little with our hosts about who we are and what has brought us to Iceland. This meal offers us the opportunity to see the family go about their evening routine and get a closer look at life in Akureyri. There will be plenty of time to ask our hosts any questions we may have.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Perhaps you'd like to discuss what you learned and enjoyed today with your fellow travelers.

 

DAY 10 Explore Dalvik • Whale-watching excursion

 

Destination: Akureyri
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: After breakfast, we will depart by private motorcoach around 8am for the approximately 45-minute drive to Dalvik, a commercial fishing port. Around 9am, we'll set sail on a restored fishing vessel from the harbor for an approximately 3-hour whale-watching excursion. The onboard staff members are experts on local marine life, and with their help, we hope to spot minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises and humpback whales in the waters of the northern Atlantic. Around noon, we'll head back to the harbor.

Lunch: Around 12:30pm at a local restaurant, featuring local cuisine.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll be entertained by local students who come to the restaurant to perform a musical act around 1:30pm. Then, around 2pm, we'll depart for our almost 45-minute drive back to Akureyri. The remainder of the day is free for you to plan as you'd like. For art enthusiasts, perhaps you'd like to explore the Akureyri Art Museum to get a sense of the creative Icelandic spirit.

Dinner: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader is a wealth of information, so feel free to check with them for suggestions. For a casual dining experience, check out Akureyri hot dog stand, a favorite among locals.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Perhaps you'd like to stroll once more through the Botanical Gardens before bidding farewell to Akureyri in the morning.

 

DAY 11 Fly to Reykjavik • Visit Ocean Cluster House

 

Destination: Reykjavik
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Hilton Nordica or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: We rise early this morning to check out of our hotel and depart around 7:45am by private motorcoach for the 15-minute drive to Akureyri airport. Depending on flight schedules, our plane will leave between approximately 8:30am. The flight is roughly 40 minutes from takeoff to landing.

Upon arrival in Reykjavik around 9:15am, we'll drive about 10 minutes by private motorcoach to Ocean Cluster House, an organization located in the city's Old Harbor that was established by the government to provide rental space for businesses and entrepreneurs specializing in fish bi-products, such as leather products, amino oils for skincare, and more.

Our discoveries will begin with a 1-hour guided walk through the marketplace where we’ll have the opportunity to learn about local entrepreneurs and their products. We’ll also hear various perspectives on the large-scale expansion of salmon farming as a vital industry to Iceland’s economy and necessary means of providing food to meet the demands of a growing global population.

Lunch: Around noon, a light lunch will be served at the food hall, featuring local specialties.

Afternoon: Around 1pm, we'll depart to our hotel in Reykjavik. Upon arrival around 1:15pm, we'll check in to our hotel and receive our room assignments. Depending on where we stay, your hotel room will likely offer a desk, flat-screen TV, private bath, wireless Internet and tea- and coffee-making facilities. The hotel typically features two restaurants, a bar, beauty salon, and fitness room.

The remainder of the day is free for your own discoveries. To help you familiarize yourself with the city, your Trip Experience Leader will lead an approximately 1-hour orientation walk around 2:15pm. During the walk, feel free to ask questions or request more information about any activities of interest.

Despite its small size (a population of a little over 120,000), Reykjavik feels remarkably cosmopolitan. From hip bars to extensive art galleries and a rich culinary scene, there's much to see, do, and discover. Reykjavik is believed to be the first permanent settlement of Iceland, presumably established by Ingolfr Arnarson in AD 874—though it wasn't until the late 18th century that it was officially declared a trading town and eventually modernized in the 19th century. Today, Reykjavik is regarded as one of the cleanest, safest, and most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

Dinner: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader can provide ideas, should you want any. Of course, if you enjoy seafood, Iceland is a great place to sample a wide variety of products from the sea.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Consult with your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations.

 

DAY 12 Explore Reykjavik • Geothermal power plant visit • Greenhouse visit • Árbæjarsafn open-air museum

 

Destination: Reykjavik
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Hilton Nordica or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 6:30am, featuring international options.

Morning: We'll depart the hotel around 8:30am for a 30-minute drive by private motorcoach to the Hellisheidarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant. Led by a local guide, we'll tour the plant and learn about green energy in Iceland. We'll have an opportunity to understand how clean energy is produced here, as well as ask any questions we may have.

Around 10am, we’ll drive about 15 minutes to Hveragerðiand where we’ll visit a local greenhouse—a newly added feature for 2021, where we'll learn about the issues surrounding the price of electricity on the island, specifically how it affects greenhouse farmers versus large corporations. Individual greenhouse farmers typically pay a lot more than these large corporations, such as those in the aluminum industry, which means that Icelandic food products come at a higher cost than foreign ones.

Then, we'll board our private motorcoach around 11:15am and drive approximately 30 minutes to the Árbæjarsafn open-air historical museum in Reykjavik to gain insight into the living and working conditions of Icelanders in the past. We’ll spend about 1.5 hours exploring the turf houses and grounds before walking to our lunch spot, about 5 minutes.

Lunch: Around 1:15pm at a local restaurant in Reykjavik featuring traditional Icelandic fare.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll depart around 2:15pm for the 15-minute drive to back to our hotel in Reykjavik.

The remainder of the day is yours to explore. Perhaps you'll venture to the public market, Mjodd, and meet local artisans.

Dinner: On your own—ask your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions on where to dine. Perhaps you'll try pan-fried haddock or leg of lamb.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Alternatively, you may wish to join your Trip Experience Leader in a vicinity walk to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings.

 

DAY 13 Visit Blue Lagoon • Grand Circle Foundation visit: Search & Rescue Center

 

Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Hilton Nordica

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today’s discoveries feature a visit to the Search and Rescue Center—a NEW Grand Circle Foundation site—where we'll learn about their life-saving missions. During our visit, we’ll learn more about the organization’s mission from the volunteers and have a look at some of their critical protective equipment.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 6:30am, featuring international options.

Morning: Around 9am, we'll depart by private motorcoach for the approximately 1-hour drive to the Blue Lagoon, perhaps the most famous site in all of Iceland. The water in the lagoon—comprised of 70% sea water, 30% fresh water and maintained at a steady 100°F—is rich in blue-green algae, mineral salts and silica mud, all which exfoliate the skin and leave it feeling smooth. For those who prefer an alternative to soaking, this massive complex also features restaurants, a hotel, spa and a gift shop, hot-pots, steam rooms, a sauna, a bar, and even a waterfall that provides a hydraulic massage.

Around noon, we'll bid farewell to the Blue Lagoon and drive 10 minutes to the town of Grindavik on the rugged Reykjanes Peninsula. The landscape here is vast and has been shaped through the centuries by dynamic volcanic forces. Along the way, we’ll stop at a local grocery store to get supplies for today’s picnic lunch and have an opportunity to meet some of the local people. Then, we’ll head to the Search and Rescue Center—a NEW Grand Circle Foundation site—to gather with members for lunch.

Lunch: Around 12:30pm, we’ll prepare lunch at the center and eat with members of the Search and Rescue Center.

Afternoon: During our 2-hour visit at the Search and Rescue Center, we'll learn about the vital public services this volunteer organization provides to local communities—since Iceland doesn’t have its own army or National Guard—such as sea and mountain rescues, unblocking roads due to ice and snow, evaluating safety equipment, providing safety education for children, and more. We’ll have the opportunity to see this life-saving equipment—some of which is sponsored by Grand Circle Foundation. During our conversation with one member, we'll come to understand the important role of the unit, and hear about past missions. Take this unique opportunity to ask questions, such as what motivates volunteers to join or what kind of training they receive.

​Around 2:30pm, we’ll depart the Search and Rescue Center and drive about 45 minutes back to Reykjavik for the final evening of our adventure. Upon arrival around 3pm, we'll enjoy approximately 3.5 hours of free time before dinner this evening.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm, our group will gather at the hotel restaurant for our Farewell Dinner, where we'll toast to the discoveries we made throughout our shared adventure.

Evening: Free for your own discoveries. Reykjavik has a lively food and bar scene, so if you're feeling up to it, check with your Trip Experience Leader on where to go to continue celebrating your Icelandic journey.

 

DAY 14 Return to U.S. or begin your post-trip extension

 

Activity Note: Depending on your air itinerary, trips returning in September and October will include an extra night in the U.S. upon arrival. This will not apply to travelers whose final destination is New York or Boston.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 6:30am, featuring international options.

Morning: Depending on your specific flight arrangements, you will transfer approximately 45 minutes to the airport sometime this morning for your flight home to the U.S. Travelers taking our Greenland's Natural Splendor & Inuit Culture post-trip extension will fly to Greenland this morning.

 


 

Pre-trip: Westman Islands: Volcanic Landscapes & Puffins

  • Ferry from Reykjavik to the Westman Islands
  • Transfer from the Westman Islands to Selfoss
  • Accommodations for 3 nights in the Westman Islands at the Hotel Vestmannaeyjar or similar
  • 8 meals—4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 3 dinners
  • 4 small group activities
  • All land transportation
  • Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Experience Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
  • All transfers

3 nights from: $1895, Single Supplement: FREE

Few places are as off the beaten path as the remote Westman Islands, an archipelago off of Iceland’s southern coast blessed with a kaleidoscopic beauty of red cliffs, black sand, and green countryside, framed by blue sea and sky. Experience the scenic, historic, and cultural gifts of one of Iceland’s major fishing ports and the premier home of the Atlantic puffin. This is a unique destination rarely seen by Americans.

 

DAY 1
Depart U.S.

Afternoon/Evening: Depart today on your overnight flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

DAY 2
Arrive in Reykjavik • Ferry to Westman Islands
Destination: Vestmannaeyjar
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Hotel Vestmannaeyjar or similar

Activity Note: Travelers are advised to meet the group at the 10-11 supermarket after customs at Keflavik International Airport by 7am for the included transfer to our first hotel—which departs at approximately 7:30am. Travelers unable to meet the group by this time are responsible for making their own arrangements to the first hotel.

Early Morning: Upon arrival at the airport, we'll depart for the Hotel Selfoss.

Breakfast: Around 9:30am at Hotel Selfoss.

Morning: We'll then depart around 10:15am by private motorcoach approximately 2.5 hours along a scenic coastal route to Landeyjahofn Harbour, where we'll board a ferry for the Westman Islands around 1:15pm. This small cluster of about 15 volcanic islands and 30 skerries off Iceland’s southwestern coast is sparsely populated, yet full of natural and cultural delights. Today, we're headed toward the largest and only inhabited island.

Upon arrival on Heimaey Island around 1:45pm, we'll walk 10 minutes to our hotel, check in, and receive our room assignments. Depending on where we stay, the hotel may be located in the center of town and feature views of Heimaklettur to the north and Helgafell to the south. Typical room amenities include flat screen TVs, a private bath and wireless Internet.

Lunch: On your own, whenever you'd like. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Perhaps you'll grab a sandwich at Vigtin bakery.

Afternoon: Around 3pm, join your Trip Experience Leader on an approximately 1-hour vicinity walk, during which you'll have the opportunity to get acquainted with your new destination, as well as ask any questions you may have about the area. From about 4pm on, enjoy free time to explore or perhaps rest after the day's activities.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm at the hotel, featuring regional cuisine.

Evening: On your own this evening. Perhaps you'd like to get to know your fellow travelers over a drink.

Freedom to Explore

Make the most of your explorations in the Westman Islands on these off-the-beaten path activities. These recommendations are designed by our team of local experts with women travelers in mind.

Toast to your adventure at The Brothers Brewery: Winner of the esteemed "Beer of the Year" award in the 2016 Holum competition, this brewery is known for "Togarinn," an Imperial Stout dedicated to one of the local sailors from Vestmannaeyjar. Using local ingredients such as seaweed and thyme—both found on the island—visitors can enjoy beer brewed with passion, knowledge, and history. Learn about the brewery during a tour, which concludes with a tasting. How to get there: A less than 5-minute walk. Hours: 2pm-12am, Thursday-Saturday. Cost: About $8 USD. Explore the volcanic island of Heimaey by Bike Rental: Covering just 5.2 square miles, Heimaey is easily accessible by bike, and because of its natural beauty, this mode of transport is ideal for witnessing nature up close. Spot wildlife along your route, admire natural rock formations, and enjoy a leisurely exploration of the largest island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, and the largest and most populated island off the Icelandic coast. We recommend "Rent A Bike" bike rental. How to get there: A 15-minute walk. Hours: 6:30am-10pm, Monday-Friday; 8am-10pm Saturday-Sunday. Cost: About $8 USD. Give back to local wildlife at Sea Life Trust: Support this registered charity working globally to protect the world's oceans and marine life, especially beluga whales and puffins, who call this region home. The trust offers two visitor experiences: a visitor center and a boat trip around Klettsvik Bay, providing a chance to view belugas in their native habitat. The visitor center is home to two resident female whales, Little White and Little Grey, and also contains a Puffin Rescue Center and various interactive exhibits. The bay excursion departs right across the harbor from the visitor center and lasts approximately 30 minutes. How to get there: A less than 5-minute walk. Hours: Visitor center hours are 10am-5pm, April 1-October 31; 1pm-4pm, November 1-March 31. Bay trip times vary. Cost: About $30 USD for visitor center only, about $50 USD for a bay trip, and about $70 USD for both activities.

DAY 3
Explore Heimaey • Local entertainment Destination: Vestmannaeyjar
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Hotel Vestmannaeyjar or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7:30am, featuring international options.

Morning: Around 10am, our group will gather for a Welcome Briefing. During this briefing, we will review our itinerary in more detail (including any changes that may need to occur). Our Trip Experience Leader will also discuss logistics, safety and emergency procedures, and answer any questions we may have.

Then, around 11am, your Trip Experience Leader will lead an orientation walk around Heimaey, during which he or she will point out nearby places of interest like the local market and ATM. We'll also gain a better understanding of how a volcanic eruption in 1973 reshaped the town of Vestmannaeyjabaer on Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands. Most of Heimaey's 4,500 residents depend on the sea—and never was that more true than in 1973, when the island was devastated by the massive eruptions of lava that sprayed into the air through fissures in the ground. Amazingly, the entire fishing fleet was in harbor, and everyone on the island was rescued. Eruptions continued for five months, reshaping the island, adding about 15 percent to its territory, and creating Eldfell, a volcanic cone. Vestmannaeyjabaer has since been rebuilt, and today it is one of Iceland's major fishing ports.

After our orientation walk, we'll have a few minutes to explore on our own before departing for the 5-minute walk to lunch. Perhaps you'd like to continue admiring the unique lava flows throughout the area or walk around the outskirts of town to enjoy the nature.

Lunch: Around 1pm, featuring local cuisine.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll depart at approximately 2pm for a private motorcoach tour of the island, which spans 5.2 square miles. Throughout the tour, a local guide will help us uncover the natural geological marvels of the area, as well as witness more isolated parts of the island. During the months of June-August, it is possible to spot puffins throughout our exploration. Our tour concludes around 3:30pm at Eldheimar, a museum which tells the story of the 1973 volcanic eruption. Referred to as "Pompeii of the North," archaeologists have been working to understand the tragic events of this natural occurrence, and the museum displays remains from their findings. During our visit, we'll watch a film about the historic eruption and then explore the museum on our own.

After our visit, we'll enjoy a bit of free time before later departing the hotel for a 10-minute walk to dinner.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm in a local home. During our dinner, we'll also enjoy entertainment provided by residents, including Icelandic folk songs and American classics. We'll also hear more about how the U.S. came to Iceland's aid in 1973 after the devastating volcanic eruption.

Evening: On your own. Consult with your Trip Experience Leader for recommendations.

DAY 4
Storhofdi hike • Boat tour • Explore Westman Island Destination: Vestmannaeyjar
Meals included: B D
Accommodations: Hotel Vestmannaeyjar or similar
Activity Note: The boat tour this afternoon is weather permitting.

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: Around 9am, we'll depart on a 10-minute private motorcoach ride to Storhofdi—meaning "great cape"—a peninsula off the southern tip of Heimaey (weather permitting). There, we'll view the Westman Islands’ scenery during a 1-hour hike, led by our Trip Experience Leader. The peninsula is home to one of the oldest lighthouses in Iceland (operating since 1906), and offers visitors a glimpse into the unspoiled nature of the island. This area also provides a great opportunity for bird watching.

Then, at approximately 10:45am, we'll make the short drive back into town to visit Sagnheimar Folk Museum, a cultural exhibition displaying artifacts which chronicle various aspects of the island's past, including its deep connection to Mormonism and colorful sports history.

Lunch: On your own around 1pm. Feel free to consult with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Maybe you'll try Krain, a local eatery serving hamburgers, pitas, and sandwiches.

Afternoon: Weather permitting, we'll walk 5 minutes to the harbor, where we'll depart around 2:30pm for an approximately 2-hour boat tour around Heimaey Island. During the tour, we'll venture near sea caves and get an intimate look at the shoreline and local wildlife.

Our boat tour will end around 4pm, at which time we'll be able to explore on our own for approximately 3 hours. Perhaps you'd like to rent a bike and cycle your way around the island, or if you'd like to have a slower-paced afternoon, you could walk around town and mingle with locals.

Around 6:15pm, we'll depart our hotel and walk less than 5 minutes to our dinner spot for the evening.

Dinner: Around 6:30pm at Gott Restaurant, featuring local cuisine.

Evening: The evening is free for your own discoveries. Check with your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions.

DAY 5
Ferry to Landeyjahofn Harbour • Overland to Selfoss • Join main trip
Meals included: B
Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring international options.

Morning: Around 9am, we'll depart for the 10-minute ride to the harbor, where we'll take a 45-minute ferry ride departing around 9:30am back to Landeyjahofn Harbour. Upon arrival, we'll transfer by bus approximately 1 hour to Selfoss. There, we'll meet the rest of our group as we begin our Untamed Iceland adventure.

Europe