We travel around the whole island of Iceland! This tour can be combined with our tour of Norway July 15- 30 2021
Iceland: July 3 - 13 2021 (11 days)
LAND ONLY: $5,975 Canadian
HIGHLIGHTS: Reykjavik, icebergs, geysers and puffins.
This tour can be combined with our tour of Norway July 15 - 30 2021
ICELAND We visit Iceland’s famous natural wonders, including Geysir (after which all other geysers around the world are named), Vatnajökull (Europe’s largest glacier), many majestic waterfalls and the iceberg-filled lagoon of Jokulsarlon. We also learn about the traditions of this isolated Viking-originated society. Travelling in our own coach with our expert driver/guide, we are able to experience the remote vastness of rural Iceland, which contrasts so strongly with the dynamic city of Reykjavik – where 60% of Iceland’s 320,000 people live. Set almost on the Arctic Circle, on our July tour we enjoy days with 22 hours of daylight and wonderful birdlife. This is one of the best places in the world for seabird spotting, including huge colonies of picture-perfect puffins.
(UPDATED: Dec 18, 2020) Limited to 13 people plus Norman & Julie Bruce.
DAY 1 - SATURDAY July 3
BLUE LAGOON & REYKJAVIK
OUR LAND TOUR BEGINS ON ARRIVAL AT KEFLAVIK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT THIS MORNING. We transfer from Keflavik Airport on the Reykjanes Peninsula 50 km east of Reykjavik to enjoy a swim in the legendary warm waters of the man-made Blue Lagoon. The turquoise colour of the geothermally-heated water contrasts with the black volcanic lava around it. The water of the lagoon is famous for its healing properties. The mineral-rich waters are naturally warm [30C – 38C.] After our relaxing introduction to one of Iceland’s many natural charms, we visit a geothermal power station to learn how most of Reykjavik’s electricity and hot water comes from underground volcanic heat. 88% of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal water and 75% of the total energy consumption in Iceland comes from renewable sources. Before checking into our hotel in downtown Reykjavik, we start our guided city tour of Reykjavik, including seeing the Presidential Residence at Bessastadir, the Perlan revolving restaurant for a panoramic view out over the city, the towering Hallgrimskirkja church and the old town and harbour.
First of 2 nights in Reykjavik. Fossotel Baron or similar. Dinner.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY July 4
This morning we take a guided tour of the National Museum of Iceland and the surrounding university area. We also see Höfdi House where the all-important summit meeting between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev took place in 1986. We see the sculptures in the gardens of the Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum. Downtown we see the Parliament Building and the New City Hall. This afternoon is free to enjoy the world’s most northerly capital. The name Reykjavik means ‘Smoky Bay’ and derives from the first settlers who noticed steam rising from the ground around the hot springs in the area. The city, although small in population, [120,000 in the city and 100,000 in the surrounding suburbs], has everything larger cities have to offer. Reykjavik is known for its interesting museums, galleries, great restaurants and cafes. Reykjavik’s unique proximity to nature, with the Salmon River running through it, a thermal beach at Nautholsvik, green valleys and outdoor swimming pools gives this city a wonderful quality of life.
Second of 2 nights in Reykjavik. Fossotel Baron or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 3 - MONDAY July 5
REYKJAVIK – ICELANDIC HORSES – GEYSIR – GULLFOSS – SOUTH COAST
We drive out of the city to a farm and horse breeding centre near Reykholt where we get to know the Icelandic horse and its special qualities. We also learn how Icelanders use geothermal heat to produce greenhouse crops such as tomatoes. We later drive to the Geysir thermal area, where hot springs are found in abundance and at least one, Strokkur, erupts every few minutes. On a clear day the active volcano Hekla is a sublime sight. Next, we head on to visit the “Golden Waterfall”, Gullfoss.
First of 2 nights on the south coast. Hotel Hvolsvollur or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 4 - TUESDAY July 6
THE WESTMAN ISLANDS
This morning we travel with our bus by ferry half an hour off the south coast of Iceland to the legendary Vestmannaeyjar (Westman) Islands, an archipelago of 15 islands, which were formed by submarine volcanoes around 11,000 years ago – except for Surtsey, which rose from the waves as recently as 1963. The emergence of this new land out of the sea allowed scientists to study patterns of colonization by plants and animals. Only 1 of the islands (Heimaey) is inhabited. The islands are the centre of a thriving fishing industry and are home to vast numbers of over 30 species of sea birds. Westman Islands are (in)famous for the eruption of Eldfell Volcano in 1973, which caused the entire population of over 4,000 people to be evacuated for several months. We see where 400 houses lie buried by the lava and learn about the eruptions at the local museum.
Second of 2 nights on the south coast. Hotel Hvolsvollur or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 5 - WEDNESDAY July 7
SOUTH COAST – VATNAJOKULL GLACIER
As we drive east along the south coast this morning we should be able to see the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, which erupted so dramatically in April 2010, causing thousands of flights to be cancelled across Europe. We stop to admire the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss and drive on to Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland, where the black basalt cliffs are sculpted by the sea and eroded to form a black sand beach. We cross the Myrdals Desert and pass through the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur to our overnight stop where we hope to be able to see the largest glacier cap in Europe – Vatnajokull.
Overnight near Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Fosshotel Nupar or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 6 - THURSDAY July 8
GLACIER LAGOON CRUISE – EAST COAST
This morning we cross the Skeidararsandur Desert and skirt Skaftafell National Park. Europe’s largest national park encompasses a breathtaking collection of peaks and glaciers with thundering waterfalls, twisted birch woods, the tangled web of rivers threading across the moorland. Later this morning we take a boat trip among the glaciers and icebergs of Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. We drive to the village of Hofn at the southeast corner of Iceland. Heading up the east coast, at the small fishing village of Stodvarfjordur, we admire the collection of Icelandic rocks and minerals at Petra’s museum of minerals and learn about the fascinating, ever-changing geology of Iceland. We drive along in the shadow of Mount Bulandstindur. Further north we pass through the fishing village of Faskrudsfjordur located at the end of a 15 Km-long fjord. This was the main station for French fishermen in East Iceland both prior to and well after the turn of the 19th century. Fáskrúdsfjördur is famous for its French heritage and has a strong connection with its sister town Gravelines in France. Reydarfjordur had a large British garrison during World War II to prevent Germany invading Iceland. Travelling past snowcapped mountains and cascading waterfalls we reach Lake Lagarfljot. Since saga times, tales have been told of a monster who lives in the depths of the lake.
Overnight at Lake Lagarfljot. Hotel Hallormsstadir or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 7 - FRIDAY July 9
EGILSSTADIR – LAKE MYVATN – AKUREYRI
The scenery changes totally as we pass through Egilsstadir, the largest village in the east of Iceland surrounded by the largest forest in Iceland, and cross Modrudalsoraefi, the desolate interior of Iceland, where you may think we are on the surface of the moon. In fact, some of the Apollo astronauts actually trained here before their lunar landings. Iceland is one of the most geologically active countries in the world. The Krafla Power Station is unique in Iceland because it relies on geothermal steam for its operation, rather than super-heated water. At Hverir we see the sizzling and bubbling sulphur mud pots. Later we stop at Víti [Inferno], an explosive crater on the slopes of Krafla Mountain. Beautiful Lake Mývatn, the calm, shallow lake at the heart of a volatile volcanic area, is a great inland area for bird-watching (geese, Arctic terns, golden plovers, ducks and swans can be seen.) Herds of wild reindeer roam the mountains. At Lake Myvatn we stop at the Bird Museum where all but one of the birds found in Iceland are displayed in a private collection. At Dimmuborgir [Dark Castles] towering lava formations characterize the landscape. We drive on to the town of Akureyri on the Eyajafjordur, a long inlet of the Arctic Ocean (also known as the “Greenland Sea.”)
First of 2 nights in Akureyri. Icelandair Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 8 - SATURDAY July 10
AKUREYRI – FAR NORTH – AKUREYRI
This morning we drive further north to the town of Siglufjordur and visit its museum that tells the story of the once-important herring fishing industry. At the Hofsos Emigration Center we learn about the large numbers of Icelanders who left to settle in Canada and the US in the early 1900s. Returning to Akureyri, we enjoy sightseeing in Iceland’s second-largest city, including a walk in the botanical gardens. Akureyri is the capital of the northern part of Iceland. Snow-capped peaks rise behind the town and yet across the city flower boxes, trees and well-tended gardens belie the city’s location just a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle. It is a prosperous town. Its fishing company and shipyard are the largest in the country, and the city’s university (established in 1987) gives the town a youthful exuberance.
Second of 2 nights in Akureyri. Icelandair Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 9 - SUNDAY July 11
AKUREYRI – NORTH COAST – WEST COAST
We travel over the mountains and isolated valleys of the north coast via the town of Blonduos to the Fjord Hrútafjördur and down the west coast passing the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the setting Jules Vern chose for his novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
Overnight near Borgarnes. Icelandair Hotel Hamar or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 10 - MONDAY July 12
REYKHOLT – THINGVELLIR – REYKJAVIK
We drive inland to Reykholt where Snorri Sturlusson, the author of the most famous Icelandic sagas and the Edda once lived. We see the beautiful lava waterfalls at Hraunfossar. At Deildartunguhver we see the hot spring that supplies all the hot water for the towns of Akranes and Borgarnes. Hvalfjordur is a long “fjord” where Allied convoys sheltered from German submarines during World War II on their way across the Atlantic. Driving inland again across the mountains we reach the National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir where our guide will take us on a short walk to learn about the foundation of the Icelandic parliament (the oldest in the world) as well as the unique geology of the area where the North American and Euro-Asian plates are moving apart at a rate of 0.7 cm per year. Nowhere is the dividing of the tectonic plates easier to see. This afternoon we drive alongside Iceland’s largest lake, Thingvallavatn, on our way back to Reykjavik.
Overnight in Reykjavik. Fossotel Baron or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 11 - TUESDAY July 13
This morning is free for you to explore Reykjavík at your own pace. The city has a wonderful setting with a backdrop of snow-topped mountains, an ocean that wets the very toes of the town and incredible volcanic surroundings. You might enjoy a short whale-watching or puffin-viewing cruise out of Reykjavik’s harbour. This dynamic city is known for its huge choice of restaurants and cafes as well as sophisticated shopping. You might also want to tour the dazzling Harpa Arts Centre on the waterfront. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight to North America arriving the same day.
Breakfast, if not leaving too early
We can put you in touch with our flights specialist or you can book your own flights online or through your travel agent. You do NOT have to come to Vancouver to join this tour. We prefer Icelandair for this tour as they have "Premium Economy" seats at reasonable prices!
The land portion of the tour must be booked directly with Royal Heights Tours. You can secure your place on the tour with a $400 per person non-refundable deposit. We take payment by cheque, Visa or Mastercard for the $400 /person deposit. Your invoice for your Land tour will be e-mailed to you in early April 2021. Payment will be due by May 3rd 2021. Prices quoted are for FINAL PAYMENT by cheque. Should you wish to pay the outstanding amount for the LAND tour by credit card there will be an administration fee of 2.5% on the outstanding amount.
- Accommodation in good 3-Star and 4-Star hotels. In some rural areas, we stay in the best available accommodations. All have en-suite bathrooms and heating/cooling.
- Breakfast & Dinner daily. Some evenings we dine in the hotel [especially if we have had a long day of sightseeing] but, where there are good independent restaurants, we eat out.
- Land transport by private coach and by boat.
- Sightseeing and entrance fees mentioned in the itinerary.
- Tour leading by Norman & Julie Bruce with assistance of our expert Icelandic driver/guide.
- Tipping for Icelandic driver/guide.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
- Visa fees. Canadian passport holders do NOT currently require a visa for Iceland. Your passport must be valid for 3 months beyond the date you leave the Schengen Area (i.e. until at least Oct 13th 2021, if you are returning to Canada straight after finishing our tour.)
- We do NOT include porterage. Porters MAY be available to help you with your suitcase and you should be prepared to tip them if you use their services. Please only bring one piece of luggage per person and make sure your luggage has wheels so you can move your own luggage when necessary.
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption and Medical Insurance. This insurance is strongly recommended. We can put you in touch with our insurance expert for a quote.
- Single Supplement charge, if requested ($1,620 Canadian)
- Personal Expenses such as souvenirs, laundry and drinks not included at meals.
- Arrival & departure transfers in Reykjavik. We will try to have you "share" the transfers with other tour members who are on the same flights. Please contact us for a quote when you have confirmed the arrival & departure times of your flights.
- Tips for any supplemental guides.
Our published price is based on 2 people sharing a room. If you would like to share, we will do our best to find you a roommate. The EARLIER you pay your deposit, the more likely we are to find you a roommate. If you wish to be guaranteed a single room, there is a Single Supplement charge of $1,620 Canadian. Those people traveling alone but wishing to share will be informed 3 months prior to departure if a roommate is not currently available. At that point you will be invoiced for the Single Supplement. If a roommate subsequently joins the tour, your single supplement will be refunded with the final documentation.
- Our office staff are not medically qualified to advise you if you need any immunizations for this tour. Please consult your local travel health clinic.
- Please make sure your luggage has wheels so you can move it easily.
- This tour is not suitable if you need walking assistance in the form of walking sticks or canes. You must be in reasonably good shape to enjoy this tour – there is a fair amount of walking and exploring on uneven surfaces. Please ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes/lightweight hiking boots.
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.