The land of fire and ice is awash with glaciers, towering volcanoes and geothermal pools. Add to that Reykjavik, its hip capital, and you have a destination that provides not just otherworldly sights but also plenty of culture.
Game of Thrones
Retrace the steps of your favourite Game of Thrones characters on this five-day tour from Regent Holidays (0203 733 4931; regent-holidays.co.uk), which takes in the wilderness where the third series of the TV show was filmed.
The tour visits Godafoss Waterfall, the town of Akuryeri and Lake Myvàtn Nature Baths. Led by the same expert guide that took the cast and crew to some of Iceland’s key sights, this tour visits the landscape brought to life with tales of the “Seven Kingdoms.”
Departs any time, from £1,495 b&b including Icelandair flights.
If you’re travelling solo, Discover the World (01737 900 689; discover-the-world.co.uk) offers an eight-day “In the Footsteps of Elves” itinerary which has no single supplement. The tour visits Borgarfjörður Eystri, which is hidden away in the east fjords and is home to sweeping vistas, coastlines and ancient tales of elves and the “hidden people,” who legend suggests, once resided there. Based in a guesthouse in Borgarfjörður Eystri, the itinerary offers moderate level hikes through winding fjords, moors and black-sand beaches.
Departures between May and September, from £1,824 full board including flights.
In search of the Northern Lights
A three-day “Northern Lights in Iceland” itinerary from the Ultimate Travel Company (0203 553 2540; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk) takes in the country’s most iconic attractions by day and goes in search of the Aurora Borealis by night. Highlights include the Golden Circle, the site of the world’s oldest parliament, the Blue Lagoon, and the volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls of Iceland’s southern coastline.
Departs anytime, from £1,197 b&b including flights, transfers and excursions.
While many tour operators focus on the southwest of the island, Titan (0808 252 0872; titantravel.co.uk) offers a complete 10-day circuit of Iceland’s natural attractions, including the Blue Lagoon, Borgarfjordur, Lake Myvàtn, the Vatnajokull Glacier, the spouting hot springs of Great Geysir and the Golden Falls, with three nights in Reykjavik to boot.
Departures between May and September 2019, from £3,699 half board including flights.
This nine-day Iceland in spring itinerary from Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk) explores three top areas for birds watching, including the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Thingvellir and Lake Myvàtn. You’ll spot red-throated and great northern divers in vibrant summer plumage, red-necked phalarope, harlequin duck, whooper swan, slavonian grebe, snow bunting, gyr falcon and a host of breeding waders and seabirds. There’s also a chance to go on a boat trip from Husavik, regarded as the whale-watching capital of Europe.
For departures in 2020, please call Naturetrek on 01962 733051; from £2,895 full board including flights.
Explore Iceland on board Le Champlain, a small yacht-like ship on an eight-day Iceland cruise from Tauck (0800 810 8020; tauck.co.uk) which sails from Reykjavik to off-the-beaten-track towns, villages and islands. All state rooms and suites on the ship have ocean views and most have private balconies. You’ll walk across the Arctic Circle on a guided tour of remote Grímsey Island and see arctic terns and puffins, with insights from a naturalist. Other highlights include a private visit to Vigur Island to tour a multi-generation family farm, Thingvellir National Park, the “Golden Circle” and the Blue Lagoon spa.
Departures between June and July 2020, from £5,240 full board but excluding flights.
Cycle Southern Iceland
If you’d like to explore Iceland on two wheels, Trailfinders (020 7368 1551; trailfinders.com) offers an eight-day cycling holiday which pedals past glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and volcanic landscapes. Highlights of the trip include Reykjavik, Vik, Fjallabak and Thingvellir National Park.
Departures until August 2019, from £3,599 full board but excluding flights.
An eight-day Active Iceland Holiday from the Baltic Travel Company (0208 233 2875; baltictravelcompany.com) offers a host of activities, in addition to taking in the key sights. The possibilities are endless: deep sea fishing, exploring on horseback, white water rafting, going on a whale watching cruise or guided glacial walking and ice climbing. You’ll also get the chance to drive an ATV on the volcanic Reykjanes peninsula and the Mid-Atlantic ridge and hike up the mountains and volcanic landscape of Southwest Iceland.
Departures between June and August 2019, from £1,845 including accommodation, some meals, flights and activities.
The road less travelled
A seven-day Highland Journey across Iceland tour from Scandinavia Only (01274 875199; scandinaviaonly.co.uk) explores both south and north Iceland via an intrepid bus journey taking the Kjölur route, an off-the-beaten track that meanders through the inner section of the country from the highlands to Akureyri – perfect for those who wish to see Iceland’s interior without hiring a car. There are two days in the quirky capital Reykjavik for a spot of shopping at independent shops, record stores and design boutiques. There’s a range of activities too, from soaking in mineral-rich natural baths to going on a whale watching cruise (extra).
For 2019 summer departures, call Scandinavia Only at 01274 875199; from £1,890 including flights, some meals, local transport and activities.
With its natural hot springs and many a spa, Reykjavik is a good bet for a relaxing weekend away. On a three-day Spa Weekend itinerary from Vulkan Travel (0203 630 1199; vulkantravel.co.uk), you’ll take a dip in the Blue Lagoon as well as the Fontana Steam Bath. There is also a visit to the exclusive Laugar Spa in Reykjavík for a one-hour massage and a swim in the thermal pools. Departures any time, from £608 b&b including flights.