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The Best of Iceland: A Country of Beautiful Contrasts

Program Number: 3342RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/1/2014 - 9/12/2014; 4/24/2016 - 5/5/2016; 5/8/2016 - 5/19/2016; 6/19/2016 - 6/30/2016; 7/17/2016 - 7/28/2016; 8/7/2016 - 8/18/2016; 8/21/2016 - 9/1/2016; 9/12/2016 - 9/23/2016;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Iceland
Price starting at: $4,281.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 30; 11 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Named by a Scandinavian explorer inspired by the beauty of icebergs bobbing through a fjord, Iceland is in fact not very icy at all, boasting abundant vegetation, a veritable menagerie of wildlife and stunning geological features. Journey through Iceland’s north, south and west with native experts who introduce you to their country’s history, music, food and traditions. Learn about the Sagas of Icelanders and explore a dramatic landscape, from the coast to the Blue Lagoon.


• Witness geology in action in the “Land of Fire and Ice” and visit a geothermal power plant.
• Go on a scallop fishing excursion in the Breidafjordur and take a bite out of another Icelandic delicacy: shark.
• At the Agricultural Science Center learn how Icelandic agriculture is powered by geothermal greenhouses.

Activity Particulars

Walking on uneven surfaces.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.

Date Specific Information

9-1-2014, 4-24-2016, 5-8-2016, 6-19-2016, 7-17-2016, 8-7-2016, 8-21-2016, 9-12-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Reykjavik, coach to Grindavik, 1 night; coach to Borgarnes, 3 nights; coach to Akureyri, 3 nights; flight to Reykjavik, 3 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Reykjavik
Coach to Grindavik
1 night
Coach to Borgarnes
3 nights

Begin your adventure with a soak in the hot, healing waters of the Blue Lagoon. Bjorn Finsen discusses the Icelandic fishing industry as you visit a bustling fish market and a fish processing factory. Geir Waage talks about 13th-century Saga writer, scholar and statesman Snorri Sturluson, before visiting Sturluson’s homestead at Reykholt, where the beloved author worked to chronicle the Old Norse language and mythology.

Coach to Akureyri
3 nights

The sperm whale and orca are just a couple of Iceland’s native whales. In Husavik, a lifelong whale-watcher discusses these mammals and the whaling industry. Learn about other marine life found in Iceland then turn your attention to birdlife at Lake Myvatn, one of the richest nesting grounds in the world. A fascinating geological survey introduces you to Iceland’s pseudocraters, solfataras, craters and volcanoes. Sample local seafood and “skyr” (curd) served with fresh bilberries.

Flight to Reykjavik
3 nights

Delve into the history of Reykjavik, from the restored historic houses of the Arbaejarsafn open air museum to Thingvellir, the Viking parliamentary site. Other highlights include the geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi, the “Golden Waterfall” of Gullfoss and Geysir, the geyser from which all others take their name.


This island nation near the Arctic Circle comprises icy glaciers, active volcanoes and an abundance of bubbling, steaming geothermal pools that provide a unique and steady source of heat and energy. Viking history and 13th-century sagas pair with Iceland’s modern citizenry and abundant natural resources to create a vibrant country for the 21st century.

Grindavik: Hotel near the Blue Lagoon. Borgarnes: Hotel with spectacular views. Akureyri: Elegant hotel in the heart of town. Reykjavik: First-class hotel in a restored historic building.
Meals and Lodgings
   Northern Light Inn
  Grindavik, Iceland 1 night
   Hotel Borgarnes
  Borgarnes, Iceland 3 nights
   Hotel KEA
  Akureyri, Iceland 3 nights
   Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
  Reykjavik, Iceland 3 nights
 Northern Light Inn
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: The Northern Light Inn is a small and friendly hotel located less than 1 mile from the Blue Lagoon, 15 minutes from Keflavik International Airport and 45 minutes from Reykjavik. It is located in the majestic lava landscape of Reykjanes Peninsula, Southwest Iceland, directly under the Aurora Borealis geomagnetic green belt.
  Contact info: Blue Lagoon Road 1
Grindavik,  240 Iceland
phone: +354 426 8650
  Room amenities: Each room has a geothermal shower, Icelandic down comforter, telephone, satellite television, hair dryer and free wireless Internet access.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a panoramic restaurant, laundry services and free wireless Internet. It is located nearby the Blue Lagoon and a swimming pool and fitness center.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Hotel Borgarnes
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel Borgarnes is a three-star hotel in a town 70 kilometers west of Reykjavík and 120 kilometers from the international airport. There are many opportunities for recreation in the area: scenic hiking and riding paths, historical monuments, hot and cold swimming pools, and a museum.
  Contact info: Egilsgata 14-16
Borgarnes,  310 Iceland
phone: +354 437 1119
  Room amenities: Each room has a mini bar, hair dryer, radio, telephone and television.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, fax machine, telephone, a computer in the lobby with Internet access, and wireless Internet in the lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel KEA
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of Akureyri, the gateway to the rich natural splendor of northeast Iceland, Hotel Kea has been welcoming guests since 1944 with the same high standards of elegance, quality, service and comfort.
  Contact info: Hafnarstraeti 87-89
Akureyri,  600 Iceland
phone: +354 460-2000
  Room amenities: Each room has satellite television, radio, hairdryer, mini bar, wireless Internet access (for a fee), and coffee & tea making facilities.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a bar, restaurant, laundry service, free wireless Internet in lobby and bar area, computer with Internet in lobby, and discounts to the nearby gym and spa.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum is a first-class hotel in the heart of Reykjavik. It is located on one of Reykjavik's oldest streets, Adalstraeti, in a newly renovated building, the oldest part of which was built in 1764. During renovations, the remains of a Viking longhouse from the Settlement Period were found. In 2006, an attractive exhibition center opened under the hotel, where the longhouse's remains are on display together with related exhibits. Among the finds excavated were Iceland's oldest human remains, dating from approximately 870 AD.
  Contact info: Adalstraeti 16
Reykjavik,  101 Iceland
phone: +354 514 6000
  Room amenities: Each room has a satellite television, telephone, high speed wireless Internet access, mini-bar, radio, iron and board, hair dryer, safe box, and tea & coffee set.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, lounge with cafe and bar, wireless Internet access, laundry service, fax machine and pay phone.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Grindavik, Iceland. 8:00 AM at the hotel for breakfast. You will be staying at Northern Light Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Reykjavik, Iceland. After lunch at the hotel. You will be staying at Hotel Reykjavik Centrum the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Use the Flybus at the airport to travel to your destination.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Grindavik
  Nearest city or town:  In town.
  Nearest airport:  Grindavik
  Transportation to site: Upon arrival in Iceland, ask the staff at the airport service/information desk to call the Northern Light Inn (+ 354) 426 8650 and a representative from the hotel will pick you up at the airport. The hotel is approx. 15 minutes from the airport. If you choose to take a taxi it will cost about 4500 ISK (Icelandic Krona).
  From End of Program
  Location:  Reykjavik
  Nearest city or town:  Reykjavik
  Nearest highway: Ringroad #1
  Nearest airport:  Reykjavik/Keflavik International airport
  Transportation from site: Take the Flybus to Keflavik airport. There is a free pick up service available from Hotel Reykjavik Centrum to the Flybus terminal. The terminal is located at BSI bus terminal. Reservations are made at the hotel reception desk. The Flybus schedule is based on departures from the terminal and passengers are picked up approx. ½ hour prior at the hotel. There are departures in connection with all departing flights. The price is approx. ISK 2500 per person (2014 price) and it takes about 1 hour.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: In Transit
(Monday, September 1)
 In Transit: International overnight flight from US/Canada.

Day 2: Reykjanes Peninsula / Blue Lagoon
(Tuesday, September 2)
 Arrive To: Arrive at Keflavík International Airport (KEF). Transfer to hotel for breakfast.
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: After breakfast we take a drive along the coastline of the Reykjanes Peninsula where we will see the old Reykjanes lighthouse. Afterward we will check-in at the hotel.
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: Welcome introduction followed by a swim in the Blue Lagoon, said to have demonstrable healing powers, especially against skin diseases and arthritis.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Northern Light Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Akranes / Hvanneyri
(Wednesday, September 3)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Departure for Akranes, where we have a lecture on the Icelandic fishing industry. Visit a fish processing factory and the fish market.
 Lunch: Lunch at a country restaurant.
 Afternoon: Visit Hvanneyri, an Agricultural Science Center for a lecture and introduction to Icelandic agriculture. Arrival and check-in at hotel.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Hotel Borgarnes
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Reykholt / Borgarfjördur Region
(Thursday, September 4)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Departure for Reykholt, homestead of the famous Saga writer, Snorri Sturluson. Lecture: "Snorri Sturluson, Middle Ages & Struggle for Independence."
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: After lunch we take an excursion through the Borgarfjördur region. Stops include Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most prolific hot spring; Hraunfossar, rare and beautiful waterfalls; and Borg, the homestead of Viking/poet Egill Skallagrímsson in the 10th century.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: Evening entertainment at hotel with folk music and dancing.
Accommodations: Hotel Borgarnes
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Stykkisholmur / Boat Ride and Scallop Fishing
(Friday, September 5)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Depart for Stykkisholmur, a fishing village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Take a two-hour boat ride among the islands of Breidafjördur with some scallop fishing and tasting.
 Lunch: Lunch in Stykkisholmur.
 Afternoon: Visit farmer Hildibrandur’s tiny church at Bjarnarhöfn for a taste of his special Icelandic delicacy, shark.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Hotel Borgarnes
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Textile Exhibition / Icelandic Horse
(Saturday, September 6)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Depart for Akureyri, North Iceland. En route we stop at the textile exhibition at Blönduós.
 Lunch: Lunch at Olafshus Restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a visit to the Glaumbær Folk Museum before we venture out to a horse farm, where we will become acquainted with the Icelandic horse. Arrival at hotel.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Hotel KEA
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Akureyri
(Sunday, September 7)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Lecture: "Geology of Iceland."
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: Lecture: "Flora and Birds." Sightseeing excursion through Akureyri, followed by free time.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: Departure for evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Hotel KEA
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Whale Museum / Whale Watching Excursion or Local Museum
(Monday, September 8)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Departure for Husavik. Excursion to the Whale Museum, where we have a short lecture on the whales and other marine life in the waters surrounding Iceland.
 Lunch: Lunch at Restaurant Salka.
 Afternoon: If weather permits, embark on a Whale Watching Excursion! If the weather does not permit, enjoy a visit to the excellent local museum that houses a folk museum, a maritime museum and a natural history museum.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel KEA
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Lake Myvatn / Fly to Reykjavik
(Tuesday, September 9)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Depart for a full day at Lake Myvatn, one of the richest nesting grounds for wet birds in the world. Pseudocraters, solfataras, craters and volcanoes make a fascinating geological study.
 Lunch: Lunch at Sel Hotel Mývatn en route.
 Afternoon: Fly from Akureyri to Reykjavík. Check-in at hotel and settle in.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Arbær Open Air Museum
(Wednesday, September 10)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Lecture: "Contemporary Iceland." Guided excursion of Reykjavik, including the Arbær open air museum.
 Lunch: Lunch in downtown Reykjavík.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: Departure for evening entertainment.
Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Hellisheidi / Þingvellir / Gullfoss / Geysir / Skálholt
(Thursday, September 11)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: A full day excursion. We will visit the geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi, admire Þingvellir (the former site of parliament), marvel at the majesty of Gullfoss (the golden waterfall), appreciate Geysir (the geyser from which all others take their name), and explore Skálholt (the ancient bishopric).
 Lunch: Lunch at Friðheimar greenhouse farm.
 Afternoon: Continue full day excursion.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner at a downtown restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Departures
(Friday, September 12)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Morning at leisure.
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Keflavík International Airport (KEF) for departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Akureyri Akureyri Museum
Exhibitions provide the visitor with ample information in various forms and themes about the history of the fjord from settlement and also the history of Akureyri and its development from the 19th century.
  Botanical gardens
Discover a wide variety of both Icelandic and foreign flora.
  Reykjavik Reykjavik Bike Tours
Take a guided bike tour of Reykjavik. For additional information, visit
  The Culture House
Some of Iceland's most wonderful national treasures are on display in the Culture House's featured exhibition, "Medieval Manuscripts: Eddas and Sagas." For additional information, visit
  The Settlement Exhibition
The Settlement Exhibition provides insight into the environment of the Reykjavik farm at the time of the first settlers. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic

Author: E.C. Pielou

Description: Our bestselling book on the Arctic, this guide covers the geography and climate, plants, birds and wildlife of the Circumpolar North.

Auroras, Fire in the Sky

Author: Dan Bortolotti

Description: These 80 color photos by Yuichi Takasaka celebrate the beauty, history, folklore and science of the Northern Lights.

Birds of Europe

Author: Lars Svensson

Description: Featuring 3,500 glorious paintings by Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom, the second edition of this exquisite guide has been updated with revised text and maps.

Bradt Guide Iceland

Author: Andrew Evans

Description: A detailed, personable guide in the venerable British series with a focus on natural treasures, including glaciers, lava flows and rugged coastlines.

Frost on My Moustache, The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer

Author: Tim Moore

Description: In this inspired folly, a British comic heads to Iceland, Spitsbergen and other northern locales in pursuit of a fictitious Arctic hero.

Iceland Adventure Map

Author: National Geographic Maps

Description: A detailed map at a 1:465,000, printed on handy tear- and water-resistant paper.

Independent People, An Epic

Author: Halldor Laxness

Description: Rich in local color, this great mock-epic by the Icelandic Nobel Prize-winner features the indelible Bjartur of Summerhouses, a hard-headed, independent-minded sheep farmer.

Insight Guide Iceland

Author: Insight Guides

Description: This guide emphasizes culture and history, with wonderful photographs, maps and essays from experts.

Jar City

Author: Arnaldur Indridason

Description: Indridason's first moody police procedural translated into English finds Reykjavik detective Erlendur Sveinsson investigating the brutal murder of a lonely pensioner and the man's connection to the deaths of a number of young women. Made into a darkly superb film.

Last Places, A Journey in the North

Author: Lawrence Millman, Paul Theroux (Introduction)

Description: Millman explores the culture and history of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in this hilarious account of his travels in the wake of the ancient Vikings.

Lonely Planet Iceland

Author: Deanna Swaney

Description: This concise guide to Iceland includes short essays on history, culture and attractions and plenty of practical travel information.

Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings

Author: John Haywood

Description: The history of the Vikings told through a series of innovative maps and excellent photographs. This book traces the routes of the ninth-century Viking merchants and explorers throughout Europe and onto the New World.

Ring of Seasons, Iceland, Its Culture and History

Author: Terry G. Lacy

Description: A longtime resident of Reykjavik, Lacy weaves tales of family life, anecdote, lore and history into this illuminating personal portrait of Iceland.

The Control of Nature

Author: John McPhee

Description: In the classic McPhee tradition, these sparkling essays explore our generally feeble attempts to combat all-powerful nature, including valiant efforts by Icelanders to control the flow of a volcano across the harbor at Heimaey in the Westman Islands.

The History of Iceland

Author: Gunnar Karlsson

Description: A history of Iceland from the Viking era through colonization, independence and the 20th century. Karlsson draws on the sagas and rich literature of Iceland in presenting this comprehensive history.

The Sagas of Icelanders

Author: Jane Smiley (Editor), Robert Kellog (Introduction)

Description: Nine sagas and six tales composed between the years 1000 and 1500, including an account of Leif Eriksson's voyage to North America, all newly translated. With an introduction by Jane Smiley.

Under the Glacier

Author: Halldor Laxness, Magnus Magnusson (Translator)

Description: Laxness brings the full range of his wit, humor, humanity and imagination to this strange, rather slight and amusing book, in which a Church of Iceland envoy travels inland to investigate the strange goings-on in a remote parish.

Volcanoes, Fire From the Earth

Author: Maurice Krafft

Description: By the great French volcanologist (who died on the job on Mount Unzen in Japan in 1992), this pocket guide features hundreds of full-color paintings and traces the study of volcanoes from early myth and legend to modern science.

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