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Iceland

The Best of Iceland: A Country of Beautiful Contrasts

Program No. 3342RJ
Traverse the wonders of Iceland with locals and scholarly experts, delving deep into a landscape of stunning geological features, glaciers and bubbling thermal pools.
Length
12 days
Rating (4.86)
Activity Level
Starts at
5,499
Flights start at
700

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 9 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
5,499
May 23 - Jun 3, 2023
Starting at
5,599
Jun 6 - Jun 17, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Jun 20 - Jul 1, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Jul 11 - Jul 22, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Jul 25 - Aug 5, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Aug 1 - Aug 12, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Aug 8 - Aug 19, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Aug 15 - Aug 26, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Aug 29 - Sep 9, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Sep 12 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Sep 19 - Sep 30, 2023
Starting at
6,099
Sep 26 - Oct 7, 2023
Starting at
5,599
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 9 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
6,099
May 23 - Jun 3, 2023
Starting at
6,269
Jun 6 - Jun 17, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Jun 20 - Jul 1, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Jul 11 - Jul 22, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Jul 25 - Aug 5, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Aug 1 - Aug 12, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Aug 8 - Aug 19, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Aug 15 - Aug 26, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Aug 29 - Sep 9, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Sep 12 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Sep 19 - Sep 30, 2023
Starting at
7,079
Sep 26 - Oct 7, 2023
Starting at
6,269

At a Glance

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.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to 3 miles per day, most days on uneven and hilly terrain.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Witness geology in action in the “Land of Fire and Ice” and visit a geothermal power plant.
  • Enjoy a scallop fishing demonstration on a boat excursion in the Breidafjördur and take a bite out of another Icelandic delicacy: shark.
  • Experience 1000 years of Icelandic history at the Borgarnes Settlement Center.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Independent People, An Epic
by Halldor Laxness
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.
Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings
by John Haywood
This history of the Vikings tells their story through a series of innovative maps and excellent photographs. It traces the routes of 9th-century Viking merchants and explorers throughout Europe and the New World.
Last Places, A Journey in the North
by Lawrence Millman, Paul Theroux (Introduction)
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.
Butterflies in November
by Brian Fitzgibbon (Translator), Auour Ava Olafsdottir
Scorned by love, a quirky, unapologetically independent 33-year-old woman takes a spontaneous trip along Iceland’s Ring Road, her best friend’s 4-year-old deaf-mute son in tow. Evocative of the Icelandic spirit.
The History of Iceland
by Gunnar Karlsson
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.
Ring of Seasons, Iceland, Its Culture and History
by Terry G. Lacy
A longtime resident of Reykjavik, Lacy weaves tales of family life, anecdote, lore and history into this illuminating personal portrait of Iceland.
Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World
by Jeff Kanipe, Alexandra Witze
Two science writers discuss the political and natural ramifications of the 1783 eruption of Iceland’s largest volcano, Laki, which led to global death, famine and even revolution. Great for the geologically minded but accessible to all with an interest in volcanoes.
Iceland, Land of the Sagas
by Jon Krakauer (Photographer), David Roberts
Krakauer and colleague Roberts hike and climb around Iceland in this classic travel narrative, reissued as a paperback and featuring Krakauer's color photographs. The book interweaves the natural and cultural history of the island with the authors' own adventures.
Insight Guide Iceland
by Insight Guides
This guide emphasizes culture and history, with wonderful photographs, maps and essays from experts.
Letters from Iceland
by W.H. Auden
Written with fellow poet Louis MacNiece, this quirky, under-appreciated masterpiece captures the spirit of Iceland, its people and landscapes.
Iceland Adventure Map
by National Geographic
A detailed map at a scale of 1:465,000, printed on handy tear- and water-resistant paper.
The Sagas of Icelanders
by Jane Smiley (Editor), Robert Kellog (Introduction)
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.
A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic
by E.C. Pielou
A primer on Arctic climate, geography, plants, birds, mammals and insects in a single nicely written book. It's a highly recommended, enthusiastic guide to natural history throughout the Circumpolar North.
Names for the Sea, Strangers in Iceland
by Sarah Moss
A stranger in a strange land, British novelist Sarah Moss captures the spirit of Iceland in this tale of a year in the Reykjavik with her husband and two children.
North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland
by Evan Sung (Photographer), Jody Eddy, Gunnar Gislason
Catering to a rising interest in Nordic cuisine, this cookbook celebrates Iceland’s food alongside its haunting landscapes, portrayed in starkly beautiful, full-color photos.
Jar City
by Arnaldur Indridason
Indridason's first moody police procedural 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.
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12 days
11 nights
28 meals
11 B 9 L 8 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Iceland, Blue Lagoon, Check-in, Orientation
Reykjavik
B,L,D
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Activity note: Walking from the airport terminal with luggage to the coach to driving 10 minutes to Viking World. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 15 miles to Blue Lagoon, approximately 1/2 hour; about 35 miles to hotel, approximately 1 hour. If you wish to swim in the Blue Lagoon, please remember to pack your bathing suit in your carry-on luggage. Towels will be provided. Slippers, bathrobes and spa treatments are available at an additional cost. Northern Lights Inn check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Breakfast: At Viking World.

Morning: After meeting our group at Viking World, we will depart via motorcoach at approximately 11 a.m. to the Bridge Between Continents to see where Europe and North America meet.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will board a motorcoach and continue our Icelandic adventure with a soak in the mineral-rich, geothermally heated waters of the Blue Lagoon. (Entrance fee and towels included at Blue Lagoon; slippers and bathrobes available at additional cost.) There are other “blue lagoons” but this one is truly unique. The stark volcanic terrain that surrounds it creates an otherworldly feeling. The lava field is surely natural, but in fact the lagoon owes its existence to a geothermal power station built in 1975. Superheated water from a nearby lava flow feeds into the power plant system and finally flows into the lagoon, where the temperature stays between 98°-104°F (36°-40° C). Minerals from the underground geological layers account for the coloration. Not only is lounging in the waters delightfully comfortable, the minerals and white silica mud are reputed to provide benefits for skin conditions. After, we'll continue our transfer to the hotel for check-in. The rest of the afternoon is free time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Meals will feature local cuisine. Water is included with all meals. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. The remainder of the evening is free to continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars. Then settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
Borgarnes
Borgarnes
B,L,D
Hotel Borgarnes

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 80 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles; standing in the museum and the fish processing center.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: At the hotel, we’ll attend a lecture on Iceland’s past and present before setting out for Borgarnes.

Lunch: At the Borgarnes Settlement Center.

Afternoon: We'll visit the Borgarnes Settlement Center which is devoted to recreating Iceland's history over the last 1000 years. The Settlement Center uses the meticulously written Book of Icelanders and The Book of Settlement, both from the 13th century, as the resource for creating this exhibition. Arrival and check-in at hotel.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Reykholt, Borgarfjördur Region
Borgarnes
B,L,D
Hotel Borgarnes

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 80 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 3 miles; uneven, hilly terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll depart by motorcoach for Reykholt, homestead of the famous Saga writer, Snorri Sturluson. Here we’ll learn how Snorri’s poetic and political lives intertwined in medieval Iceland’s turbulent parliament and royal court.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll take a field trip by motorcoach 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: At the hotel.

Evening: At the hotel we’ll enjoy an evening of traditional Icelandic folk music and dance.

DAY
5
Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Breidafjördur Boat Ride
Borgarnes
B,L,D
Hotel Borgarnes

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 130 miles, approximately 3 hours. Walking up to 3 miles; uneven, hilly terrain. Getting on/off a boat, assistance provided as needed. The boat ride is approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set out by motorcoach for Stykkisholmur, a fishing village on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. From here, we’ll take a two-hour boat ride among the islands of Breidafjördur, watching locals fishing for scallops and tasting some of their catch!

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We'll visit the Bjarnarhöfn shark farm and museum to learn about shark processing, where we'll have the chance to taste this special Icelandic delicacy. Then we'll take a peek into the tiny church at Bjarnarhöfn.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Horse Farm, Textile Exhibition, Glaumbær Folk Museum
Akureyri
B,L,D
Hotel KEA

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 210 miles, approximately 4 hours. Walking and standing up to 3 miles; uneven, hilly terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set out by motorcoach to transfer to Akureyri, North Iceland. En route we will visit a horse farm, where we will become acquainted with the Icelandic horse, enjoying an informative talk from the farmer about life at the farm, and meeting the remarkable breed during a "horse show."

Lunch: At a country restaurant.

Afternoon: As we continue our transfer by motorcoach, we’ll stop at the textile exhibition at Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið, to see its beautiful collection of wool, national costumes, and tools of the trade including looms and spinning wheels. We’ll then enjoy an expert-led visit of the Glaumbær Folk Museum, located on an old turf farm that was inhabited until 1947. The farmhouse is a great example of the typical building method used in Iceland for centuries, and the exhibition focuses on rural life in Iceland in the 18th and 19th centuries. After, we will stop by the Vidimyri Church. The church was built in 1836 and is one of the six turf churches still preserved in Iceland. We’ll then continue to Akureyri, and check in to our hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Lake Mývatn
Akureyri
B,L,D
Hotel KEA

Activity note: Did you know that the word "myvatn" means "midge" in Icelandic? Please be aware that you may encounter midges (small flies) at Lake Myvatn. If you do, it is better to be prepared. We recommend bringing insect repellent and a mosquito head net. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking and standing up to 3 miles; uneven, hilly terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll begin our day with a lecture on Iceland’s geology, at a venue 5 minutes’ walk from our hotel. We’ll then set out by motorcoach to Lake Mývatn, for a full day's exploration of one of the richest nesting grounds for water birds in the world.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our full-day field trip to Lake Mývatn. The pseudocraters, solfataras, craters and volcanoes of the surrounding landscape make for a fascinating geological study. We’ll return by motorcoach to our hotel in Akureyri.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Whale Watching Excursion, Akureyri Exploration
Akureyri
B,L
Hotel KEA

Activity note: If weather permits you to embark on the Whale Watching excursion, please be aware that you will be required to stand for most of the time. There are only some seats on the boat. Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking up to 2 miles on paved streets.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Weather permitting, we’ll embark on a whale-watching excursion in the beautiful Eyjafjördur bay to get a closer look at the gentle giants inhabiting Iceland's waters.

Lunch: At a family-owned restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll spend some time getting to know Akureyri, Iceland's second largest city, with a sightseeing excursion through Akureyri by bus and on foot. We’ll walk through the Botanical Garden, explore Akureyri's church, and view the distinctive architecture of the Hof Cultural Center.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: We’ll attend a music performance at the Minjasafnið Museum church.

DAY
9
Akureyri, Fly to Reykjavik
Reykjavik
B
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Activity note: Please note that today's internal flight is an Iceland Air flight, and is approx. 45 minutes long. The luggage limit is 50 pounds, and the hand luggage limit is 13 pounds. Please see Internal Flight Luggage Note for further luggage information.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll fly from Akureyri to Reykjavík. Upon arrival we'll board a motorcoach for a panoramic field trip through Reykjavik, first seeing the historic Höfði House, site of the 1986 summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that precipitated the end of the Cold War. We will also drive by Lake Tjornin, a small lake in downtown Reykjavik known for its birdlife, as well as the Parliament House and City Hall, worth a visit for its large topographic map of Iceland. We’ll check in to the hotel mid-afternoon, and the rest of the afternoon is free time to settle in and explore the local area.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy local fare.

Afternoon: Free time to explore on your own.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Hellisheiði, Þingvellir, Gullfoss, Geysir
Reykjavik
B,L,D
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 150 miles, approximately 3.5 hours aboard motorcoach. Walking distances up to 2 miles; uneven, hilly terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set out from the hotel on a full-day field trip by motorcoach, beginning at the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant. The largest in Iceland, it’s the second largest in the world, situated in the Hengill volcano area. Here we’ll learn about this renewable resource and how geothermal energy is used in Iceland. We’ll then visit Espiflot and learn about how flower greenhouses work.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Our full-day field trip will also take us to the fascinating sites of Iceland’s “Golden Circle”. þingvellir National Park, site of the original parliament, is known as the most sacred place in Iceland due to its geological and historical significance. The Althing, or General Assembly, was established here in 930 CE and is the world’s oldest existing parliament. Not only historically significant, the site is located on the meeting point of the American and European continental plates. Gullfoss — golden falls — is the most famous waterfall in Iceland. Water from the Langjökull glacier flows into the Hvítá (White) River. When it reaches the great Gullfossgjúfur canyon, it falls in two stages more than 100 feet (32 meters). We’ll experience the stillness and beauty of the wintry countryside and the frozen waterfall. At Geysir, the site from which all geysers take their name, the active Strokkur geyser bursts forth every few minutes in a cloud of steam. We’ll return to our hotel late in the afternoon by motorcoach.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
National Museum, Reykjavik
Reykjavik
B,L,D
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking distances up to 2 miles.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach for an expert-led field trip to the National Museum of Iceland. In addition to a permanent exhibition on the making of a nation, there are special exhibits on a variety of history and culture topics.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: At the amazing site called Perlan, we’ll have unforgettable 360-degree views of the city from the observation deck atop the museum, that is itself situated on gigantic tanks filled with geothermal hot water. After our visit you will have free time to explore on your own.

Dinner: At a local restaurant to enjoy a farewell meal. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Program Concludes, In Transit from Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Free time.

Lunch: On your own based on departure flight time.

Afternoon: Staggered transfers to Keflavík International Airport based on final flight times. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.