The Best of Iceland: A Country of Beautiful Contrasts

Traverse the wonders of Iceland with locals and scholarly experts, delving deep into a landscape of stunning geological features, glaciers, and bubbling thermal pools.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 3342RJ
12 days
Starts at
Flights start at
25 Reviews
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4.88 Average

The program offers a comprehensive experience of life in Iceland, both past and present, as well as of Iceland's fascinating and varied geology and landscape. Visits to folk museums offer a look at Icelanders' lives in their historic past and visits to a tomato greenhouse and modern fish, horse, and dairy farms provide a glimpse into their lives today. The program is not really strenuous, requiring little more than the ability to get on and off a coach and walking on generally flat ground. If you do see that a long walk is not for you, you will be perfectly okay not doing it -- the only thing you might miss is being splashed by a waterfall or not getting a super close up look at a geyser!


Tips on this trip: --Accessibility: There are a lot of stairs to get in restaurants, etc. and our motor coach had extremely steep and narrow steps. If you have bad knees that will be very hard to navigate Iceland. It is not that accessible overall. Bring a walking stick. --hotels: if you are single I would NOT share a room the beds and bathrooms are TINY in all the hotels. --Water: it's pure and piped straight from the ground delicious, bring your reusable water bottle and fill up right from the cold water tap! It's the hot water that can smell a bit of sulfur but not the cold water. --Food: a LOT OF LAMB and FISH. Lamb is the national meat and sheep are everywhere! Still it got a bit old not having a lot of variety. --Boat rides: the best part! Try the raw scallops straight from the ocean, so delicious! --Free time: not a lot of it. If you want to go horseback ride or swimming those two options would be great! The pool in Akureyri was fantastic! I wished I had time to do the horseback riding but not enough free time. Plan ahead. The swimming pools in Iceland are all heated and have hot tubs/saunas and are places to meet the locals. --Bring binoculars for bird watching! It's not on the list and there were some times it would have been nice to have a pair.

This reviewer did not give a star rating.

We had some trouble coordinating our travel with the start and finish of the trip, but once we were there, all went well. We had to join the rest of the group already at the Blue Lagoon, and it would have been better if the whole group could have gone at the same time. However, once that was over, the rest of the tour was fantastic. Eirikur, our guide, was great, knowledgeable on everything, birds, history, politics, life style, anything we asked him. I especially enjoyed the entertainment we had, and seeing the dairy, the tomato greenhouse, the fish processing plant, the sod house, the puffins, the whales, oh heck, I loved everything! I would have liked an earlier plane from Akureyri to Reykjavik, as we had more free time in the former than we needed and less in Reykjavik. However, our schedule depends on the airlines, of course. Maybe one more day in Reykjavik. so we could have enjoyed more of the Pearl than just the restaurant. And that reminds me, the food was fantastic! And the desserts! One of our group was lactose intolerant and everyone was so helpful with her. I hated to leave. I love Iceland (in the summer, anyway!)


I do not usually travel with Road Scholar but found this trip to be especially diverse in its activities with lectures, farm visits, scenic waterfalls, historical locations, whale watching and the Blue Lagoon among others. There were so many opportunities to learn all about Iceland which is one reason I travel!


My wife and I recommend the Best of Iceland tour very strongly, although we are glad we went in shoulder season as crowds were never a real problem. The trip itself was an engrossing mixture of experiences. We came away much impressed with Iceland and (again) much impressed with Road Scholar.


I loved the Best of Iceland trip. The contrast in the landscape is amazing. I learned so much about the country through our guide, Erik. I will never forget he delicious food, the museums, boat rides and varied experiences I had. I highly recommend this trip.


Fantastic tour! Great itinerary, leader & bus driver! Once in a lifetime experiences!


This Road Scholar trip to Iceland was not a visit; it was an adventure. As if the stunning landscape, the eye-catching architecture, and the gastronomic delights were not enough, the lecturers tied it all together. Our Viking guide was even better than the usual great RS ones; she was a fountain of knowledge. OK, so the fermented shark was a bit strong and the scallops fresh from the ocean were not McDonald's fare but I told you, it was an adventure. Finally, where else except the Blue Lagoon could you luxuriate in chest high, warm mineral water while sleet beat on the back of your neck? Yes, a few places were a bit crowded with tourists (and deserved to be because they were amazing) but most of the island was peaceful and serene.


A great program to learn the geology and culture of the Iceland people.


Great trip, great guide, would recommend to anyone wanting to go to Iceland


The Best of Iceland is a true adventure vacation!


This program exceeded any and all expectations I might have had. A wonderful travel and learning experience.


Iceland is a country of exceptional beauty, history, culture and contrasts. Experience a well-planned, guided tour through many facets of Iceland from Icelandic animals to sagas and culture. An experience of a lifetime!


It is really the best of beautiful Iceland what one can be seen with easy pace. Well organized for this time of the year with long daylight and informative.


If you cannot wait to see the glaciers, mountains, fissures, water falls, wildlife, and oceans of Iceland take this trip. Easy to get there and easy to get around with RS's fine guides and perfect itinerary.


This is a great trip, especially if you are a geologist. If you have issues with smell, you might need to reconsider as the whole country has a strong scent of sulfur. Even in your hotel rooms, you will confront the scent of sulfur as you turn on the hot water to shower or wash your hands. If you look to share a room to cut costs and get to know new people, realize that the hotels (all of them) only use twin beds and they may have placed them together as a make-do full-size bed. Be prepared to eat fish daily or multiple times within the day. And remember, the American Disabilities Act applies to America. Out of 18 participants, a driver, and a guide, 4 to 5 people fell on my trip to include the driver. None of the people who used walking sticks regularly, fell. Expect uneven grounds and sidewalks that become part of the streets and frequent uneven steps without hand-rails. Beyond this, the country is beautiful along with the waterfalls, boiling water, boiling mud pots. The folktales are captivating. And the people take great pride in being from Iceland. Prices are extremely high on everything; plan on 2 to 3 to even 4 times higher than the United States.


Just came back from a Road Scholar trip to Iceland. It was a wonderful trip; the Blue Lagoon, Icelandic horses, geothermal power plant, tomatoes grown in a geothermal greenhouse, gorgeous scenery, great guide and lectures - and more!


Wonderful trip!!!!!!!! Road Scholar I would highly recommend to anyone who loves to travel with a group!


This tour exceeded my expectations! Beautiful country, interesting culture and history, lots of good educational experiences, enjoyable fellow travelers, and delicious food. Thank you Harpa and Steinunn for making it extra special!


This was our first trip with Road Scholar (we went to Iceland) and it was everything we could have wished for.....every detail taken care of, fascinating and informative lectures, a guide who was simply extraordinary....knowledgable, fun, patient, and someone we would love to live near. Plus three wonderful entertainments offered in the evenings. The hotels and the food were great. We will absolutely plan another trip with them.


If you're looking for a beautiful land, congenial people, wonderful food and a place where nature is on awesome display at every turn, this is the tour to choose.


The program went beyond expectations. I had no idea what to expect. what made it especially good was the Program Leader, Eirikur Einarsson. With his knowledge, humor and understanding of who we are and his own country, he made us feel comfortable in a strange place. Iceland is a wonderful country and more people should visit it.


This was an outstanding program and exceeded all expectations.


This program is very comprehensive: geology, history, literature, agriculture, farming, Icelandic horses, the fishing industry, geothermal power, whale watching, waterfalls, geysers, lava fields, rifts caused by the continental shift, and thermal pools. A few of our group didn't bring bathing suits and missed the awesome experience of wading in the Blue Lagoon (admission included in this program). The mineral water truly did make my skin feel healthier! We also saw the Northern Lights, but at this time of year they are more white than green or blue. The food was up to Road Scholar's exceptional standards. Well-prepared and plentiful. Iceland's staple is fish, cooked many ways, fresh organic tomato soup, and lamb (also cooked in various ways). The vegetarians in our group ate so well that at one point I said, "Wow, I wish I was vegetarian!" The field trips were all interesting and Eirikur was very good at explaining what we saw looking out the bus window at lava fields, mountains, volcanoes, steam vents, lichen, rifts, etc.


Visiting this island and learning it's history gave me great respect for its founders and their hardships. Each country has a different history, but we aren't really aware of it until we are able to visit and hear about it first hand.

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