The Northern Lights can be dramatic, eruptive, fleeting and enigmatic. Never guaranteed, sightings rely on minimal light pollution, solar activity and clear skies. They key to any Aurora trip is enjoying the whole experience, regardless of what happens in the night sky. This is where Iceland comes into its own. Roaring waterfalls, icebergs littered on black volcanic sand and mighty volcanoes dotting the horizon.
With a local guide on hand keen to show you 'their' Iceland, and alert to the prevailing conditions and the likelihood of a light show you will be well placed both literally and metaphorically, to see all that Iceland has to offer.
Eating and Drinking
All breakfasts are included. There are a number of different lunch stops, which we believe fit well with the itinerary such as the cafe near the Skogafoss Waterfall, and the geothermal greenhouses at Frioheimar which serves a menu based on its own produce, including the famous Frioheimar Tomato Soup!
Whilst in the east of Iceland we will stop at local restaurants for dinner. In Reykjavik there are lots of restaurants to choose from, catering for all tastes and budgets. Traditional Icelandic dishes consist of salmon, cod, lamb and puffin. Cafes in the old town are particularly cosy, packed with comfy chairs, and antique furniture, with wonderful selections of coffees, cakes and treats.
The country has a notoriously fickle climate, and on any day of the winter you may experience periods of sunshine alternating with short or long showers of snow, sleet or even rain. Away from the coast, in most winters, there is good snow cover for much of the season. Average daytime temperatures in Reykjavik are between 0º and -5º Celsius. In the interior it can be several degrees colder, and in windy weather, which is common, the wind-chill factor can be significant.
Our tour begins at our hotel in Reykjavik in the late afternoon with an evening briefing at approx 1830. The small city is well worth exploring, and we strongly recommend a couple of extra days before or after your tour. Two of the most striking attractions are the Hallgrimskirkja Church; a fine example of expansionist architecture with great views from the tower, and the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall. The nearby old harbour is a great starting point to explore the narrow streets of the old town.
Today we leave Reykjavik driving east along the scenic southern highway. Our first stop is Seljalandsfoss, a 60-metre high waterfall. Here we have the chance to walk behind the cascade providing conditions are not too icy. Suitable footwear is a must, however the leader also carries a selection of ice grips that can be put over standard walking boots to increase grip in slippery conditions. We continue on through starkly beautiful countryside to an area badly affected by the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallaokull volcano. We continue on along the coast visiting the Skagafoss Waterfall which falls in a 25-metre wide sheet in a single drop of 60 metres. There may also be time to visit the nearby Skaga Museum (entrance payable locally) and see how Icelanders of centuries past survived in this harsh environment. After lunch our next stop is the black volcanic beach at Reynisfjara, with its salt caves and towering columnar basalts. The final part of our journey takes us across the black expanse of the Myrdalssandur floodplains, created by the river which formed after the eruption of a volcano under the Myrdalsjokulll Glacier. Our hotel for the night is the Laki, located just outside the small village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
Today we drive across the massive Skeidararsandur floodplains, created in a similar fashion to those at Mydalssandur. These floods however only occurred in 1996, and there is still little vegetation. We head to Svinafellsjokull, an outlet of the glacier where we go for a short walk. We will be using crampons and ice axes however the terrain is not challenging and even those with no similar experience should pick it up quickly. The glacier offers some amazing photo opportunities, with its walls of brilliant blue ice, thousands of years in the making. Please note under certain circumstances it may be necessary to use Solhimajokull glacier in the south. This is an equally enthralling experience. We travel onwards to the beautiful Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, created in the 1950s as the glacier retreated from the coastline, leaving a 300m deep, 20sq km lake littered with icebergs. On the beach we can walk amongst the large chunks of ice washed up on the black volcanic sand, creating some beautiful shapes and formations. The drive back to the hotel is approximately 90 minutes (125km), plenty of time to reflect on the day's adventures.
Today we head back along the south coast, travelling inland from Selfoss. We lunch at the restaurant in the Fridhheimar greenhouses. Here a local family have set up a successful tomato producing farm harnessing the geothermal power so abundantly available. From here we head on to visit the mighty Gulfoss Waterfall; one of Europe's most powerful. Hundreds of cubic tonnes of water a second pass over the edge of the falls into the canyon below. We also visit Geysir, home to the inimitable hot spouts. The most reliable eruption comes from Strokkur and occurs every 5-10 minutes, firing jets of hot water and steam 30 metres into the air, a spectacle not to be missed. Our final stop before returning to Reykjavik is Thingvellir National Park, where the world's first democratic parliament sat in 930AD. It was not until 1798, that it moved to the capital. Thingvellir is also the site of the rift valley marking the Mid Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart, causing an area of around 7km to literally sink into the earth.
Our trip ends with a transfer to Keflavik Airport. Should you have time you may wish to spend time exploring Reykjavik, visiting one of the local thermal pools or the Blue Lagoon (see extra expenses section for details). Depending on flight times, you may wish to spend time exploring Reykjavik, visiting one of the local thermal pools or one of the many sights available in the city or indeed extend your stay beyond this trip. Please ask our sales team about pre and post tour accommodation.
Note: This short stay includes three and a half days sightseeing, with visits to and exploration of areas of natural beauty. We will attempt to see the Northern Lights, choosing location and times based on the latest information to give us the best chance of seeing them.
We will not go out every night, instead we monitor conditions and reports to see where and when excursions may be successful.
Our accommodation in the east is fairly remote, so is well placed should skies be clear. Whilst staying here it is likely we would simply take advantage of the viewing terrace should the lights be visible. It is important to remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and are never guaranteed. We are however pleased to say that the majority of our groups have managed to see the Aurora in some form.
We also venture out onto a glacier equipped with helmet, ice axe and crampons however we stick to only flat sections of the ice; this experience is very accessible and designed for all abilities
. To make the most of this holiday you do not need previous experience but a reasonable level of fitness is recommended. Understandably for its location Icelandic weather is unpredictable, please come prepared for cold, wet and windy conditions. As this trip runs from October to March, hours of daylight will vary depending on departure date from around 5 hours in January to 10 hours in March. Outside of daylight there are hours of twilight, particularly before sunrise, when there is enough light to see by. Naturally, the Aurora will not be visible during daylight.
We cover a lot of ground and as such have a few long drives. We make frequent photo stops during these drives to allow us to appreciate the different and spectacular landscapes.
Iceland has become hugely popular in recent years, and you may find some of the main sites rather busy at certain times.
Please note on occasion severe weather can affect our ability to undertake some of the outdoor activities and visits and we cannot rule out changes to the itinerary for these reasons. Any such decisions would always be taken with the safety of the group in mind. We will always endeavour to provide suitable alternatives in this instance.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
On occassion we may stay in the Hotel Cabin, which offers the same standard of accommodation and facilities, but is approximately 800m further out from the city centre.
During our time in Reykjavik, we usually stay in the Hotel Klettur. The property is located approximately 15 mins walk from the main shopping street, Laugavegur, so it’s easy to enjoy the cafés, bars and restaurants of Iceland’s capital. Rooms are a good size with private facilities.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange flights and connecting transfers to your hotel.
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This 4 night winter snow holiday holiday includes:
Twin-centre accommodation in a hotel
Management by our sister company, Exodus
Standard group transfers from your final hotel
Transfers, transport and activities listed
Tour leader throughout
How to book:
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Winter activity holiday Managed by our sister company, Exodus.
Transfers can be arranged to meet your preferred flights - please ask for details
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Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.
We've been creating high-quality relaxed activity holidays since 1985 and our wealth of experience means we're able to build the perfect tailor-made tour for you. Our 'Gold Trusted' rating on Feefo, the independent review site, underlines our exceptional levels of customer service, and our ATOL bonding and ABTA membership guarantees your holiday is safe with us.