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Tours

iceland-1
iceland-1Traditional Houses in SkogarShelter in ReykholtThingvellir National ParkView of Glaciers from Hofn

Iceland

Explore a Nordic island nation of magnificent natural beauty. From Reykjavík, we travel along the Golden ring and then venture into the northern reaches of Iceland before returning to the capital. Travel through the volcanic landscape and explore Iceland’s archaeology, from Viking settlements to the location of the oldest existing parliament in the world.

July 31 – August 15, 2017 (16 Days)
$8,250 (exc. international airfare)
Single supp: $1,475

July 30 – August 12, 2018 (14 Days)
$8,995(exc. international airfare)
Single supp: $1,475

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Tour Description

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Travel Iceland’s ‘Golden Circle’, discovering breathtaking natural wonders, Viking settlements, and more along the way
  • Explore the excavations of the Mosfell Archaeological Project, where discoveries from the Viking Age onwards are ongoing

  • Meet some of Iceland’s most enigmatic — and largest! — residents on an unforgettable evening of whale-watching
  • Take a free afternoon to discover the delights of the world’s most northerly capital — colorful, cultural Reykjavík

LED BY

July 2017
Prof Kenneth W Harl

July 2018
Prof Kenneth W Harl

Meals: All breakfasts, 13 lunches & 12 dinners

2017 ITINERARY

July 31 & August 1:
Departures from our home cities on Monday. We arrive on Tuesday.
Hotel: Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk.

August 2: REYKJAVÍK
Enjoy a day touring the world’s most northerly capital, Reykjavík. We discover Old Reykjavík, anchored by the small Tjörnin lake; and visit the National Museum of Iceland. After lunch, we continue to the Reykjavík Settlement Exhibition, and end the day at the Culture House, home to millennia-old artifacts and incredible Icelandic art.
Hotel: Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk.

August 3: KEFLAVÍK
We travel to Viking World this morning. Based in the town of Reykjanesbær, the main attraction is the magnificent reconstructed Viking ship built using authentic materials and methods. We see Iceland’s wildlife in their natural environment during an unforgettable whale-watching experience this evening.
Hotel: Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk.

August 4: REYKJAVÍK
Touring Reykjavík’s Saga Museum, we experience history brought to life through realistic waxworks and soundtracks. This afternoon, enjoy some free time exploring other Reykjavík highlights. Though small, this fiery capital’s creative spirit ensures there is always entertainment on offer.
Hotel: Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk.

August 5: MOSFELLBÆR
The Mosfell Archaeological Project, which hopes to construct a picture of human habitation and environmental change in the region, is our first stop. We continue to Thingvellir, a national park and “protected national shrine for all Icelanders” since 1928. We also stop at Lögberg, the former of the country’s Althing parliament.
Hotel: Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel.

August 6: SKÁLHOLT
For eight centuries from 1056, Skálholt was one of the most important places in Iceland, and remains a crucial religious center. We discover the Þorlagsbúð longhouse, a recreated turf-house. This afternoon we visit Geysir geothermal area, which boasts Iceland’s most active geyser, and Gullfoss Waterfall.
Hotel: Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel.

August 7: HELLA
We begin our day at the reconstructed farmstead of Stöng, in the Thjorsardalur Valley. The excavated farm is believed to have been destroyed in the Hekla eruption in 1104. We travel to the manmade cave at Hellnahellir, whose almost 50 meters of wall is covered with engravings.
Hotel: Hotel Skogafoss.

August 8: HOFN
We discover a collection of 15,000 regional folk craft artifacts and six historical buildings during our visit to the folk museum in Skógasafn this morning. We continue to the Icelandic fishing town of Höfn, where we view the Falljökull glacier tongue in Skaftafel National Park.
Hotel: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.

August 9: JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIAL LAGOON
We start the day with a boat tour over the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park before continuing up the coast eastern coast of Iceland, stopping at picturesque fishing villages along the way.
Hotel: Hotel Bláfell.

August 10: MYVATN LAKE
We begin with something different — a tour of Mývatn, a eutrophic lake whose surrounding wetlands have a rich fauna of waterbirds. On to Baldursheimur, where a hnefatafl (chess) set was found in a Viking graven – the king made from whalebone.
Hotel: Hotel Skúlagarður.

August 11: AKUREYRI
We start the day at Godafoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, then tour Akureyri, an important port and fishing center. We visit the museum and see the Eyjafjörður fjord, then continue to Gasir, the main trading post of northern Iceland during the Middle Ages, mentioned in old Icelandic sagas.
Hotel: Hotel Mikligarður.

August 12: HÓLAR
We travel to Hólar, a community of just 100 people. We visit the Cathedral — built in 1763 from stone taken from Hólabyrða, which towers above Hólar — and Thingeyrar, the site of legislative assembly during the Icelandic Commonwealth.
Hotel: Hotel Laugarbakki.

August 13: ERIIKSTADIR
This morning we explore one of the most historically significant locations in Iceland — the reconstructed house at Eriikstadir, starting point for all westward expansion by the Vikings. We continue to Reykholt, former home of ancient historian, poet, and politician Snorri Sturluson. We visit the Heimskringla Museum, dedicated to Icelandic sagas and scaldic poetry.
Hotel: Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk.

August 14: REYKHOLT
During our final day on tour we enjoy some free time in the Icelandic capital, during which you may wish to join an optional glacier excursion in Langokull. We gather tonight for our farewell dinner.
Hotel: Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk.

August 15:
Depart for home.

Additional Information

Calendar Year

2017, 2018

Reservation Form

2018 Tour Details

Travel along the Golden Circle, venturing into the northern reaches of Iceland. Wander through volcanic landscape and explore Icelandic archaeology – from Viking settlements to the location of the oldest existing parliament in the world.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • View the spectacular glaciers in Skaftafell
  • Visit Hofsstaðir historic park and see the site of a Viking-age longhouse

  • Go whale-watching in Reykjavík
  • exploring the geothermal area of Geysir, an extraordinary natural landscape of hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud.

All meals included.

LED BY

July 2018
Prof Kenneth W Harl

2018 Itinerary

July 30 
Our flight departs for Iceland, landing on the morning of Day 2.

July 31: REYKJAVIK
We arrive in the capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland’s earliest and largest settlement, which was founded by Norsemen as long ago as 874 AD. This afternoon we relax at our historic four-star hotel, before enjoying an introductory lecture from our Guide Scholar. Following this, a delicious welcome dinner is served.

August 1: REYKJAVIK
Our exploration of Reykjavik begins with a guided walking tour of the city – a chance to get to know our new surroundings at a pleasantly leisurely pace. We make our way to Hofsstadir Historic Park, where a local archaeologist brings the ghosts of a Viking-era longhouse to life.

The legacy of the Viking longhouse continues at our next stop, the Settlement Exhibition, an interactive museum based around the remains of a 10th-century settlement, at which we find traces of Iceland’s oldest man-made structure: an ancient boundary wall.

Pausing for lunch at a Scandinavian restaurant, this afternoon we pay a visit to the Culture House, viewing a wealth of national art and artifacts, before continuing on to the National Museum of Iceland. Don’t miss the museum’s excellent settlement section, with its collection of drinking horns and mythological sculptures.

Tonight we dine together at a restaurant in the city.

August 2: REYKJANESBAER
We start the morning with a short drive out to the Hafnarfjördur History Museum, a former port warehouse now housing collections of regional cultural artifacts. Following this we make our way to Viking World in Reykjanesbaer. We take lunch here, and view Islendingur, an astounding replica of a 9th-century ship.

This afternoon we stop at the Arbaer Open Air Museum, a reconstructed village offering a glimpse in to Reykjavik’s historic past, with costumed guides, domestic animals, and more than 20 buildings open to explore.

We return to our hotel for a short break, before making the most of the Scandinavian summer nights with an evening whale watching tour.

August 3: THINGVELLIR
After breakfast we take our leave of the capital and travel to the Mosfell Archaeological Project, an international collaboration seeking to understand the lives of the early settlers in this verdant valley region, including details of their customs, trade links and agricultural techniques.

This afternoon we head to Thingvellir National Park, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site which was once the home of the Althing, Iceland’s parliament. Founded in 930 AD, the Althing is the oldest parliament in the world, and held outdoor assemblies here until the end of the 18th century. Today this rugged landscape is protected as a national monument.

We continue on to our luxurious hotel in the lava fields, and unwind over an evening meal with the group.eritage

August 4: SKÁLHOLT
Our sixth day begins with a drive east to Skálholt, which was one of Iceland’s leading religious, cultural and political centers for several centuries. It was here, in 1056, that Iceland’s first bishopric was established. Skálholt was also site to the country’s first school – an institution founded that same year to educate the clergy.

While here we enter Skálholt Church – the cathedral’s most recent incarnation – tour the neighboring excavation site, at which relics and coffins have so far been unearthed, and visit a reconstructed turf house.

After stopping for lunch at the family-run Fridheimar Farm, where a glorious assortment of greenhouses grow Icelandic tomatoes all year round, the afternoon sees us exploring the geothermal area of Geysir, an extraordinary natural landscape of hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud.

We proceed to the vast stepped waterfall of Gullfoss before returning to our comfortable hotel for dinner and a well-earned rest.

August 5: HELLNAHELLIR
Our first stop today is the man-made cave at Hellnahellir, the largest artificial cave in all of Iceland. Dating from at least the 12th century – possibly much earlier – Hellnahellir’s walls display numerous cross marks, leading some to speculate that it was formerly a sanctuary for pre-Viking Irish monks. Our next stop is the excavation site at Thjodveldisbaerinn, where we find the ruins of a Viking manor.

Following a picnic lunch, we make our way over to Stöng, a Viking-era farm which has been painstakingly dug out from layers of lava and reconstructed. We round off the day at the modern Saga Center in Hvolsvöllur, a museum based on the 13th-century tales of the Njáls Saga. An engaging overview of Viking life, the museum also offers an optional introduction to tapestry weaving.

Tonight we stay at the exceptional Skógafoss Hotel, in the shadow of the Eyjafjalla Glacier.

August 6: SKOGAR
We spend much of this morning at the Skogar Museum, a complex housing some 15,000 folk craft artifacts. On site we discover a host of reconstructed local buildings, including a church, school, and turf houses, as well as the famous eight-oared fishing boat Pétursey. Next we head for Iceland Erupts, a unique exhibition at the foot of Eyjafjallajökul, the volcano which famously brought worldwide flights to a standstill in 2010.

Pausing for lunch, our journey continues via the recently excavated site at Kirkjubaejarklaustur, a settlement farm which sits amid the ruins of an ancient convent.

Before the day is done we get up close to the magnificent Glacier Tongue of Skaftafellsjökull, a spell-binding encounter with one of Iceland’s coolest wonders.

August  7: JÖKULSARLON
The natural landscape continues to wow us today, as we visit Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, a magical lake of floating icebergs and brilliant blue water. We keep our eyes peeled for seals as we embark on a boat ride across the lagoon to the head of the Breidamerkurjökull glacier.

A spectacularly scenic drive follows lunch at the homely Holmur Farm. Later we stop at the harbor-side village of Stödvafjördur, ending the day amid the stupendous mountainous scenery of Hotel Bláfell.

August 8: SKRIDUKLAUSTUR
This morning we travel straight to the Skriduklaustur Museum and excavations. Here we discover traces of an Augustine monastery – the last to be established in Iceland’s Catholic era.

This afternoon we make our way to the lava fields of Dimmuborgir, or “Dark Castles”: an unusual landscape of volcanic rock formations, reminiscent of a vast and eerie fortress. According to legend, Dimmuborgir is where Satan came to earth when cast out of hell; an incredibly atmospheric destination with which to bring our tenth day to a close.

August 9: AKUREYRI
Natural and man-made architecture blend seamlessly at our first stop of the day: the grass-covered Grenjadarstadur turf house is one of largest of its type in the country. Originally an agricultural settlement, in the 1950s it became a local museum, and provides us with an excellent opportunity to imagine life as it would have been for its 19th-century inhabitants.

We continue on to Godafoss Waterfall, one of Iceland’s most impressive natural sites: a mighty amphitheater of gushing icy water.

Our next destination is the fjord-fringed city of Akureyri – a historic port and trading center. Here we tour the Akureyri Museum, which boasts charming displays on regional life from the settlement era to the present day. A short drive then brings us to the Medieval trading center of Gásir. Featuring in many of the old Icelandic sagas, this once-flourishing settlement has recently been the focus of intensive excavations. Findings suggest that Gásir’s decline took place in the 16th century, at the same time trading as began in Akureyri.

On departure we head west, finishing the day with a feast of local cuisine at our hotel.

August 10: HÓLAR
This morning we travel to the tiny community of Hólar, which was declared the Episcopal see of northern Iceland in the 10th century. While here we pay a visit to Hólar Cathedral, one of the country’s earliest stone churches, which was erected in 1763. We also take in the stunning log-house – a reconstruction of a former bishops’ residence –  and peer in to some tantalizing excavation trenches. Our morning continues at the Icelandic Emigration Center, a facility dedicated to the Icelandic immigrants of North America.

After lunch we visit Thingeyrar Church, another of Iceland’s early stone churches, and the site of the country’s first monastery. Don’t forget to look up before you go: Thingeyrar’s starry ceiling is quite something to behold.

August 11: EIRIKSSTADIR
Our final full day in Iceland begins with a trip to the amazing Viking longhouse at Eiriksstadir. This fascinating living museum was the birthplace of Leif Erikkson, the first European known to have discovered North America. These days a host of modern-day Vikings share their skills and knowledge across the site, making for a thoroughly immersive experience. We continue to Hraunsnef, a working farm, stopping to enjoy lunch in its peaceful hilltop setting.

As we make our way back to Reykjavik, we visit the Snorrastofa Center and excavations – a haven for Medieval enthusiasts. Snorrastofa is dedicated to the life and work of the Icelandic poet and politician, Snorri Sturluson, who was assassinated here in 1241.

Returning to the capital in the late afternoon, tonight we enjoy a decadent farewell dinner and drinks with the group. Skál!

August 12
We make our way to the airport and board our return flight home.

Accommodation

Hotel Borg, Reykjavίk
Hotel Borg, Reykjavί

Hotel Borg is in the heart of Reykjavík, overlooking the square of Austurvöllur with the Icelandic parliament and the cathedral. You’ll be able to relax over your 5-night stay in the hotel’s Bar/ lounge & spa. All rooms have room service and are equipped with a mini-bar for chilled refreshments. The Hotel is a beautiful & historic hotel, which has been recently renovated in a 1920’s Art Deco style.

 

 

Hotel Skogafoss

Hotel Skogafoss

For one night enjoy this hotel next to the stunning Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s best-known waterfalls. You can sit on the terrace or look-out from the glass-walled bar/restaurant, as you eat breakfast and take in the stunning scenery. With modern cozy rooms, this is the perfect base to explore the surrounding area.

 

 

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

fosshotel-glacier-lagoon-01

In the south of Iceland, this hotel boasts rooms with a view, sauna and a deck to relax on with your morning coffee, once you’ve finished with the very generous breakfast buffet. The hotel has a very stylish bar/ restaurant and has high-speed WiFi to share the wonderful pictures of the neighbouring waterfall or sea view.

 

 

Hotel Bláfell

Hotel Bláfell

Moving to the east of the island, in a small village next to the ocean, we stay at the Hótel Bláfell for one night. The natural wooden décor has a log cabin feel & an open fireplace in the lounge with Chesterfield-style sofas creates a cozy atmosphere. As well, the hotel boasts a wellness sauna and a delicious breakfast to set you up for the day ahead.

 

 

Hotel Skúlagarður

skulagardur-country-hotel

Skúlagarður lies at the heart of Kelduhverfi. This hotel is in a former boarding school and the focus remains on simple home-style cooking in its bar/restaurant and has access to high-speed WiFi. The hotel has an open and communal dining hall, where, over breakfast, you can discuss your views of the Northern Lights from the Hotel’s observation deck the night before.

 

 

Hotel Mikligarður

Hotel Mikligarður

The hotel, located near Sauðárkrókur in the north of Iceland and has a bright, modern and clean feel to it. It features a restaurant, a bar/lounge, and a 24-hour front desk – all rooms have private facilities and high-speed internet access. With a hearty breakfast included, this hotel is just what you need to continue your trip around Iceland.

 

 

Laugarbakki

Laugarbakki

This three-star Hotel is located in Laugarbakki Village. Relax in good sized rooms, with TV & Wifi or venture to the heated hot tubs outside, with a glass of something in hand from the Hotel’s bar. The breakfasts have a good selection of food, and even have a go at making your own waffles.