Iceland’s geology in all its manifestations is world-class: glaciers, thundering waterfalls, immense cliffs, geothermal springs, boiling mud pots, and rock and lava-scapes of unearthly beauty. It alone makes a circumnavigation a very compelling idea. But when you add in components like Iceland’s people, their unique cultural heritage and contemporary character, as well as the island’s geography and birdlife, seeing it all in one 360º expedition is irresistible. Join the National Geographic Explorer on this 10-day Arctic expedition cruise to see the best that Iceland has to offer.
Meet Iceland’s people and learn about their cultural heritage
Actively explore Iceland's rugged coasts in one 360º expedition
Experience all of Iceland’s unique geological manifestations
Travel with an expert team on a holistic, narrative voyage
Arrive in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital, which lies only a fraction below the Arctic Circle and receives just four hours of sunlight in winter and 22 in summer. Have a guided overview of the Old Town, including Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral with its 210-foot tower, and perhaps shed some light on Nordic culture at the National Museum, with its Viking treasures and artifacts, and unusual whalebone carvings on display. Embark National Geographic Explorer.
Explore Iceland’s Western frontier, visiting Flatey Island, a trading post for many centuries, for walks around the charming little hamlet that grew here, and take a Zodiac cruise along the coast. Sail past the immense Látrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. The cliffs are an area once famous for egg collecting; the men were tied to ropes and lowered like spiders down onto the ledges.
Explore the beautiful and peaceful Westfjords region of Iceland. Perhaps take a hike to a remote waterfall or a Zodiac cruise alongside bird-covered cliffs. Enter Ísafjarðardjúp and land at Vigur Island to visit the Eider Farm and view the down cleaning process.
Siglufjördur was the center of Iceland’s once-thriving herring industry. You will stop by the Herring Museum for a re-enactment and a tasting. Continue to picturesque Akureyri, backed by snow-capped mountains. Explore the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses, or visit the botanical garden.
Begin the day by visiting an unforgettable sight: Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods. Next, drive to Mývatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland. This is world-classifield geology! See the bizarre mud pools at Hverarönd — so hot they actually bubble. At the Krafla geothermal area see the explosion crater at Viti. After lunch ashore, meet the ship in Húsavík, and watch for whales as you sail north to the land of the midnight sun. Take Zodiacs ashore to the tiny island of Grimsey, which lies exactly on the Arctic Circle. Here you will celebrate being officially in the Arctic, in the company of nesting arctic terns, fulmars, and puffins in burrows, all bathing, courting and fishing — another wonderful photo op.
With plenty of rarely-visited coastline, this day is left open to explore Iceland's rugged east coast. Perhaps join our naturalists for a hike along a stretch of the Langanes Peninsula or you may have a Zodiac cruise to view the beautiful stacks near Raudanes. You can keep it flexible to be able to choose the best option for the day.
The Westman Islands were formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and are among the youngest of the world’s archipelagos. In 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — which you will see as you cruise past the coast. In 1973, Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbor. You will visit the crater, where the earth is still hot, and have amazing views of areas that had been engulfed by lava.
Day 10: Reykjavik | Disembark | Home
Today you complete your circumnavigation of Iceland, disembarking in Reykjavík. Choose to visit the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths or enjoy the hotsprings, geothermal power plant and horse farm prior to flights home.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!