10 incredible ways to see Iceland, land of fire and ice

Trisha Andres
Iceland is awash with glaciers, towering volcanoes and geothermal pools - Guitar_Tawatchai (Guitar_Tawatchai (Photographer) - [None]

The land of fire and ice is awash with glaciers, towering volcanoes and geothermal pools. Add to that Reykjavik, its hip capital, and you have a destination that provides not just otherworldly sights but also plenty of culture.

Whether you’re in search of the Northern Lights or the sights featured in Game of Thrones, Iceland has something on offer.

Game of Thrones

Retrace the steps of your favourite Game of Thrones characters on this five-day tour from Regent Holidays (01174 537 702; regent-holidays.co.uk), which takes in the wilderness where the third series of the TV show was filmed.

The tour visits Godafoss Waterfall, the town of Akureyri and Lake Myvàtn Nature Baths. Led by the same expert guide that took the cast and crew to some of Iceland’s key sights, this tour visits the landscape brought to life with tales of the “Seven Kingdoms.”

Departs any time, from £1,495 b&b including Icelandair flights.

Fantasy hike

If you want to stretch your legs in a world of mystery and folklore, Discover the World (01737 886 163; discover-the-world.co.uk) offers a seven-day “In the Footsteps of Elves” itinerary. The tour visits Borgarfjörður Eystri, which is hidden away in the east fjords and home to sweeping vistas, coastlines and ancient tales of elves and the “hidden people," whom legend suggests, once resided there. Based in a hotel in Borgarfjörður Eystri, the itinerary offers moderate level hikes through winding fjords, moors and black-sand beaches.

Departures between May and September, from £1,812 including flights and all breakfasts, four lunches and four dinners.

Iceland is primed for the Northern Lights Credit: istock

In search of the Northern Lights

A three-day “Northern Lights in Iceland” itinerary from the Ultimate Travel Company (0203 131 2691; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk) takes in the country’s best-known attractions by day and goes in search of the Aurora Borealis by night. Highlights include the Golden Circle, the site of the world’s oldest parliament, the Blue Lagoon, and volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls of Iceland’s south coast.

Departs any time, from £1,197 b&b including flights, transfers and excursions.

Natural beauty

While many tour operators focus on the southwest of the island, Titan (0808 250 6279; titantravel.co.uk) offers a complete 10-day Icelandic Adventure circuit of the island’s natural attractions, including the Blue Lagoon, Borgarfjordur, Lake Myvàtn, the Vatnajokull Glacier, the spouting hot springs of Great Geysir and the Golden Falls, with three nights in Reykjavik to boot.

Departures between May and September 2019, from £2,999 half board including flights.

Undiscovered Iceland

This nine-day Iceland in spring itinerary from Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk) explores three top areas for birds watching, including the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Thingvellir and Lake Myvàtn. You’ll spot red-throated and great northern divers in vibrant summer plumage, red-necked phalarope, harlequin duck, whooper swan, slavonian grebe, snow bunting, gyr falcon and a host of breeding waders and seabirds. There’s also a chance to go on a boat trip from Husavik, regarded as the whale-watching capital of Europe.

For departures in 2020, call Naturetrek on 01962 733051; from £2,895 full board including flights.

Iceland cruise

Explore Iceland on board Le Champlain, a small yacht-like ship on an eight-day Iceland cruise from Tauck (0800 810 8020; tauck.co.uk) which sails from Reykjavik to off-the-beaten-track towns, villages and islands. All state rooms and suites on the ship have ocean views and most have private balconies. You’ll walk across the Arctic Circle on a guided tour of remote Grímsey Island and see arctic terns and puffins, with insights from a naturalist. Other highlights include a private visit to Vigur Island to tour a multi-generation family farm, Thingvellir National Park, the “Golden Circle” and the Blue Lagoon spa.

Departures between June and July 2020, from £5,880 full board but excluding flights.

See puffins on an Icelandic cruise Credit: istock

Cycle Southern Iceland

If you’d like to explore Iceland on two wheels, Canadian operator Freewheeling Adventures (freewheeling.ca) offers an eight-day cycling holiday which pedals past glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and volcanic landscapes. Highlights of the trip include Reykjavik, Vik, the Westman Islands and Thingvellir National Park. The tour is available self-guided, but with luggage transfers, and fully guided with van support.

Departures between June and August, from CAD$5,495 (£3,173) full board but excluding flights.

Active break

An eight-day Active Iceland Holiday from the Baltic Travel Company (0208 233 2875; baltictravelcompany.com) offers a host of activities, in addition to taking in the key sights. The possibilities are endless: deep sea fishing, exploring on horseback, white water rafting, going on a whale watching cruise or guided glacial walking and ice climbing. You’ll also get the chance to drive an ATV on the volcanic Reykjanes peninsula and the Mid-Atlantic ridge and hike up the mountains and volcanic landscape of Southwest Iceland.

Departures between June and August 2019, from £1,845 including accommodation, some meals, flights and activities.

The Blue Lagoon is a must for fans of volcanic spas Credit: istock

The road less travelled  

A seven-day Highland Journey across Iceland tour from Scandinavia Only (01274 875199; scandinaviaonly.co.uk) explores both south and north Iceland via an intrepid bus journey taking the Kjölur route, an off-the-beaten track that meanders through the inner section of the country from the highlands to Akureyri - perfect for those who wish to see Iceland's interior without hiring a car. There are two days in the quirky capital Reykjavik for a spot of shopping at independent shops, record stores and design boutiques. There’s a range of activities too, from soaking in mineral-rich natural baths to going on a whale watching cruise (extra).

Departures between June and September, from £1,945 including flights, some meals, local transport and activities.

Spa weekend

With its natural hot springs and many a spa, Reykjavik is a good bet for a relaxing weekend away. On a three-day Spa Weekend itinerary from Vulkan Travel (0203 630 1199; vulkantravel.co.uk), you’ll take a dip in the Blue Lagoon as well as the Fontana Steam Bath. There is also a visit to the exclusive Laugar Spa in Reykjavík for a one-hour massage and a swim in the thermal pools.

Departures any time, from £688 b&b including flights.

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