12 days circumnavigating Iceland aboard the MS Spitsbergen
cruise dates available April thru September 2019 and April thru September 2020
from $6495 per person
Iceland is the perfect destination for explorers searching for the unexpected. The nation’s heritage dates back to the ancient sagas, and Icelandic folk tales are rife with mysticism, elves and trolls. Enjoy hikes through lava fields, see natural hot springs, explore raw wilderness, encounter rare wildlife, and visit fascinating historic settlements.
Day 1 – Reykjavik
Arriving in Iceland
Many visitors find landing at Keflavik airport enchanting. The hub seems carved out of an arctic desert, with lava stones covered in moss, and haunting mountains nearby. But just 45 minutes away, Reykjavik is a charming and vibrant modern city, offering top restaurants, interesting museums and quaint narrow streets.
Start your expedition in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
Day 2 – Stykkishólmur and Flatey
Welcome to the “Sagaland”
West Iceland is often referred to as “The Sagaland”. Experience Stykkishólmur’s diversity of lava and rock formations, glaciers, volcanic activity and hot and cold springs.
Explore the town of Stykkishólmur on your own or join an optional excursions to explore more of the Snæfellsnes peninsula which is said to be a miniature version of Iceland. In addition to its characteristic Snæfellsjökull glacier, there are black sandy beaches, bird cliffs, spectacular mountains and volcanic craters.
On the charming island of Flatey, time appears to stand still. Take a stroll around the village and travel back in time along the scenic lanes.
Day 3 – Patreksfjördur
Patreksfjördur is a charming settlement on the west coast of Iceland with around 660 inhabitants. The picturesque fjord offers scenic hiking trails if conditions allow. Patreksfjördur is also close to the spectacular waterfall of Dynjandi and to Látrabjarg, a renowned site for birdwatching.
Day 4 – Ísafjörður
Flanked by towering mountains on all sides, Ísafjörður is a nearly perfect natural harbor. Stroll around to see the architecture, the variety of local handicrafts and the oldest houses in Iceland, including the structure that houses the Maritime Museum. With our wide range of optional excursions, you can choose to follow in the footsteps of trolls or enjoy the beautiful scenery from horseback.
Day 5 – Hornbjarg Cliff and Reykjafjörður
Bird Watchers’ Paradise
The Hornbjarg cliff is one of the greatest sea bird habitats in Iceland. From deck, you will be able to enjoy the spectacular views of the wildlife. Reykjafjörður can only be reached on foot or by boat, and we plan to take a closer look at this stunning area as well.
Day 6 – Hrísey and Akureyri
Fjords, Birds and City Life
Hrísey is a peaceful island in the middle of Eyjafjörður, a well-known paradise for birdwatchers. The most abundant species at this spot is the ptarmigan, but in all about 40 species of bird nest here. The 200 Islanders live in a trim fishing village with paved streets, tidy gardens and everyone has a view of the spectacular surrounding mountains.
Next stop is Akureyri, a lively and energetic town. In fact, it is the most populous community outside Reykjavík, and serves as the centre of trade, culture and services for the north of Iceland. Akureyri is close to many of Iceland’s most renowned natural treasures, although the town itself is a popular destination. Enjoy an optional hike or join an excursion to the impressive Goðafoss waterfall.
Day 7 – Grímsey
Step Across The Arctic Circle
At Grímsey we will use our small boats to reach this green and grassy island. It is probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. You can have the chance to step across that line, North to South.
Day 8 – Húsavík
The Whale Capital of Iceland
Húsavík is recognized as one of the best whale watching locations in the world, due to the island’s thriving bay ecosystem. Melting snow and rivers bring nutrients from mineral-rich mountainsides which, when combined with the boundless summer sun, leads to teeming masses of plankton, the main source of food for baleen whales. Húsavík is also the oldest settlement in Iceland. The town’s most famous landmark is Húsavíkurkirkja, a wooden church built in 1907. Over the years, Húsavík has become an increasingly popular tourist centre and is home to the Húsavík Whale Museum. After leaving the town, we sail past the Langanes peninsula.
Day 9 – Bakkargerdi and Seyðisfjörður
The Land of the Elves
Bakkagerdi is the main settlement in Borgarfjörður. This area is known for its natural beauty and is “the land of the elves”. Puffin colonies abound in the fjord, making this a popular place for birdwatching. Bakkagerdi is off the typical tourist track, and offers peace, quiet and lovely views. If you prefer more action, join us for an optional tour to the natural forest of Hallormsstaður. The Norwegian heritage of the village of Seyðisfjörður is reflected in colorful Nordic-style wooden houses dating from the early 20th century. The handcrafted architecture creates a truly unique identity in the settlement. Explore the town, join an organised hike or take an optional excursion to Skálanes.
Day 10 – Djúpivogur
Glaciers and Art
The natural world around Djupivogur is highly varied. The Búlandsnes bird sanctuary is renowned among bird lovers throughout the world, because this is a place where you can observe most Icelandic birds nesting in their natural habitat close by. The Vatnajökull glacier is the largest in Europe, and a spectacular sight. Join our optional excursion to Vatnajökull lagoon, or stay and hike in the beautiful surroundings of the town. Langabúð is the oldest house in Djúpivogur, originally built in 1790, and has now been renovated to serve as a cultural center. It houses some of the works of sculptor Ríkarður Jónsson, a heritage museum and a coffee shop with delicious homemade cakes and a display of local handicrafts. Don’t miss the outdoor sculpture, Eggin í Gleðivík, by the world famous Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson, consisting of 34 eggs.
Day 11 – Heimaey
Heimaey is the largest of the Westman Islands, which are located off Iceland’s south coast, and is dominated by magnificent cliffs. These form natural habitats for many different seabirds, including puffins and kittiwakes. The islands are also a great place for spotting whales. In 1973, a huge volcanic eruption surprised the residents of Heimaey. It forced the entire population to evacuate and set sail to mainland Iceland. A large number of buildings were buried under lava and ash. Many were completely destroyed, but others were later unearthed and restored. An entire museum, Eldheimar, has been built around the remains of one of the homes.
Day 12 – Reykjavik
The End of the Adventure
Our voyage of discovery and adventure ends in Reykjavik. If you have the time, join our exciting post program Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon.