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Embark on an astonishing adventure across landscapes that have inspired epic literature and Viking lore alike — Iceland. You’ll delve into the bewitching wilderness and seascapes of this remarkably unspoiled island-nation, from rolling green pastures where horses roam to magnificent fjords hiding tiny fishing villages on their banks. More than half the population of the country resides in its capital city, Reykjavík, which you'll explore at both the beginning and end of your adventure. The rest of your time will be spent uncovering Iceland's natural marvels while you sail on a European small ship cruise, discovering the ancient vistas and roaring waterfalls of UNESCO World Heritage Site Thingvellir National Park, and experiencing the fascinating local culture of this pristine region.
We’ll complement these discoveries with opportunities to walk or hike every day on your unforgettable European vacation. And because we’ll be traveling in a small group, you’ll enjoy personalized attention and invaluable experience from a Vantage Adventure Leader and knowledgeable local guides who will share their stories and insights with each new discovery. Join us on an illuminating astonishing small-ship cruise with 12 included tours designed to highlight Iceland’s wild coastline from north to south.
A center for the arts, scholarship, and commerce, Edinburgh is the U.K.’s second-most popular travel destination after London, and for good reason. Historic sites include Edinburgh Castle, the tangle of medieval Old Town, and the tidy neoclassical district of New Town. Collectively, they’re designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guided sightseeing walking and coach tour will get you oriented, then enjoy plenty of leisure time to explore along the Royal Mile, which is dotted with fascinating architecture, quaint shops and pubs, and intimate museums. History buffs can join an optional tour to the magnificent Stirling Castle, home to generations of Scottish monarchs.
Fly overnight to Reykjavík
Your Iceland adventure begins as you board an overnight flight to Reykjavík, the nation’s capital.
Settle into Reykjavík and explore its lively cultural scene
If you purchased airfare with Vantage, you'll arrive early this morning and begin the transfer to the hotel, stopping to enjoy breakfast along the way. After checking into your room this afternoon, you'll have some free time to discover the city of Reykjavík at your own pace. What the city lacks in size, it makes up for in culture. Surprisingly cosmopolitan, you'll find that Reykjavík is rich with culinary options, from Icelandic fare to international dishes; it also boasts an impressive spread of museums and art galleries. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and Dinner.
From bloody Marys to hot springs, get a true taste of Iceland today
Today we venture out along the Golden Circle to discover some of Iceland's most prized natural attractions. Cultural Discovery: First, we'll pay a visit to a tomato farm and greenhouse, where you'll savor a taste of "Iceland's best bloody Mary." Unforgettable Moment: Our explorations continue in awe-inspiring Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Renowned for its extraordinary landscapes, this remarkable site has a rich history that stretches back to the first settlers in Iceland. We’ll also stop to admire the spectacular Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot springs of the Geysir Geothermal Field during our Golden Circle discoveries.
Embark on a sightseeing tour of Reykjavík, then board the ship
Explore the highlights of this fascinating city during a sightseeing tour today, from the striking architecture that peppers its streets to the various public art installations that adorn the waterfront. Then, it's off to one of the city’s top attractions: the Blue Lagoon. Take in your spectacular surroundings while basking in these famous warm, milky-blue waters, the perfect rejuvenating ritual. You'll also enjoy an included lunch while here. Early this evening, we'll transfer to the city's harbor and embark the M/V Ocean Diamond.
A thrilling Snowcat excursion up Snæfellsjökull Glacier
Our Icelandic explorations today find us in Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Unforgettable Moment: Often called “Iceland in Miniature” because of its diverse landscapes, the area is home to Snæfellsjökull Glacier, which sits atop a 700,000-year-old dormant volcano that was featured in the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. Your guide will take you up to 4,600 feet (1,400 m) on a Snowcat excursion on this magnificent glacier; if the day is clear, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the quaint village of Hellissandur and bird-rich Breiðafjörður Bay.
The unforgettable vistas of Ísafjörður, and a village visit to Thingeyri
Today's destination is Ísafjörður, an idyllic town in the Westfjords region. Connected to the Icelandic mainland by only a narrow strip of land, the landscape of this secluded peninsula includes jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. Unforgettable Moment: As we continue through the mountains, we’ll stop to explore the historic village of Thingeyri. With a population of about 260 inhabitants, Thingeyri is both the area‘s first trading post and one of the oldest settlements. We’ll also stop at the thunderous Dynjandi, the highest and most impressive waterfall in the Westfjord region, before returning to the ship this evening.
Iceland’s herring era, and the birds of Grimsey Island
By morning, we reach the fjord town of Siglufjörður, once the hub of the global herring industry, which is now enjoying a rebirth in popularity. Our first stop is the award-winning Herring Era Museum, located on the town’s vibrant harborfront. Cultural Discovery: Here, you'll have time to wander the multiple exhibits illustrating the fascinating history of this important industry before watching a live herring salting demonstration! Later, we’ll head to Grimsey Island, a small island straddling the Arctic Circle. Located about 25 miles (40 km) off the mainland, the island harbors a variety of bird species, including puffins, guillemots, and gulls. After returning to the ship this evening, we set sail for Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest city.
A day of otherworldly landscapes, and a geothermal bath
Another day of remarkable scenery awaits us as we arrive in Akureyri this morning. Ranging inland, we’ll visit the fascinating Lake Mývatn region, an otherworldly national parkland with schizophrenic landscapes that look as if “heaven and hell” have clashed. One side of the lake features rugged volcanic remnants, while the other side is blessed with lush vegetation and varied birdlife. We’ll stop to marvel at Godafoss, meaning “waterfall of the gods” in local lore, before exploring the small settlement of Skutustadagígar. Later, we’ll stop at the impressive lava formations of Dimmuborgir, said to resemble a collapsed citadel. In Icelandic folklore, Dimmuborgir is said to connect the earth to the infernal regions. We’ll also visit the Myvatn Nature Baths for a relaxing geothermal bath before heading back to the ship this evening.
Discovering Iceland’s whale-watch capital
In the early morning hours, we steam into Skjálfandi Bay and Húsavík. Often called the “whale-watching capital” of Iceland, this town’s offshore waters are home to 15 different whale species, as well as dolphins and 30 varieties of birds. Make sure your camera batteries are charged for today’s Iceland travel excursion as we set off to spot some of the world’s largest animals: whales. We’ll also pass the island of Lundey, where we’ll have the opportunity to spot thousands of northern seabirds from puffins and black guillemots to fulmars and arctic terns.
The outdoor splendor of Seyðisfjörður and Stöðvarfjörður
Today finds us in Seyðisfjörður, a picturesque port in Iceland’s east fjords nestled between glistening sea and regal mountains. This scenic area is perfect for activities such as seal-spotting, horseback riding, kayaking, and hiking. Cultural Discovery: We’ll travel past jagged mountain peaks and remote farmlands to Stöðvarfjörður, where we'll visit the impressive “Stone and Mineral Collection” of Petra María and spend time in her remarkable garden. Then, we’ll head to Reyðarfjörður for a visit to the Wartime Museum. Located by an old hospital barracks, this museum shows Icelandic life in the 1940s, the high point of the World War II from both the perspective of the soldiers and habitants of Reyðarfjörður village.
Board a special boat to tour the Glacier Lagoon of Jokulsarlon
Our port of call today is Djúpivogur, a fishing village in southeast Iceland and the starting point for our glacier excursion. We’ll set sail aboard a specially equipped boat to marvel at the picturesque scenery of the Glacier Lagoon of Jokulsarlon. Although not very wide, the lagoon is up to 750 feet deep which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland. We’ll maneuver between humongous glaciers, including the glistening Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet of Vatnajökull Glacier.
The Westman Islands and the “Pompeii of the North”
Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman Islands were formed by submarine volcanic eruptions 10,000 years ago. Surtsey Island, which emerged from the sea in 1963, is one the youngest land masses on earth. We’ll go ashore on Heimaey, the only inhabited island, where half-buried houses remain from a violent 1973 eruption. Known as the “Pompeii of the North,” the eruption of Eldfell engulfed over 400 buildings in 200 million tons of ash and lava. After exploring this unique landscape on a guided bus tour, we’ll visit the island’s Volcanic Center, where we’ll hear the story of the Heimaey volcanic eruption in 1973, learn about the recent arrival of Surtsey Island, and study the unique geology of the Vestmannaeyjar Islands.
One last afternoon to explore electric Reykjavík
As our Iceland “saga” winds down, we find ourselves passing through the storied countryside leading back to Reykjavík, the last stop on our adventure. After checking into our hotel, your afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, share your favorite memories with fellow travelers during a Farewell Drink before seeking dinner on your own.
Following breakfast at the hotel this morning, transfer to the Reykjavík airport for your flight home, or to Nuuk, Greenland for the post-trip extension.
Further enhance your journey by extending your trip to Nuuk, Greenland’s beautiful capital city. In Nuuk, you’ll enjoy stunning coastal views, bustling boutiques, and quite possibly the strongest cup of coffee you’ve ever had! Step into the shoes of a Greenlandic local as you stroll through the colonial harbor, try your hand at fishing during a scenic fjord cruise, enjoy regional treats in a local home, and more! This extension will also give you an extra day to enjoy Reykjavík before returning home.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or local representatives at the destination.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. Hotel ratings are based on a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.