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Iceland Northern Lights

5 days
from
$3,079
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Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
CZT
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Short Breaks, Private Group Adventures
Activity:
Winter Holidays
Group size:
6–16
Ages:
16+

See Iceland's best sights in one weekend

The Northern Lights can be dramatic, eruptive, fleeting and enigmatic. Never guaranteed, sightings rely on minimal light pollution, solar activity and clear skies. The key to any Aurora trip is enjoying the whole experience, regardless of what happens in the night sky. This is where this Iceland Northern Lights tour comes into its own. Roaring waterfalls, icebergs littered on black volcanic sand and mighty volcanoes dotting the horizon. With a local guide on hand keen to show you 'their' Iceland, and alert to the prevailing conditions and the likelihood of a light show you will be well placed both literally and metaphorically, to see all that Iceland has to offer.

Highlights

  • A chance to see the Northern Lights in amazing landscapes
  • Complete the Golden Triangle of Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir N.P
  • Glacier walking and the amazing Glacial Lagoon

Key information

  • 4 nights comfortable en suite hotels
  • Flybus transfer to meet any flight
  • Travel by airconditioned minibus
  • Group normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Countries visited: Iceland

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Reykjavik
to
Reykjavik
  • Day 1

    Start Reyjavik.

    Our tour begins at our hotel in Reykjavik in the late afternoon. Iceland’s compact capital city is well worth exploring, and we strongly recommend a couple of extra days before or after your tour. Two of the most striking attractions are the Hallgrímskirkja Church; a fine example of expansionist architecture with great views from the tower, and the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall. The nearby old harbour is a great starting point to explore the narrow streets of the old town.

    Our trip begins with an evening briefing.This will usually be around 1830.

  • Day 2

    Drive along the south coast stopping at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls and Reynisfjara volcanic beach

    Today we leave Reykjavik driving east along the scenic southern highway. Our first stop is Seljalandsfoss, a 60-metre high waterfall. Here we have the chance to walk behind the cascade providing conditions are not too icy. Suitable footwear is a must, however the leader also carries a selection of ice grips that can be put over standard walking boots to increase grip in slippery conditions. We continue on through starkly beautiful countryside to an area badly affected by the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. 

    We continue on along the coast visiting the Skógafoss Waterfall, that falls in a 25-metre wide sheet in a single drop of 60 metres. There may also be time to visit the nearby Skóga Museum (entrance payable locally) and see how Icelanders of centuries past survived in this harsh environment. After lunch our next stop is the black volcanic beach at Reynisfjara, with its salt caves and towering columnar basalts. The final part of our journey takes us across the black expanse of the Myrdalssandur floodplains, created by the river which formed after the eruption of a volcano under the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier.

    Our hotel for the night is the Laki, located just outside the small village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Drive across Skeidararsandur floodplains to Skaftafell for stop and visit; on to Falljokull for a glacier walk. Drive to Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon.

    We set out today across the massive Skeidararsandur floodplains, created in a similar fashion to those at Mydalssandur. These floods however only occurred in 1996, and there is still little vegetation. We head to Falljokull, then walk to an accessible part of the glacier where we will strap on crampons and grab some ice axes to walk on the glacier. The terrain is not challenging and even those with no similar experience should pick it up quickly. The glacier offers some fantastic photo opportunities, with its walls of brilliant blue ice, thousands of years in the making. Please note that weather and road conditions will determine whether the glacier walk is possible and how long the transfer/walk to the glacier will be. In good conditions, the walk may be 15 minutes; in poorer conditions, the walk may be up to 1 hour. Your itinerary will be adjusted according to conditions on the day.

    After the return hike, we travel onwards to the beautiful Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, created in the 1950s as the glacier retreated from the coastline, leaving a 300m deep, 20sq km lake littered with icebergs. On the beach we can walk amongst the large chunks of ice washed up on the black volcanic sand, creating some beautiful shapes and formations.

    The drive back to the hotel is approximately 90 minutes (125km), plenty of time to reflect on the day's adventures.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Drive along the south coast passing Eyjafjallajokull Volcano; visit Gullfoss Waterfall, spouts at Geysir and explore the rift valley at Thingvellir N.P.; on to Reykjavik.

    We make our way back along the south coast, travelling inland from Selfoss. We stop for lunch then head on to visit the mighty Gulfoss Waterfall; one of Europe’s most powerful. Hundreds of cubic tonnes of water a second pass over the edge of the falls into the canyon below. We also visit Geysir, home to the inimitable hot spouts. The most reliable eruption comes from Strokkur and occurs every 5-10 minutes, firing jets of hot water and steam 30 metres into the air, a spectacle not to be missed. 


    Our final stop before returning to Reykjavik is Thingvellir National Park, where the world’s first democratic parliament sat in 930AD. It was not until 1798, that it moved to the capital. Thingvellir is also the site of the rift valley marking the Mid Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart, causing an area of around 7km to literally sink into the earth.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    End Reykjavik

    Our trip ends with a Flybus transfer to Keflavik Airport. Your leader will not accompany you on the Flybus, however you will be provided with a number to call for assistance should it be needed.
    Should you have time you may wish to spend time exploring Reykjavik, visiting one of the local thermal pools or the Blue Lagoon (see extra expenses section for details).

    Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay and learn more about this incredible country. Please ask our sales team about pre and post tour nights.




    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Iceland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Iceland

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included. There are a number of different lunch stops, which we believe fit well with the itinerary such as the café near the Skogafoss Waterfall, and the geothermal greenhouses at Friðheimar which serves a menu based on its own produce, including the famous Friðheimar Tomato Soup!
Whilst in the east of Iceland we will stop at local restaurants for dinner.
In Reykjavik there are plenty of restaurants to choose from catering for all tastes and budgets. Traditional Icelandic dishes consist of salmon, cod, lamb and puffin. Cafés in the old town are particularly cosy, packed with comfy chairs, and antique furniture, with wonderful selections of coffees, cakes and treats.

There will be vegetarian and vegan options available though in the east of Iceland these may be more limited than in Reykjavik.

Weather

The country has a notoriously fickle climate, and on any day of the winter you may experience periods of sunshine alternating with short or long showers of snow, sleet or even rain. Away from the coast, in most winters, there is good snow cover for much of the season. Average daytime temperatures in Reykjavik are between 0º and -5º Celsius. In the interior it can be several degrees colder, and in windy weather, which is common, the wind-chill factor can be significant.

Is this trip for you?

This short stay includes three and a half days sightseeing, with visits to and exploration of areas of natural beauty. We will attempt to see the Northern Lights, choosing location and times based on the latest information to give us the best chance of seeing them. We will not go out every night, instead we monitor conditions and reports to see where and when excursions may be successful. Our accommodation in the east is fairly remote, so is well placed should skies be clear. Whilst staying here it is likely we would simply take advantage of the viewing terrace should the lights be visible.
It is important to remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and are never guaranteed. We are however pleased to say that the majority of our groups have managed to see the Aurora in some form.

We also venture out onto a glacier equipped with helmet, ice axe and crampons however we stick to only flat sections of the ice; this experience is very accessible and designed for all abilities. To make the most of this holiday you do not need previous experience but a reasonable level of fitness is recommended.
Understandably for its location Icelandic weather is unpredictable, please come prepared for cold, wet and windy conditions. As this trip runs from October to March, hours of daylight will vary depending on departure date from around 5 hours in January to 10 hours in March. Outside of daylight there are hours of twilight, particularly before sunrise, when there is enough light to see by. Naturally, the Aurora will not be visible during daylight.
We cover a lot of ground and as such have a few long drives. We make frequent photo stops during these drives to allow us to appreciate the different and spectacular landscapes.
Iceland has become hugely popular in recent years, and you may find some of the main sites rather busy at certain times. 

Please note on occasion severe weather can affect our ability to undertake some of the outdoor activities and visits and we cannot rule out changes to the itinerary for these reasons. Any such decisions would always be taken with the safety of the group in mind. We will always endeavour to provide suitable alternatives in this instance.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels Klettur or Cabin & Laki

During our time in Reykjavik, we usually stay in the Hotel Klettur. The property is located approximately 15 mins walk from the main shopping street, Laugavegur, so it’s easy to enjoy the cafés, bars and restaurants of Iceland’s capital. Rooms are a good size with private facilities. Alternatively we may stay in the Hotel Cabin, which offers the same standard of accommodation and facilities, but is approximately 800m further out from the city centre.

Along the south coast we stay at the Hotel Laki, situated in a perfect location to see Iceland’s rugged landscape, with pseudo craters dotting the view. All accommodation has private facilities.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed March 2022

    Northern Lights

    A great trip to a fascinating country. The highlight was seeing the Northern lights outside the Hotel Laki (and briefly back in Reykjavik). The weather meant that there was clear skies and sunshine, so the views with the snow were excellent. (Which was a good job as there are some long road journeys).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Northern lights.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jon was great, knew what he was doing, had an encyclopaedic knowledge of his country, and his Icelandic folk stories never ended!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Dont take any cash - Iceland is pretty much cashless now (and expensive). Do take lots of layers - it was minus 17 at Thingvellir after sunset. Be prepared to be in the vehicle quite a lot. Do go to the Blue lagoon on the way to the airport. Most flights are afternoon which gives time. (The taxi from Blue lagoon to Keflavik was 9000 kr, which we shared with someone else. There is a phone with direct line to a taxi firm in the blue lagoon) Consider adding a day or two in Reykjavik before or after the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    1. The glacier walk is described as "We head to Svinafellsjokull...where we go for a short walk.". What it doesn't say is that there is more than an hour's walk to & from the glacier...making this a 3-4 hour trek!! My wife and a fellow traveller found it too much and I accompanied them back - spoiling one of the highlights of the trip. 2. The preparation for the glacier walk (crampons, helmets etc) could be done in the warmth of the hotel, not standing still in a cold car park for 45 minutes. 3. The drive back on "day 4" is about 5 hours - meaning the visits to Gulfoss, Geyser and Thingvellir are far too rushed. These are the major reasons people come to Iceland and do not need to be rushed. (By the time we got to Thingvellir it was after sunset, so the temperature meant no-one wanted to stand outside for long listening to the guide). Doing this first on the first day with the long drive at the end of the day would have been better. 4. The trip notes also mention a refund on the Flybus return ticket if it is not used. This is great as some people want to visit the Blue lagoon on the way to the airport. However the guide was un-aware of this and had to spend ages wandering round Reykjavik finding an ATM to give people refunds. (Giving an option for a one way Flybus ticket when booking would help).
  • Reviewed February 2022

    Lots to see. Recommend

    Lots to see. Weather very changeable. Hotel food very tasty (and very expensive- not just the beer). Recommend

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the NL. Big surprise but magical

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good. Very passionate. Not short of facts!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare for very cold and changeable weather in winter. Prepare for expensive food. Prepare for amazing landscapes. Enjoy!
  • Reviewed February 2022

    Lots to see. Recommend

    Lots to see. Weather very changeable. Hotel food very tasty (and very expensive- not just the beer). Recommend

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the NL. Big surprise but magical

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good. Very passionate. Not short of facts!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare for very cold and changeable weather in winter. Prepare for expensive food. Prepare for amazing landscapes. Enjoy!
  • Reviewed February 2022

    Great Trip

    A very good trip with a great guide Jon and a good and friendly group of travellers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the glacier and seeing the Northern Lights

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good. A really nice man

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather can affect your itinerary so be aware.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A hotel we stayed at (i think it was Laki) provided a three course buffet but charged for all three even if you didn't want them all. It made a single course very expensive!
  • Reviewed January 2022

    Northern Lights

    Completely amazing! This is a stunning trip in spite of the short day light hours. Each day there’s a new excitement and the glacier experience is awesome. Title is a bit of a misnomer; as long as you go with the mindset that seeing the NL is a bonus then you’ll be fine. Thank you Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk on the glacier

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Orre was great. Really kind and thoughtful and his passion for Iceland was abundant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Seeing the Northern Lights is a bonus!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Nick Corble

    Glacier Walk a Real 'Wow' Moment

    A filled and varied few short days in this interesting country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The glacier walk was the second 'wow' moment of the day, the first being the glacial lagoon earlier in the day. I hadn't quite anticipated how serious this was, and realised when we were being kitted up. The scenery, and sense of being so 'as one' with the forces of nature once actually on the ice, was awe-inspiring. This wasn't all though, with visits to various other natural wonders including the original geyser, and a number of waterfalls, plus, well, just the scenery. All this, plus tomato beer. What could go wrong?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jon was an excellent guide, ready to fill us in on Icelandic sagas and the Icelandic way of life.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely bring wet-weather gear (waterproof trousers a must). It can be a bit exposed out there and forecasts stating 2 degrees or whatever, do not take into account the wind chill. Layers is the answer.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wonder if Exodus is missing a trick labelling this trip the Northern Lights? Although I knew beforehand there was a chance we might not see them, and had conditioned myself to this, there was never a chance we were going to see them given the weather, and I wonder how many groups do? What they all must do, is the glacier walk, and this more than made up for it. 'Glacier Walking with a chance of Northern Lights' might not be a snappy title, but probably more honest. Or just 'Natural Wonders of Iceland'?
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Phyllis Lampard

    Fascinating taste of Iceland

    Our excellent guide Nico informed and amused us as we visited some very interesting features from geysers to a walk on a glacier! The iceberg added to the Icelandic gin was a brilliant idea for watchin* the northern lights! Thank you we will certainly visit again and see more of this beautiful country

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of layers
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Nigel Bradshaw

    Wet & wild!

    This is an extraordinary trip even if the Northern Lights are not visible, there is nowhere else so accessible that has such a fascinating and diverse landscape. The people are lovely and the food top quality. It is an expensive country however, additional food and drink and souvenirs are pricey.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking on the glacier in crampons, ice axe and helmet and descending into its crevasses among 2000 year old ice was an amazing experience. The final morning was very well planned, starting out below ground in a lava tube then being taken straight to the Blue Lagoon prior to catching the flight home. Don't be put off by thinking that the Blue Lagoon is a tacky tourist trap - it's not, it's an amazing and relaxing end to the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Orri was an exceptional leader, friendly, helpful and approachable, nothing was too much trouble for him. He kept us entertained with his stories of Icelandic history and folklore during the longer road sections.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plentry of layers and good quality warm and waterproof clothing, The weather is going to be both cold and wet and can change rapidly, if you are prepared for that then you will enjoy the trip all the more.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The northern lights may not make an appearance whilst there and some activities may be cancelled at short notice and another substituted due to the raw nature of the place, that is part of its appeal for me, keep an open mind and enjoy the experience.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Rebecca Cope

    Fantastic trip to Iceland

    We had a fantastic trip to Iceland. A lot was fit into the few days that we were there but the itinerary was just right. There was quite a lot of driving but it was worth it to see all of the sights that we did and our group leader entertained us with tales of Iceland throughout the journey. I am already planning my next trip to Iceland to explore the country further!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The glacier hike and the caving were my highlights. I'd also heard mixed reviews about the blue lagoon but I also loved this as it is so unique to Iceland.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Orri was a fantastic leader. Very warm and friendly and kept us entertained throughout. We couldn't fault him and he helped to make it a memorable trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of layers! I'd also recommend spending at least one additional night in Reykjavik. It's a great place to spend time and is small enough to see plenty in one or two days. There isn't much spare time in the itinerary if you don't book additional nights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The weather was very mixed whilst we were there from bright sunshine to snow. We only got to see the Northern lights very faintly on one of the evenings though due to lack of activity and cloud cover but it didn't matter. I would highly recommend.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Robert Butler

    Iceland and it's rugged nature

    Yet again Exodus has given us a wonderful tour of a part of this great planet. Iceland has a great deal to offer for those that want to see a raw part of the world; from Glaciers to bathing in hot springs, to volcanoes and lava tubes. It is an easy trip to do if you have a low level of fitness but still want to cave or walk a glacier. As always, the choice of guide could not be faulted, he was fun and entertaining but went about everything in a professional way. Sadly we did not see the northern lights but nature is not always on demand, however this did not detract from a wonderful tour of the sights and sounds of Iceland. Well done Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Gullfoss falls absolutely fantastic sight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Orri Sigurjonsson was outstanding as our leader and guide. He expertly explained the safety of walking on glaciers with crampons, and the wearing of caving equipment. Also when the van broke down with a puncture he organised a replacement coach to get us back to our hotel and in the night went back to fix the van with a mechanic, appearing bright and cheerful in the morning to continue our tour. Whilst travelling he told wonder stories of Trolls and Elves who live in the rocks of Iceland. Well done Orri.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a trip where you will see and hear about Iceland and it's history and it's wonderful rugged beauty of various landscapes.

Dates & Prices

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