Wellness in Iceland

July 14-19, 2019
July 28- August 2, 2019

There’s a reason Iceland has become one of the world’s must-see destinations. Its unspoiled vistas, rugged landscapes and otherworldly beauty make it an ideal place to take a step back from the rush of everyday life. Slow down and take the time to savor what this rejuvenating country has to offer as you focus on wellness in all its forms. The starting point, not surprisingly, is Iceland’s famous hot springs. Nourish your body with wholesome food produced locally, and learn how to re-create traditional dishes yourself in a hands-on cooking lesson. Refresh yourself with ample time outdoors as you experience Iceland’s majestic waterfalls, geysers and glaciers. Learn how Iceland takes a long view of the wellness of its people as it works toward sustainability and green energy. With an itinerary that balances time relaxing with time exploring, take a holistic approach to what it means to be “well” in Iceland — from the famous saunas to the food to the chance to be out in the fresh air surrounded by the country’s striking natural beauty.

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Welcome to Iceland
Arrive at Reykjavik airport via individual flights. Gather with fellow travelers at the airport late this morning, and depart together for an unmissable visit to the famous Blue Lagoon. Enjoy a relaxing soak in the blue waters, along with a mud mask and beverage to get into the mood of the program. As you continue toward Reykjavik, listen to an overview of what you can look forward to in the days ahead. Arrive in Reykjavik and check in to your hotel. After a little time to relax, come together for dinner — a curated tasting menu accompanied by a wine tasting. (D)

Insider’s Reykjavik
After breakfast, set off on a walking tour of Reykjavik. The walk will take you through the Old Town and to Parliament, Domkirke Cathedral, the dramatic Hallgrímskirkja church, and “art street” Skólavörðustígur, which is lined with handicraft shops and galleries. Pause for lunch at a local cafe known for its traditional delicacies that evoke the country’s rustic history. This afternoon, those who wish to can relax like the locals at one of the city’s many public hot springs.

Tonight, get an even closer look at the cuisine that has made Iceland known as a center for fresh, local and wholesome food. Take part in a hands-on cooking class featuring fresh local ingredients such as Icelandic fish and lamb (vegetarian options will also be available). Enjoy the results of your cooking class for dinner accompanied by a well-deserved glass of wine. (B, L, D)

Geothermal Farming and the Golden Circle
Set out this morning through the beautiful countryside of southern Iceland. Among the reasons for the country’s unspoiled beauty is its dedication to clean energy. Visit the Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation center, a family-run organization that uses geothermal energy to grow vegetables year-round without the use of pesticides. Sip a Bloody Mary made with vegetables from the farm, and learn about the site’s many projects. Visit the farm’s own stables to meet the hardy Icelandic horses raised here.

Continue to the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall, one of Iceland’s most recognizable sights, and then on to the Geysir area. Here, the Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir shoot water high into the air. Pause for a lunch that includes a hearty bread baked in hot springs fueled by the geysers themselves.

Visit another family-owned farm that takes great pride in its dairy cows — here in the countryside the cows have space to roam. Enjoy a scoop of ice cream made at the farm, and learn how the farm creates its own cheeses and skyr — a type of yogurt that has existed in Iceland for more than a millennium.

Your last stop today is Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take time to enjoy the atmosphere created by moss-covered stones, dark-blue streams and a canyon formed by the meeting points of the North American and European tectonic plates. Return to Reykjavik in the evening. (B, Tastings, L)

Borgarfjörður and Langjök
Drink in some of Iceland’s most beautiful scenery today as you head to Borgarfjörður, where the waterfalls, hot springs and glacial rivers contrast with the rocks to create an otherworldly landscape. Among the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll see are the Hraunfossar falls — formed millenniums ago by ancient lava flows — and the bright-blue Barnafoss falls.

Soon you’ll have a chance to experience something few people get to see — the heart of a glacier. In a special all-terrain vehicle, explore the area leading up to the glacier, and then head into the glacier itself on foot. On a gentle trek, see ice formations and shades of blue you didn’t know existed. This experience was designed not only to inspire, but also to educate people about the fragility of glaciers and the need to protect them.

Continue to the Hotel Húsafell, your home for the next two nights. The hotel is known for its geothermal baths, which guests can enjoy throughout their stay. Enjoy dinner as a group this evening. (B, D)

Víðgelmir Cave and the Krauma Geothermal Baths
You’ll want to bring a swimsuit for today’s adventure! Descend into the earth again, but this time into the awe-inspiring Víðgelmir cave. This lava tube cave is filled with surreal natural formations and otherworldly colors. Learn about the geology of the cave as well as its history — Viking artifacts have been found here. State-of-the-art lighting and walkway systems make these striking features of the cave easily accessible.

It’s time to get back in the water at Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in Europe. The heat generated by the water here provides the hot water and power for neighboring communities. Head to the Krauna Geothermal Baths nearby to take a dip. The water is a blend of natural glacial water and water from Deildartunguhver for a temperature that’s just right. Enjoy a farewell dinner with the group this evening. (B, D)

Depart for Reykjavik airport this morning and individual flights home. (B)

trip details

Hotel Holt
The Hotel Holt, located on a quiet side street in Reykjavik, is a relaxing refuge from the action. This property boasts the largest private art collection in Iceland and an outstanding restaurant. https://holt.is/

Hotel Húsafell 
The Hotel Húsafell is an eco-luxury resort known for its geothermal hot springs and dedication to sustainability. The hotel is in a prime location for exploring the nearby glaciers, lava caves and rugged wilderness. https://www.hotelhusafell.com/

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