Iceland's top Sights | 3 Day Super Jeep Winter Holiday
Join us on this unique tour across the Icelandic highlands. Those who dare to enter the harsh, yet beautiful Icelandic highlands with us in our specially modified Super Jeeps will be richly rewarded, spectacular sceneries and breathtaking views of Iceland's wilderness awaits them. In this tour you will get it all, you will get to see the crown jewels of Iceland’s natural phenomenon, experience real Icelandic wilderness, bathe in a natural Geothermal pool under the stars and the Aurora Borealis (if the conditions are in our favor). We will lead you around the most spectacular gems of both the famous Golden Circle in the south and the Diamond Circle in the north, all in one and the same tour.
Don't miss this once in a lifetime adventure. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Oct. - May.
- Duration: 4 days
- Activities: Hiking, Super Jeep, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum age: 10 years old
- Languages: English
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
History & Culture
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.
Myvatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Along with its surrounding area, the lake is one of Iceland's most amazing natural attractions.
Some of the islands in Myvatn are pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions. The lake has rich birdlife and more species of ducks than anywhere else in the world. As for vegetation, it is one of the few places in the world that grows Marimo, also known as Cladophora ball, Lake ball, or Moss Balls in English, a species of filamentous green algae (Chlorophyta).
The Myvatn nature baths are also renowned throughout the world, a perfect place to relax, surrounded by breathtaking landscape.
Close to the lake is Dimmuborgir, a fascinating area of dramatic and chaotic lava. Norwegian symphonic metal band Dimmu Borgir takes its name from the the lava field, and it continues to inspire travellers from all over the world.
The Myvatn area is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Don´t miss it!
Dimmuborgir (e. ‘Black Forts') is a large area of chaotic lava, situated right east of Lake Myvatn, in North Iceland. With its dramatic view, Dimmuborgir is one of Iceland's most popular attractions.
The area is composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel. In folklore the Dimmuborgir lava field has been connected with hell, Satan was to have landed there after being cast from heaven and the Norwegian symphonic black metal band derives its name from the region.
Goðafoss waterfall is located the river Skjálfandafljót in north Iceland, the fourth largest river in Iceland. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, falling from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres.
The fall's name means either waterfall of the gods or of the 'goði' (i.e. priest/ chieftain). It is said that when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity the official religion in Iceland, after his own conversion, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall.
Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jokulsa á Fjollum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajokull, is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
This thunderous fall has an average waterflow of 193 m3 per second. It is 100 meters (330 ft.) wide and plummets 45 meters (150 ft.) down to Jokulsargljufur canyon.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.
Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries.Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, and Gjabakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Hveravellir is a geothermal area and nature reserve in the Icelandic highlands, between the glaciers Hofsjokull and Langjokull.
The area features colourful sinters and smoking fumaroles, hot springs and a geothermal hot pool. Hveravellir is renowned for its beauty and is a popular stop when traveling through the highland road of Kjolur.
Grjótagjá is a small lava cave located near lake Mývatn. It features a geothermal hot spring inside.
Grjótagjá was popular for bathing until the 1970s but fell out of use during eruptions from 1975 to 1984. However, the temperature is slowly falling down.
Outlaw Jon Markusson lived in this cave in the early 18th century.
The fictional characters Jon Snow and the wildling Ygritte were also filmed inside this cave in the TV series Game of Thrones in season 3, episode 5. For that episode an additional CGI waterfall was added to the scenery.
Starting time : 09:00
Super Jeep transport (Fully guided in English), A thermal overall suit (provided/borrowed), A sleeping bag and pillow (provided/borrowed), Mountain cabin sleeping bags accommodation on day 1, Hotel ac
What to bring:
Good winter boots, Warm clothes, Wind and waterproof outer shell (jacket and pants), Hat and gloves, Warm socks, Swimsuit and towel, Camera, Sunglasses
Pick-up at a local hotel in Reykjavik at 9:00
We start by driving towards and through Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park where we will make a short stop at Almannagjá which is the canyon formed between the North American and European tectonic plates, this is also the place where the first parliament in the world was established over 1000 years ago. Then we continue on to the Geysir geothermal field. Here we will take a look at the original Geysir which all other geysers in the world such as Old Faithful in the USA are called after. Even though Geysir itself is in hibernation then the geyser Strokkur is right next to it erupting 20-30m high column of boiling water straight up in the air just about every 20 minutes. Our next stop is at Gullfoss (The Golden Waterfall), here we will get to see this amazing waterfall which is one of the most beautiful in Iceland, Gullfoss got saved from being ruined in a remarkable way around the year 1900. We will have lunch break at the Gullfoss café restaurant before leaving civilization.
Now we drive along the rough mountain road Kjölur into the central highlands to reach our accommodation at the remote mountain hut Hveravellir*, on the way we will (if the weather is favourable) enjoy majestic mountain and glacier panoramic views. Even though we use the very best Super Jeeps available for this tour then during the wintertime the drive from Gullfoss to Hveravellir can take 3-7 hours, depending on weather and snow condition.
The unique nature reserve Hveravellir is a very beautiful geothermal field situated between the mighty Langjökull glacier and Hofsjökull glacier. Here you will have a great opportunity to stroll among multiple smoking fumaroles, beautifully shaped with clear blue, boiling water all by yourself while your guides prepare a delicious BBQ feast for you. After dinner we recommend taking a warm relaxing bath in the natural pool close by the hut and if the conditions are favourable view the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) on the starry sky.
Thanks to being far away from any light pollution you will have great potentials of seeing a sea of bright stars and waves of Northern Lights, the lights can be absolutely amazing, the brilliance of their colours and light are endless, made even more vivid by the contrast to the deep darkness of winter.
There are few things in this world which can be compared to taking an evening bath in the pool after a delicious dinner, looking at the Northern Lights dance all around.
*Sleeping is in sleeping bags in common rooms (sleeping bags provided)
After a good breakfast we continue along the Kjölur mountain road towards Iceland’s north coast and to the capital of the north Akureyri. To get there we will cross Tröllaskagi, a great peninsula between the fjords of Eyjafjörður and Skagafjörður. The peninsula is mountainous with several peaks reaching over 1000m above sea level, the tallest being Kerling (1538m). It is the part of Iceland with the highest elevation outside the central highlands.
The peninsula is cut by several deep valleys that were carved out by glaciers during the glacial periods of the last Ice Age and later by the rivers that now flow down those valleys. A few permanent glacier ice caps still exist in central Tröllaskagi but they are all rather small. On the way we will stop and marvel at the spectacular Hraundrangi, a majestic mountain peak which was the architect’s inspiration to Iceland’s largest church Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík.
We will only make a short lunch stop in Akureyri before continuing on east. Next we will arrive at Goðafoss (Waterfalls of the gods). The magnificent waterfall Goðafoss is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. Goðafoss also has a rich history and its name dates back to the year 1000 when Iceland became Christian. This waterfall is sometimes called “the Little Horseshoe Falls” referring to the Canadian part of the Niagara Falls (the Horseshoe Falls) which both have similar features and form. Goðafoss is especially beautiful during wintertime when it’s partly or completely frozen over.
Next we continue towards Mývatn (the Midget lake), Mývatn is one of the biggest pearls in Iceland’s nature especially during the winter, with its unique lava structures, geothermal areas, volcanoes and clear blue water. At Mývatn our accommodation will be at one of the fine hotels in the area where you will stay in fully equipped double rooms, you will be served a delicious three course dinner that night. Because of its geological location then Mývatn is an excellent place to observe the Northern Light, therefore after dinner and if the conditions are promising we will take you out and search for the lights. Viewing the light reflecting in the calm water of the lake or above the frozen ice can be an absolutely fantastic sight.
After breakfast at the hotel we pack the Super Jeeps again and continue our adventure together. We will start this day by leaving Mývatn for now and head further east to reach another spectacular nature pearl of northern Iceland, the great and powerful waterfall Dettifoss. Dettifoss is located in the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum which flows down from the Vatnjökull glacier and trough Vatnajökull National Park, it’s reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe in terms of volume discharge. It has an average water flow of 193 m3/s. The enormous power of Dettifoss can be felt if you lay your hand on a rock close to the waterfall, it will vibrate! The river slowly digs its way through the waterfall´s edge and each year Dettifoss moves half a meter to the south. The falls are 100 meters wide and drop 45 meters down into the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur.
The opening scene of the Hollywood film Prometheus was filmed at the Dettifoss.
During the high winter it can be quite a challenge to reach these locations but then the Super Jeeps come in good use.
The Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon (the Icelandic Grand Canyon) are over 24 km long with a width of up to 500m and a depth of up to 100m, Jökulsárgljúfur is one of the largest and most impressive of Iceland's many river canyons. It has enthralled visitors for centuries.
After taking our time admiring the falls and the canyon we return to Mývatn for a lunch break at a local restaurant. Afterwards we go for a sightseeing tour around the Mývatn region where we go to many of the extraordinary attractions around the lake, first to mention Dimmuborgir (Dark castle). Dimmuborgir consist of multiple volcanic caves and lava formations of mystery and imagination, along with the large hollow cell- or chamber-like structures formed around bubbles of vapour, and some great lava pillars. The most famous formations are the “Church”, a cave which is open at both ends and has a high dome-shaped roof and the “Hole cliff” a large hole trough a lava cliff wall. Dimmuborgir are also said to connect earth with the infernal regions. It is also said that Dimmuborgir is the place where Satan landed when he was cast from the heavens and created the apparent "The Catacombs of Hell" such Dimmuborgir being one of the gates to hell.
Second will be Grjótagjá a small lava cave near Lake Mývatn with a thermal spring inside. In early 18th century the outlaw Jón Markússon lived there and used the cave for bathing. Until the 1970s Grjótagjá was a popular bathing site, but during the eruptions from 1975 to 1984 the temperature of the water rose to more than 50 °C. Though the temperature is slowly decreasing and has fallen below 50 °C again.
Grjótagjá was used as a location for filming the fifth episode of the third season of Game of Thrones, named Kissed by Fire.
Next to mention is Skútustaðagígar, the Skútustaðagígar (pseudo craters) were formed by steam explosions as flowing hot lava crosses over a wet surface, such as a swamp, a lake, or ice. The explosive gases break through the lava surface in a manner similar to a phreatic eruption, and the tephra builds up crater-like forms which can appear very similar to real volcanic craters. The craters are a popular site for birdwatchers and are protected as a natural wetlands conservation area.
Well known examples are to be found in few locations in Iceland and then Pseudo craters have also been discovered in the Athabasca Valleys region of Mars.
Last but not least we will explore Námaskarð and Hverir. What will for sure strike you about the spectacular volcanic mountain Námaskarð is the sheer lack of vegetation. However, if you give a thought to the high temperature range, it does not appear impossible altogether. The constant emission of the fumes has made the ground utterly sterile and acidic, unfit to sustain any floras and fauna. At the foothills of Námaskarð is an expanse of hot springs called Hverir that are known for their changing variety. You may also find a number of fumaroles, mud pools and mud pots that all seem to be boiling with relentless energy. The beauty of the colourful minerals in this wonderful geothermal site defies all comparisons. The sight of the gigantic size and activity of the mud craters is what will make you go “WOW”.
After this exiting day out we head for a relaxing bath at the Mývatn Nature Baths, north Iceland’s answer to the well known Blue Lagoon in the south (fee not included).
From here we take the route to Akureyri to check in at a good hotel for the night. You will have free hands regarding dinner this night at one of the many quality restaurants in town.
Here our formal schedule ends and this day is open to whatever activity you like to do (fee not included), our recommendations are some of the following:
- Strolling around, shopping and getting to know the beautiful town of Akureyri.
- A visit to the Christmas garden 10km south of Akureyri.
- Go for a snowmobile adventure nearby.
- Go skiing in Iceland’s best skiing area in the mountain just above the town.
- Go on an Extreme Super Jeep snow adventure with us to a nearby location.
We will manage transfer to the Akureyri airport at a time of your choosing during this day.