Circumnavigating Iceland - The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes (Itinerary 2)

Circumnavigating Iceland - The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes (Itinerary 2)

Circumnavigating Iceland - The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes (Itinerary 2)

Circumnavigating Iceland - The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes (Itinerary 2)

Travel information 11 days MS Fram
July 28, 2022
August 7, 2022
May 8, 2023
May 18, 2023
Price from $ 7,265
$ 5,812
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Discover remote fishing villages, spectacular bird colonies, and the picturesque fjords, lakes, and mountain peaks of Iceland, the land of fire and ice.

Smoky Bay

Your expedition starts in Reykjavík, Iceland’s quirky and laid-back capital. Known as ‘Smoky Bay’ due to the rising steam from the surrounding geothermal features, you’ll be just a few hours away from geysers, glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls. Then sail on to the colorful and well-preserved houses at Stykkishólmur, your entrance to natural wonders in the Breiðafjörður Bay and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula National Park. Then, discover the peace and silence of the tranquil fishing village of Patreksfjörður.

Iceland’s northern capital

Explore a lovingly repurposed Herring factory in Djúpavík, nestled and the stunning beauty of northwest Iceland’s deep-blue water and verdant hills. At the base of Iceland’s longest fjord lies Akureyri. This youthful ‘capital of northern Iceland’ stands out from the more rural destinations on your journey. It has plenty of top-notch eateries and museums for you to enjoy.

Whale watching and historic volcanoes

Húsavík, looks out over the Skjálfandi Bay, which enjoys regular whale visits. Keep an eye out for species including humpback, minke, and the elusive blue whale, as well as white-beaked dolphins and harbor porpoises. In Heimaey, discover the fascinating history of a people who fought against a volcano and won before ending your epic expedition back where it started, in Reykjavík.

Circumnavigating Iceland - The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes (Itinerary 2) Circumnavigating Iceland - The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes (Itinerary 2)
  • Day 1

    Arriving in Iceland

    Estimated time of departure is 8:00 PM

    Your expedition starts in Reykjavík, the northernmost capital in the world. Reykjavík is both quaint and cosmopolitan. This small city is the perfect size for a walking tour, packed full of art, culture, and history.

    Stroll along Laugavegur, the main shopping street, filled with boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Or head to the architecturally striking Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. Art lovers can visit the Reykjavík Art Museum, the National Gallery, and the many smaller galleries and museums throughout the city. From the comprehensive National Museum to the delightful, quirky Icelandic Punk Museum, you’re bound to find one or more museum to engage and inform you.

    The abundance of geothermal energy in Iceland has forged a strong tradition of soaking in public swimming pools and smaller hot tubs, known as ‘heittur pottur’ (hot pots). To Icelanders, they’re the perfect way to relax and catch up with friends and relax after a long day. Bring your swimsuit to take a dip in one of the city’s 18 swimming pools, many of which include saunas and hot tubs.

    The list of possibilities doesn’t end there. Reykjavík means ‘Smoky Bay’ in English. Named by the first Viking settlers who saw rising steam from the surrounding geothermal features, it sits just hours from Iceland’s famous lagoons, geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls.

    At Reykjavík harbour, MS Fram awaits you. After checking in and collecting your complimentary expedition jacket, you’ll have some time to settle into your cabin. Everyone must go through a mandatory safety drill just before departure. Then you’ll have time to walk around and explore the ship. The welcome dinner in the evening ends with a toast by the captain, who will wish everyone an enjoyable expedition. After meeting your Expedition Team, you’ll be ready to start your grand Icelandic adventure.

    Day 1

    Arriving in Iceland

  • Day 2

    Welcome to Sagaland

    Our first stop is Stykkishólmur, (pronounced ‘Stikkish hólmur’), a small fishing town surrounded by views of the innumerable little isles of the picturesque Breiðafjörður Bay. With a population of only about 1,000 people, no traffic, and a laid-back pace, it gives the impression that time stands still here.

    Perhaps Stykkishólmur’s most defining feature is the well-preserved houses found in the old city center. Bursting with color, they stand in stark contrast to the distant mountain ranges. Many buildings have been repurposed: the former library is now an art installation, the old recreation center now hosts a volcano museum, and the fish processing plant is now a restaurant serving up delicious fish soup.

    Another highlight of the town is Norwegian House, named for the imported Norwegian wood used to build it in 1832. The Regional Museum of Snæfellsnes is based here, with rotating exhibitions and handicrafts for sale. For a lovely view of the town, hike to the top of the cliff with the little orange lighthouse.

    Most people come for the fantastic Snæfellsnes Peninsula National Park. It’s nicknamed ‘Little Iceland’, because all the country’s natural offerings are found here, including fjords, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes, lava fields, and more.

    An optional excursion to Snæfellsnes will take you to some of its most iconic sights, such as the black-sand beach at Djúpalónssandur, where you can try to lift the ‘strength-testing’ rocks placed there by Vikings. A word of warning, though! The heaviest rock weighs 340 lbs!

    Another stop is the photogenic Lóndrangar basalt cliffs, where huge stacks of jagged rocks jut out of the sea. Interesting fact: The massive Snæfellsjökull volcano, Snæfellsjökull, which looms over the landscape, is the setting of Jules Verne’s classic sci-fi novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.

    • Included Stykkishólmur Discovery Walk
    Day 2

    Welcome to Sagaland

  • Day 3


    When Örlygur Hrappsson saw this destination for the first time in the 9th century, he gave it a straightforward name: Patreksfjörður, meaning ‘the fjord of St. Patrick’, after his spiritual guide. The town’s appeal is just as simple—this settlement on the west coast of Iceland is utterly gorgeous.

    Discover the peace and silence of a tranquil fishing village. Serving as a fishing port as far back as the 16th century, this town is steeped in rich maritime history. Over the centuries, Patreksfjördur has served as a base for fishermen, merchants, and naval mariners from England, France, and Germany.

    Explore the lively harbor and learn about the town’s local fishing tradition and the different kinds of fish found in its waters. Or take a dip in the outdoor pool, a new addition to the town, where you can enjoy wonderful views over the fjord.

    The sheer beauty of this region makes hiking here a very rewarding activity, weather conditions permitting. Nearby is Látrabjarg, Europe’s largest bird cliff and most western point. It is home to millions of birds, including puffins, Northern Gannets, guillemots and razorbills. Birdwatching here is spectacular. Safe from Arctic foxes, the birds bravely cling to the high cliffs, and offer excellent photo opportunities.

    Nearby, you also have the dream beach of Rauðisandur. In contrast to other beaches in Iceland coated with black volcanic sands, Rauðisandur offers rose–colored sands with golden hues.

    The Dynjandi Waterfalls are also one of the big draws of this area, and it’s easy to see why. Six different waterfalls combine to make the largest waterfall in the Westfjords, with a cumulative height of 328 feet. In a country famed for its waterfalls, this is one of the most impressive.

    • Included Stroll through Europe’s westernmost village
    Day 3


  • Day 4
    Northwest Iceland

    Northwest Iceland

    One of the most exciting things about expedition cruising is knowing that anything can happen on any given day. Changing elements and conditions mean nothing is ever quite set in stone. That’s why one of the days of our expedition is simply designated as an ‘exploration day’. We’ll use current conditions to guide us, with no pre-arranged plan for the day.

    We plan to be in Iceland’s Northwestern Region, but the rest will be up to the Captain and the Expedition Team to decide. They’ll set the final plan for the day, depending on the conditions and opportunities that arise.

    Activities might include using our small boats (RIBs) to go ashore for hiking, participating in a beach clean-up, or launching our kayaks. If a pod of whales breaches nearby as we’re sailing, we may decide to linger and enjoy the sight. Adapting to what nature throws at us is what expedition cruising is all about.

    Day 4
    Northwest Iceland

    Northwest Iceland

  • Day 5

    Remote ruins and natural beauty

    In 1917, Elías Stefánsson settled in Djúpavík and built a herring salting factory. After many failed attempts and setbacks, the factory and the town that formed around it were abandoned. For decades, it remained a ghost town - until the settlement was adopted by modern-day pioneers Eva and Ásbjörn in 1985. Today, Djúpavík is a fascinating portal to a well-preserved past.

    Eva and Ásbjörn renovated the site into a hotel and have been restoring the nearby buildings, including the herring factory, ever since. The hotel occupies what used to be the dormitory for female workers. If you’re lucky, the manager may tell you a tale or two about the history of this cozy laid-back hotel. Sample the fabulous homemade cakes and sit back with a hot chocolate and gaze out at the beautiful vista of the peaceful fjord. Bliss!

    A guided tour of the old herring factory is a must. It was Iceland’s biggest concrete structure when it opened in 1935. The rusting old factory now features artwork, installations, and annual concerts.

    Of course, the backdrop to this hulking factory is what makes exploring it even more engrossing. Stunning beauty surrounds this remote part of northwest Iceland, with its deep blue water, crisp air, and verdant hills. Seabirds swoop in and out of darkened factory windows as white water tumbles down from the choppy mountains.

    Explore these magical surroundings on foot and take a short and invigorating hike to the waterfall just above the old herring factory. There’s also a longer 3-mile circular route if you’re feeling energetic. From the beach, you might see seals and even small whales.

    • Included Herring Factory Visit & Leisurely Hike
    Day 5

    Remote ruins and natural beauty

  • Day 6

    Northern Center

    Akureyri is located near the base of the longest fjord in Iceland, Eyjafjörður. As we cruise along the fjord, enjoy incredible views of snow-capped peaks and a lush coastline. The fertile waters here also make it one of the best places in the country for whale watching. Species including humpback, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises are regular visitors, although orcas, blue, and fin whales are sometimes seen here too.

    Nicknamed ‘Iceland’s Northern Capital’, Akureyri is a lively university town. With a population of almost 20,000, it is the largest metropolitan area outside of the populated southwest region. There is plenty to delve into here, including top-notch eateries and museums. Check out the Akureyri Museum, which gives you insight into how Icelanders used to live. The Norðurslóð Museum of natural history also features exhibitions about the local environment and the history of settlers.

    You’ll be astonished and delighted by the array of flowers and foliage at the Arctic Botanical Gardens. Its serene atmosphere is an oasis of lush green in the most unlikely of settings. While you’re exploring the town, check out the striking architecture of Akureyri Church, designed by the famous architect Guðjón Samúelsson.

    On an optional excursion outside of town, you can explore natural treasures that rank among Iceland’s must-see sights. At Goðafoss Waterfall, nicknamed the ‘waterfall of the gods’, marvel at the translucent turquoise water pounding against immense black rocks.

    The unique and beautiful geology of Lake Mývatn is located within a highly active volcanic area and includes shimmering waters and otherworldly colors. It’s also a great place to watch for birds, especially Eider and Earlequinn Ducks. Watchers of the TV show Game of Thrones may also find a few sites familiar!

    • Included Akureyri City Walk
    Day 6

    Northern Center

  • Day 7
    Grímsey & Húsavík

    Step Across the Arctic Circle

    When people imagine a remote, windswept Icelandic isle, they’re probably thinking about Grímsey. We’ll use our small boats (RIBs) to reach this small, green, grassy island. The only settlements here are located on the southern and western parts of the island—mostly around the little harbor. There are only about 60 residents!

    Grímsey is serene, beautiful, and steeped in folklore and legend. Legend has it that local fishermen are hardy because of Grímsey’s first settler, Grímur. They say he slew the giants and trolls who inhabited the island and took one of their daughters as his bride.

    Grímsey’s sheer cliffs are home to vast colonies of seabirds—outnumbering humans 17,000 to 1. The opportunity to see Atlantic Puffins, Grímsey’s iconic seabird species, is a major attraction for bird lovers.

    Grimsey may be best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island—the only part of Iceland to do so. You’ll have the chance to step across that line, North to South.

    Explore the island by foot and hike to Orbis et Globus, a nine-ton concrete sphere that marks the edge of the Arctic Circle. The walk to the monument will allow you to take in the windswept scenery and do some birdwatching. The locals move the globe (which is 10 feet wide) a bit each year since the Arctic Circle creeps slowly northward at a rate of about 48 feet per year.

    By 2050, Grímsey Island will lie outside the Arctic Circle! In the afternoon, we’ll sail to Húsavík, where we will arrive in the evening and stay overnight.

    • Included Arctic Circle Crossing Ceremony
    Day 7
    Grímsey & Húsavík

    Step Across the Arctic Circle

  • Day 8
    Húsavík & the Langanes Peninsula

    Whales and birds

    Welcome to Húsavík! Widely considered Iceland’s whale capital, this small town on Iceland’s northern coast has gained international popularity as one of the world’s best places to see whales.

    Húsavík looks out over the Skjálfandi Bay, which enjoys regular visits from various whale species, including humpback, minke, and the elusive blue whale, as well as white-beaked dolphins and harbor porpoises. If luck’s on your side, you may see one or more of these giants of the sea.

    It’s only fitting for a town so geared toward whales would have a museum to further your knowledge. If you want to learn more about these gentle giants, visit Húsavík’s highly informative Whale Museum.

    If you’re also interested in space travel, the Exploration Museum is fascinating. The astronauts involved in NASA’s Apollo Program space missions trained near Húsavík in 1965 and 1967. Iceland’s basalt rocks are a close approximation of lunar rocks and provided essential geology training. The museum’s main exhibition is centered around this groundbreaking endeavor.

    A little over a mile south of Húsavík, Kaldbakur, a pond, offers an extraordinary swimming experience. Not only is it a heitur pottur (a ‘hot pot’ or pool) heated by geothermal energy, you’ll also be swimming with goldfish.

    In the evening, we’ll sail past the scenic Langanes Peninsula. Looking at it on the map, you can almost guess its unique feature: birds. After all, it’s shaped like a goose with a colossal head!

    • Included Discover the Whale Capital of Iceland
    Day 8
    Húsavík & the Langanes Peninsula

    Whales and birds

  • Day 9

    The Land of the Elves

    With stunning rhyolite peaks on one side and the majestic Dyrfjöll Mountain range on the other, the coastal village of Bakkagerði could not be more scenic. According to regional folklore, a large population of elves call this tiny village home, on the coast of Borgarfjörður Eystri. In fact, the village derives its name from the rocky hill named ‘Alfaborg’, the supposed home of the elf queen herself.

    With around 100 people, the settlement of Bakkagerði is well off the typical tourist track and offers peace, quiet, and lovely views. A short walk is all it takes to explore the town. Sample fresh fish in one of the café—the tasty fish soup is a local favorite.

    The main draw, however, is the area’s natural beauty, which makes for fantastic hiking. Shades of pink, blue, and yellow rhyolite rocks give way to lush green valleys along its multiple hiking trails. Look around in any direction and be rewarded by pristine wilderness. Take in the sights and sounds of the areas most prominent wildlife: the birds.

    The coastal cliffs of Bakkagerði are home to a wide variety of birds, including fulmars and kittiwakes. It’s also a great place to see eider duck farming, an Icelandic practice that is hundreds of years old. The end product is the very exclusive eiderdown, the most prized variety of down in the world.

    The undisputed stars of the show are the puffins. If conditions allow, we’ll attempt to visit Hafnarhólmi, a fishing harbor home to a large puffin colony, which has some of the best birdwatching in Iceland. A boardwalk and several platforms allow you to safely approach the puffins. For nature and bird lovers, this region is an absolute gem.

    • Included Local Living Walk of Bakkagerði
    Day 9

    The Land of the Elves

  • Day 10

    The Icelandic Pompeii

    Our next stop is Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago, the Westmann Islands, off the southern coast of Iceland. In one way or another, everything here was touched by the volcanic eruption that unexpectedly occurred one morning in January 1973. The narrow harbor, the airport runway made from tephra, and the curl of cooled lava in the town center all point to the volcanic cone that casts a figure over the island.

    Heimaey means ‘Home Island’, and you“ll certainly feel welcome here. It’s nearly 4,000 inhabitants are friendly and the verdent landscape is pleasing to the eye. Learn all about the town’s history at the Eldheimar Museum. Heimaey has got a dark, fascinating past, complete with runaway slaves, murder, revenge, and pirates. Then comes the volcano that almost destroyed the island.

    The Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary is another highlight in town. Home to two resident belugas, the sanctuary also hosts a local species aquarium and a puffin rescue center.

    In keeping with the rest of the Westmann Islands, Heimaey provides a habitat for countless birds. Around 8 million puffins nest here every summer. A hike to Stórhöfði, on the south of the island, will provide you with excellent opportunities to observe puffin’s nesting. Claimed to be the windiest spot in Europe, you’ll be grateful for viewing facilities that allow you to quietly observe these delightful birds in their natural habitat.

    No visit to Heimaey is complete without checking out its most prominent feature, Eldfell—‘Mount Fire’. By the end of its eruption, it stood 722 feet tall. It’s worth the effort to hike to the top. You’ll have incredible views of the town below, and a feeling of accomplishment hiking the volcano that almost wiped out the island.

    • Included Heimaey - Lava and History Walk
    Day 10

    The Icelandic Pompeii

  • Day 11

    The End of the Adventure

    Estimated time of arrival is 6:00 AM

    We bid a fond farewell to MS Fram as we end where we started: in the fabulous city of Reykjavík. Now you’ll have another opportunity to see the places you may have missed when you arrived. There are also many amazing ways to extend your adventure here. Reykjavík’s galleries, restaurants, and spas are internationally recognized.

    If you want to recharge your batteries, consider Iceland’s most famous heitur pottur (translated as ‘hot pot’ or pool, a natural hot spring), the Blue Lagoon. Situated in a vast 800-year-old lava field, the blend of silica, algae, and minerals in these waters have earned this magical location a place on National Geographic’s “25 Wonders of the World.” Nothing sends off your Icelandic adventure like a relaxing soak in warm, milky-blue waters, with your drink of choice in hand, surrounded by black lava and gorgeous nature.

    We recommend booking one of our Post-Programs to further explore the city of Reykjavík and beyond. Whatever’s next for you, we wish you a safe onward journey and look forward to seeing you on your next adventure!

    Day 11

    The End of the Adventure



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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in Aune restaurant
  • Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the’ ships Science Center, which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’shot tubs, a sauna, and an indoor and outdoor gym
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

Landing Activities

  • Escorted landingswith small boats (RIBs) while in Iceland
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers will help configure your camera settings before landings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Optional treatments in the wellness and spa area


  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you meet all visa entry requirements
  • No gratuities are expected
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo
MS Fram in Antarctica
Photo: Sandra Walser
Your Ship

MS Fram

Year built 2007
Year of refurbishment 2022
Shipyard Fincantieri, Italy
Passenger capacity 250 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 11,647 T
Length 374 ft
Beam 66.3 ft
Speed 13 knots
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. The advanced technology on the MS Fram, in the spirit of the famous original, makes her exceptionally well suited for expedition cruises in polar regions.

Read more about MS Fram

Icebergs – one of many favorite photo motives when on an expedition with MS Fram
Photo: Tomas Mauch
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