How to create the perfect school trip to Iceland

Iceland Study Trips
February 18, 2016

Iceland is a vast, epic wilderness that is waiting to be explored.  However, this vastness presents a problem if you are not familiar with the long Icelandic place names (like Eyjafjallajökull volcano) and how all the locations can be pieced together to create the perfect school trip itinerary.  This is where Adaptable Travel can step in, using our years of tried and tested knowledge and thousands of UK students who have experienced our bespoke school trips as reference point.  Read on to find out more about the various locations in Iceland that can be explored on your school trip and how they all fit together.

Project Iceland

Adaptable Travel can provide every group who travel to Iceland with our fantastic, curriculum based Project Iceland student and teacher resources.  This includes a full 40-page PDF Student Workbook to supplement their learning of the different visits they will experience, packed with information, activities, discussion points and more.

Where to stay?

The majority of our groups are based in Reykjavik which provides the perfect base for exploring all of these popular sites below.  It is possible to be accommodated one or two nights further afield in more remote villages such as Vik on the South Shore, allowing you to see those visitis that are just a little far for a daytrip (such as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon). Please enquire if this is of interest as we can create flexible itineraries to suit your requirements.  We offer a range of accommodations in Reykjavik, all walkable from central Reykjavik.

Golden Circle Tour

Duration: 9 hours

Includes: Coach, Guide

You will see: The main attractions are the Geysir, Gulfoss and Thingvelir.

In more detail: At Geysir geothermal area you will see hot springs, bubbling mud pools, fumaroles (fizzing gas and steam) as well as Geysir’s geyser, and even Strokkur shooting every 5-8 minutes.  Gullfoss (translated as Golden falls) is a triple drop waterfall which thunders in the upper course of the Hvítá River, and allows for your group to (safely) stand on the edge of this towering waterfall.  Thingvellir National Park (or Þingvellir in Icelandic) is unique in the world for human and physical geography opportunities, allowing you to walk between the North American and Eurasion tectonic plates

Add-ons possible: At Geysir include the opportunity to experience ‘hot spring bread’ where your group assist a chef to boil eggs outside in one of the hot springs, and also dig up rye bread that has been ‘baking’ underground for around 24 hours.  You can also choose to incorporate Hellisheiði geothermal power plant into your tour, showing students how the geothermal energy is harnessed to power Iceland.

Extra Activity: Lava Caving

As part of the Golden Circle tour it is possible to stop off at caves created by lava flows and experience caving with a specialist guide and equipment to see how lava tubes are created from inside!  This can also be taken as a half day activity on its own, but most of our groups choose to add this on to the Golden Circle daytrip as it is more cost effective.

South Shore Tour

Duration: 10 hours

Includes: Coach, Guide

You will see: The main attractions are Seljalandsfoss and Skogarfoss waterfalls, Vik, black sand beach, Dryholaey rock features, Sólheimajökull glacier tongue

In more detail: A must-do visit allowing you to explore towering waterfalls, glaciers, rock formations and passing active volcanoes including Hekla and the famous Eyjafjallajökull.

Add-ons possible: Hveragerði geothermal greenhouses, allowing students to see how geothermal energy is used to grow produce.  Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Visitor centre to learn more about the 2010 eruption, and the Skógar Folk Museum to find out more about Icelandic folklore.

Extra Activity: Glacier Hike

As part of this daytrip, instead of just driving to the glacier tongue, your group can get crampons and axes and an expert guide to guide you up and along the over the glacier fore field to get a closer look at the glacier snout. This can also be conducted as a half day trip in its own right, but we recommend conducting as part of the South Shore trip for cost effectiveness.

Blue Lagoon

Duration: a few hours

Includes: Coach, entrance to Blue Lagoon

In more detail: Your group can experience the world’s most famous spa at the Blue Lagoon.  Set amongst the moon-like black lava field this famous site is highly recommended.  As standard we offer this as an add-on to the airport transfer as this ensures it remains more cost effective and is located close to the airport, however it is possible to take as a stand-alone half day activity. A drink and towel hire are included.

Add-ons possible: Robe hire not included.

Northern Lights Tour

Duration: 3-4 hours (in the evening around 20:00/21:00hrs-midnight)

Includes: Coach, guide

In more detail: During the winter months, take an evening drive to the Icelandic wilderness away from light pollution to see if you are lucky enough to witness the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights on clear nights.  Be aware that if weather conditions are not favourable, the tour may be cancelled and refund given. For this reason, we suggest scheduling early in your tour so that it provides further opportunities should the weather not be favourable first time round.  

Whale Watching

Duration: 2-3 hours

Includes: Boat trip with guide (coach transfers from hotel to harbour available on request)

In more detail: Venture from the Reykjavik harbour to see if your group are lucky enough to spot whales including minke whales, humpback whales, harbour porpoises and beaked dolphins. Tour subject to correct weather conditions.

Westman Islands (Heimaey)

Duration: Approx 8-10 hours (available summer months only)

Includes: Return coach to Landeyjahöfn pier, boat trip to Heimaey, guide on Heimaey

You will see: Heimaey (the only inhabited island), Eldfell crater, ocean cliffs, puffins, “Pompeii of the North”

In more detail: Geographically speaking, the 15 Westman islands are almost brand new. After driving from Reykjavik for approx 2hrs, your 40-minute boat trip will take your group to the only inhabited island of Heimaey, site of what is known as Pompeii of the North excavation site with fascinating ruins and the famous Eldfell crater. Also gaze on the ocean cliffs, home to over 10 million puffins and other bird life and on a clear day see Surtsey Islands in the distance.

Add-ons possible: Boat tour of some of the other Westman Islands including Surtsey Island, entrance to the Eldheimar Volcano Museum which explores the 1973 eruption covering Heimaey, arguably Iceland's biggest natural disaster.

Visits in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a great base that lends itself to exploring on foot, and is a safe environment to allow students to explore themselves for the most part.  There are additional visits in Reykjavik that you can choose to add on if you want to pack in even more to your trip:

Perlan Viewing Platform: (glass dome allowing a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view of Reykjavik)

Reykjavik guided Walking Tour

Evening Meals: Some of our hotels offer the option to include evening meals, and we can also organise evening meals in a range of popular restaurants in Reykjavik itself (see map below).

Swimming at Laugardalur (super popular as it’s so cheap and great facilities)


Volcano House Cinema (films about Icelandic eruptions)

Cinema (a package of film ticket, popcorn and drink for a little over £10)

National Museum of Iceland

Saga House

Ice skating (daytime activity only)

Your trip

Each and every trip we create is unique.  Your trip is important to you, and we understand that at Adaptable Travel, so we treat you and your groups needs as unique.  Our team are highly experienced in organising school trips to Iceland, with thousands of students having experienced an Adaptable Travel school trip to Iceland.  

Contact us today if you have not yet received your no obligation quotation and let our team help you plan your perfect school trip to Iceland.