Breathtaking waterfalls, immense glaciers, spectacular volcanoes, and some of the richest wildlife on the planet…It’s no wonder that Iceland is one of the world’s hottest travel destinations! This remote European country is just waiting for you to discover its hidden treasures. We’ll begin in the hip city of Reykjavik, home to funky street art, artisan boutiques, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. From there we’ll road-trip around the entire country following the Ring Road, making stops along the way to soak in one of the world’s most untouched countries. You’ll have the chance to snorkel in the fissure where the European and American tectonic plates meet, hear the roar of waterfalls as you stand behind the cascading water, and hang out with puffins as they roost on the cliffs! Go for a soak in not just one, but several natural hot springs, including the famous Blue Lagoon. Hike in the amazing Dimmuborgir Lava Forest, and even ride the majestic Icelandic horses. Cross fjords, kayak through a beautiful harbor to a shipwreck, and of course go on a whale watch! This trip is ideal for anyone who loves nature, off-the-beaten-path travel destinations, and adrenaline-inducing adventure activities.
During this program, you will…
- Explore the fun and unique capital city of Reykjavik
- Experience all the major sights of Thingvellir National Park’s Golden Circle, including Gullfoss Waterfall, Strokkur Geyser, and hot springs
- Snorkel the bright blue waters of Silfra Fissure, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet*
- See massive waterfalls around every corner, like Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Godafoss, and Dettifoss
- Walk along the famous black sand beaches of Reynisfjara
- Observe the thousands of puffins roosting at Dyrholaey Promontory
- Drive over fjords and through lava fields that look like you’re on another planet
- Do a glacier walk on Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull*
- Go for a twilight horse ride on gentle Icelandic horses with a friendly local Icelandic family
- Marvel at the Jokulsarlon floating iceberg lagoon
- Spend an afternoon soaking in the Myvatn Nature Baths
- Hike the Hverfjall Crater and see the Grjotagja Cave (aka Ygritte’s cave from Game of Thrones)
- Go on a Viking Sushi boat cruise for the freshest seafood you’ll ever have!
- Hike a coastal trail between two picturesque fishing villages
- Visit Iceland’s most active volcanic areas and even see some steaming hotpots for yourself
- Go on a whale watch and see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat
- Soak in natural hot springs at the famous Blue Lagoon
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAY 2: REYKJAVIK
Welcome to Iceland! You’ll arrive first thing in the morning, but the sun will already be up–in the summer, the days are about 20 hours long! For our first day in Iceland, we’ll explore the capital city of Reykjavik. There’s street art everywhere, beautiful parks, and unique shops where local artisans sell their handmade wares. We’ll take a walking tour led by very entertaining locals, enjoy traditional and modern cuisine at a hip food market, and shop for souvenirs in the neat shops. You’ll even get to ride the elevator to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church for a fantastic view of the whole city.
DAYS 3-5: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE > WESTMAN ISLANDS
Iceland’s natural beauty can be found everywhere along the southern coast. We’ll begin in Thingvellir National Park, home to Gullfoss Waterfall and many other natural landmarks. Gaze in awe at the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts every 10 minutes like clockwork, then go for a soak in the nearby hot springs! You’ll also have the option of snorkeling in the Silfra fissure, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are separating by approximately two centimeters each year, and where you can see for about 300 feet down, due to the water being some of the clearest in the world. From there, we’ll move on along the coast to the beautiful black sand beaches, the cliffs home to massive colonies of puffins, and Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss Waterfalls.
DAYS 6-7: GLACIERS > SEYDISFJORDUR > THE EASTFJORDS
Our road trip continues as we head east, past lava fields that will make you feel like you’re on another planet. We’ll spend a day exploring the Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. If you so choose, you can even put on crampons, grab an ice pick, and climb the glacier yourself to see the fantastic ice formations at the top! You’ll also be given the option to hike among the massive waterfalls around the glacier. That evening we’ll explore a lagoon filled with floating icebergs–be sure to keep an eye out for seals swimming in the lagoon! Next, take a leisurely drive through the majestic Eastfjords. We’ll stop along the way for a ride on the gentle Icelandic horses, and snack on waffles and hot chocolate to warm up afterward. In the evening, go for a kayak ride out to a shipwreck in the harbor of the beautiful fishing village Seydisfjordur.
DAY 8: MYVATN
We’ll continue along the ring road up to the sunny northern area of Lake Myvatn. After the drive up, spend the afternoon unwinding in the Nature Baths. During your time in Myvatn, you’ll hike up the Hverfjall Crater, stroll through the Dimmuborgir lava formations, and see the Grjótagja Hot Springs, where Game of Thrones was filmed.
DAY 9: HUSAVIK > AKUREYRI
What better way to begin the day with an incredible whale watch? Northern Iceland’s waters are teeming with massive whales that migrate here in the summer. Suit up in a special windbreaker and enjoy a relaxing cruise around the beautiful fishing village of Husavik to see them up close!
From Husavik, it’s on to Iceland’s other major city, Akureyri. Well, “major” is a relative term…It only has around 20,000 inhabitants! On the way, we’ll stop at Godafoss, also known as the “Waterfall of the Gods.” We’ll learn all about traditional Icelandic life here as we visit the turf homes (houses built into the ground), and check out the impressive Akureyri Church. Of course, no trip to Akureyri would be complete without a visit to its most famous ice cream parlor!
DAYS 10-11: SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA
Often referred to as the “gem of the west”, Snaefellsnes’ rich geological variety means that around every corner is a cave, crater, or mountain just waiting to take your breath away! We’ll stay in the cozy fishing village of Stykkisholmur and explore Breidafjordur Bay, including Flatey Island, which seems like it is frozen in time, as well as go on a Viking Sushi cruise to sample seafood pulled fresh from the ocean right in front of you. We’ll also hike between the two villages of Hellnar and Arnarstapi, topping off our day with fresh fish and chips from a family-run food truck.
DAY 12: REYKJAVIK
We’ll come full circle as we return to Reykjavik for one final night in Iceland. Along the way we’ll stop at Hraunfossar, widely considered to be the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Iceland. Last, you’ll have your chance to soak all afternoon in the famous Blue Lagoon hot springs! You’ll also have some time for last-minute souvenir shopping and exploring any places you missed the first time around. Of course, our final dinner of the trip will be at one of Iceland’s top-rated restaurants, so be sure to dress accordingly!
DAY 13: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Iceland, it is more common to stay in family-run guesthouses and hostels, as American-style hotels are few and far between. Iceland is incredibly rural, so the guesthouses are all run by local villagers and have a cozy family vibe. They even ask that everyone take off their shoes before going in to make you feel like you are at home!
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Students love that they are able to explore the entirety of a country that is very off-the-beaten-path. Iceland is a small country and two weeks is the perfect amount of time to learn about its culture, people, and unique geography, while participating in all sorts of adrenaline-inducing adventure activities.
What is unique about this program?
From the complete view of the country it provides–we go all around!–to the sheer variety of activities on the trip, students will take advantage of TFT’s years of experience and providing unique insider access to make teens true travelers, not just tourists.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
Icelandic cuisine is centered around seafood, especially fish. The fish is some of the freshest in the world, as fishing is a major part of Icelandic industry, and there are literally hundreds of different ways of preparing it. They enjoy rye bread that they bake underground, and other hearty, rustic-style cuisine. However, they also love pizza, burgers, nachos, and vegetarian cuisine, so there will certainly be something for everyone on this trip.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do.
Eat, stay, and travel like a local. Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017.
"Thank you for the updates and pictures. I very much appreciate the information. Looks as though the group has integrated well and the adventures are quite awesome. Hope you are all having a great time."
"Jonah had the experience of a lifetime on this trip! He loved every minute. Thank you so much to you and your staff for making the trip such a memorable experience. We loved reading your thoughtful and comprehensive updates and all the amazing photos! We really appreciated the day-to-day stories."
"Thank you for what looks to have been an extraordinary trip of a life time!"