Winter is one of the most spectacular times to visit the island nation of Iceland. The days may be short, but that leaves more time to search for nature’s incredible light show: the Aurora Borealis! In addition to the nighttime spectacle, we’ll find ourselves gazing at immense glaciers, exploring black sand beaches, and soaking in natural hot pools like the famous Blue Lagoon. It’s no wonder that Iceland is one of the world’s coolest travel destinations – breathtaking waterfalls still put on a show in the winter months, sparkling with ice and snow only seen outside the typical tourist season! We’ll finish our adventure in the hip city of Reykjavik, home to funky street art, artisan boutiques, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. This trip is ideal for those who love nature, off-the-beaten-path travel destinations, and adrenaline-inducing adventure activities.
*Please note, Iceland in the winter has limited daylight hours, but it makes it much easier to see the Northern Lights! We will maximize our daylight hours and still enjoy plenty of activities after the sun goes down. The northern lights are a natural phenomenon. While it is statistically likely we will see them there is a chance that due to overcast skies we might not be able to fully view the lights.
During this program, you will…
- Explore the fun and unique capital city of Reykjavik
- Search the long night skies for sparkling Northern Lights
- Experience all the major sights of Thingvellir National Park’s Golden Circle
- See massive waterfalls around every corner, like Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss
- Walk along the famous black sand beaches of Reynisfjara
- Hike over snow-capped glaciers and take in the stunning winter landscape
- Visit the Northern Lights center in Reykjavik
- Horseback ride on Icelandic horses*
- Soak in natural hot springs at the famous Blue
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART THE USA
DAY 2: REYKJAVIK
To start off our Icelandic exploration, we’ll visit the capital city of Reykjavik. This city boasts amazing street art, beautiful parks, and unique shops where local artisans sell their handmade wares. We’ll take a walking tour led by very entertaining locals allegedly of Viking descent, enjoy traditional and modern cuisine, and shop for souvenirs in the fascinating shops. You’ll even get to ride the elevator to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church for a fantastic view of the whole city. Go for a skate at the outdoor skating rink, visit the Northern Lights Center to learn about the natural wonder we’ll be hunting down, and search for the cities hidden Santa Clauses!
DAY 3: LAUGARVATN
From the capital, we’ll explore the Golden Circle heading first to 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! While we’re there, we’ll check out Silfra fissure, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are separating by approximately two centimeters each year. Here you can see almost 300 feet down through some of the clearest water in the world. We’ll even go for a horseback ride on an Icelandic horse!
DAYS 4-5: GLACIERS > SOUTHERN COAST TO VIK
We’ll continue our Aurora Adventure heading east from Laugarvatn airport along Iceland’s south coast. Even in winter, two of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls still flow magnificently. Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss Waterfalls are not to be missed on any journey from the island’s capital to Vik. We’ll travel along the southern coast to beautiful black sand beaches and striking basalt column cliffs, where we will hike on snow-capped glaciers, relax in hot springs, and enjoy the Icelandic winter life!
DAY 6: NEW YEAR'S EVE IN REYKJAVIK
We’ll make our way back to Reykjavik, where we will ring in 2022 in style. Hunt for hidden Santa Claus in town, fly over Iceland in a virtual simulator, and then get ready for a festive night of fireworks, bonfires, and TFT’s fancy final New Year’s Eve dinner to ring in the new year!
DAY 7: DEPART FROM REYKJAVIK
Top off an incredible trip through this magical island country with a soak in the renowned Blue Lagoon before flying back home.
While the trip may be over, the memories and friendships will last a lifetime!
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Travel For Teens?
We are in our 21st year in the teen travel business and have emerged as the industry leader for teen travel in the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. We operate over 100 programs in 47 countries on 6 continents.
Our philosophy: We offer genuine and authentic trips for travelers, not tourists.
Our goal is to engender a passion for learning about other cultures and places through living like a local in that place.
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 the Iceland Northern Lights Winter Break trip?
On the Iceland Northern Lights Winter Break trip, students love that they are able to explore a very off-the-beaten-path country and see the Aurora Borealis (northern lights). Iceland is a small country and one week 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 the Iceland Northern Lights Winter Break trip?
Experience a once and a lifetime natural phenomenon: the northern lights! Travelers will take advantage of TFT’s years of experience on the Iceland Northern Lights Winter Break trip by 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 13 and 24 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. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
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!