Educational Trip to Iceland: Government & Culture

Iceland is famous for its quirky culture, long summer days, geothermal activity, and breath-taking natural scenery. Its relative isolation from the rest of the world and proximity to the Arctic Circle make it a perfect place for investigating the unique environmental microclimates, political structure, and weird culture.

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Iceland  Iceland Reykjavik View_from_Hallgrímskirkja

During this faculty led trip abroad, we will learn about the social, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to the current government structure in Iceland today. We will learn where and why President Ronald Reagan met here with USSR secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and what it takes to rule a country that has only 300,000 citizens. We will also visit the site of the first parliament.

When you live in a country which moves alarmingly under your feet every five years or so with an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, you face, like the saga heroes of old, a choice of two courses of action, neither of them good: Either to flee the country and all its hazards, or to stay and brave them out. For more than 1100 years the people of Iceland have chosen to stay and brave them out.” – Television presenter Magnús Magnússon, Reykjavík, September 2001

Today, Iceland is a progressive society, inclusive in its political elections and among the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. It’s known for having the first democratically elected female Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who is also the world’s first openly lesbian head of government. In the country’s capital city of Reykjavik, comedian/punk rocker Jón Gnarr, who started his own political party The Best Party in 2009, was elected mayor.

Jon Gnarr- former major of Iceland's capital city
Jon Gnarr- former major of Iceland’s capital city
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Culturally, Iceland is a place of intrigue. About 80% of all citizens believe in elves and trolls, surnames do not exist, and the Icelandic language has remained unchanged from ancient Norse. Iceland also has a thriving strength sports community, earning 8 international strongman titles, second only to the USA.

Iceland Odin_hrafnar
Huginn and Muninn sit on Odin’s shoulders in this illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

Colibri Boston arranges group travel logistics and coordination in Iceland. The group will visit universities and sites related to government studies and attend site-seeing activities and educational tours.

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2:

Guests arrive to Reykjavik Airport.

Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital and Iceland’s largest city.

On the first day, we will visit the Hofdi House and Reykjavik Parliament where President Reagan and . We will schedule a visit to the Reykjavik Art Musem to discover the modern Icelandic art inspired by the fisherman character of the city. We will also try to arrange a meeting with former Reykjavik mayor and comedian Jón Gnarr Kristinsson.

Dinner: tasting of famous Hot dogs—a favorite of former US President Bill Clinton.

Iceland puffin 

Day 3:

After breakfast, the group travels to the geothermal park at Hveragerði. We will visit the volcanic hot springs that have been active for the last 10,000 years. There are not many places in the world where hot springs are literally in peoples’ back yards. These are famous for inspiring an ocean of flowers in the summer and a number of green houses and horticulture.

Next we will visit the stunning waterfall at Gullfoss, which falls in a succession of three drops creating the appearance of a staircase. Night in Gullfoss.

Iceland Gulfoss

Day 4:

Early in the morning we will head towards Akureyri. On our way we will stop at the Grabrok Crater which offers beautiful scenic views from the top.

Iceland turf house

Another stop along the way will include the immaculately preserved historical farm Glaumbaer located in a traditional Icelandic Village.  Not only does the farm demonstrate centuries-old Icelandic building techniques, it’s also where Snorri Þorfinsson, the first American born of European parents (in 1003), is buried.

Nicknamed the “Capital of Northern Iceland,” Akureyri is an important port and fishing center. It was also the site of Allied troops during World War II. Folk culture is more prevalent in Akureyri than in Reykjavik.  In Akureyri we will visit the Arctic Botanical Garden (Lystigardurinn) where the microclimate allows unique plants from Tanzania and New Zealand to grow.

Night in Akureyri.

Iceland Akureyri Iceland Akureyri folklore

Day 5:

Trip to blue–green Lake Myvatn, formed during a massive eruption 2,300 years ago and strictly protected. The lake has a specific microclimate that allows for unusual sea animals and plants.

Next we will see the Dettifoss, the biggest waterfall in Europe (100 m wild, 44 m high), canyons, mountains, caves. We will visit Jokulsargljufur, the most beautiful national park in Iceland. Night at Myvant.

Iceland Dettifoss_001

Day 6:

We will start heading back toward Reykjavik with a stop at the biggest hot spring spa in the world -Blue Lagoon.

Then we will head to Thingvellir. This is the site of the first parliament, which was established in 930 and remained there until 1798. It is also the place where the Eurasian and North American tectonic platforms sometimes very abruptly meet.

Iceland,Blue Lagoon,Hot Spring Iceland Thingvellir

Greenland: The last stop is the end of the world. We will visit Eskimo land- warm, open and full of charm, the people and way of life haven’t changed much for centuries. (On the whole island there are only 56,000 people and we will visit one of the towns). Day trip to Greenland and night in Reykjavik.

Return flight from Reykjavik to Boston on Day 8.

 Iceland trip Greenland

Colibri Boston provides:

  • Transportation
  • Tours of all cities led by local guides
  • All trips and arrangements described in the itinerary
  • Hotel accommodation: 3-3.5 star
  • 3 meals per day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Tickets to all scheduled sites and attractions
  • Materials related to the trip – maps, articles, books, etc.

If you are a college or university faculty member and would like to book this educational trip abroad with us, please send us a message or email: info@colibriboston.org

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2 thoughts on “Educational Trip to Iceland: Government & Culture

    1. Hi Kay, thanks for your interest! We do not yet have a host school, this is more of a sample itinerary. Best times to visit Iceland are right on the edge of the high seasons, so either September or March. Most tourists travel to Iceland during the summer to take advantage of the very long days, but there’s a lot of charm to the other seasons–fall, winter and spring. Especially if you want a chance to see the Northern Lights.

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