Understand Iceland: Viking Visions in West Iceland

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  • Location(s): Iceland
  • Program Type(s): Study Abroad

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Icelandic Sagas, Vikings and  Medieval studies Study Medieval manuscripts, the Icelandic Sagas, Viking Settlement, Icelandic history and language. A study abroad program tailored for student groups focusing on Viking settlement in Iceland, Iceland... read more

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Icelandic Sagas, Vikings and  Medieval studies 

Study Medieval manuscripts, the Icelandic Sagas, Viking Settlement, Icelandic history and language. 

A study abroad program tailored for student groups focusing on Viking settlement in Iceland, Icelandic Sagas, mythology and folklore.

Follow the footsteps of the viking settlers who discovered Iceland some time around 870. Learn about the strong women and brave men who settled Iceland, discovered Greenland and later found America. Visit the sites where the stories of the Icelandic sagas took place, learn about the fights, the love affairs, the betrayal and brutal killings. Learn about the establishment of the first parliament at Þingvellir, the heart of the nation where all the major decisions regarding early Icelands history took place.

Tour highlights:

  • Visit Reykholt in Borgarfjörður and learn about poet and chiftain Snorri Sturluson who is believed to have written some of the sagas, including Egils saga.

  • Explore Borgarnes and Borg, the home of Egill Skallagrímsson who is one of the most notorious character of the sagas.

  • Travel around Snæfellsnes peninsula and learn the stories of the people who traveled from Iceland to settle Greenland and later found America. Learn mythical folklore legends of the peninsula, the trolls, elves and ghosts.

  • Visit Skagafjörður area where many of the scenes from the Icelandic sagas took place. Travel through the landscape of the saga settings, visit the sites of battles Hauganes battle and Örylgstaða battle, and learn the stories of the people affected and the aftermath.

  • Discover Þingvellir national park a UNESCO site where the first parliament was established. Learn about the function of the parliament throughtout the centuries while walking through the rift valley and exploring the unique geology and nature.

  • Visit Skálholt cathedral, one of the most important cultural and political places in Iceland in the middle ages. Learn about the bishops who ruled there, hear about the conflict and excecution of Bishop Jón Arason by the end of Catholicism.

  • The group will visit many museum, exhibitions, churches and institutions to further deepen the understandig of Icelands culture heritage and history.

Day 1

Pickup at KEF airport. First stop is at a Viking exhibition where the group will get a breakfast and a short overview of the viking era and the settlement of Iceland from Norway and Ireland. The group will then travel to Borgarnes in West Iceland settling in for a rest. In the early evening the group will visit the settlement center where they will visit two exhibitions; on Egils saga and the Settelment. In Borgarnes there are several options for meals, including the Settlement center.

Day 2

A tour around Snæfellsnes peninsula where the group will explore the natural landmarks of the peninsula and hear stories about settlers, monks and vikings in the area. A special focus will be on Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir who was the Icelander who The group will have light lunch at Hellnar café, one of the smallest restaurants in Iceland. Arnarstapi, Lóndrangar, Dritvík, Snæfellsnes national park and Kirkjufell mountain (aka Arrowhead Mountain) will be explored.  

Day 3

The day will be spent in the setting of the Sagas, Laxdæla Saga, Sturlungasaga, Saga of Eric the Red. The group will visit Laugar in Sælingsdalur which is the setting of Laxdæla saga. This is where Auður the Deep minded settled with her people and raised her son Þorsteinn. This is also where the love triangle between Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, Bolli and Kjartan took place. A local guide will take the group around the area sharing stories of the sagas. The group will visit Eiríkstaðir where Eric the Red built his farm and raised is son Leif "the lucky" Ericson. 

Day 4

The day will start with visiting a new interactive exhibition 1238 which is the year a great battle took place in Iceland. Guests can take part in the Sturlung era through virtual reality. En route to Reykholt in Borgarfjörður the group will stop by the place where Agnes Magnúsdóttir (from the book Burial rights) was exicuted. Once in Reykholt, the group will visit an exibition on Snorri Sturluson and his work. A short walk around the premises with a stop at the church and Snorri's pool will follow. The group will also visit the natural wonders of Hraunfossar waterfall, Barnafoss waterfall and Deildatunguhver hotspring. In the afternoon the group will drive through the back country via Uxarhryggir towards Laugarvatn. This will give people chance to view mountains and the deserted area in the interior of Iceland. 

Day 5

The group will have plenty of time to explore Þingvellir national park where the first meeting of the Icelandic parlament was held in A.D. 930. This remarkable UNESCO World Heritge Site lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge line where the American and Europen tectonic plates meet. The new exhibition of Þingvellir's history and nature will be visited, a local guide will take the group around the park, both the most common sights but also to parts of the park not often visited by tourists. An archaeologist will explain findings in the area during previous investigations. After a lunch at Laugarvatn, the group will visit Skálholt Cathedral where the group will get an insight into the amazing history of the church and the area. 

Day 6

In the morning thehe group will explore some natural wonders. The geysir geothermal area is the home to the famous Geysir hotspring which gives the name to all other geysirs around the world. The hotspring Strokkur erupts every 5 or so minutes, blasting a column of boiling water up to 40 meters into the air.  The whole area is dotted with fumaoles, hot springs and mud-pits. The "Golden waterfall" Gullfoss plummets 32 meters into the gorge of river Hvítá, making it one of the most beautiful and powerful waterfalls in Iceland. The students will hear stories of how the waterfall was saved from being harnessed by a young woman living on the next farm. The group will visit one ot the local greenhouses in the area. After lunch the group will visit Skálholt Cathedral, one of the most historic places in Iceland. The settlement of Skálholt dates back to the 12th century when the first church was build there shortly after Christianity was established in Iceland. The students will hear stories of bishops and common people who lived in the area throughout the centuries. Stories of impossible love, battles with vikings and brutal killings. 

Day 7

Reflections of the program, discussions and essay writing. Departure.

Program Type(s):
Study Abroad
Program Length(s):
  • Fall
  • Summer
  • Spring
  • Maymester
  • Spring Break
  • Custom
  • Short Term
Instruction Language(s):
  • English
Language Requirement(s):
  • English
Relevant Study Subject(s):
  • Scandinavian Studies
  • Scandinavian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
  • Religion / Religious Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Literature
  • History
  • Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • European Studies
  • Ethnic, Cultural Minority, Gender, and Group Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Archeology
  • Apparel and Textiles
  • Anthropology
Minimum GPA:
Year Founded:
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