In the previous posts we looked at the best places to visit in Iceland, but now the question is what is the best way to get to these places? There are basically two options - either rent a car or take advantage of Iceland's extensive tour operators that are not only budget friendly but also offer great customer satisfaction! You just need to pick the right tour company and that's what this post is going to help you do.
Over the past few years Iceland has had a huge influx of tourists resulting in a big boom in the tourism industry. As a result many tour companies have come up and when you search for tours in Iceland literally thousands of them will show up! Not to say that they are all bad, but you will need to do some research before picking the right tour company for your needs.
Most of the places in Iceland that are tourist hot spots are a day trip away from Reykjavik and for that reason these tour companies operate out of the capital city.
In this post I have put together what I feel are the best tour companies in Iceland that offer the best experience for the money.
It's important to note that all these tours are Minibus tours meaning they are small group tours with a maximum passengers between 15-18, so that you get a good one-on-one experience with the travel guides. I hate big bus tours and so have not included them here and would suggest that you avoid them altogether unless you are on a very tight budget!
NOTE: Most of the tours in this list are from personal experience , but there are still a few of them on here which I haven't had experience with but have heard generally positive reviews from others and they have a good reputation in the traveling fraternity.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DAY TOURS:
All the Day tours mentioned here start and end at Reykjavik, unless you specifically want to stay back at any one of the locations. Almost all the tour companies offer pickup and drop off from most of the hotels and hostels in the Reykjavik downtown area and this is already packaged into the price of the tour.
If you are staying in a Airbnb then find out which is the closest pickup location , there will always be one pickup location closest to you if you are staying in the vicinity of the downtown area. Most of these tour companies have a cancellation fee if you choose to cancel close to the booking date , so be aware of that.
Also, note that NONE of the links below are affiliate links, I am just sharing my honest experience from these tour operators and I won't be paid in anyway whatsoever if you choose to go with them :)
So, lets get started!
1. GOLDEN CIRCLE TOURS
The Golden Circle is a very popular tourist route in Iceland since it contains most of the tours and tourist related activities. You will find lost of tour companies operating tours to this region so makes it more difficult to choose the right one. From personal experience, I would suggest checking out GeoIceland Tours , I had a really positive experience with them on this tour and many others have echoed the same so don't hesitate to try them out.
Here are some more tour companies that offer the Golden Circle Tour and are pretty well rated:
PRICE RANGE:Prices for the Golden Circle range mostly somewhere between $90 - $100.
PRO-TIP:During summer you can also think about taking the Midnight sun Golden Circle tours which usually starts in the evening.
2. SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA TOURS
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a region in western Iceland known for its dramatic landscapes. One of the reasons I wanted to see this region is because I wanted to photograph the Black Budhir Church, but could not find many tour companies including a stop at this church. Fortunately , I found out about Troll Expeditions, and it honestly was one of the most memorable trips during my time in Iceland. I would definitely recommend checking them out for other tours as well.
Here are some more tour companies that offer the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour and are pretty well rated:
PRICE RANGE:Prices for the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tours range mostly somewhere between $160 - $170.
PRO-TIP:If you are really on a tight budget and have no interest in any of the places offered in the Snæfellsnes tour then you can definitely skip taking this tour.
3. SOUTH COAST & GLACIER LAGOON TOURS
The Icelandic south coast is in my opinion one of the best places to visit in Iceland. Along the south coast is where you will find most of the famous landmarks like Skogafoss, Seljalandfoss and the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
A important thing to understand here is that South Coast is pretty big and sometimes it can be difficult to cover the entire region in a day. However if are traveling in Summer , meaning long daylight hours then you can definitely combine South Coast and the Jokulsarlon lagoon in one day!
I had a really positive experience with Back to Iceland Travel and can't recommend them enough. The tour guide actually went out of his way to ensure that we had a great time even stopping at midnight for catching the sunset! (see pic below) If you want to check out the South Coast tour and also do a Glacier Walk then check out the tour offered by GeoIceland.
Another tour operator which provides the South Coast and Glacier Lagoon is Gateway to Iceland, they have generally good reviews and are a bit cheaper than Back to Iceland
PRICE RANGE: Prices for just the South Coast tours are usually in the range of $120- $130, but if you want to include the Glacier Lagoon as well then it can easily go upto $200. There is also an option to take the Amphibian Boat ride at the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon which can cost an additional $50 but some tours have that already packaged in the price.
PRO-TIP: If you are not visiting in Summer then I would suggest going with Multi day tours from these same companies because it would be impossible to cover everything in a day with limited daylight hours and even tour companies don't generally offer them.
4. NORTHERN LIGHTS TOURS
The most sought after attraction in Iceland during the winter season is the Northern Lights, so it's but obvious that there are numerous tour companies out there that take you on a northern lights tour. Let me clear the air around what a Northern lights tour actually is, you basically travel in either a car/minibus/big bus depending on how much you paid and you hunt for the Northern lights.
That's right, hunt for it!, what many people don't realize is that the Northern lights are a natural phenomenon which basically means that it depends on so many factors most importantly the weather and cloud cover. Because of these factors it's important to understand what to expect when taking up a Northern lights tour or even when you are hunting on your own!
You are not always guaranteed a sighting (my Northern lights tour was canceled for the first four days of my 5 day trip and luckily I got the chance to see lights on my last day!)
So, now that we have that out of the way , I would suggest checking out Arctic Shots , they are a bit expensive but they do go out of their way to guarantee you that if there are lights in the sky you get the chance to see it!. I had a very good experience with them and would definitely recommend them. They are also good photographers so they will help you in setting up your camera for photographing those beautiful lights!
PRICE RANGE:Prices for the Northern lights depends on what type of tour you take. Big bus tours are typically cheap, around $100 but I would stay away from them as they basically don't care whether you see the lights or not! Always go with either mini bus tours or 4x4 tours where more importance is given to you - the customer! These tours can easily go upto $250, but it's definitely worth it if you indeed get to see the lights!
PRO-TIP: Make sure you are booking the tour on the very first night of your trip, the reason being if it gets canceled generally most tour companies allow you to take the tour the next day and this can go on till the end of your tour or you can just ask for your refund. Don't worry about losing your money if the tour gets canceled!
5. AIRPORT TRANSFERS
Last but not least, Airport transfers are something that you will probably need if you are going to be staying nearby Downtown Reykjavik. Don't take a taxi or private transfer unless absolutely required as these can be really expensive!There are many companies that offer cheap airport transfers to and from the Keflavik Airport, and out of them I have personally had a good experience with Grayline, they are definitely cheaper compared to other operators at around $23 USD one way.