Headed to Iceland for your next holiday? It’s time to check out which of the best Iceland tours are truly worth your time and money. Considering there are several and it can get pretty confusing when it comes to Iceland winter tours especially, it’s best to do your research before you decide. Anyway, you have nothing to worry about, because that’s what we are here to help you with!
You’ve probably heard that the cost of living in Iceland is one of the highest in the world and that means that when you’re hunting for the best tours in Iceland, they’re not going to come cheap. This is all the more true in winter when quite a few roads are closed down and downright dangerous to drive on – this eliminates the benefits of a self-drive option for most people. Besides, who wants to keep their eyes on the road when there are spectacular views around? So, it would be wise to let private or group tour operators take care of the logistics and hassles.
Private tours or group tours – which one is right for me?
Once you’ve made up your mind to leave all the hassles to tour operators, the question remains which one – a private tour or a group tour? Personally, I think it makes sense to take group tours as the savings add up to a large amount, especially when it comes to an expensive country like Iceland. I mean why take just one private tour when I could get 3 different group tours with nearly the same amount!
10 Best Tours in Iceland & Costs
Speaking from my experience – after opting for so many tours – here are the best ones which even you can consider during your trip to Iceland.
1. Iceland Northern Lights Tour
Hunting the Northern Lights, also called Aurora Borealis, is usually on top of the list for most travelers when it comes to Iceland winter tours. The Northern Lights can be sighted from September to April when the nights are longer. You need clear sky to see the sky magically turning green from blue.
However, a good sighting requires multiple tours and good luck! Good photography skills and a bit research for shooting Northern Lights would come in handy. Consider a trip of around 10 days to better your chances of a sighting. If you’re on a short 2-to-3-day trip, you’ll probably need to book a trip every day and then cross your fingers for luck! We did not see it the first time we went on Northern Lights hunting trip, but rescheduled it after two days (only after checking the forecast). As luck would have it, we successfully saw the lights on our second hunting.
Given the weather conditions in Iceland are unpredictable, especially during the winter time, it is best to have a window of 7-10 days to ensure you go back home only after witnessing the magical phenomenon.
- The tour included pick-up and drop-off at our accommodation.
- A nice tour guide conducts this tour and shares stories about ghosts, elves and mysterious creatures throughout the time of the trip.
- You can re-book the Northern Lights tour again and again until you see the phenomenon. So, if you are in Iceland for a limited duration, book your trip in the beginning itself. This way, you can reschedule it later as well just in case you are not lucky the first time.
- The pick-up for Northern Lights tour starts at about 8 P. M and it goes on until late midnight.
We paid roughly 3200 INR / 45 USD per person for an elusive Northern Lights tour on a comfortable bus with a trusted Icelandic Tour Operator, Gray Line Iceland.
2. South Iceland 2 Day Tour (Vik, Waterfalls, Jokulsarlon glacier, Black Sand Beach)
It is possible to do multiple day trips from Reykjavik to Southern Coast of Iceland, which is likely to cost you less. But then driving through the same route each day to reach South Coast first would be a waste of time.
My suggestion: Book at least two days tour to the Southern Coast especially if you are not driving the Ring Road route.
This two day best South Coast Iceland tour showcases the breathtaking sights that Iceland has to offer. Explore Vik – the quaint Icelandic village just south of the Katla volcano; feel like a true explorer as you witness the sheer spectacle that is the Jökulsárlón glacier, and visit the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach that reminds you of lunar landscape from your dreams.
This region also boasts of two spectacular waterfalls – Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. You simply cannot miss visiting these waterfalls during your South Coast tour in Iceland.
Most likely, if you are visiting the Southern Coast during winter, you are sure to see the Northern Lights as well. We got extremely lucky and ended up seeing the phenomenon once again during our stay at Hotel Brunnhóll in South East Iceland.
- The tour started by us visiting the popular DC Plane Wreck Site. It was a 2 hours drive from Reykjavik to this. And further 30-40 minutes walk to the crash location. You could also opt for ATV tour to take you to the plane crash site. But that would cost you more. Further, we traveled East to reach the Black Sand Beach and soaked up the beauty the region had to offer.
- Day – 2 was all about visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier and the Diamond Beach. Then later we went to see Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
We paid 30,000 INR / 431 USD per person for this two day trip to South Coast, which included pick-up and drop-off to Reykjavik from our accommodation. Plus, one night stay in the South Coast. We did this tour with Troll Expeditions.
3. Katla Ice Cave Tour
Signing up for Ice Cave Tour is like taking a trip into another world – so incredibly different. Well, all of Iceland is like that but then entering a natural ice cave and seeing the beauty inside can literally give you the feels. You’ll embark on a journey that is far away from the usual touristy trail and enter a magical world with breathtaking surroundings.
To reach the cave, you’d first need to walk on Mýrdalsjökull glacier which by itself is something of a novelty and when you hear that it’s the largest glacier in Europe, you’ll have something to boast about when you get back home! Again, this one definitely qualifies as one of the best tours in Iceland.
Also, if you are a true Game of Thrones fan, you wouldn’t want to miss visiting this cave as a lot of shooting of Season 3 was done here. Would you want to miss this?
- It’s only possible to visit the Katla ice cave during the winter months.
- You can do a day trip from Reykjavik or simply stay back in South coast and visit the cave which is 40 minutes drive from Vik.
- Make sure you are dressed in layers for this tour in Iceland. Also, carry a water bottle as this tour involved a lot of walking.
We paid 15,000 INR per person for this tour, when we were already staying near the Southern Coast. For those doing a day trip from Reykjavik to Katla Ice Cave, the prices would be higher. We did this tour with Troll Expeditions.
4. Horseback Riding
The Icelandic horse is one of the oldest breeds of horses and is super cute being almost pony-sized but with a mane that can beat any rock star! Hop on and canter off to enjoy the natural landscapes as you ride atop these beautiful creatures for a high that is unmatched! This is one of the day trips from Reykjavik that you must check out.
- It is a fun and interactive way of getting close to Icelandic horses.
- You get an opportunity to ride through striking volcanic terrain.
- This best Iceland tour runs for about 2 hours. You are provided with complimentary tea and coffee to finish.
- In winter time, make sure you are wearing apt winter clothes and gloves.
- The guides are competent and ensure that you are having fun.
We booked this tour with Solhestar Horse Rental for 7,151 INR / 102 USD per person, which was so worth it.
5. Silfra Snorkeling
When selecting from the best Iceland tours and wondering if they are worth the amount that you’re coughing up, the Silfra snorkeling tour would more than meet your expectations!
It challenging to a small degree, but the water is crystal clear and the views are mind-blowing. Who would want to miss out on the once in a lifetime experience of snorkeling between two continents!
- We did not do this tour personally, but one of our friends did, and spoke highly about it. I am sure if we find ourselves in Iceland again, this is on the top of our list of things to do.
- Silfra is one of the top diving sites in the world, with a visibility of up to 100 meters.
- You are not just snorkeling in any ordinary site; in fact you will be swimming between Europe and America’s tectonic plates.
- To reach here, you need to drive from Reykjavik to the heart of Thingvellir National Park.
- This activity can be enjoyed even during the winter months.
You can book this day trip with Arctic Adventures for about 10,091 INR / 145 USD per person.
6. Monster truck ride + Golden Circle tour + Langjokull Snowmobiling Tour
The Golden Circle tour gives you excellent views of the waterfalls and geysers that Iceland is famous for. Consider this as one of your day trips from Reykjavik that you’d better not miss.
Seeing the must-see sights in a monster truck or super jeep has a thrill of its own, while still being extremely comfortable. Plus, it gives you the flexibility of spending as much time or as little time at a place as you wish. We really wanted to ride a monster truck as we were supremely fascinated by the plush designing and massive tyres. Hence, it was a wise decision to combine our visit to Golden Circle and snowmobiling experience.
- Langjökull Glacier is the second largest glacier in Iceland and snowmobiling through this movie-like terrain is exhilarating though it can be a little scary for newbies – pretty fast, yet fun!
- On this tour, you drive through the Icelandic highlands. You visit the great geyser (strokkur), Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and Langjökull glacier, all on a monster truck.
- Depending on the road conditions, you’ll be driven off – road by an experienced tour guide as well.
- Snowmobiling on the second largest glacier (Langjökull) will be adventure that you wouldn’t forget for a long long time.
We did this tour with Arctic Adventures and it cost us 16,700 INR / 241 USD per person.
7. Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tour
One of my personal favourites, Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tour is especially recommended for Game of Thrones fans. This can be done as a one day tour from Reykjavik particularly if you want to focus on the best Iceland tours.
Explore and experience the Western Iceland and learn why this land is called the land of fire and ice. Marvel at the black pearl sand beaches at the edge of the peninsula. And visit some of the most secluded villages in the world including Arnarstapi and Hellnar.
- This is going to be a full-day (roughly 10-hours) excursion from Reykjavik so be prepared for a long day.
- You drive through the Snæfellsnes peninsula, stopping by regularly at pretty, little villages like Arnarstapi.
- On this tour, you get to visit the black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur that once used to be a popular fishing village.
- Later, you get to see the most photographed mountain in Iceland that is Kirkjufell, also called the Arrowhead Mountain. This became extremely popular after the filming of Game of Thrones Season 5, 6 and 7.
We booked this tour with Gray Line Iceland for approx. 7,000 INR / 100 USD per person.
8. Sólheimajökull Ice Climbing & Glacier Hiking Tour
There is no dearth of adventure in Iceland as all the best Iceland tours are packed with it. However, Sólheimajökull glacier hiking tour gives you an unexplained adrenaline rush as you negotiate the icy climb with the help of experts.
The tip of the day when it comes to this tour is to definitely dress in layers and carry a raincoat. We ruined our expensive camera on this tour only due to carelessness and lack of preparation.
- On this tour, you basically get your beginner’s lesson on how to walk on ice. You get strikingly gorgeous vistas of glaciers and icebergs floating by.
- After your pick-up from Reykjavik, you are taken to Sólheimajökull glacier near the southernmost village of Vik. Here, you meet an experienced glacier hiking guide and are put in apt glacier gear and crampons.
- You hike the glacier and stop at a particular point to climb an ice wall. It sure is an out of the world experience.
- It also includes a visit to Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
We did this tour with Mountaineers of Iceland for 11,000 INR / 158 USD per person.
9. ATV or Buggy Ride with/without DC Plane Wreck
Pictures of you in a surreal landscape with the famous DC plane wreck in the background are certain to set your Instagram ablaze! Hold that thought and combine it with an adrenalin pumping ATV ride on volcanic sandy beaches and you’ll agree that this one is a winner!
There are a lot of different ATV/buggy tours from Reykjavik that you can opt for, depending on your requirement.
You can do this tour separately if you do not wish to combine it with the South Coast tour.
If you just want to enjoy an action-filled adventure then panorama 1-Hour ATV/quad adventure in Reykjanes Geopark is the best option for you.
This tour with 4×4 Adventures will cost you 11,560 INR /166 USD per person.
10. Helicopter Tour
Wish to get the most of the fascinating Iceland scenery in a quick 1-hour duration? Sign-up for a helicopter tour in Iceland. You will fly over Iceland’s most spectacular areas, soaring over hot springs, volcanic craters, and geothermal power plants.
You can opt for this tour with Norðurflug Helicopter Tours for about 30,000 INR / 431 USD per person.
Tours You Really Don’t Have to Take
For short trips from 1 to 3 days, you’d need to prioritize your list of ‘must do’s’. That’s why we’ve put together a list that you can give a miss.
Reykjavik city tour – you’ll probably be staying at Reykjavik and that’s enough to give you a feel of the city. Save time and skip the city tour.
Northern lights tour – though this one is a biggie, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get to see them in such a short stay – save time and trouble skip this one for a longer trip later.
Blue Lagoon tour – It’s expensive and there are thermal pools with similar benefits all around Iceland for free!
How to get the best from your Iceland group tours
Be a good tourist and get the best from your group tours. Remember the best Iceland tours or at least a majority of them begin from and end at Reykjavik. But, you’ll need to confirm before booking your pick up and drop off points. Not all tour companies pick you up from your hotel, instead they may specify a common point that’s easy to reach with local transport.
Remember it’s a common courtesy and common sense to reach a little before the specified meeting time whether it is at the lobby of your hotel or at some other common meeting point.
Reaching 10 to 15 minutes earlier than specified not only ensures that you do not delay the departure of your tour, it also ensures you manage a good seat for great views as your tour bus takes you around. And it’s always good to stay in the good books of fellow passengers by not being the cause of delays.
Hope this guide will help you make the best of your Iceland tours. Let us know in the comment section if you took any tour based on our recommendation.
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