Most popular and best rated tours and day trips in Iceland for any season

13 Best Iceland Tours, Excursions & Day Trips (for All Seasons)

In Iceland, Travel inspiration by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

Visiting Iceland soon and not sure where to go and what to see? Whether you are making a short stopover in Reykjavik or are traveling around the whole country, this list of the best tours in Iceland should help you plan your trip.

If you are visiting Iceland for the first time, it might be difficult to decide where to go first. Therefore I made this selection of the very best and most popular day tours in Iceland: best day trips from Reykjavik, most popular wildlife excursions, tours in the North of Iceland…

This selection will give you a good idea of what Iceland’s must-see places are and what to expect. Most of these tours and guided trips are available the whole year round; some – are seasonal.

Good to know: Most tours in this selection can be done as a day trip from Reykjavik, but some tours depart from other locations. In this article, we focus on the best Iceland tours for all seasons. If you are interested in winter tours (Northern Lights in Iceland, ice caves, snowmobile tours, etc), check our guide to the best winter tours and day trips from Reykjavik.

If you rather explore Iceland on a self-drive trip (recommended, definitely in summer), check our Iceland itinerary suggestionsBut even if you are exploring Iceland by car, you may still want to look into booking a whale-watching excursion, visit the Blue Lagoon, etc.

 

Most tours I selected here are bookable through GetYourGuide – our #1 choice when it comes to booking guided tours and excursions for our trips. The reason is simple – they have an excellent reputation, great customer service, competitive prices, and FREE 24hr cancelation.

For each tour, I also give some practical details to help you plan your trip. Find out!

Did you know that… The most popular ‘tour’ booked in Iceland is the airport transfer to the city. With taxis charging ten times the price of the bus, I strongly recommend you book a bus transfer as well. Check here for more information about the best way to get to Reykjavik from Keflavik airport.

   

These are the best Iceland tours:

1. Golden Circle

Golden Circle is the no. 1 must-see place in Iceland. Whether you are visiting for a day or for two weeks, no trip to Iceland would be complete without visiting the Golden Circle. Golden Circle is an area that comprises three famous landmarks – Geysir area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. Due to its proximity to Reykjavik, this is by far the most popular tour in Iceland.

You can visit Golden Circle by car, or you can opt for one of the many available guided tours from Reykjavik. Below are some of the very best options:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik

Iceland trip itinerary suggestions - from one day to two weeks
Strokkur geyser is one of the main attractions on the Golden Circle
 

2. Blue Lagoon and other geothermal baths

The Blue Lagoon is an outdoor geothermal spa close to Reykjavik and Keflavik airport. It is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland and you really have to book tickets in advance.

Blue Lagoon is located 30min drive from Reykjavik city center, so unless you have a car it’s best to book a bus transfer from Reykjavik.

There’s also another less touristy (and cheaper) geothermal pool near Reykjavik – Secret Lagoon. Another great option is Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths.

You can also visit these geothermal baths with a tour, usually in combination with the Golden Circle:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik

Blue Lagoon spa - the most popular excursion in Iceland
Blue Lagoon spa – the most popular excursion in Iceland
 

3. South Coast Tours

Iceland’s South Coast is another highlight that you must see. It is easily doable as a day trip from Reykjavik and is, therefore, a very popular trip. In fact, south coast tours are the most popular tours in Iceland.

You will visit the famous waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, Reynisfjara black sand beach and the nearby Vik village, Sólheimajökull glacier, and more.

Here are the best-rated south coast tours:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik 

Skogafoss waterfall along Iceland's south coast
Skogafoss waterfall along Iceland’s south coast
 

4. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and the adjacent Diamond Beach is my favorite place in Iceland. However, it’s located quite far from Reykjavik. So it requires a full day trip with many hours of driving if you decide to visit it with a day tour.

I wouldn’t advise doing this trip in just one day unless you are really short on time. But if you only have a day to spare and want to see this stunning glacial lagoon, then yes, it is possible to visit Jokulsarlon as a day trip from Reykjavik.

In summer, the days are long and this trip will be very different than in winter, giving you more chances to admire the beautiful South Coast along the way. If you are visiting in winter, consider a 2-day tour or a 3-day tour instead. That way, you get to see the South Coast and possibly also the ice caves as well.

Despite the long drive, a day trip to Jokulsarlon is one of the most popular tours in Iceland and the customer reviews are great. Below you can find the best options:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik

Iceland winter wonderland - icebergs on Jokulsarlon beach in winter
Diamond beach at Jokulsarlon
 

5. Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Another long day trip from Reykjavik, a visit to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an unforgettable experience. Here are some of the best tours:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Iceland tours - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Kirkjufell in Snaefellsnes Peninsula
 

6. Whale watching tours

There are several places where you can go whale watching in Iceland. The most popular are Reykjavik and Husavik (North of Iceland), but there are some other great options as well.

Reykjavik whale watching tours are available the whole year, but please note that the best time to see whales in Iceland is from April through September. The best place to see whales in Iceland is up North, with Husavik often called as the whale-watching capital of Iceland.

Here is a selection of some of the best whale watching tours in Iceland:

  • Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavik. There are several options in Reykjavik, but this tour is the most popular and has the best ratings. It’s also one of the most affordable options that I found.

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik

Mid-March through November
Departs from Husavik (1h15 drive from Akureyri)

  • Arctic Whale Watching. This tour includes sea angling, a demonstration of how to cut and cook fresh fish, and tasting some freshly baked fish at the end.

Mid February through November
Departs from Dalvik (35min driving from Akureyri)

Whale watching tour in Iceland
Whale watching is best in Husavik
 

7. Puffin tours

No summer trip to Iceland would be complete without seeing the puffins. There are some land-based trips, but it seems that most of the time it’s best to combine puffin tours with whale watching. Here are the best options:

May till Mid August
Departs from Reykjavik

April/May till August/October
Departs from Husavik (1h15 driving from Akureyri)

Iceland tours to see puffins
Puffins can only be seen in summer in Iceland. The best season is from the end of May to mid August
 

8. Silfra snorkeling tours

Silfra is one of the top diving sites in the world, but even if you don’t dive, you can explore the bright blue and crystal clear waters with incredible visibility of up to 100 meters.

All seasons
Departs from Thingvellir NP or Reykjavik (optional at extra cost).

Best combination tours that include Silfra Snorkelling:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik

Silfra snorkeling tours in Iceland
Silfra snorkeling
 

9. Icelandic horse riding tours

Icelandic horses are rather small, but it would be a big insult to call them ponies. Riding an Icelandic horse is a typically Icelandic thing to do, especially if you do it in a beautiful location in the lava fields.

Most tours are meant for tourists with little or no experience in horse riding. It’s a family-friendly experience that anyone can join.

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik or from Hafnarfjordur (20 min drive from Reykjavik)

Horseback riding tour in Iceland
Horseback riding tour in Iceland
 

10. Glacier hiking

Glacier hiking is another great year-round excursion that you shouldn’t miss in Iceland.

These are the best glacier walking tours from Reykjavik:

These popular glacier hiking tours start directly at the glacier and are therefore a bit cheaper:

All seasons
Departs from Reykjavik, Sólheimajökull Café (25 min drive from Vik) or Skaftafell NP.

In addition to glacier hiking, you can also visit ice caves, but those tours only run in winter (+- November to March). Here are the best options:

Winter only
Departs from Skaftafell NP.

LEARN MORE: Complete guide to glacier hiking in Iceland

Glacier hiking guides in Iceland
Glacier hiking
 

11. Lake Mývatn and Dettifoss Waterfall

One of the most beautiful and must-see places in the North of Iceland is the area around Lake Myvatn. You can visit it by car, or you can join a guided tour from Akureyri. There are also tours that combine Lake Myvatn with Dettifoss waterfall.

All seasons
Departs from Akureyri (North Iceland)

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Myvatn

Lake Myvatn - most popular day tour in Northern Iceland
Lake Myvatn – most popular destination in Northern Iceland
 

12. Icelandic Highlands

If you visit Iceland in summer, don’t miss the chance to see the highlands of Iceland! It’s a whole other world and completely different than anything else you’ll see in Iceland. 

You do need a super-jeep to properly explore the highlands, so it’s ideal if you can visit with a local guide. Other most popular trips in the highlands include Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar.

Here are the best Icelandic highlands tours:

Recently, I made a 4-day trip Icelandic highlands trip with a private driver and it’s by far the most special trip EVER.

If you don’t have the time or the budget for a longer trip, check this one-day trip from Reykjavik that covers some of the most amazing places in the highlands: The Secret Circle. It’s organized by the same private guide that I traveled with and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone looking for a very unique tour in Iceland!

Summer only
Departs from Reykjavik

Haifoss waterfall in Iceland's highlands
Haifoss waterfall in the highlands of Iceland
 

13. More amazing day trips and tours in Iceland

There are so many more amazing tours and day trips that you can do in Iceland. Here are a few of the most popular options:

All seasons, unless indicated otherwise
Departs from Reykjavik, unless indicated otherwise 

So this is my hand-picked selection of the very best tours in Iceland. There are of course many more options, also tours that combine several places, or multi-day tours… You can find the complete selection of the best tours in Iceland on the GetYourGuide website. It’s our one-stop-shop for booking all our tours when we travel.

TIP: If you are looking for something more off the beaten path, a really special place that you can visit in a day, consider the Westman Islands. It can be done as a day trip from Reykjavik, with a tour, or from the South Coast.

For more information and destination guides for Iceland, please check our Iceland travel guide. We’ve been to Iceland multiple times and have lots of articles and practical tips for your trip. Take a look!

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Most popular guided tours, day trips and excursions in Iceland in spring, summer and autumn
Best tours, excursions, and day trips in Iceland
 

Photo credits: personal collection, Shutterstock.com, Depositphotos.com, and also Pixabay.com.

Best guided tours and day trips in Iceland

Comments

  1. Hello Jurga,
    Extremely detailed, well-thought-out and useful information and suggestions!! Thank you so much for your time and effort.
    We (my wife and I) are trying to piece together the flights and campervan rental to visit this September roughly from the 10th to the 16/17th.
    Anyway, we are flying out to different locations and I would leave at 09:00h and she at 18:45h from KEF. I was wondering if you knew of any guided day tours leaving from (and returning to) KEF so my wife might make the most of those roughly 7-8 hours she would otherwise be sitting around the airport for.
    Alternatively we could look at paying a supplement for a second driver and she could drive herself somewhere for the day/lunch… but would rather not have to worry about any troubles with the vehicle or getting lost and missing the flight. A guided tour or bus tour with KEF as the starting/finishing point would be less stress. I’m looking online now but figured asking may be quicker than sifting through all the search results.
    Again many thanks for your wonderful website!!
    Saludos from Spain.

    1. Author

      Hi Brad, there isn’t much starting/ending from Keflavik, but here are three options for you:

      1. Reykjaness Peninsula stopover tour – this is the only one that I found that starts and ends at Keflavik airport. It starts at 10.30AM if I see well and lasts 6 hours, so it could work. It’s also a very nice and less known area that most tourists just start to slowly discover now.

      2. You could drop your wife off at the Blue Lagoon (book tickets in advance!). There she can also have lunch, spa treatments, etc. if she wants to and then take a bus to the airport (also book in advance) later that afternoon.

      3. You leave her in Reykjavik where she can spend the day in town and maybe visit Perlan (we really enjoyed it) and then take a bus to Keflavik from BSI terminal (where she could also leave her luggage – there are lockers).

      PS depending on what kind of camper you are looking to rent, check Lagoon Car Rental website.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks so much Jurga, option 1 would fit the bill perfectly! Awesome

  2. All of your articles have been very helpful in planning my trip, thank you! You recommend the “Get your Guide” agency for several of your tours. Do they typically list available times only one month in advance? On some of the tours there seem to be no options from august through next year. Just trying to make sure I don’t miss the boat (literally)!

    1. Author

      Hi Beth, normally they list tours for the upcoming season (just as the companies that operate those tours), so it’s very likely that some tours don’t run in winter and are therefore not listed (e.g. whale watching tours in the North of Iceland stop after the summer, etc). What tour and for which travel dates are you looking for?

  3. Can you book tours you suggested after you arrive or is it best to book in advance?

    1. Author

      Yes, of course you can book them last minute, but depending on the season some tours may get fully booked. If you know already what you want to do and on which day, I’d say book upfront. If for whatever reason you decide you don’t want to do a tour, you can normally cancel for free up to 24hrs in advance.
      Another big advantage of booking in advance online vs e.g. at a hotel is that you can read the customer reviews, compare prices and see what exactly is or isn’t included, etc. And not have to waste your time on that while on holiday.

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