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 and day trips 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 the ‘must-see’ places are and what to expect. In addition, you can find a comprehensive selection of other popular things to do in Iceland in case you have more time in this beautiful country.
Most of these tours and guided trips are available the whole year round, some others are seasonal. Many of these can be visited as a day trip from Reykjavik, but some tours depart from other locations. In this article you can find my hand-picked selection of the best tours in Iceland for all seasons, but more focused on spring, summer, and autumn.
- If you are interested in winter tours (northern lights, ice caves, snowmobile tours, etc), check my previous post where I highlighted 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 suggestions from one day to two weeks. Even if you are exploring Iceland by car, you may still want to look into booking a wildlife watching excursion, visit the Blue Lagoon, etc.
Most tours I selected here are bookable through GetYourGuide – our no. 1 choice when it comes to booking guided tours and excursions for our trips. The reason is simple – they have 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 ‘trip’ booked in Iceland is the airport transfer to Reykjavik. With taxis charging ten times the price of the bus, I strongly recommend you book a bus transfer as well.
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 best options:
- Golden Circle Full-Day Grand Tour from Reykjavik
- Full Day Premium Golden Circle Tour by Minibus
- Golden Circle Afternoon Tour
- Secret Lagoon Early Access & Golden Circle: Full-Day Tour
Blue Lagoon and Secret Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is an outdoor geothermal spa close to Reykjavik and Keflavik airport. It is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. Blue Lagoon is located 30min drive from Reykjavik city centre, so unless you have a car it’s best to book tickets that include the bus transfer from Reykjavik.
There’s also another less touristy (and cheaper) geothermal pool near Reykjavik – Secret Lagoon.
South Coast: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Vik,..
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. 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 tours:
- South Coast Classic: Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik. This tour is the best option for families: kids under 12 travel free and 12-15 year olds pay half price.
- South of Iceland Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik
- Iceland’s South Coast Day Tour by Minibus. This tour is a bit more expensive, but traveling in small group has many benefits.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and the adjacent Diamond Beach is my favourite place in Iceland. However, it’s located quite far from Reykjavik and requires a full day trip with many hours of driving if you decide to visit it in one day. I wouldn’t advise to do this trip in just one day unless you are really short on time. But if you only have one 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.
As a matter of fact, 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:
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik
- South Coast & Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon (includes boat tour May-Sep)
Another long day trip from Reykjavik, a visit to Snæfellsnes Peninsula is an unforgettable experience. Here are some of the best options:
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Private Day Tour from Reykjavik. Private tour for families and groups from 2 up to 15 people.
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. And the best place to see whales is up North.
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, this tour seems to be the most popular and has the best ratings. It’s also one of the most affordable options that I found.
Husavik (1h15 driving from Akureyri)
- Arctic Whale Watching. This tour includes sea angling, demonstration how to cut and cook fresh fish, and tasting some freshly baked fish at the end.
Puffin watching 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:
- Puffin Watching Boat Tour
- Combo: Puffin Cruise & Whale-Watching Tour
- Small-Group Puffin Watching RIB Cruise
- Húsavík Whale Watching and Puffins
- Húsavík: Original Big Whale Safari & Puffin Island Tour by RIB speed boat
Silfra snorkelling 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.
Best combination tours that include Silfra Snorkelling:
- Golden Circle & Silfra Snorkeling Small Group Tour
- Reykjavik Combo Snorkel in Silfra Fissure & Lava Caving
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.
- From Reykjavik 2,5hrs Horse Riding Tour
- From Reykjavik: Full-Day Viking Horseback Riding Tour
- Hafnarfjordur: Icelandic Horse Riding Tour in Lava Fields (3-4 hrs)
- Family Adventure Horse Riding (30min) – Hafnarfjordur
Glacier hiking is another great year-round excursion that you shouldn’t miss in Iceland. Here you can find our complete guide to glacier hiking in Iceland. And below is a selection of the best glacier walking tours.
- Glacier Hiking from Reykjavik
- Combo: Glacier Hiking and Ice Climbing Tour
- Combo: Small Group South Coast Tour & Glacier Hike
These popular glacier tours start directly at the glacier and are therefore a bit cheaper:Vik) or Skaftafell NP (between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon).
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.
- Day Trip to Lake Mývatn and Powerful Dettifoss
- Day Trip to Lake Mývatn And The Nature Baths
- Myvatn Nature Baths
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 here.
Please note that this post was published in January 2018 and while all information was accurate at the time of publishing, it’s always possible that some tours don’t run anymore. If you happen to click on a link that doesn’t work, please let me know by posting a reply below and I will do my best to find the best alternative option for the tour.
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