Many opt to go on Iceland’s private tours during their trip to the island. This can be for a variety of reasons. But will a private tour in Iceland suit your needs and requirements, and budget?
In this article, we give you the lowdown on what you can expect from private tours in Iceland, so you can make an informed decision.
The Benefits of Taking a Private Tour in Iceland
Taking a private tour vs a guided group tour in Iceland has plenty of benefits:
You Have a Bit of Flexibility
A private tour in Iceland is probably the closest you’ll get to the type of flexibility and autonomy that a self-drive gives you. That’s because the guide doesn’t need to take an entire group of individuals into account, leaving some leeway to customize the tour around you and your specific needs.
You Don’t Have Any Responsibilities
There’s a reason why so many opt for an all-inclusive holiday, and it’s no different when it comes to booking a private tour. Suddenly, you don’t have to worry about organizing transport, booking tickets for attractions, etc. A private tour allows you to hand over the reins to the pros and just relax and enjoy your vacation.
You Get Added Personal Attention
This is easy to do when you don’t need to take care of a larger and more diverse group of people. During a private tour, the guide’s only focus is on you and your party.
You Can Avoid Crowds
Is there anything worse than being forced into an experience with a bunch of strangers? Private tours allow you to give all of that a skip. Some private tours also have extra perks and can get you exclusive viewings etc. meaning that you won’t need to contend with any other tour groups whilst at the specific site or attraction.
You Learn More About the Local Culture
If you’re the only party the guide needs to take care of and the only party that gets to ask questions, you’ll be walking away with an incredible amount of knowledge by the end of your private tour. This is also where a tour benefits you much more than a self-drive – a brochure or tourist guidebook can only give you so much information, and will never compare with that of an experienced local.
How Much Does a Private Tour in Iceland Cost?
Typically, the cost for a 2-day private tour is between $2,000-$3,000. Private tour costs depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- the length of the tour
- the number of attractions/sites you’ll be visiting
- the number of people in the group
- the time of year
Most Popular Private Tour Destinations in Iceland
If you are thinking of going the private tour route, the following are some of the most popular routes/destinations to visit here on the island:
The Golden Circle is a popular route here on the island. It’s a loop road that totals 300 kilometers and starts at the capital city of Reykjavík and runs into the southern uplands and back. The Golden Circle makes for some of the best private tours in Iceland because of the many attractions that can be found all along the route. These include popular stops such as Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.
The south coast is yet another popular area to discover here on the island and offers incredible sightings such as waterfalls, glaciers, and some of Iceland’s most famous black sand beaches. Exploring the south coast is a good option when it comes to private guided tours in Iceland.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon can be found in the south of Iceland and offers visitors a magical experience. The lagoon is filled with floating icebergs that are breaking off from the massive glacier, and seals drifting on sheets of ice are a regular sight here.
To experience all this up close and personal, you can have your guide organize going on one of the boat tours of the lagoon that will get you within touching distance of the icebergs and the glacier. This remains one of the most-loved private day tours in Iceland.
Vatnajokull National Park
Vatnajokull National Park is the biggest national park here on the island and offers a variety of interesting sights and attractions, one of which is the Vatnajokull Glacier which inspired the name of the park and that is the largest glacier in Europe. Here you can have your pick of activities and visit must-see spots such as exploring the ice caves (this is a seasonal activity though and can only be done during the colder months of the year), Svartifoss Waterfall, various hiking trails, and much, much more.
Different Types of Private Tours Available in Iceland
The following are some of the most popular types of private tours in Iceland:
With an incredible landscape and interesting contrasting terrain such as Iceland’s, it’s no surprise that you will find a wide variety of hiking trails all across the country. These range in difficulty level and length; from easy all the way to challenging, and from day outings to multi-day treks.
Another interesting offering that falls under the hiking tours in Iceland is going glacier hiking. Whilst it’s possible to go hiking in Iceland without booking a private tour, glacier hiking is exclusive to guided tours due to safety concerns.
This is for those who wish to get the blood pumping and enjoys getting the heart racing. If you don’t want to go hike a glacier, you can always opt to cruise the frozen landscape on a snowmobile. Once again, a tour is the only way you’ll get to do this due to safety concerns.
Whale Watching Tours
You will find whales all along the Icelandic coast all year round, but if you want to level up on your whale watching, you should go on a whale watching tour during our official whale watching season between April and early October. During the whale season, we have all sorts of migratory whale species that also make the island their home. You can spot the most interesting species and watch spectacular water acrobatics from these gentle ocean beasts.
Some of the species you might be able to spot include Minke Whales, Orcas, Sperm Whales, and even the largest whale species on earth – the Blue Whale. You can go on whale watching tours all along the coast including the capital city of Reykjavik, but if you’re serious about your whale watching in Iceland, we recommend that you go on a whale watching tour in Husavik (the whale capital of Iceland) or Akureyri where an abundance of marine life tends to draw a lot of whales.
Northern Lights Tours
Going on a Northern Lights private tour in Iceland is quite the experience. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a famous natural phenomenon that can be spotted here on the island. Bright neon-colored lights dance across the sky like colorful serpents. But these lights only appear under very specific conditions, which makes it hard to find for the laymen.
That’s why many hand over the responsibility to the pros that know exactly when and where to go Northern Lights spotting. The Northern Lights also need darkness to appear and is therefore also a seasonal activity.
You won’t be able to spot the lights during summer, when daylight hours can sometimes be more than 22 hours a day. If you want to go Northern Lights hunting, we recommend that you plan your trip for during one of the colder months of the year that has much fewer daylight hours.
How to Book a Private Tour in Iceland
There are a variety of ways that one can book a private tour in Iceland. And when you are planning on visiting during our busy summer season, we highly recommend that you book your tour well in advance to avoid disappointment. You can book your private tour by:
Contacting a Tour Operator Directly
There are many tour operators here on the island and most of them have their details online. Simply look up the tour guide or tour package that suits you best and give them a call or pop them an email to book.
Use a Travel Agent
If you don’t want the responsibility of all that planning, you can hand over the job to a travel agent. These guys work with the tour guides and operators here on the island every day and will know exactly which will work best for what you have in mind for your trip. Another added benefit is that the travel agents are sometimes privy to special discounts and specials that the rest of us mere mortals are not.
Some tour operators and guides actually allow you to make a booking on their website, whilst others can be found on various booking platforms such as Viator and GetYourGuide. Booking a private tour in Iceland online is definitely the fastest and most convenient.
FAQs About Private Tours in Iceland
Below, you will find the answers to some of your most frequently asked questions regarding private tours in Iceland:
What is the Cancellation Policy?
This will depend on the tour operator or guide. Most will allow you to cancel a booking a month before your date of departure without keeping you liable for the full costs. Others will only allow for a change of date, but no refunds. And others will charge a standard cancellation fee, irrespective of when you cancel your booking.
We highly recommend that you check what your specific tour operator or guide’s cancellation policy is before you get stuck with paying for an experience you’re not able to have.
What are the Payment Options?
This is also heavily reliant on the tour operator or guide. Many will at least require a deposit upon booking, with full payment required at least a week before the tour is set to commence. Others will require full payment before your booking is confirmed.
Depending on how you choose to book, payment can form part of a once-off payment to a travel agent, can be done via credit card on a website or booking platform, or will require a bank transfer to the tour operator/guide.
What is the Recommended Time of Year to Take a Private Tour in Iceland?
This will solely rely on what your preferences are and what you have on your Iceland bucket list. For example, if you’re not in the mood for crowds, you better steer clear of the island during our busy peak season summer months. If you’re someone that doesn’t do well in the cold, we highly recommend that you give our winter season a skip.
If you want to experience a Midnight Sun, you won’t get to do that if you visit the island during the wintertime, just like your chances of spotting the Northern Lights is almost zero during the summertime in Iceland. If you are unsure of when the best time of year to take a private tour in Iceland will be for you, we suggest that you have a chat with your travel agent, tour operator, or guide to give you some guidance.
Iceland’s Private Tours; a Time to Relax and Soak Up the Knowledge
Going on one of Iceland’s private tours means that you have an experienced and knowledgable pro showing you the ropes, and you don’t need to worry about all the nitty-gritty that goes into an outing. A private tour is your chance to relax and soak up all the knowledge that comes your way.