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2 full days in Iceland doing small group tours with exceptional guide

We arrive off a Celebrity cruise ship on Friday 8/16. We depart from the international airport on Sunday 8/18.

We would like to take a tour of the Golden Circle in the morning and the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon.
The 2nd day we would like to take a tour that gets us to the best spots in the South Coast.

We are seeking advice on the following:

1) The best hotel location to do these two-day trips.
2) Is there a hotel along the ocean between Reykjavik downtown and the airport that is also possible to be picked up for our two tours?
3) is it better for us to do the Southcoast tour on D1 (after we get off the Cruise ship) or do the Golden Circle/Blue lagoon on Day 1?
4) Do we need to be in Reykjavik downtown to catch the tours (Golden Circle & South Coast)? Or can a tour co pick us up at our hotel?
5) If we a tour right after we get off the ship where can we put our bags during the tour on Day 1?
6) We prefer tours will less people on them. What are the best small group tour companies with great guides?
7) on the South Coast Tour what are the most important things we need to do?

Please give me recommendations.

Steven Cade
7608224529
[email protected]

Posted by
76 posts

Since you provided your email, I will send you a recommendation for the tour company I used via email. But the name of the company is Reykjavik Erupts.

I am not sure if Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon on the same day are really possible. That's a lot of driving. Depending on what time your flight is on Sunday, you might consider Golden Circle one day, South Coast the next, and Blue Lagoon before you fly out. They open pretty early.

To quickly answer your questions.

1) The best hotel location to do these two-day trips. It seems like most tours pick up in Reykjavik. When I was there, I stayed in Hotel Borg and loved it. But I know most of the other hotels have pickups too.
2) Is there a hotel along the ocean between Reykjavik downtown and the airport that is also possible to be picked up for our two tours? I didn't remember seeing anything (or the ones I did see were close enough to Reykjavik that you might as well look in Reykjavik).
3) is it better for us to do the Southcoast tour on D1 (after we get off the Cruise ship) or do the Golden Circle/Blue lagoon on Day 1? See my answer above.
4) Do we need to be in Reykjavik downtown to catch the tours (Golden Circle & South Coast)? Or can a tour co pick us up at our hotel? Most of the tours pick up in Reykjavik, but a private tour might be willing to pick you up at other places.
5) If we a tour right after we get off the ship where can we put our bags during the tour on Day 1? You might be able to store them with the hotel or they might be room on the touring vehicle, but you would want to check with the company you use.
6) We prefer tours will less people on them. What are the best small group tour companies with great guides? I only know of the one private company I mentioned above and the larger tour groups. I am like you and prefer smaller groups. I am planning a return trip myself and I noticed Arctic Adventures offers some small group tours.
7) on the South Coast Tour what are the most important things we need to do? That's up to you. Personally, I loved the Black Sand Beach the most Reynisfjara or maybe the secret waterfall Gljúfrabúi. but my mom liked Seljalandsfoss.

Posted by
2252 posts

we have been to Iceland many times and will be back again soon:)

You can easily do the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon in the same day, as long as your arrival is in the morning. Otherwise you can still do it, but you may need to cut your time at the various sights.

Tours pick up at hotels only in Reykjavik unless you have a special arrangement. Mostly though, those are only for private tours.

Save the south coast tour for your full day as that one takes considerably more time.

The tour companies pick up in Reykjavik at certain bus stops. They will ask you which hotel you are staying at and will tell you what the closest bus stop to your hotel is.

We have used Troll.is for tours and I highly recommend them. They are very professional, have small buses (about 16 people) and the guides are great. One year we were doing a 2 day tour with them, but a storm came in and the 2nd day was cancelled. They way they handled everything and the communication was just perfect. They did as much as possible on that one day, and then they processed the refund for the second day immediately. That sold us on them, and we have used them on several return trips.

As for the south coast tour and what you need to do, that is totally subjective. Do you want one that you do an ice cave or glacier hike, for instance? Look at the tours and what they all offer, and then decide what looks best to you. The good thing with Iceland is, you can't go wrong as there is so much to see and do everywhere. Just never enough time.

Posted by
2252 posts

Forgot one thing. The best hotel location for tours to pick you up is pretty much anywhere in the 101 post code. We have stayed at many places in Reykjavik and never had an issue with pick up locations.

FYI, people usually book lodging in Iceland about 9-12 months in advance, so you are really late to the game. If you find an acceptable place, book it asap. My husband will be there in July and August, and I booked his lodging back in December, to give you an idea.

Posted by
2 posts

Our ship arrives to the port at 5:30am on Friday 8/16 and I suspect we will be off the ship by 7-8am.

We will drop our bags at our hotel and then can catch the Golden Circle + Blue Lagoon tour.

Actually, a lot of hotels have availability right now but it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. And also a good location for the shuttle, downtown and not too far from the port. If you can recommend a few hotels that are 4-star & up please do so.

Now contacting small group tour companies for the above two tours.

Thanks to all for your help.

Steve Cade

Posted by
2252 posts

We don't stay at 4 star places normally, and that really isn't an Icelandic thing. We have enjoyed great stays at 4th Floor Hotel, Hotel Fron, Center Hotel Laugarvegur, and Center Hotel Midgardur. Some of these more than once.

Posted by
6101 posts

I had a great stay at the 4th floor hotel and would stay there again but definitely not 4 star.

Posted by
2147 posts

We spent several days in Iceland August 2023 after disembarking a cruise. We used Nice Travel for a full day tour of the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon & Kerid Volcano. Excellent guide, highly recommend. We stayed downtown at the Canopy Hilton and found it to be a good location for tours, restaurants, and sites. Have fun!