We will have a car and are using Reykjavík as home base. We’d like to see the beautiful natural wonders and have read a lot about tours. We’d prefer to go it alone but wondering-is it challenging to do Golden Circle etc without a tour? What are pros and cons?
Iceland is an incredibly easy country to see on your own! The ring road goes straight around the island...there is absolutely no way to get lost! All of the natural attractions are well marked including the Golden Circle, the various waterfalls, beaches, and anything else you may want to see from the ring road.
If you are interested in soaking in natural hot springs there are apps you can download onto your phone that will show you where they are.
The nice thing about having a car is that you can avoid the crowds and tour buses by getting up early and being places before they start arriving around 10.
I found driving there to be fairly easy...we were there the first week of April. Just download an offline map and you're good to go! The weather and the wind were challenging but I'm used to driving in icy conditions. What time of year do you plan to visit? I have a friend there right now and it's windy and rainy but the weather changes so frequently that there is no way to predict how it might be while you are there. Like our walking tour guide in Reykjavik said, "There is no bad weather in Iceland. Just bad clothes and bad attitudes!"
I have said a lot about this in some other replies if you want to look for info. I would not want to backtrack every day to the same city. We stayed two nights in each spot so that we could see more. Next time, I would even do some one night stays so I bactrack even less. We used AirBnbs and they were clean and provided kitchens as well, which saved on eating out. We stayed 4 nights and had basically 5 days there. Flight, car rental, gas, lodging, and food or dining, totaled 1600 each. I spent that much going to Disney for the same amount of time. Iceland was so much better. I went the first week of June.
We were in Iceland in mid-June. Arrived after a busy week in London, and then went to the Blue Lagoon until late that night. The next day we didn't get on the road to the Golden Circle until almost noon, which I thought would be disastrous. We took the longer scenic route described in the new RS Iceland book, and passed no buses, and maybe only 3 cars, on the drive to Pingviller! Driving is so easy. The roads are only two-lanes. The biggest problem is so much beautiful scenery and almost no scenic pull-outs! I really can't think of any reason to be stuck on a big bus.