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South Coast and Jokulsarlon on Day Tour from Reykjavik

I am traveling solo to Iceland and will be in Iceland for a week. I am not renting a car and was planning on doing day tours from Reykjavik. Day tours are not my usual way of traveling, but cost and scenery-wise, I've decided this is the best way for me to see Iceland. I know some might say to travel and stay along the South Coast but since this is somewhat of a last minute trip, accommodations were difficult to get outside of Reykjavik. I currently have an AirBnb for my entire visit in Reykjavik so changing that is not an option.

My main concern is whether this is too much to do as a day trip. A couple guide books (Lonely Planet, Rick Steves) advise against doing this in one day. So my options are: do as a day trip anyway, do as a 2 day trip which also starts/stops from Reykjavik (I will have to pay lodging for 2 different places for that one night), or save this for a future trip to Iceland and replace it with just the South Coast day tour.

I have read a couple reviews on TripAdvisor from folks who have actually done the day trip to the South Coast and Jokulsarlon Lagoon. I was planning on doing this trip using Extreme Iceland/Arctic Adventures which combines the South Coast waterfalls/black sand beaches/basalt columns with the lagoon. It is a on a minibus and is a full 15 to 16 hour tour.

So, am I crazy for doing this in one day? Are the minibuses comfortable for that period of time? Will my back and bottom be angry at me (lol)? For people who have done this, how was it? Is there a side of the bus that is better to sit on for this trip? (this may not matter as we will be going as well as coming back so I assume I will have the same seat the whole time).

The other possibility is I do a 2 day/overnight trip with Extreme Iceland or Nicetravel. Obviously I will be paying an extra fee for lodging for that one night (my AirBnb is for the week), but it may be a small price to pay for this excursion. Thoughts on which touring company to use? Thoughts on whether this is a better way to see this although it is the same back/forth to Reyjavik but done in two days and not one.

The last option is to just do the South Coast and save the lagoon for another trip to Iceland, but my next Iceland trip is currently not in the foreseeable future.

Thoughts from locals on doing this in one day would be much appreciated too! I also plan to post this on the TripAdvisor forum.

Thanks in advance for any feedback received from fellow forum members!

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
981 posts

We are a family group of 7 and are also deciding between the two. Problem is that we plan to be there at the end of December and the days will be short. Thinking of the 1 day tour. Both are very costly and, as you pointed out, we still have to pay for the night at the apartment we rented in Reykjavik if we take the 2 day tour, but there will probably not be another trip to Iceland.

I'll follow this post and also on TripAdvisor and hopefully we can get some good advice from others!

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
981 posts

Thanks! We're leaning towards the one day. The cost is just too great for the 2 day as we are 2 grandparents, 1 unmarried son, and 1 son, D-I-L, with 2 teenage girls. But, who knows, we may still change our minds. Seven nights is 6 days. With New Year's Eve in the middle and wanting to do two trips, this one and the Golden Circle, that's 3 long days. We need to spread them out so we can rest in between. Agree with you also that we (Mr & I) don't usually have a problem planning.

Looking forward to hearing how your trip went!

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
912 posts

We are in Iceland now - we have a home exchange in Reykjavik and did a 2 night trip to the south coast. We left day 1, stopped at Seljandsfoss and Skogar, then arrived in Vik and did a glacier walk with the guide at our hotel (Volcano hotel).

The 2nd day, we did a super truck tour in the morning, then drive to ice lagoon and did a boat trip there, and then back to Vik.

Day 3, did black sand beach in morning, and drove back to Reykjavik and stopped at Lava Center.

It was me, husband, 2 teen boys.

I think you could do it all in one big day trip if you aren;t the one driving. The weather when we were there was not terrific - not sure it is good very often honestly - and it is a LOT of driving through NOTHINGNESS. And I mean NOTHING. I think maybe if it's not so foggy and wet it's a little better looking, but honestly, it was not very scenic (except for the places you stop for sights). But for us, the weather was bad, the sights were not as scenic as I thought, but still pretty cool.

Anyway, I think you are ok either way. But I would want to DO something at the stops, glacier walk, or ride the boat in the lagoon... I think just driving and stopping to look at them isn't that exciting (especially if the weather is bad). Having a guide would be good because they probably provide you some information on the long stretches of driving.

Either way, I think you are ok with one or two days! The ice lagoon was the coolest thing on the south coast though, in my opinion.

I am keeping a blog, feel free to look!
https://onatangentweb.wordpress.com/category/iceland-2018/

Kim

Posted by HeidiK OP
31 posts

Kim - great advice! I do agree that weather must always be an issue in Iceland even in summer. I think one is super lucky to get sun. Of course, all of the photos are always shown in sun.....marketing, every country is guilty of it, and I certainly hope I get some days of sun or of no rain.

Carol and others,

I booked my trip last minute (2 weeks between booking my air and actually going on the trip with no hotel/itinerary plans defined). Crazy, yes I know, but fun none the less.

Perhaps a mistake, I booked an AirBnb for a week in Reykjavik thinking I was only doing day trips as I was traveling solo. Then I started doing some intensive research and questioned that decision, but it is working for me as renting a car would be expensive for one person and places at small towns outside of the capital were booked or super expensive due to my last minute planning.

I decided to extend my trip to Iceland from 6 full days to 9 full days only to do the 2 day South Coast/Jokularson trip. This kept me from doing a day trip there and, for a 2 day trip, from paying for the same night twice in my original one week plan (night at AirBnb and night on tour). Again, I am traveling solo. If I was traveling with a family or a friend, I would rent a car and I would do the trip in two days.

In your situation, I would not recommend doing the one day tour to Jokularson. In July or August, I would say yes, but not December. Mind you I am in no way an expert, nor have I ever been there. I am basing my opinions on people who live there or who have traveled there (I've privately asked several other TA tourists to give more info on their recent trips). Note, in winter, the boat to see the lagoon is not available and most of the drive is in the dark. The reason I was waffling (aka torturing myself) was because it is quite doable to do it in one long day trip in July.

As an aside, I have added the Landmannalauger Big Wheels trip to my itinerary (which also includes other day trips.) My itinerary is now full and I am excited about going there.

To my Icelandic friends, I apologize in advance of not knowing how to put the vowel markings in my post. l also acknowledge, the majority of what I am recommending is from others opinions and experience.

Enjoy and thanks everyone.

I can also post within the next month my thoughts on the Jokulsarlon trip as I will have completed my trip by then.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
981 posts

Thanks for your info and advice, HeidiK. Our reason for the South Coast tour is to do an ice cave tour which is only available in the winter. We're weighing the cost of the 2-day trip which also involves a lot of hours in the dark or semi-dark but has more stops vs the 1-day trip which has fewer stops but is almost half the cost. We hope to decide in the next week or two so we can reserve as it seems these fill up fairly quickly.

Looking forward to reading about your trip and thanks again for your help!