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South Coast, Golden Circle, Horses, Spa?

My time is limited, just 2.5 days end of Aug. So much to see and do and trying to choose.
Ride the Horses
Sky Lagoon
Food tour
Walking tour
Golden Circle
South Coast
A few things can be combined, like the Golden Circle with either the Sky Lagoon or the riding.
The food tour and walking tour are the lowest priority, but need something to do in the evenings. My flight arrives at 08:30 from Frankfurt on a Mon. and leaves on Wed. at 10:30, so time is rushed. Staying out on the pennisula near the beach, so not going to try and see the polar lights unless for some reason they show up in Aug. and then can just walk down to the beach.

if you had to choose or if you have been on both tours - Golden Circle and South Coast, which is better or should I try and go on both of them?

Posted by
2231 posts

Just an FYI, the food tour and the walking tours are both excellent. We have done the walking tour on two trips since we had our adult kids with us and they had not done it before. The food tour is great as you get to sample some of the wonderful restaurants in town and of course it is all local food

What peninsula are you staying on? There are several, so without knowing that I can't really answer the rest of your questions.

Yes, the northern lights top make their appearance at times at the end of August, so keep an eye on several aurora apps to see how the odds are for that.

Our trip next month will be our 5th trip to Iceland. We have done both the golden circle and south coast several times. I would do the south coast tour over the GC tour in a heartbeat. Just better scenery and far less crowded. Although, this summer is record tourism numbers, so everything will be busy. The south coast has been totally sold out for lodging through mid September, and the articles that Iceland put out about this were over a month ago. Most people book their lodging and excursions close to a year in advance. So with all that said, expect everywhere around Reykjavik, the GC and the south coast to be very busy.

Honestly, I would probably skip the Golden Circle and do the south coast and Snaefellsness. Day tours for each. That would give you the most variety for a short amount of time.

Sky Lagoon is wonderful, we have done it twice. Don't forget the local pools though. We went to Sundhollin as it was about 2 blocks from our hotel and we loved it. They open early and stay open late, and it is very inexpensive, about $8 US dollars per person. They have lockers, and even a swim suit spinner. Bring your own towel or rent one.

Posted by
2506 posts

I really loved my food tour with Your Friend in Reykjavik and they offer late afternoon/evening tours on Monday (you didn't say exact dates, but they have openings on both Aug. 22 and 29 at 3, 4, and 5 pm). They essentially cover the same ground as many of the walking tours but you get food! I was lucky enough to have the guide to myself (I was there in late October). I think you could easily get to central Reykjavik by early afternoon, stroll around to most of the big sites, take the early evening food tour, and waddle back to your lodgings (I was soooo full after).

On Tuesday I'd suggest Golden Circle combined with riding or the lagoon. I loved my South Coast trip but it ate up the entirety of the day (you don't have that kind of time) and the Golden Circle has a great variety of sites in one day. The day trips for most companies leave from the main bus station and as I recall departed pretty early (8-ish) from downtown Reykjavik. In any case that would use up your entire Tuesday.

On your departure day, if I'm understanding where you're staying, you'll be closer to the airport than town, so I'd find something near where you're staying to entertain you.

Posted by
9038 posts

Thanks for the suggestions and links. Have dropped the riding as they ask you to be able to mount and dismount without any help and after my experience last year riding a horse on the Camino for 2 hours, that is not possible for me. I need help. Makes me sad, but that is what happens when you get old. I can walk all day, but getting on a horse is tough.

Plan now is to do a walking tour and food tour on the Sunday in the afternoon and evening, since I arrive early morning. Monday and Tuesday, I can do the South Coast all day and the next day do the Golden Circle with the visit to the Sky Lagoon. Wed. morning, I need to leave really early as my flight is at 10:00.

Now, to decide which walking tour - City Walk or Vikings and which food tour. Any personal recommendations? They are highly recommended.

Posted by
2231 posts

The Citywalk “free” walking tour is who we used both times. It is very good. You can only book about a week in advance and they sell out quickly, even in the off season. The food tour we did was the original. Wake Up Reykjavik is where we booked. We absolutely loved it.

Posted by
9038 posts

I just got back, late this afternoon and had a really fantastic time. The weather was so perfect! Will write a trip report sometime in the next few days and list the names of the tour companies I used, and all the fabulous spots we visited.
Thanks for all the suggestions. It was a wonderful 3 days and way too short. Oh, and got to see the Northern lights from my BnB window one night.

Posted by
33305 posts

I just noticed you had left - the youtube video from Frankfurt on Foot - and now you're back. Time Traveller!

Posted by
10395 posts

I loved all your photos and am looking forward to your trip report. I need to figure out how to work Iceland into a trip.

Posted by
4330 posts

Also interesting about the horses. I can ride just fine and dismount but that getting on with these knees is sometimes difficult depending on the horse height!

Glad you had a marvelous time and that the northern lights made an appearance!

Posted by
2231 posts

Glad you had a wonderful time! I look forward to reading more about it, and I would love to see photos:)

I was supposed to have TKR yesterday actually ,but the day before we left for our trip my surgeon called and it was delayed. Anyway, while on the trip we did go horse back riding one morning. I told our guide that I would have trouble getting up and well as down, and since the Icelandic horses are smaller, it wasn't too bad, thankfully! No way could I have done it with horses here! So happy that you saw the northern lights!

Posted by
720 posts

Just to clarify, you arrive at the airport in Keflavik at 8:30 a.m. on Monday and your flight leaves at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday? That's just barely two days, not 2.5 days.

The tours of Golden Circle and South Coast leave from Reykjavik, which is 45 minutes from the airport, and you probably won't get to Reykjavik until late morning. Most leave earlier in the morning, especially to the south coast which is a long drive. So you'd have to do that tour on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday morning you'll be working your way back to the airport.

Posted by
9038 posts

To clarify, I am back from my short trip and yes, I had 2.5, almost 3 days to tour. When I arrived, rode the bus into town. Walked around the city, went up in the church tower and then did a food tour from 1500 to 1800, then I checked in. My back pack was light enough to carry the whole day. Did the South Coast all day Mon. and the Golden Circle that included a visit to some horses, the Tomato Farm and ending with Sky Lagoon all day Tues.

Posted by
720 posts

Ms. Jo, so glad that you had a good time. Sorry I missed your actual dates of travel. Now that your appetite has been whetted, are you planning your return to Iceland? We've been three times already LOL.

Posted by
9038 posts

Trip Report is finally posted. Hope you enjoy it. Would love to return to Iceland again. This was a quick trip, but packed as much in as possible on my 2.5 days.
Thanks for all of the suggestions.

Posted by
10 posts

Where would someone find this trip report? I'd like to read it. I'm new to the forum and don't know all the ends and outs. How far in advance would someone need to reserve a horse ride? I'm driving the ring road and don't want to rush myself to be some place at a specific day/ time. Can it be scheduled the day before? I'm traveling in October. Thanks.