Is there a bus company that stands out? We will need a ride from and back to the airport as well as tours of the Golden Circle and South Island.
Rick mentions https://guidetoiceland.is in his Iceland book --a for-profit consolidator of numerous trips. He also mentions Reykjavik Excursions and Grey Lines for short trips. There are probably others if you Google it.
I had a wonderful time with BusTravel Iceland. I was on small bus tours of about 10 people--once to the South Coast, and one to the Golden Circle. I was the only American in each of the tours I took (mostly the group was Canadian and German), but the tour guides were wonderful, funny, and deeply knowledgeable. At one point when a sudden violent rain/hailstorm made the roads unsafe, our driver paused for 20 minutes and passed the time by reading a saga to us. It was delightful.
I used Iceland Horizons for the Golden Circle tour and loved it! The guide/driver was a young Icelandic woman who gave us detailed information not only about the sights, but also Iceland, it's people and it's history. The tours use mini buses so are deliberately kept small - in fact, on the day I went (mid-May), there were just a handful of people on the tour, so it was very intimate.
With regards to getting to and from the airport, there are a few tour companies that might pick you up and drop you off, but it will be very expensive. I would suggest taking either Airport Express (Gray Lines) or Flybus to and from the airport - they will arrange transport to your hotel and the tour companies will pick you up at the hotel. Both sites allow you to book online but there is really no need to. You can easily purchase tickets when you get there. Just an FYI - GrayLines is about 10 euros cheaper than FlyBus, but FB is more heavily marketed, so you will see more references to it. Both get you to where you want to be. :) I used GrayLines and was very happy with them.
Good tips and referrals!
We will spend 4 days in Iceland in Mid-July, on our way home following 4 days in Barcelona and 10 in London.
Would you wait to book these tours until a week ahead, when daily weather reports are available?
Or would you book specific daily tours now and just live with it, even if stormy on the days you planned?
Were you pleased that you took tours instead of renting a car and doing it by yourself?
I just got back from a 5 day trip. We rented a car and toured the southern and midpoint of Golden Circle with our rental. We stayed off the F roads as advised. Rick's travel guide was enough for us and we saw so much. The freedom of being our own guides was great. So much is just paying for parking and hiking. Watch out for sheep all the time (I am used to spotting dear already since I live in a rural area). If I went back in winter, I would not drive myself around, but it was great in summer. We stayed at AirBnbs on our route so less back tracking. We also took turns driving so we could relax and enjoy the view. Our own auto insurance and credit card provided insurance for everything, including gravel damage insurance. Just check before you leave if you decide to drive.
The only thing that surprised us was coming back down a road we had driven on earlier and crews were laying gravel...brakes started squealing...steering gear started squealing...we pulled over as soon as we had a safe spot. My niece was so upset. I suggested driving in circles to the right since the steering only squealed when we turned left. It worked! All the gravel came out of the brakes before we pulled over. We were going slow and everyone was passing us. All was fine. No damage.
The benefit of driving was to ring until 3 in the morning sometimes...we were jet lagging the whole time. Lots of tourist were out when we were as well. Amazing how it just looks like dusk for most of the night...it never really got dark.