YOUR GUIDE TO ICELAND SMALL GROUP TOURS

There are so many amazing Iceland small group tours to choose from but I don’t know where to start! I only have a limited amount of time in Iceland and I want to make the most of it. Can you help me create the best Iceland Small Group Tour travel itinerary? This is something we hear a lot. It can certainly be daunting. Sometimes too many options can be a burden. Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

The Iceland Small Group Tours Guide will hopefully give you some inspiration for getting those small group tours in order.

First and foremost, if you are actually shopping around for an intimate private tour you can jump over to our Private Tour page and pick out your favourite private tour itinerary there. The same goes if you intend to Self Drive. For small group tours, read on!

A Hidden Iceland minibus for small group tours. Photo by Dennis Stever.

Why should I book a small group tour?

For many a small group tour is the perfect option. The group sizes allow the costs of the tour to be spread over more people, making this a more economic mode of travel when compared to a private tour. Even though you are not on a private tour, you will still be travelling with our professional, friendly and top rated guides. So you know that you will still get our superior service, and experience the best of Iceland on our small group tours.  They can also be a great option for those that want to socialise with fellow travellers while in Iceland. I know that when I travelled solo or as a couple I was always eager to join onto small group tours whenever I could.

Picking a small group tour with Hidden Iceland comes with a few benefits:

  1. We have a maximum group size of 12 people in spacious minibuses. This is a good group size dynamic and it means when we travel into the wilderness you can stay with the same group and the same passionate guide.

  2. Our small group tours are created to cover all the best spots at the right time of day. So you can be sure that each day is well spent.

  3. Small group tours are a lot more affordable than private tour options since the price of the tour is split between the entire group.

  4. Small group tours are arguably more immersive than self-drive tours. This is because your local guide is hand picked for their knowledge, experience and personality. In fact, most of our Trip Advisor reviews talk about the guides leading the trip more than the sights half the time.

Chatting on the Sólheimajökull Glacier. Photo taken by Danny Mcgee.

YOUR GUIDE TO ICELAND SMALL GROUP TOURS

This Iceland Small Group Tours Guide was created specifically for those of you who simply want to combine a number of our Hidden Iceland tours together into a cohesive itinerary. It’s as simple as that. All our tours pick up and drop off in Reykjavik at the beginning and end of each tour. My recommendation, when using this guide to book your trips, would be to keep this page open and click on the links in each section to read more about each tour as you go.

Some of our proposed itinerary options are as follows. You can of course mix and match each one but these trips tend to compliment each other the best:

  1. Action Packed 2 Day Adventure 

  2. Essential Iceland in 3 Days 

  3. UNESCO Heritage Sites in 4 – 5 Days

  4. Off the Beaten Path West Iceland 5 day Adventure

  5.  Pick & Mix 6+ Day

HOT TIP: Make sure you book the small group tours in the order we prescribe otherwise some of the overnight suggestions won’t work. Or drop us an email if you’re unsure at info@hiddeniceland.is. We are always happy to help. 

The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Photo taken by Norris Niman. Featured.

TWO DAY | ACTION PACKED

These two small group tours are matched for people with very limited time in the country but want to cover as many must see sights as possible. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Simply book the South Coast: Fire and Ice tour with the Golden Circle Platinum tour.

Day 1 | The South Coast: Fire and Ice day tour

This action packed small group tour whisks you off along the south coast and lets you walk behind the 200ft Seljalandsfoss waterfall, get up close and personal to the impressive Skógafoss waterfall (it was in Eurovision and Game of Thrones) and the Reynisfjara black sand beach where you can see thousands of puffins in summer and crashing waves in winter. In the afternoon, you will get to slip on a pair of crampons and go on a 2 hour glacier hike onto the Sólheimajökull glacier and finish the day at the newly built Lava Centre Exhibition where you’ll learn all about Iceland’s volcanic past. Not to worry, this glacier hike was designed for first timers. Check out our Glacier Hike Guide to see what it entails. For the less adventurous people in the group you can opt to walk along the glacier lagoon in peace while you wait for the rest of the group to return.

Oh, and to top it all off, the south coast route drives around the world famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that erupted back in 2010.

Overnight options between tours
This small group tour starts and ends in Reykjavik so if you have your hotel already booked in the city then it works great. However, because the following day’s route crosses back over onto the first (on the south coast) you can choose to stay out of the city in a nearby town called Hveragerði. Sleeping overnight here reduces driving time on day 1 and you don’t have to get up so early on day 2. In this secluded town you can hunt for the northern lights or bathe in the local hot pools in the warm summer air between trips. We recommend the hotel Frost & Fire.

Day 2 | The Golden Circle: Platinum day tour

Your second small group tour takes on a more relaxed attitude. You deserve it after your glacier hike. So instead, you start the day by bathing at the oldest hot pool in the country, the Secret Lagoon. Then you’ll eat inside a geothermal Tomato Greenhouse called Friðheimar with towering tomato plants. In the afternoon, you check out the most popular attractions the in country. This includes visiting the thunderous Gullfoss Waterfall and the ever erupting geyser, Strokkur. At the end of the day you will drive through the Thingvellir National Park where the original parliament was first held. Coincidentally, this is also an area of geologically significance too. In fact, here you can literally cross from one tectonic plate to another. Iceland literally bridges the gap. Not many people can say they’ve jumped continents without getting their feet wet.

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THREE DAY | ESSENTIALS ICELAND

This next set of small group tours is just slightly longer, but allows you to cover so much more of the country. In fact, you get all the way to the south east of Iceland where many travellers don’t get to. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the extended glacier hike or ice cave (winter only). It actually follows the exact same route as our private tours Essential South Iceland Summer and Essential South Iceland Winter.

Day 1 – 2 | Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Glacier Hike or Ice Cave

On day one of this Iceland small group tour, we follow the same route as the South Coast: Fire and Ice tour. But, instead of heading back to Reykjavik we continue east to the Vatnajökull National Park where we will encounter city sized glaciers and active volcanoes. You’ll get to walk along a 330ft gorge called Fjaðrárgljúfur before seeing reaching the glacier lagoon. Tonight you sleep at the converted farm, Lilja Guest House (included in the tour). In summer, you should walk around the farm under the midnight sun. In winter, get your warm clothes on and hunt for the Northern Lights.

The following day you will get up early to stop off at the mesmerising Diamond Beach and again at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon to watch the icebergs glisten as the sun rises in the distance. Then it’s onto the adventurous part of the day, the glacier hike in summer and the blue ice cave in winter. The glacier hike, on Falljökull, lasts for around 3-4 hours while you explore this icy giant. From November to March we swap this part of the trip out for the a superjeep tour along the glacier lagoon and into a building sized ice cave.

Overnight tours between tours 
At the end of day 2 we return to Reykjavik along the south coast. If you don’t want to go all the way back to Reykjavik you can book your own hotel in Hveragerði instead of going back to the city, ready for tomorrow’s Golden Circle: Platinum tour.

Day 3 | The Golden Circle: Platinum day tour

This is the same small group tour as described in THE TWO DAY | ACTION PACKED itinerary above. Returning to Reykjavik for you to rejoin civilisation.

The Gullfoss waterfall in winter in the Golden Circle. Photo taken by Norris Niman. Featured.

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FOUR – FIVE DAYS | UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES

This small group tour is a little odd because it changes throughout the year. A tour of the Westman Islands is squeezed into the middle during the summer, or a trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula is added at the end the rest of the year. There are 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iceland. Two of them are hidden within the THREE DAY | ESSENTIAL itinerary. This is because the Vatnajökull National Park on our 2 day Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon tour and the Thingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle: Platinum tour are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. The one remaining world heritage site in the country is one of the Westman Islands on the south coast. So the tour would go something like this:

Day 1 – 2 | Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Glacier Hike or Ice Cave

The same great sights along the south coast with most of our time spent within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vatnajökull National Park.

We’ll host you on the night of Day 1 at Lilja Guest house. The glacier hike is included from April to November and an Ice Cave is swapped in between November and March. This tour is hands down our most popular Iceland small group tours.

The Glacier Discovery Tour with Local Guide.

Overnight option between tours
We recommend you find accommodation outside of the city tonight near the Westman Islands on the south at the end of the first two days so that you don’t have to go all the way to Reykjavik and back between tours. Make sure it’s near the number 1 road though so we can pick you up the following day. Hotel Rangá can be a great luxury spot to soak in the evening air. There are plenty of budget options in the area too, so reach out to us for some recommendations if this is your plan.

Day 3 | The Volcanic Westman Islands (summer only)

Today’s small group tour requires a boat trip to this collection of islands on the south coast. On this trip, you will explore the rocky cliffs in search of the colourful puffins. You’ll walk to the top of the still warm volcano, Eldfell and learn about Iceland’s volcanic past at the Eldheimar volcano museum. For a little extra you can even jump on a RIB boat, touring the island in search of wildlife. Whales are even spotted out here from time to time. The island we’ll spend time on is called Heimaey, where Eldfell volcano erupted back in 1973. Only one of the islands in this archipelago is officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Surtsey) but sadly you can’t step foot on it due to it being monitored for volcanic activity and flora and fauna protection. You can see it quite well from the top of the volcano though.

Overnight option between tours
Around 5pm we’ll get back off the island and onto the mainland. It’s time to head back to Reykjavik. But remember, we’re on the south coast and you’re joining the Golden Circle: Platinum tour which goes that way at the start of the day. So perhaps Frost & Fire hotel with its own natural hot pool is a good place to rest your head before we pick you up for your final day.

Day 4 | The Golden Circle: Platinum Day tour

No change to your final day here. Especially enjoy the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Thingvellir National Park at the end of the day.

Overnight option between tours
As I mentioned, when it’s not summer we don’t go to the Westman Islands so this may not be your final day after all. Iceland small group tours go on all year round so we need to find alternatives. So, next up is the Snæfellsnes peninsula instead. Sadly, there are no good hotels outside of Reykjavik that we can drop you off at between tours. But to be fair, you’ve spent a few nights outside of the city by now. Best to pop back to civilisation for a slap up meal at one of our favourite restaurants.

Secret Lagoon | Hidden Iceland | Photo by Kat Craats | Feature

Day 4 – 5 | The Enchanting Snæfellsnes Peninsula day tour

The Snæfellsnes peninsula is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so perhaps it doesn’t belong on this list. However, a large chunk of the peninsula is designated as a National Park and some of us here at Hidden Iceland believe it’s only a matter of time before it’s added to the prestigious list too. One thing is for sure, its beauty is unmatched. On this small group tour, you’ll stand in awe of the Kirkjufell volcanic mountain from Game of Thrones. You’ll find peace while hiding behind a secret waterfall at Sellvallavatn and you’ll fill your belly with the catch of the day at one of Iceland’s oldest fishing villages, Stykkishólmur. In the afternoon, we’ll whizz around the Snæfellsjökull volcano with its ice cap on top just before hiking along the broken sea cliffs in the south of the peninsula at Arnarstapi. It’s no wonder many Icelanders call this place, little Iceland. It seems to have everything. A great stand alone trip but also an incredible day to end your itinerary.

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FIVE DAY | OFF THE BEATEN PATH

This scheduled tour is quite different from the others. Mainly because we take you to the far north west of the island for the majority of the time. This itinerary is designed for those of you who have maybe seen all the must see sights already or have a little more time to go off the beaten path. After all, less than 10% of tourists make to this forgotten part of Iceland each year. Trust me, it’s worth the drive.

Day 1 – 4 | The Wild Westfjords 4 Day tour (summer only)

This small group tour is even smaller than normal, with only 8 people per trip (compared to the normal 12). We want it to be even more intimate. This is the oldest part of the country, at more than 15 million years old. It has survived countless ice ages and volcanic eruptions and it has the scars to show for it. This four day trip carefully tours around the angular mountains, steep cliff sides and into deep fjords. You’ll discover Vigur, a puffin islands, an Arctic fox sanctuary and hidden hot pools. The tallest sea cliffs in Europe at Látrabjarg (440 metres) await and the most unique looking waterfall at Dynjandi is ready for you to arrive. The guest houses and hotels that we stay in each night just add even more to the picturesque landscape and atmosphere. If you want to avoid other tourists, this is the place to be.

Overnight option between small group tours:
We include accommodation for 3 nights while in the Westfjords but we return to Reykjavik in the end just like all our small group tours. Luckily, the route to and from the Westfjords skirts past the Snæfellsnes peninsula quite nicely so in actual fact you can pick a hotel in the town of Borgarnes before or after this trip if you are hoping to see Snæfellsnes too. Our customers tell us they like Icelandair Hotel Hamar for the wide open spaces, great views and comfy aesthetic.

Day 5 | The Snæfellsnes peninsula day tour

The itinerary remains the same for this trip whichever way round you do it, day 1 or day 5. The big benefit is that you don’t have to return to Reykjavik each night. We love to compare the sights in this peninsula with the Westfjords. There’s always a bit of a debate about which spot is the most beautiful. We think it’s a tie, they both deserve to win.

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6+ DAY | ICELAND SMALL GROUP TOURS PICK & MIX

Any Day | Between Continents: Reykjanes and Lava Tunnel day tour

Now for the finale, which isn’t really a finale at all. We’ve basically covered everything Hidden Iceland has to offer when it comes to small group tours except one very special tour, Between Continents: Reykjanes and Lava Tunnel. This small group tour is very close to Reykjavik so is often overlooked. The reason I didn’t include it in any of the other small group tour itineraries above though isn’t because it’s not worth it. It’s because it can be added on at any point on your trip. Beginning, middle and end. It’s a little shorter and more relaxed than some of the other tours so can be a nice trip to take if you also want to spend the early evening in the capital, perusing the shops and bars. Reykjanes’s acid rivers at Krýsuvík, constantly erupting geyser at Gunnuhver, chopped up coastline at Reykjanesviti and of course the mile long Lava tunnel make for a very exciting trip, all compacted into a breezy 8 hours.

All the other days | Everything above and then some

So if you added up all the tours I’ve mentioned above you will end up with 10 days (assuming you don’t book the South Coast: Fire and Ice tour along with the 2 day Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon tour). But then you still need to spend a couple of days in Reykjavik right? And don’t forget transfer days to and from the airport. That already gets you to a solid 2 weeks. Phew, that’s a lot of fun to be had. In reality, we know you’re likely to pick a few of your favourites and go with them. If, after reading this, you’re still not sure what to do, drop us a line. We’ll be happy to help.

And more days | Partner tours

But wait, there’s more…lots more. Above covers the limitations of Hidden Iceland’s small group tours. But we’re not naïve. We know there’s some things we simply can’t do. So perhaps once you’ve planned out your Hidden Iceland small group tour package have a look at some of the other day tours on offer from Reykjavik. They range from Whale and Puffin spotting to Snorkelling tours to Horse Rides to Food tours and just old fashioned premium airport transfers.

Icelandic horses in summer. Taken by Tom Archer

Iceland Small Group Tour Conclusion

In short, you’re going to have to come back if you want to experience everything Iceland has to offer!

To book an Iceland small group tour you can click on any of the links throughout this blog or check out our Hidden Iceland tours here. After all this, if you are still undecided for what to do in Iceland then simply drop us a line using our contact form. We’ll take care of the rest!

See you soon!

Ryan Connolly | Marketing Manager, Guide, Co - Owner | Hidden Iceland

Hi, I’m Ryan Connolly; Co-Founder and Marketing Manager of Hidden Iceland.

I’ve guided in multiple countries around the world and stepped foot on all 7 continents. My passion for the outdoors, science, nature, glaciers and volcanoes has led me to study and write about Iceland. I have been interviewed in ForbesConde Nast Traveller and Travel Pulse on various subjects.

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