What is Guide to Iceland? When was Guide to Iceland founded and why? How has Guide to Iceland changed since its conception? Continue reading to learn all about the leading travel agency of Iceland.
Since its inception, Guide to Iceland has set out a simple mission: to provide the best services, tours and prices for travellers to Iceland seeking the holiday of a lifetime, while maintaining a strict ethics policy to protect the country’s nature and history.
It is primarily a marketplace for tours, the ultimate online travel agency, but more than that, it is an encyclopedia on all things Icelandic; a social network connecting visitors to locals; a reference guide for natives and foreigners alike; and a code of conduct for all who wish to explore this delicate land.
In less than a decade, it has grown from an idea between friends to the largest travel agency in the country. Partnering with over a thousand operators and providing services in eleven languages, the mission to provide the visitors with the widest range of choice possible for a holiday tailored to their needs has been a resounding success.
Looking for the perfect wedding, weekend city getaway, or ultimate adventure in some of the world’s most dramatic wilderness? Seeking to find the Northern Lights on a budget, or to explore the whole country in comfort and luxury? Want to plan a holiday in Iceland but have no idea what is on offer or where to go? Guide to Iceland has you covered.
Guide to Iceland began as a tiny startup company between friends in Reykjavík with roots from around the world, who wanted to make travelling to the country as easy as possible. In late 2012, the Guide to Iceland website was launched, connecting potential visitors to eight locals dedicated to helping them out in any way.
The immediate success of the website encouraged some tour companies to begin selling their excursions through the company and, as both sides reaped more and more benefits, many others followed suit. Soon, Guide to Iceland was winning awards for its success, and in 2014, was in a position to launch the travel marketplace that you see to today, through the medium of Travelshift.
In 2015, the company’s influence, scope and growth exploded. An office was opened on Laugavegur, Reykjavík’s main shopping street and services were extended to seven languages. The staff continued to grow exponentially over the next years, to provide on-hand help with any issues, in-depth content, up-to-date translations and a speedy and user-friendly website.
In 2017, Guide to Iceland became the Official Travel Provider for Reykavík and opened a desk at City Hall to help all travellers passing through. This relationship ended in 2018 when the city made its tourism services digital. Now, Guide to Iceland operates entirely online, with staff on phone-lines should any questions arise. It also continues to facilitate communication between locals and visitors through its Connect With Locals service.
Over recent years, Guide to Iceland has become increasingly international. Guide to Greenland, for example, was created to provide the same excellent service to visitors heading to this magical island.
In 2018, the World Travel Awards named Guide to Iceland the country’s leading travel agency. With more and more people around the world seeing images and videos of the country - many provided by the company - Guide to Iceland has established itself as a concrete pillar of affordable, immersive and ethical tourism.
Guide to Iceland today has a team of over sixty people from around the world, working to help make your holiday to Iceland as memorable as possible and to make organising it a breeze.
Over 1,000 operators from around the country sell their services through Guide to Iceland; it has the largest marketplace of cars to rent; itineraries give suggestions for what to do, and local experts have created a range of self-drive tours and vacation packages where everything in your holiday is planned for you prior to arrival.
Guide to Iceland’s presence on social media has always been integral to its success, now as much as ever. Its Facebook page and Twitter upload videos, photos, articles and offers throughout the day, as its Instagram reveals incredible images of the country’s nature, taken by local photographers. Using these platforms, Guide to Iceland staff may go live during cultural events such as the fireworks on New Year's Eve.
In spite of blossoming from an intimate, personal service to an international success story, what made Guide to Iceland so popular so quickly remains the same. Its staff are on hand to help no matter what your query and its website is constantly improved and expanded to ensure that you have a fantastic, personalised vacation that you will never forget.
Guide to Iceland has been winning awards since its very first year, for its website, service to customers, success as a start-up, success on social media and scope as a company. Below is a chronological list of Guide to Iceland’s most notable accolades.
Guide to Iceland is a travel marketplace that will allow you to book anything as simple as a bus transfer from Keflavík International Airport to a fourteen-day guided package around the country in winter, packed full of adventure tours.
The system is simple; trusted operators around the country upload their tours to the site, you choose which appeals to you most and book it with no extra cost. You’ll then be sent all you need to join the excursion, and contact details from us and them should you have any further questions.
The tours are by no means limited to the capital; operators work from towns in all parts of the country, and many even just meet you on location at the destinations. Most last for just a day, but there are many that go on for several, such as those that take you across the Highlands on a hiking tour, or those that immerse you in the remote Hornstrandir region of the Westfjords.
To find tours, you can either search the website or click Book Your Tour. The sidebar on this page will allow you to narrow down your search by price, the number of days, activity, where you start from, destination, starting hour and/or minimum age. You can also search a broad category, such as ‘Horse Riding Tours’, and search through all associated excursions. If you have a particular operator in mind, you can find all of their tours by searching their name.
While many are happy to just book accommodation in the capital and take excursions out, many more truly want to immerse themselves in the nature of Iceland and reach places few are lucky enough to see.
Planning a round trip around Iceland can be a laborious task, but with Guide to Iceland, it need not be.
Vacation packages and self-drive tours are fantastic options for those who want a long and immersive holiday that allows them to see huge swathes of the country. The former involves you being driven with a guide in a comfortable minibus from location to location, stopping at countless sights along the way, while the latter involves you renting a car yourself and spending each day exploring at your leisure.
When booking either option, you will be able to select whether you want budget, comfort or quality level accommodation at each site, and which activities to partake in on each day; these will be arranged immediately for you. If booking a self-drive, you’ll also be able to select from a range of cars, and on vacation packages, your transfer to and from the airport will be arranged for you.
On most of these packages and tours, you will be given a choice of entry-level should you want to visit the Blue Lagoon. You’ll also receive a detailed itinerary for your holiday after booking.
This 12-Day Winter Self Drive is a clear example of how this process can help you craft a perfect vacation. It will book you eleven nights of accommodation around the country based on your needs, allows you to partake in activities over five of the days and provides you with the best chances possible of seeing the ethereal northern lights and magnificent ice caves.
Such packages are not only for guests planning extensive travels; this Five-Day Summer Package provides you with a holiday based out of Reykjavík, organising trips for you on every day and offering the once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend a day in Greenland.
Many travellers to Iceland are comfortable planning their own holiday and simply would like to rent a car and get on with it. Thankfully, Guide to Iceland has the largest marketplace for rental cars in Iceland that will help you get the lowest price on the best vehicle for you.
Browse through small, affordable cars, 4x4 jeeps and SUVs, luxury vehicles and campers, and check out the testimonials for recommendations from those who have come before you. Scroll to the bottom of the rental car page for a comprehensive explanation of driving safety and laws in Iceland.
Iceland is a sparsely populated country, with far-flung attractions and long distances between settlements. If driving yourself to new places, therefore, you’ll want to have some idea of where you are going, how to get there, what the site is all about and how much time you should spend it.
By typing an Icelandic location into the search bar and clicking ‘Plan Your Drive’, you can find maps showing you the site, with some additional information answering the above questions.
This can be a great way of plotting the points for a day out and creating an agenda of your own. Of course, these attraction pages have valuable information even if you are not driving yourself, forming part of the Icelandic encyclopedia that Guide to Iceland has become.
Though Guide to Iceland is primarily a travel marketplace, it is also an educational tool on everything Icelandic. Through its ‘Explore Iceland’ section, you have an encyclopedia on everything you could wish to know about the country, from the best places to find puffins to the cheapest bars in Reykjavík, what to do over a long weekend to how to emigrate here
The Explore Iceland section of the Guide to Iceland page is split into eight sections, each with a different focus depending on what you want to get out of Iceland.
What is Iceland’s most powerful waterfall, and what volcanoes are still active? What makes the Icelandic horse unique and what environmental threats does the country face? All these questions, and many more, are answered in Nature in Iceland articles.
The Land of Ice and Fire, one of the most sparsely populated countries on Europe, bordering on the Arctic Circle, Iceland has an extreme nature, with wildly unpredictable weather, incredibly diverse landscapes and awe-inspiringly dramatic features. The colours, contrasts and textures of the wilderness appeal to photographers, hikers and a wide range of other adventurers, who would be wise to inform themselves as much about the country as they can before arrival.
Nature in Iceland articles also contains vital information that can help keep you safe and comfortable throughout your travels. Those who want to visit Iceland’s rugged coastline should be sure to know which beaches are renowned for their sneaker waves, for example, and those seeking to hot spring bathe should know which are safe to hop into.
The Travel Information section of Explore Iceland is a fantastic resource for getting your practical questions about visiting the country answered before arrival. Road safety and speed limits, tips on saving money, what to expect from the weather, what clothes and gear to bring and how to get around are all essential bits of information needed for visitors to have a safe and fun trip.
This section, however, also allows you to get in-depth knowledge about the activities on offer in Iceland. Want to swim between the tectonic plates in Iceland, but terrified of the cold? Check out this article on snorkelling and scuba diving. Fancy trying out some winter sports, but don’t know where to go? There is a guide on skiing and snowboarding too.
Reading these articles in the Travel Information section will not only allow you to chose tours you think will be best suited for you but give you a sense of comfort and confidence before you take them, having some idea of what’s ahead.
The Reykjavik Guide, as can be gathered, is an ultimate guide to Iceland’s capital. Though many come to the country seeking only its incredible nature opportunities, they are often surprised to find this city is a historical hub of entertainment and art with a wealth of attractions to suit all tastes.
The Reykjavík Guide is a resource with an appeal as wide as the capital’s, from the cultural seeking the finest art galleries and museums, to those simply looking for a good time on the cheap by following around Happy Hour. Parents have guides for what to do with younger and older kids, vegetarians and vegans are given suggestions on restaurants for them, and those seeking authentic, little-known corners of the city have an article dedicated to finding those secret spots.
Not all of the information, however, is simply a list of suggestions. There is also some fascinating information about the city’s culture, history and future designed to provide you with a deeper connection with capital on your arrival.
To have a wider understanding of how Iceland as a whole grew into the nation it is today, look no further than the History and Culture section of Explore Iceland. This country began as a far-flung, near-uninhabitable land, populated by Viking clans; learning how it became one of the most forward-thinking, progressive countries in the world is a fascinating endeavour.
This section, of course, includes stories about the settlement of Iceland and its Viking roots, but also covers fascinating tales about witchcraft and sorcery on the island, and the folklore deeply associated with its beautiful nature. There are guides on the country’s most famous people, and its most infamous.
You can also learn a wealth about modern Icelandic culture here; it was, after all, a major shooting location for Game of Thrones, and is one of the best countries in the world to be LGBTQ. Its football team has garnered international attention and its yoga scene is increasingly popular.
Though officially part of ‘Culture’, Music in Iceland warrants its own section under Explore Iceland. This is simply because of how vital it is to the nation, with new bands up and coming all the time, artists regularly breaking onto the world stage, increasingly popular festivals around the country and live music being an integral part of the nightlife.
Learn about how Björk, from humble punk rock beginnings, became a symbol of Iceland’s national identity, or how Of Monsters and Men became internationally famous seemingly overnight. Find out if Icelandic Reggae is really a thing, and the best music albums produced in the country.
Iceland’s music covers many genres and is showcased across the island, so those planning to make the most of this cultural thread, particularly those going to festivals such as Airwaves or Secret Solstice, should have a browse before arrival.
More questions are asked to Guide to Iceland staff about the Northern Lights than anything else, and there is little wonder why. This incredible phenomenon is of one of the earth’s most awe-inspiring sites, and Iceland is one of the world’s best countries to set out in hunt of it; the opportunity draws tens of thousands a year.
In response to this fascination, Explore Iceland does not just dedicate one article to the aurora borealis, but an entire section, so any question you might have can be answered in-depth. Articles cover topics such as how to photograph the lights and when is best to see them, and for a broad overview, there is a comprehensive list of the most frequently asked questions.
These guides are a great way to avoid common pitfalls, such as hoping you can see the northern lights in summer or from a well-lit part of Reykjavík
The Best of Iceland section is a fantastic resource within Explore Iceland for narrowing down what you want to achieve on holiday, with many ‘Top X’ lists and features on diverse subjects, such as Iceland as a honeymoon destination and the Highlands of Iceland.
If you want to engage in Iceland’s swimming culture but don’t know where to start, you’ll find lists on the top pools and hot springs; you’ll also find the best recipes in the country, and the best locally made beers. Immerse yourself in the music scene by finding the most popular festivals, or the remote landscapes by discovering the top spots for silent contemplation.
This list goes on and on, allowing those eager to craft the holiday of a lifetime to learn about their many options.
Your flights are booked and you know how many days you have in Iceland; what’s the next step? If you want all the organisation taken out of your hands, you could book a self-drive tour or vacation package to let local experts do the hard work for you. If not - or if you want to consider which option is best for you - the Itineraries section of Explore Iceland is here to help.
With suggestions for holidays ranging from two to ten days, they can help prepare you for a journey recommended by those who know the country the best. There are also itineraries for photography lovers, those who wish to go camping, and for the Golden Circle.
In its humblest beginnings, Guide to Iceland was a platform for locals to help visitors with every one of their Icelandic needs, directing them to the best places for tours, accommodation, and even simple things such as the best places to shop for groceries.
While the booking process and Explore Iceland section has taken over much of that role, answering questions and queries before they are even asked, this service at the root of the company remains strong through the Connect With Locals page.
Anyone can register to be a local, and contribute to Guide to Iceland with their own blogs to provide personal tips to travel here. All of the locals can be contacted, although it should be noted that you can only be guaranteed the best advice (and usually the promptest reply) by contacting a Verified Local.
These locals come from all over the world and speak more than the official eleven languages of the Guide to Iceland page. Their unique perspectives on the land can help guests with even the most eclectic interests create a holiday tailored to their desires, and they can provide you with information you may not be able to get anywhere else.
The Connect with Locals page is a way of democratising the tourism industry, by allowing both visitors and those living in the country to narrate its story by sharing their own experiences. This has been taken even further with the Guide to Iceland forum, where knowledge is pooled and you can comfortably ask and answer questions.
Guide to Iceland has gone from a startup between a group of international friends with a vision into one of the country’s most successful and valuable companies.
A marketplace of tours; a creator of holiday experiences; a font of knowledge on the nation; and a social network connecting to the outside world, Guide to Iceland has managed to expand while sticking to its ethical code of protecting the Land of Ice and Fire. The first decade of the company has been a great success, and we only plan for greater years ahead.