Goðafoss is visited on certain packages heading to north Iceland

What is the protocol after you purchase a package holiday to Iceland? How much money will you need for each day? What simple problems do you need to worry about before arriving here? Is there anything you may have overlooked? Read ahead for a breakdown on package holidays to Iceland.

If you are looking for a stress-free, personalised, affordable holiday to Iceland, there is no wiser decision than booking a package. Guide to Iceland has a huge array of options for both summer and winter, which allow visitors to prebook everything from a long weekend to an exploration of the whole island over twelve days.

After booking one, you don’t need to worry about organising separate tours, renting vehicles, and in most cases, finding accommodation; all is sorted for you. While this is a great relief, many still have a few apprehensions about details of how their holiday will go.

Jökulsárlón and the Diamond Beach are one of the focuses of many packages

How, for example, will you get from Keflavík International Airport to your hotel in Reykjavík? What do the buses you will travel in look like, and how can you be sure you won’t miss one? Will there be any hidden costs you need to worry about?

This article will answer common questions like these by taking you through a traditional package, from arrival to departure, and hopefully will put any fears to bed.

The package that will be used as an example is a classic 7-Day Summer Package, but the majority of the information will be applicable for totally different options, such as this 5-Day Winter Package to the Ice Caves, or this 13-Day Highlands Photography Workshop.

Winter packages, between November and March, often include visits to the ice caves under Vatnajökull.

This guide is intended only to answer questions about possible confusion after you have arrived in Iceland. For queries on flights to and from Keflavík International Airport, please see this Ultimate Guide to Flying to Iceland, and for a resource on what to pack, see What to Pack for Travel in Iceland.



Contents

Arrival at Keflavík Airport          

Just to the right of this photo is the Reykavík Excursions desk, where you can get a Flybus ticket. Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Jeff Hitchcock

Most packages begin at Keflavík, where you will have to get yourself to Reykjavík using the FlyBus voucher you were provided with. The thought of finding the right place to depart from can, straightaway, be a daunting one, but thankfully, it couldn’t be easier.

Keflavík International Airport is small and very easy to get through, with few queues, especially in Arrivals. After disembarking your aircraft, you simply have to follow the signposts through security to pick up your bags, before emerging into the Departures Hall.

Almost straight in front of you is the ticket office you can exchange your voucher for a ticket at. Regardless of if your flight was early or late, you will be able to get on board a bus; your voucher is an open one for the day, and buses leave very regularly.

A Reykjavík Excursions Bus will take you to Reykjavík. Photo from Reykjavík Excursions

After collecting your ticket, you will head outside the doors right beside the offices, and before you, you’ll see the Reykjavík Excursions buses lined up in wait. A member of staff will be waiting by the next one to depart and will help you stow your bags away. You can then board, and another member of staff will check your ticket before you set off to make sure you are on the right vehicle.

If you specified to go to the Blue Lagoon on the first day of your holiday, which many packages allow you to, make sure that you don’t get on the bus straight to Reykjavík. There will be a sign in the front window saying the destination, and many members of staff who are happy to help.

To BSI, the Blue Lagoon, and Beyond         

BSI is the main bus terminal for tours in Reykjavík.

Once you are boarded on your FlyBus, you’ll be taken to one of two destinations, based on your decisions while booking: the Blue Lagoon or the BSI Bus Terminal in Reykjavík.

The Blue Lagoon is just twenty minutes away, and the journey will be made without stops. Once here, you can disembark, enter the Lagoon, and relax in the healing, azure waters; just make sure you take your bags with you, as well as your ticket. After all, you’ll be using it to join another bus when you have fully enjoyed the Spa, which you will find in the same place you unboarded.

Please note that you are very unlikely to be able to adjust your plans on the day and just go to the Blue Lagoon; tickets need to be bought well in advance.

The Blue Lagoon's azure waters under a fiery sky. Photo from The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon | Day Tour of the Famous Sites

The BSI Bus Terminal is just over forty-five minutes drive from both BSI and the Blue Lagoon. Once you arrive, you will either collect your bags and walk to your hotel, or, if you have an advanced ticket, be taken on to your accommodation.

If you have arranged a hotel drop-off, be sure to listen in to what the guide on board the bus says as you arrive at BSI. The colour of your ticket will be called out, with instructions to either stay seated or to move into another vehicle heading in the direction you need.

If you have any questions, there is a desk in the BSI Terminal that is staffed day and night, and those working at it will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

After you arrive at your hotel and check-in, you’ll have a great opportunity to get your first taste of Reykjavík.

Information about Reykjavík         

Reykjavík's City Hall is to the left of this photo.

Reykjavík is an easy city to explore, being small, contained, and home to countless attractions. Deciding what to do with your limited time here, however, can be quite overwhelming, especially if you have concerns about budget or specific requirements for your group.

Questions can be directed to a variety of reputable sources. The official place for information on travel in Iceland is the Guide to Iceland desk located in the City Hall in downtown Reykjavík, next to the pond Tjörnin, and the staff will be happy to help. There are other tourist information centres downtown and on the shopping street of Laugavegur you can also use, and hotel receptionists often have great advice.

If you arrive at night and these offices are closed, your best source of information will be either from a local or from the internet. On this site, we have a Reykjavík Guide, which has a wealth of information on everything from what to do with young kids to the best bars for craft beer, from where to find the best street-art to the best swimming pools.

Cost of a Night in Reykjavík          

New Years Eve is the most exciting night in Iceland.

There are two things that most returning from Iceland say about the country: that it is beautiful, and that it is expensive. While it is true that prices for most goods are well-above average compared to other countries, there are many ways to avoid the biggest tourist traps.

If you want to experience the nightlife, it is highly recommended that you buy alcohol at the airport rather than at the government-run alcohol shops and the bars. You can then have a few drinks before heading to the bars, in the Icelandic tradition of cutting costs on a night out.

The average price of a standard beer is over 1000 ISK (above €8 or $10 USD) in most bars, which adds up after a couple, and the alcohol shops, called Vínbúðin, sell booze for about double the airport price.

Revellers enjoying the food and drink of Reykjavík.Photo from Cheers to Reykjavík! | Locally Hosted Beer and Food Tour 



Food is similarly pricey if not bought with care. A restaurant meal usually costs in excess of 3000 ISK, and even a burger somewhere more casual will often exceed 2000 ISK. Food in such establishments is most often fresh and excellently prepared, but those seeking to save money should instead head to a local supermarket.

Bónus is the cheapest, while Nettó, Hagkaup and Krónan are very affordable. Avoid the mistake of going to 10/11, as this chain is extortionate and raises its prices at night.



Regular concerts and events are held in English in the Harpa Concert Hall.

In terms of what to do in the evening outside of eating and drinking, there are regular events going on, many of which are free or cheap. You can look at this article which lists weekly events and annual festivals. You can also simply go sightseeing, which is both entertaining and free.

Whatever you do with your first night in Reykjavík, make sure you don’t go so overboard that you are exhausted for your trip the next day.

Meeting Guides for your Package        

Reykjavík is small, but you will still want to know exactly where you are going to meet your guides for package tours.

After not only surviving but no doubt enjoying a night in Reykjavík, you are ready to hop on a bus to enjoy the first day of your package. But where should you meet your guides and group, and when?

The short answer will be written on your voucher for the day. On it, it will say the pick-up time for the tour, and where you are to meet your guide. Always make sure that you are at your pick-up location at least fifteen minutes before the official starting time of the tour, as guides often have to make multiple stops dotted around Reykjavík in a short amount of time, and can’t wait around.

A stunning image of the great Hallgrímskirkja church from above.

As to where your pick-up location is, it will be one of two places. In many cases, you will simply have to meet your guide outside the front doors of your hotel. Please note that, even if it is raining, you will need to be outside, because as mentioned, guides have a tight schedule and are not likely to have time to search the lobby for you.

If your hotel is in a busy downtown area, you will have to walk to a nearby meeting point (as the city is working on easing traffic in these parts of Reykjavík). If you don’t know where this meeting point is, you can ask at your hotel reception, just be sure to give enough time.

Keep your voucher in hand (or on your phone), so that your guide can identify you before they bring you to your vehicle for the day. Guides, most likely, will be dressed in clothes representing their operator, in vehicles bearing the company logo.

Reykjavík's most defining sculpture, the Sun Voyager.

Please be aware that Guide to Iceland does not run these tours themselves, so you’ll be looking for a different company name, found on your voucher.

Although it is very unlikely, there is a very small possibility that your guides may not be able to find you or may forget you. If you believe this to be the case—the usual sign being that they have not arrived for thirty minutes after the start of the pick-up time—then call the operator or Guide to Iceland as soon as possible. They will, in turn, contact your guide before relaying what they were told back to you.

The most usual situation is simply a delay, and they’ll grab you in a few minutes.

Days Out on Packages       

The blast off of Strokkur, the active geyser on the Golden Circle.

You’ve boarded the bus for your tour, and now are wondering: ‘What can go wrong next?’ So long as you listen to your guide and ask whenever you are unsure, the answer really is very little. You are in safe hands, and can simply relax and enjoy your day.

Each tour is a little different, however, so below, the days of the aforementioned 7-Day Summer Package will be discussed in detail, so you can see the kind of budget you will wish to prepare for each day.

The Golden Circle (Day Two)          

Day Two of this package (Day One being your arrival day) takes you on a sightseeing route that almost all other packages also visit: the Golden Circle. This beautiful trail takes you around three spectacular sites before you are taken back to Reykjavík.

The midnight sun gleams on Þingvellir National Park's waterfall Öxaráfoss.

The main thing to consider for this day tour is food. At either the waterfall Gullfoss or the hot spring area at Haukadalur, you will stop for lunch; both destinations have a cafeteria-style restaurant, with treats such as traditional lamb-soup, fries and cakes.

A decent meal can be bought for around 2000 ISK. If this is still too expensive, you can grab sandwiches and snacks from the service centres that you stop off for about half the price, or, of course, bring a packed lunch.

In terms of drinks, it is highly recommended that you bring an empty bottle, and fill it up with tap water throughout this tour, and every other. Bottled water in Iceland is not only environmentally destructive but sourced from the exact same places as the water that runs through the pipes.



The South Coast (Days Three and Four)          

Vík sits on Iceland's South Coast, close to sites like Reynisdrangar and Dyrhólaey.

Days Three and Four of this package take you along the South Coast, meaning you won’t be returning to Reykjavík on the third night. Worry not, however, as your accommodation is sorted for you prior to arrival.

It does, however, raise a few concerns for dinner. For lunch on Day Three, you can either dine at the stop in Vík or, like the day before, bring or buy food en route. At one of these service centre stops, the budget-wary will want to buy extra for the evening, as your accommodation is in a remote part of the country, so the only restaurant available is likely to be at your hotel.

While no doubt delicious, it is also likely to be pricey, at around 3,000 ISK, to say nothing of drinks. 

The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is one of the major highlights of the Seven Day Summer Package.

On Day Four, you’ll receive breakfast at your hotel, which is included in the package (the majority, but not all, hotels out in the country offer this to guests). You’ll set off again after it.

You may have opted into tours such as a glacier hike or boat ride on this day. In such a case, do not fear missing it; your guides will be fully aware of your plans and will ensure that you are both dropped off and picked up from them in the right place, in a timely fashion.

You’ll arrive back in Reykjavík late, so will likely have little time for extravagant plans on this evening.



The Land of Ice and Fire (Day Five)          

The Inside the Volcano tour allows you to enter a magma chamber, which can only be done in Iceland. Photo from Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour | Go Inside a Magma Chamber

On Day Five of this package, you can take one of two tours, neither of which take the full day. Have no doubt, however, that both are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, as you are offered to either descend into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano or enter the ice tunnels carved into Langjökull glacier.

Lunch on these tours should be brought along or bought en route, as there will be no stop for dining on either.

City Slicker or Nature Lover (Day Six)         

Your penultimate day in Iceland on this package also has two options: stay in Reykjavík, or go on a Super Jeep tour to Landmannalaugar. Both will provide excellent experiences, although the budget-wary should clearly go for the former unless this is the one time they want to splurge.

A hiker marvels over the beauty of Landmannalaugar.

Those that chose to stay in the city should make sure that they don’t end up spending as much as they would have taking the alternative tour, which is actually remarkably easy. Food, drinks and shopping are expensive, and a poorly planned day can result in you spending much more on things like museum entry than you ever needed to.

If you are planning to visit as many sites such as pools, museums and galleries as possible, it is highly recommended that you buy a Reykjavík City Card, online or at the Guide to Iceland office. This will give you free access to four city museums, four city galleries, seven geothermal pools, the Family Park and Zoo, ferry rides to Viðey Island, free public transport and more.

Tjörnin Pond under the midnight sun near downtown Reykjavík.

It also gives you discounts for access to other venues, restaurants and even some shops.

You can also enjoy a tour within the city. When booking this package, you can arrange a whale-watching excursion into Faxaflói Bay or a guided sightseeing tour.

Of course, you can also go sightseeing by yourself.

Departure from Iceland        

The departure times for the Flybus to the airport Photo from Aiport Transfer from Hotel to Keflavík Airport

All holidays most sadly come to an end, and this package does on the seventh day. So how do you get back to the airport?

Basically, you do everything you did when you arrived in reverse. You will either be picked up from your hotel or hotel area for transfer to the BSI Bus Terminal, or can make your way there yourself, and here can change your voucher for a ticket. You will then board a coach, and be taken to the airport.

You can reach the airport via the Blue Lagoon if you have time and did not on your first day.

It is highly recommended that you allow at least two hours to get through customs at Keflavík; though, as mentioned, it is a small airport, queues tend to be longer for those departing, and certain terminals are further from the main shopping area than may be expected.

Budget for a Package in Iceland        

Artwork at Keflavík International Airport.Photo by Jason Eppink 

Taking a package cuts out many hidden costs; almost everything is paid for before arrival, so the very budget-wary can limit what they buy entirely to food. If you buy shop bought snacks en route to your tours for breakfast and lunch, drink tap water throughout the day, then have a cheap meal out with a drink or two, you can be expecting to spend about 5,000 ISK per day.

On a seven-day tour, therefore, you could get away with spending under 40,000 ISK (€319 or $384 US).



Most travellers to Iceland will want to be a little more lavish on their holiday, however. Realistically, you may spend another 20,000 ISK on souvenirs, 5,000 ISK on drinks at the airport, 5,000 ISK on entry to events in Reykjavík if you go to two standard shows and 4,000 ISK (approximately) on a Reykjavík City Card. You are therefore looking at a general budget of about 75,000 ISK (€598 or $720 US).

Reykjavík is pricey, but big expenses can be avoided by clever budget travellers.



Whether taking a package on a shoestring budget or without a care for expense, however, it does not matter; you are sure to have an incredible, stress-free holiday tailored to your needs and desires in the Land of Ice and Fire.

Do you have any other questions about packages to Iceland? Have you done one already, and do you have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments.