Guided vs. Self-Guided Tours: What’s the Difference?

05. June 2017 —

What is the difference between guided and self guided tours? What’s included, and what isn’t? These are the big questions. We’re here to settle those questions, so you can choose the kind of journey that’s right for you.

With a guided tour…

First and foremost, you have a guide. You turn up at the starting point or place of the tour and nearly everything is taken care of: your guide does all of the guiding along the trail (of course) and you carry a certain amount of your gear (many of our guided tours, like the Laugavegur trail, are vehicle-assisted, although this is an option itself).

Arinbjörn Hauksson

With a self-guided tour…

You don’t have a guide in the traditional sense. With a self-guided tour, it starts with our travel experts organising your way, the trails you will hike and the roads you will take. This is all collated together into a road book, or a trail book, then this pack of directions and advice for the whole journey is handed to you at the beginning of the tour.

In addition, our travel experts also organise all of the logistics for your journey so you don’t need to make any other additional bookings for the duration of the tour. You just do the moving, or the hiking.

How is a self-drive different from a self-guided tour?

For a start, they are different kinds of journeys. Self-guided tours are usually hiking routes, whereas our self-drive tours are more road-oriented, with smaller hiking journeys interspersed.

Organisationally, our self-drive tours are similar: do you have to worry about car rental? No. Do you have to worry about which way to go? No. We take care of all of those logistics.

So, we take care of all the annoying parts, and leave all the awesome parts to you!

Moreover, a self-drive tour assumes that you want to do the driving, and Iceland has a network of remarkable roads that will absolutely blow you away. It’s possibly one the most pleasurable places to drive, anywhere.

Self guided tours: where can you go?

So, the next question; where can you go on a self-guided and a self-drive tour? Our range is as follows:

Laugavegur: self guided

The classic Laugvegur; we can’t guarantee that you will find as few people here as you would whilst hiking at the End of the World. However, it is one of most complete and varied geological landscapes in the world, so that pretty much explains it's appeal. As you can see, it's pretty epic.

Gréta S. Guðjónsdóttir

Self drive

South Coast Express

Want to check out a lot of South Coast stuff in only 3 days? The South coast of Iceland has a huge amount to offer. Afraid of missing a key spot/location? You needn’t be: our detailed road plan which leave you knowing exactly where to go, and what not to miss

Kasia Kujawa

Around Iceland

So you have a lot of time and you want to see the whole country? 13 days and around Iceland will have all of the bases covered. In this epic journey around Iceland’s iconic Route 1, you start and finish in the same place, having completed an approximately 1200 km journey. There is also the option to fly out to the East, to the town of Egilsstaðir, and start there.

South Coast Self Drive

This is a truly all-inclusive south coast tour. Comprehensive in locations, itinerary and equipment, with all the bells and whistles thrown in. Here, you get: rental car, CDW insurance, accommodation in the category of your choice, detailed information pack, breakfast with guesthouse accommodation, box with cooking equipment, thermos etc. There is also hostel and camping accommodation, (tent, mattress with camping option).

Tour of the Icelandic Highlands & Comfort Highlands

Both of these are serius rides.

Watch the landscape twist, morph and change into the Highlands, the great plateau that covers the middle of Iceland. You hit more highland backroad after the great sites of Gullfoss and Geysir. Past those, it’s onwards to the Kerlingarfjoll massif, which will surely leave your jaw hanging on the ground. The, you’re off to Landmannalaugar and down the famous F210 “behind the mountains” road in your 4x4 vehicle.

Craig Downing

Rounding it all up

So if you have ever wondered what a self guided/self drive tour is, wonder no more! We hope we have made the difference clearer. Is there anything that you feel we missed out? Any details that are still unclear? Please drop a comment below or contact us with the contact information at the bottom of this page.

About the Author

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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