Stanislav Smirnov, guide and journalist. Photo from the personal archive of the author
Icelanders are convinced that once the pandemic is over, the first place tourists will rush to will be their brawler island. The author of an article in The New York Times about the misadventures of the tourism sector in Iceland agrees with this.
“About the state of tourist business in Iceland,” writes the author of an article in the newspaper “Morgunblaðið” on October 13, “it is eloquently evidenced by the fact that today only two planes took off from Keflavik airport: one Icelandair flight to Copenhagen, another "British Airways" to London. All other flights have been canceled. "
“This is unrealistic! - complains Inhibjörg Oulafsdouttir, manager of the Radisson Blu Saga hotel, - If not for COVID, the hotel (in which 235 rooms) would be full of people who want to watch the northern lights, get wet in the spray of waterfalls, relax in the thermal springs. But it's empty! Of the 140 employees, 16 remain! In September, the hotel occupancy rate was only 11%. ”
“Operating costs have been cut, fat has been cut to the bone, but the hotel continues to be at a loss. Although - if you think about it - who is doing well now? " - continues Inhibjörg. And that's true: tourism around the world is in decline. But there are a number of factors that make Iceland extremely vulnerable in the face of an industry collapse: geographic isolation, a small population (about 366,000), and finally an economy that - after a decade of tourism boom - has become addicted to tourism.
In 2018, it would never have occurred to anyone that Iceland might lack tourists. A record 2.3 million visited the island that year. This is six times more than the locals! The tourist boom began in the distant 2008, when the economic crisis, known in Iceland as "kreppa", brought down the local currency. As a result, a country with an astronomical level of prices has become a little more accessible to a person ... with a near-astronomical income. Icelandic tourist leviathan is on the move.
In April 2010, Iceland generously sprinkled ash from the Eyafjadlayokull volcano on Mother Europe's head. The tourists tensed. Cancellation of tours to the island began. The Icelandic government, rightly believing that there is no negative publicity, launched an advertising campaign "Inspired by Iceland". The campaign appealed to adherents of growing social networks, who sought to produce rather than consume ads themselves. The number of tourists increased from 459,000 in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2018. The tourism sector now accounted for 8.6% of the country's GDP and 39% of exports. At that time, tourism employed about 30,000 people, or 16% of the entire workforce on the island.
In impregnable Iceland, where no lambs have stepped foot, tourist poop is strewn with it. Literally. “In the summertime, all kinds of houses and bunkers on wheels are parked all over the place,” writes Jenna Gottlieb, author of Moon Iceland. “This causes concern among local residents: there are no toilets where such cars stay for the night. Icelanders rightly regard the behavior (and bowel movements) of tourists as disrespectful to nature and the inhabitants of the island. "
Summer 2020 started off pretty well. COVID infection in Iceland has remained low, and tourism from the Schengen area, which includes the island, has begun to revive. Tourists were required to take a smear immediately upon arrival, or self-isolate for 14 days.
The sector did not relax in anticipation of foreign tourists. The government has sent out vouchers for a discount of 5,000 kronor (approximately $ 36) for travel services to all residents of the island over 18 years of age. The campaign to support domestic tourism cost the budget US $ 9 million.
"Everything was fine until the government changed the border crossing rules," says Bjarnheidur Hatlsdouttir, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association. On August 19, new rules came into force, according to which those who arrived in Iceland had to either pass two COVID tests with an interval of 5 quarantine days, or self-isolate for all 14.
Tourism in Iceland amounted to 5.9% of GDP in 2009 , which corresponds to the employment of 5.35 thousand people in this industry. In 2010, the number of those who visited the country was at the level of 495 thousand, and in 2000-200 thousand arrivals. The main tourist flows come from the UK, Germany and the USA .
Reykjavik and surroundings 
Reykjavik is the tourist gateway to Iceland and the center of the metropolitan area with a population of 200 thousand inhabitants.  The open-air folk art museum “Arbaejarsafn” tells about the history of the city. 
In this corner of the country you can find all types of volcanoes found in Iceland, and mineral water comes to the surface either cool or beating hot pillars, as, for example, from the largest spring in Europe - Deildartunguhver (Iceland Deildartunguhver ), where the water velocity reaches 48 l/s.
The best indicator of volcanism is the ancient crater Snefelsjökull (Isc. Snæfellsjökull), located under a glacier and which is a National Park.
The landscape is marked by an abundance of islands, formed during the Ice Age by waterfalls, valleys and fjords. Birds living in Breidafjör (ur Bay (Isc. Breiðafjörður) attract tourists to their “bird colonies”, three of which are the largest in Europe. 
One third of Iceland's coastline is fjords . In the western fjords is the Dynjandi region, where there are seven waterfalls. Hornstrandir National Reserve (Isc. Hornstrandir) and the highest cliff Latrabjarg (Isc. Latrabjarg, 440m) - the westernmost point of Europe, are the main places for tourism.
Traveling to volcanoes in barely vegetated terrain, walking through the rugged landscapes of Iceland is an exciting adventure in itself. And if its goal is to search for a thermal spring hidden at the foot of a volcano, among glaciers and mountain ranges, in order to climb into a hot soaring pool in this cold air - then this adventure can rightly be called an adventure! Iceland's hot springs are located at points of high geothermal activity, and in combination with permafrost and glaciers that have settled on the slopes of volcanoes, this phenomenon turns into a rarity for our planet. You can find this unique place by driving along the road from Reykjavik south along the main road ring. After 2-3 hours, before reaching the Skogafoss waterfall, do not miss the left turn to the exit leading to Seljavellir. You can also hire a local private guide, which is much easier and will make your journey and search much easier.
Seljvavellir is a free pool, but of course the difficulty is not in paying, but in the need to find it! Many tourists, distracted by the enchanting mountain views of the surrounding landscape, pass by the source. According to some reports, local residents built it back in 1923. Living by seafaring and fishing, they had to learn to swim, and for this a hot pool was perfect. One of the walls of the pool is a natural rock. The rest of the sides are of artificial origin. The length of the reservoir is 25 meters, the width is 10 meters. Unfortunately, there is no infrastructure here, the thermal spring is, in fact, abandoned, and you cannot count on a shower room, but there are changing rooms. The visit is free, the repair and maintenance falls on the shoulders of the volunteers and is carried out entirely at their expense. There is no security here either, so in order to avoid accidents, it is better to have an experienced local guide with you.
The walking journey from the Seljavellir car park to the source will take 15-30 minutes and is a really exciting event. You have to walk through untouched landscapes, climb over a small mountain stream, climb the mountainside. The views are stunning, as are the views from the pool when you dive into the hot water. In 2010, on April 14, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted a huge amount of ash that covered the entire area, as well as covered the thermal spring and pool. Volunteers and visitors have gone to great lengths to clean up the beloved pond, and it is said that the water is now good for the skin. Even on foggy and rainy days, the water is warm, the temperature reaches 20-30 degrees, so plunge into the wonderful pool is a pleasure.
Located at the same distance from Reykjavik, Strutslaug, or also called Holmsarbotnalaug, is another point of exit of geothermal activity on the earth's surface. The journey here is longer, but also more impressive. You will have to cross black sands and a green valley, spending 1-2 hours on the road. The places here have not been mastered by humans at all, so you will have to navigate by the marks on the path that determines the route, and you can forget about changing rooms and showers. Thermal springs fill a natural pool 50 cm deep and 8 meters wide. It is divided by an artificial stone barrier. There is no traveler who can resist the temptation to plunge into it, seeing how steam from the hot springs rises above this small lake. However, you should not move in the water of the thermal spring, because. it quickly takes on a brown color. Relaxing in a hot pond with a temperature of 30-45 degrees, you can enjoy the peace and quiet of Icelandic nature, being in the most relaxed state of mind and body. And after the spring, swimming in the cold water of a mountain glacial river, you will feel much more invigorated!
The reason for the emergence of such thermal springs to the surface may be the Torfajokull glacier, heated by volcanic activity, or the Mýrdalsjökull glacier (Mirdalsjökull), since the lake is located just between these two glaciers. For many decades and centuries, the inhabitants of Iceland have been using the springs for bathing and improving their health. There are no admission fees or other fees, but of course you are expected to help keep the source clean and tidy.
Iceland hides many such wonders behind its external severity of landscapes, but it is such tours, without the usual comfort and coziness, associated with the difficulties of long transitions and contemplation of the indescribable beauty of untouched places, it is these trips that leave the most indelible impressions in memory. After all, you have a chance to leave your personal mark where no man's foot has stepped, a mark in the memory of wild nature. Of course, not everyone will be able to overcome such a path through the mountainous terrain, but with the help of organizers of private excursions and personal guides, you can make it easier for yourself to reach your goal. Recommended for true pioneers and adventure seekers - from your European guide.
This article is a translation. You can get acquainted with the original at the link: . indingtheuniverse. om/best-guided-group-tours-of-iceland/
In this article, we want to share our thoughts on the best sightseeing tours in Iceland. This option is suitable for those who do not want to travel by car, avoiding the difficulties associated with self-driving. In addition, in this case, other people take on all the preparatory work, and you just have to enjoy your vacation, which cannot but rejoice.
One of the options we proposed in the last article is accommodation in the capital of the country, Reykjavik, from where you can take day tours to explore some of Iceland's attractions.
However, this is not the only option. It is also possible to purchase multi-day sightseeing tours in Iceland offered by many travel companies. Excursions differ from each other in group size, cost and duration. We've tried many options and selected the very best Icelandic tours to help you make the right choice.
Whether you are interested in hiking, wildlife, photography, rafting, snowshoeing ... or simply admiring the wilderness of Iceland, you will definitely find the right tour for you!
We have also tried to find options for every budget, from tours with camping stops and overnight stays in mountain shelters to more luxury offers. During some of them, you can see most of the country's territory, while others involve a detailed study of a specific region. Many excursions include activities such as boating, horseback riding, ice caves and northern lights watching.
We are confident that you will surely find a tour that you will enjoy from among the options we offer, whether you are staying in Iceland for 2 days or on a 2 week vacation!
Iceland offers many options for group sightseeing tours. We decided to split them according to the duration, which can range from 2 to 12 days.
Most of the organized Icelandic tours depart from Reykjavik (the capital of the country), some excursions start from Akureyri (the main city in the northern part of the country). Almost all international flights arrive at Keflavik International Airport near Reykjavik. This is Iceland's main airport. From here, you can either book an excursion from Reykjavik or catch a connecting flight to Akureyri in northern Iceland to explore the country from there.
For each tour, we indicate in which months it is available, as many of them are only offered during a certain period. This is due to the fact that different attractions can be seen at different times of the year, and in addition, access to some regions of Iceland is highly seasonal. For example, many tourist attractions are closed or unavailable in winter.
Do not forget that if you are staying in Iceland for a longer time, you can combine tours, or devote part of the trip to organized excursions, and then plan your own itinerary.
Excursion tours in Iceland up to a day