Should I book an Escorted Holiday to Iceland?
Will Gray, our in-house Travel Writer
Iceland: Land of Fire, Ice & Self-drive Holidays. It’s perhaps not surprising that Europe’s rough diamond has become such a popular destination for self-drive. Collect your hire car at the airport and off you go… joining the dots between a seemingly endless procession of natural wonders. Excellent roads, little traffic, a wide choice of touring routes, great places to stay… if you book a self-drive with Discover with World, you even get a nifty iDiscover iPad digital travel companion.
So, why would you consider an escorted holiday instead? On each of the five occasions I’ve visited Iceland, I’ve always opted for self-drive. Recently, however, I joined an escorted tour to Husafell in West Iceland to discover the special appeal of this style of travel.
"We wanted to get as much of an experience as we could in the short time we had available."
Who goes on an escorted holiday?
Our small group of 14 consisted of couples, single travellers and a family. Ages ranged from teenagers to retirees. Some had been to Iceland before, others hadn’t. The single common theme that united our group was a desire for ‘shared experiences’.
“Many of the experiences on the trip were made more remarkable by being able to discuss what we saw with our fellow travellers and to get different perspectives,” said Rick and Maggie. “Relaxing in the hotel restaurant or on the coach was a very sociable way of enjoying each others’ company.”
Why escorted rather than self-drive?
For some, an escorted holiday simply offers peace of mind – especially on a winter trip. It’s reassuring to know that a professional driver/guide is behind the wheel, and that your itinerary has been planned by experts who know the country well, whatever the season.
Escorted holidays also add a degree of efficiency: “We wanted to get as much of an experience as we could in the short time we had available,” explained one couple.
In just a few days, our Northern Lights at Husafell holiday effortlessly combined long, beautiful drives through the mountains and fjords of West Iceland with an ‘Into the Glacier’ icecap adventure, an expert-guided tour of the Golden Circle and a wide range of other experiences – from waterfalls and Icelandic horses to fine dining and aurora hunting.
John had only ever self-driven before in Ireland. “The thought of doing so in Iceland on my own was rather daunting,” he said. “I wanted some company and a shared experience.” Nick, on the other hand, was an old hand, with seven Iceland trips under his belt: “I was looking for a short break to introduce my son to the country whilst not having the need to spend each day behind the wheel.”
Is an escorted holiday a good option for first-time visitors?
For many people, it makes perfect sense to get a feel for a new destination by joining an expert-guided holiday where all the logistics are taken care of. “Everything was in place,” said Lindsay and Meuryn. “All we had to do was turn up!”
An escorted holiday also works well as a ‘primer’ for anyone contemplating a future self-drive: “We saw this as a 'taster' holiday with a view to returning on a self-drive basis when we had more idea of what the roads were like and how easy it would be to get about.”
What’s the best part about travelling on an escorted holiday?
There’s no doubt that a great guide can elevate a good holiday into something really special. On our Northern Lights at Husafell trip, John did just that.
According to Rick and Maggie, “What made the three days most memorable for us was how the various parts were woven so skilfully together by our guide, John, whose love of the country and its folklore seemed to be exceeded only by his wit and enthusiasm for engaging with us as a group and as individuals.”
Nick was equally enthusiastic: “I was hugely impressed by our guide's knowledge and insights. You don't get that on a self-drive holiday.”
“He was a real gem,” said John. “His knowledge was astounding.”
Why Iceland for an escorted holiday?“
To me Iceland has so much to offer,” explained Nick. “From the fabulous scenery and landscape, the friendliness of the people to the atmosphere in the towns. It seems to draw you in and won't let you go. I'm already thinking about next time.”
Rick and Maggie first visited Iceland on honeymoon in 1981. “We had often wondered how the place had changed or indeed whether it had really changed at all. We loved the wide open spaces, the clear air, the sheer grandeur and unusual nature of the scenery everywhere we looked, and the friendliness of everyone we spoke with. The fact that everyone spoke English was also a bonus! It might have taken us 36 years to come back, but the wait was worth it… we should have returned sooner.”
Five of the Best Iceland Escorted Holidays
- Northern Lights at Husafell Head to West Iceland’s stunning Hotel Husafell for great food, superb aurora potential and an Into the Glacier tour (3nts, Nov-Mar)
- Northern Lights Special Spend two nights at idyllic Hotel Ranga, renowned for its aurora watching, and explore the famous Golden Circle route (3nts, Oct-Mar)
- Introducing Iceland Experience an incredible range of Iceland’s natural wonders and hidden gems, travelling full-circle around the country (8nts, Jun-Sep)
- Absolute Iceland Explore Highland tracks and hidden gems, travelling in a luxury 4WD vehicle driven by legendary guide, Gudmundur ‘Gummi’ Gunnarsson (15nts, Jun-Sep)
- Northern Countryside & Highlands With a top guide at the wheel, drive to North Iceland and back on two spectacular Highland routes, and spend time exploring Lake Myvatn (6nts, Jul)
Send an enquiry or call one of our dedicated Travel Specialists on 1-844-584-0668 for help in planning your next Iceland holiday.
Discover the World have been Iceland holiday experts for 35 years and offer an unrivalled collection of self-drive and escorted tours.
Popular blog posts
From stays in converted coal miners' cabins and luxury lodges to electric fat-bikes, schooner safaris and dog sleds on wheels: find our what's new in Svalbard for 2018...