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Many travelers reflexively dismiss organized tours and packages, but Iceland is a good place for even the most independent-minded traveler to reconsider. Many of the most fascinating parts of the country are difficult to access on your own, and tour companies can save you tons of time in research and planning. Icelanders themselves often sign up with the same tour companies used by tourists.

Major Icelandic Operators

Icelandair (tel. 570-3039; www.icelandair.com) has all kinds of tours and packages, while its domestic counterpart Air Iceland (www.airiceland.is) offers day tours to Lake Mývatn, the Westman Islands, and several other locations. Icelandair offers not only the usual air/hotel packages but also a good selection of outdoor adventure tours and special-interest tours, including "Ghosts, Elves, and Trolls."

Reykjavík Excursions (tel. 562-1011; www.re.is), Iceland's largest tour company, has an enormous selection of tours to choose from; most but not all rely primarily on bus travel. Iceland Excursions (tel. 540-1313; www.icelandexcursions.is), Iceland's second largest tour company, is equally prolific and reputable. Iceland Total (tel. 585-4300; www.icelandtotal.com), one of Iceland's biggest travel agencies, rounds out the big three.

Nordic Adventure Travel (tel. 898-0355; www.nat.is) is an excellent resource for outdoor adventure tours, often with online booking discounts. Guðmundur Jónasson Travel (tel. 511-1515; www.gjtravel.is), a long-established company, has an interesting range of cross-country adventures, and is especially good for tours that involve light hiking.

Nonni Travel (tel. 461-1841; www.nonnitravel.is) is the leading tour operator in Akureyri, Iceland's "second city." Offerings include rafting, whale-watching, and other adventures, as well as the usual bus tours.

West Tours (tel. 456-5111; www.westtours.is), a recommended company with a creative range of tours, is the leading operator in the Westfjords.

North American Operators

Adventures Abroad (tel. 800/227-8747; www.adventures-abroad.com) has a well-designed 10-day cultural tour of Iceland in August.

Borton Overseas (tel. 800/843-0602; www.bortonoverseas.com), a Minneapolis-based specialist in Africa and Scandinavia, has a good range of Iceland offerings.

Butterfield & Robinson (tel. 866/551-9090; www.butterfield.com), a prestigious upscale company, has a very well-designed 8-day moderate-activity walking tour, and a trip for families with children 8 and up.

Continental Journeys (tel. 800/601-4343; www.continentaljourneys.com) is a good clearinghouse for a wide variety of Iceland tours, both escorted and independent, summer and winter. Five Stars of Scandinavia (tel. 800/722-4126; www.5stars-of-scandinavia.com), based in Olympia, WA, is a similar outfit.

The affiliated Great Canadian Travel Company in Winnipeg (tel. 800/661-3830) and Travel 333 Chicago (tel. 800/771-4833; both www.iceland-experience.com) have a good range of tours, including cruises and a 10-day "Iceland on a Budget" self-drive tour for under $2,000, with airfare from NYC.

Iceland America (tel. 866/892-1045; www.icelandamerica.com) is particularly good for air/hotel self-drive packages and weekend romps in Reykjavík. Iceland Saga Travel (tel. 866/423-7242; www.icelandsagatravel.com), based in Nantucket, MA, is similarly useful. Nordic Saga Tours (tel. 800-848-6449; www.nordicsaga.com), based in Edmonds, WA, has a carefully selected list of Iceland tours.

Odysseys Unlimited (tel. 888-370-6765; www.odysseys-unlimited.com), a well-regarded company based in Watertown, MA, has an excellent 11-day escorted tour crisscrossing the country for $3,200 and up, including airfare.

Scanam World Tours (tel. 800-545-2204; www.scanamtours.com) is a prominent Scandinavian specialist based in Cranbury, NJ, with a good range of Iceland options.

Scantours (tel. 800-223-7226; www.scantours.com), based in Los Angeles, has an enormous range of Iceland tours impressively laid out by type and departure date. The site is especially useful for scoping out off-season trips, spa trips, and cruise options.

U.K. Operators

Arctic Experience Holidays (tel. 01737/218-800; www.arctic-experience.co.uk) has basic city break and self-drive tours, plus more singular options, such as horseback riding or diving tours.

Explore Worldwide (tel. 0870/333-4001; www.explore.co.uk) serves up general small-group tours of Iceland, plus "super Jeep" and volcano specialties.

Scantours (tel. 020/7554-3530; www.scantours.co.uk) has something for every taste, from basic fly/drive packages to multi-day horseback riding tours.

Taber Holidays (tel. 01274/875-199; www.taberhols.co.uk), a Scandinavian specialist, has a well-rounded list of 10 regional tours, and can also customize your itinerary. Regent Holidays (tel. 0845/277-3301; www.regent-iceland.com) specializes in Iceland and Greenland, and offers basic, foolproof, escorted and self-drive tours to popular sites. Yes Travel (tel. 0845/300-4845; www.yes-travel.com), an Iceland specialist, has an excellent website with a wealth of independent and escorted tour options.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.