For those who have been to Iceland or those who are planning to go, the Golden Circle route surely must’ve come into play. As one of the top things to do in Iceland, the excursion is an easy day tour from Reykjavík.
What is the Golden Circle?
The Golden Circle is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist routes, covering three main attractions that are within close range from Reykjavík. Visiting these three attractions can easily fill-up one’s day, making it popular among tourists:
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Þingvellir National Park
Though there are other attractions (listed below) that are well-within the vicinity of the main attractions, I suggest you do more than a day in the area should you decide to visit them:
- Apavatn Lake
- Bruarfoss Waterfall
- Faxifoss Waterfall
- Secret Lagoon
Do note that Golden Circle’s three main attractions deserve an unrushed and relaxed visit, as fully-appreciating its magnificence warrants time.
- Price (per person) – 9.900 ISK / approximately US$95
- Duration – 8 hours excluding hotel pick-up and drop-off
- Tour Departure Time – 8:00am / 9:00am, depending on which one you choose
- Tour Departure Place – BSI Bus Terminal
- Pick-Up Place – your centrally-located hotel; you get picked-up from your hotel by a smaller vehicle, get dropped-off at the BSI Bus Terminal, where your tour bus departs from
- Pick-Up Time from hotel – approximately 30 minutes before your tour departure time
- Group Size – big; we filled a whole bus during our tour, so there was around 40-50 of us
- Inclusions in Price – Transportation, Guided Tour, Admission to Friðheimar Cultivation Centre
As we departed from the BSI Bus Terminal and drove through incredible scenery, we headed towards one of Iceland’s biggest greenhouses as our first stop, where we learned about how they grow vegetables in cold climate through greenhouse horticulture processes. The best part of this stop was that there was a small restaurant inside the Greenhouse, where we were served with complimentary tomato soup and freshly-baked bread.
Located in Haukadalur, Iceland is the Great Geysir, by which all other geysers owe their name to.One attraction that most people gather around is Strokkur, which is the most active geyser in the area, shooting up hot water as high was 30 meters every 6-8 minutes. The water is incredibly hot, so best to keep a safe distance like we did – okay, maybe we stayed a bit too far! Lol. My favorite part of this attraction is when you get on higher ground as you hike up, amidst all the mud you’d have to walk through, you get a gorgeous view of the Haukadalur Valley. Right across the Geysir area is a tourist center, where they have a restaurant, a little shop, and toilets you could use – this is where we had our quick lunch (on our own account) before heading to the next destination.
You can even buy canned Fresh Icelandic Mountain Air from the shop.
Onwards we went to our next attraction on the list, one of the most popular waterfalls in all of Iceland: Gullfoss Waterfalls. As you arrive by bus, you’ll get off in the parking lot, which is still quite a walk away from the actual falls; but you’ll instantly get one of the most beautiful views you’ll have ever seen. As we made our way towards the falls, it was incredible windy! The wind was going against us, so we had to take it step by step, else we might’ve have fallen – that’s how bad the wind was.Despite vigilant efforts not to topple over due to the wind, I nearly fell, since the wind was by far the worst I’ve experienced; but we knew we had to keep going: the view was going to be worth it. And how right we were! Once you get to the area overlooking the falls, you’ll have to stop and take this wonder in. I literally gasped at how majestic it looked; and no, photos will never ever do justice.
From the view-deck, you can make your way down to the falls through wooden steps and a walk way that’ll lead you right to the middle of it.If you’re contemplating whether or not to head towards the falls, don’t even think about it and just go! You have to! We were given about an hour and a half in this attraction and saw some people who just took a look at the view and went to the café near the parking lot; I couldn’t help but think that they missed-out on a great experience. Though the wind can get you down, it gets a bit better once you go down the stairs; but still, the challenge will be worth it! We easily consumed the whole hour and a half walking around, admiring the view, and taking photos of this incredible scenery.
To this day, I deem Gullfoss as one of the most spectacular sites I have seen to date.
Þingvellir National Park
Due to its cultural and historical importance and in addition, its spectacular beauty, Þingvellir remains to be one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. This UNESCO Heritage Site is, indeed, otherworldly in terms of landscapes. Unfortunately, the rain was strong during this visit, so we didn’t get to take a lot of photos; but it was a good thing we got to go back another day, while we were on another tour (more on that next time). There are several viewpoints by which you can truly admire all that surrounds you, but my favorite part is walking past the rock walls, which will surely make you feel you’re in a movie. Þingvellir was definitely the perfect end to this day trip from Reykjavík. The drive back to the city from Þingvellir takes only about 40 minutes max., so you’ll be back in your hotel before 6 in the evening – in time for dinner and if in season, your Northern Lights tour.
What to Bring & Wear:
- Earphones – it’s pretty majestic listening to music as you drive through Iceland, so I recommend this
- Water Bottle – you’d want to stay hydrated all throughout the day, wouldn’t you?
- Snacks – just a few snacks in your bag, in case of emergency; though you’ll have lots of opportunities to purchase some along the way
- Quilted / rain coat – to ensure you’re kept warm and to serve as protection from the rain (should there be any), bring a coat and even better, one that’s quilted
- Pants – do not wear skirts / shorts if you want to be comfortable throughout the trip; pants are a must
- Waterproof Boots – for this trip, I purchased Columbia Omni Waterproof boots, which I highly recommend to keep you warm and safe from all the boiling mud pits, the splashes of the waterfalls, or any other rocky surfaces you’d have to walk on. You do not want wet shoes ruining your trip!
Why to Book:
- First off, it’s incredibly cheap. For less than a hundred dollars, you’ll get so much out of this tour.
- The attractions included in this tour are out of this world and can’t be experienced elsewhere.
- Not only are the attractions a must, but the drive is incredibly scenic, so you’ll enjoy every single moment.