Been here? Rate It!
Golden Circle tour
I would have prefered to do this on my own, but tha´s only possible with a bicycle or a rental car since outside of Reykjavík public transport is not a real opion. Bustravel Iceland was the cheapest i could find, 6500 ISK or 5850 ISK if booked online, i was picked up by minibus, it went to Faxi waterfall, Gulfoss waterfall, the Geysir and Thingvellir National Park with the Rift valley and the site of the first Viking parliament, and lucky i had a sunny day.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
The Golden of the Golden Circle
The Golden Waterfalls... I love this place. Our travel planner from (Northernlightsiceland/Ferdamenn) had set us up with tour around the Golden Circle and snowmobiling with Northern lights hunting. It was quite late when we arrive in Gullfoss yet we still witnessed the magnificent falls! It was amazing. Our anticipation started at the parking lot where we have to walk few steps to the cliff. I was afraid of heights, yes, i was... but when I saw this. My fright turned into glee. I was staring at the water. I couldn't move, just there admiring the great waterfalls.
Our tour guide told us it is actually two waterfalls now flows as one. The powerful flow just made the water looks like it is disappearing on the earth. It was fantastic. But we have to move on to the next stop. I will definitely going to visit here again, on summer next time.
Must-Do:Golden Circle tour - Iceland in a nutshell
Of course we did the Golden Circle tour. I had booked it at home with Grey Lines. They picked us up at the hotel in a small bus, and after exchanging our vouchers we were taken to a big bus.
The tour started in the morning when it was still dark, but since the first stop was inside a geothermal powerplant, this wasn't too bad. There is a free part inside the entrance hall with various vulcanic rocks on display. Upstairs there is a museum, the entrance fee is not included in the tour.
On our way to the next stop I was not too happy with our tourguide. She kept saying "on your left you see this and on your right you see that" while it was still pitchdark and foggy and nobody could see anything. But this was the only point, apart from that she was good and told us a lot.
The next stop was the old Bishop's seat Skálholt Church. By then it was daylight and even though it was still foggy we could see the great scenery.
Shortly afterwards it started snowing and when we reached the Gulfoss waterfall, everything was white and the paths to the waterfall were slippery. But who cared, we just had to walk carefully and the waterfall simply is magnificent. I took so many pictures that my memocard was full and I had to exchange it. While I was doing this both cards got wet and some of the pictures were lost, others have big, white spots on them.
Next stop was the geysir area. For me this was the most impressive part of the whole trip. The big geysir is just great, but especially the way in which the whole area is bubbling and gurgling impressed my very much. There were two tiny geysirs which looked like they were still practising. Okay, a serious geologist would never say such a thing, but I was a simple tourist and was allowed to anthropomorphise.
The last stop was the Thingvellir National Park with the meeting place of the one of the oldest democratic parliaments of the world. By then it was getting dark again, but we could still see enough to be able to walk around before the bus took us back to Reykjavik.
I thought the tour was well organised and allowed enough time to get a good impression of the highlights. In a rented car and on our own I would probably have spent more time at the geysirs and Gulfoss, but all in all I can recommed this tour.
The Golden Circle Tour -stop one.
We passed over lava field after lava field. Our guide explained that the older ones are covered with vegetation, the younger are charred and the first thing to grow on the lava is grey moss. Our first stop was a wonderful crater lake. So beautiful!
Golden Circle Tour.
We prefer to use public transport if we can but really enjoyed this organised tour. We booked it through a company called Bustravel Iceland. It cost 6500 isk each. Cheaper than other tours we saw advertised. It lasted around 6 hours. We were picked up at midday by car surprisingly then taken to the coach (no toilet on coach). The driver/guide was informative and very funny. The tour was thoroughly enjoyable and I strongly recommend it. I will put the places visited as separate tips below.
- National/State Park
It is a circle of sights that is most achievable in one day out of Reykjavik. I did the golden circle and then drove on as far as Hella - this was a perfect distance and amount of sight seeing in one day.
The golden circle consists of PINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK, GULFOSS and GEYSIR.
All tours do the Golden Circle tour - everybody that comes to Reykjavik surely does the Golden Circle... and it is quite wonderful - especially with your own wheels so you can do it at your own speed and also stop at other places (you will see so much more and be less herded). Also, being in Iceland in winter means a lot less visitors (in the summer there are more visitors in Iceland than there are inhabitants) and the Golden Circle is at the top of the list... it was wonderful having this places to ourselves.
- National/State Park
Great 4x4 Golden Circle tour
Me and my family went on a 4x4 tour with Discover 4x4 Superjeep Tours in Iceland (www.discover.is) and had a good fun with great guides. We stoped at Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir which is a must see for anyone going to Iceland. The guide took us to the Langjokull Glacier on Nissan Patrol with large tires and I must say that was the peak point of our tour. Liked the Icelandic food.
- Adventure Travel
- Road Trip
4*4 wheel drive and snow mobiling
We did a tour with Mountaineers of Iceland - brilliant! Got picked up in a huge 4 wheel drive car - seating around 10 people and set off for our golden circle tour. Great tour company - great drivers! We went up to the Geyser then onto do some four wheel driving on the snow up to the snow mobiles. Amazing!!!! Got all the gear and set off to see the glacier - was so much fun!
Definitely look up this company!!
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
- National/State Park
Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant
Ok, I know that a trip to a power plant might not be high on people's agenda when visiting Iceland and when I heard we would be visiting Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant on our tour of the Golden Circle I was less than excited.
However, I have to admit, it was quite an interesting and infomative stop on our tour and showed how Iceland is leading the way in exploring ways to harness the naturally occuring power of the Icelandic Hot Temperature areas.
The plant, which is run by Orkuveita Reykjavikur, uses the natural hot water present in the area to provide energy for homes and businesses in Reykjavik and its surrounding area. In fact most of the cities homes are heated geothermally using this method. The footpaths and roads in Reykjavik are even kept ice free during the winter using geothermally heated pipes laid underneath!
The plant has guided tours and media presentaions to show just how they use geothermal energy in this fully sustainable method and is hoping to export this energy in the future. Orkuveita Reykjavikur has already assited in the setting up of a similar plant in China and in this age of climate change, where people are looking for more sustainable energy sources, the Icelanders are certainly showing what can be done to provide a really workable method of environmentally friendly energy supply.
Somewhat surprisingly, the tour of the plant was very worthwhile and interesting and the guides working in the plant are very friendly and informative. They are justifiably very proud of their natural energy and are very dedicated to spreading their methods and expertise worldwide.
Hveragerði is a worth a stop if following the Golden Circle although you probably won't stay long! The small town is built in a natural hot area where hot underground water is used to geothermally heat hot houses in the town to grow plants, vegetables and fruit.
The Eden centre is where most poeple stop and where a lot of Golden Circle tours stop - mainly to give visitors a chance to buy even more souvenirs and trinkets from the gift shop. There is also a restaurant and coffee shop all built along a short indoor 'street'. This is probably one of the only places in Iceland where you can find a more traditionally European, tree-lined street!!!
The main thing to see here are the hot houses where vegetables, plants and fruit (including bananas!!! are grown so that Iceland does not actually have to imprt all its fruit and veg. It is just another example of the ingenuity and enterprise of the Icelandic people.
Not much to see here so it can be avoided if on a tight schedule but it is nice to share your 'tourist' money around, outside the main tourist areas and contribute to the local economy.
It might be a good idea to visit Faxi Waterfall before moving towards Gullfoss, because after seeing the incredible beauty and power of Gullfoss, poor little Faxifoss just doesn't compare.
This does not justify this 'other' stunning Golden Circle waterfall which is very impressive in its own right.
The falls are located on the River Tungurfljot and tumble in a stright cataract from a bend in the river before turning sharpely to the left. A tiny island right in front of the falls and a salmon ladder identifies the falls. One of the main reasons to visit the falls is the fact that they are more secluded and less visited than the more famous Gullfoss and so you can enjoy these falls without the crowds of visitors that are nearly always present at Gullfoss.
The falls are very well known by Icelandic fishermen who come here to fish for salmon. However, the privilege of fishing for salmon here at Faxi costs over €200 a day!
Well worth the short detour off the Skálholt, Geysir route.
- National/State Park
Skálholt is included on most Golden Circle Tours and is considered the home of organised religion in Iceland. Skáholt was the seat of the bishopric since the 11th century. A wooden Cathedral was established here and later Iceland's first official school was also situated here.
By the 13th century it had become Iceland's largest settlement with a massive population of 200 people!
Skálholt become an important centre for learning and religion which lasted until a devastating earthquake in the 18th century caused the bishopric to move to Reykjavik.
In a lot of ways the interior and the exterior of the church doesn't live up to the major historical significance attached to it, especially when comparing it to major churches and cathedrals around the world but is worth a look even if only for the unusual mosaic of Christ behind the main altar and the colourful stained glass windows which play with the light coming through tham casting colourful patterns along the white walls and floor.
The scenery from the church is also beautiful looking out over the marchy plains towards the mountains. There is ongoing excavations going on around the church which has uncovered the former bishops residence among other important finds.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
OK, so everybody does it, everybody knows about it and anybody planning a trip to Iceland already has it pencilled in to do, but I can hardly write tips on Iceland without including a tip on this Iceland 'must do'.
No matter how much you like to steer clear of the crowds of tourists, you simply cannot skip the Golden Circle because of the amazing history and geography attached to the route. The crowds are unavoidable, although acually not too bad when I visited in November.
You can do the Golden Circle either independently in a rental car or if you want to avoid the ofen frustrating and hazardous Icelandic roads, you can take one of the dreaded 'tourist' buses which provide a guided tours of the main sights of the Golden Circle.
All tours include stops at Þingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss with most also stopping at Hveragerði, Skálholt and a geothermal power plant. Some also stop at another impressive water fall at Faxi.
Some tours can also include add ons taking in some caving, galcier snowmobiles, horse riding, diving and snorkelling to name just a few options. You can also do an off-road vesion of the Golden Circle in a 4X4 'Super-Jeep'.
Although I am not a huge fan of organised nbus tours, it has to be said that the tour I took with Iceland Excursions was very good, for lenght at the stops, price and information and was very well organised with on time pick-ups and drop-offs to your hotel. Reykjavik Excursion Tour company also seems to be very good and well organised.
Some Golden Circle Tours are more expensive than others so make sure you shop around for a good deal and make sure you check the itinerary of the tour to see what is included.
The tour we got was around €53 which we thought was excellent value for money but this tour would usually be more expensive but we obviously came to Iceland at a great time for us because of the low value of the Icelandic Kroner during October/November 2008. Some tours didn't account for this value drop so were as expensive as always but in fairness to the Iceland Excursion company their prices dropped in line with the fall of the Kroner.
Some of the main stops on the Golden Circle tour are included in the following tips.
- National/State Park
Golden Circle Express Tour
We took the golden circle express tour which took in Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss Waterfall and lots of nice scenery. The bus driver also entertained us with Iceland folk stories. This trip is worth it as it was all very impressive!
- Historical Travel
- National/State Park
I know some people are against using tour companies and sometimes we have wondered that ourselves but i have nothing but praise from Reykjavik Excursions. They pick up and drop off at your hotel, they were always on time, polite and the coachs in excellent condition.
Your 1st encounter with RE will probably be the Flybus from the airport. You are taken to the main bus station were you are then told to stay on that coach or are put onto another one to be taken to your hotel.
We used them for 3 trips.
South Shore. By far one of the best trips we have done anywhere in the world. We saw waterfalls, a musuem of all things Icelandic, the black sanded beach of Vik, fasinating rock formations and the best of all a glacier. We were lucky as at this time of year it is very hit and miss whether they can go to the glacier with the road conditions. It really was a great day and well worth the money. the guide was very knowledgeable and was very amusing too.
Golden Circle. Again a great tour where you get to see the massive waterfall at Gullfoss and the Geysirs. Our weather was not the best so seening the geysirs was quite tricky but again was good. We also went to the National Park were you get to cross the Atlantic Rift and see how the plates of the Earth are pulling apart.
Blue Lagoon. It was lightly snowing when we went and was very bizarre to be sat in a steaming pool of geothermic water at a lovely 39 degrees whilst it is freezing cold. the silica mud to put on your face and body is very cleansing and leaves your skin nice and soft. There is also a steam and sauna plus a wonderful waterfall which you can stand under. We got the tour that drops people back at the airport but it also goes back to Reykjavik too. We left at 11.00 and you leave the Blue Lagoon at 14.10, you get around 1 hour 40 minutes in the lagoon and that is plenty of time.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Book online.
- Hotels.com See maps & reviews for over 140,000 Hotels worldwide!
Reykjavík Travel Guide
Explore the World
- Monmouth Beach Hotels
- Beavers Bend State Park Hotels
- Palma de Mallorca
- La Spezia
- Laoag City
- Marigondon Hotels
- Madgaon Hotels