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Golden Circle Tour
Reykjavik Excursions runs many excursions from the BSI Bus Terminal including the very popular Golden Circle which takes you outside the city to see some of the natural wonders of Iceland. This day long tour starts out with a stop at a tomato hot house (see my tourist trap tip). Then you head on to Geysir where the spouts from Strokkur go off every few minutes. Gullfoss, the golden waterfall is next a very different experience in summer and winter. Þingvellir National Park is my favorite stop, the place has a special feeling. It is an area where the world is tearing itself apart as the plates of Europe and North America are separating. It is also the sight of the Parliament (930 ad) the oldest in Europe. The success of your tour depends largely upon the guide. There is a lot of time on the bus and the guide fills the gap with his/her knowledge of the area and her ability to keep a busload of tourists entertained. Cost of the Golden Circle Tour is 9500 ISK. Many hotels have pickup and droopy, but if you can find your own way home, get off at the BSI for a special treat! The Fljótt go Gott inside the BSI features the #13 svið að hætti BSI, also known as kjammi or sheep head. (1650 ISK) including a soft drink.
- Study Abroad
- National/State Park
- Family Travel
„Golden Circle“ (Reykjavik Excursions)
This is probably the most classic and at the same time most touristy rote in Iceland. It includes three of the most popular sights in the country: Thingvellir (National Park, including UNESCO-inscribed site of the first parliament), Gullfoss (Iceland's most famous waterfall) and Haukadalur geothermical area (including THE Geysir).
A couple of companies offer the Golden Circle, I opted for the evening half-day tour of one of the largest operators, Reykjavik Excursions. The price was 8500 ISK (2014) and was more than worth it! Had a nice tour group with a great tour guide who also got us to some off the beaten – path spots on the way. This included a freshwater lake to fill our drinking bottles with the purest water I have ever seen and free tomatoes cultivated in an Icelandic Greenhouse. All three sites are easy to manage within half a day and there was no hurry at all.
Bookings for Reykjavik Excursions are taken online, at the central bus station as well as some travel offices. Most of the excursions also leave from the central bus station, alternatively a hotel picup can be arranged.
The single sites are described as separate tips. As these places are not in Reykjavik, they can be found under their respective area:
- National/State Park
Easily done on your own !!!
When exploring options to do the Golden Circle …. we realized most of the tour companies charge about the same prices …. about 9500 ISK around $80 US dollars per person.
Being that Iceland is a relative modern country with great roads we decided to rent a car instead and do it on our own pace …. One can rent a car in downtown Reykjavik for about $45 US plus another $30 US in gas and do it on your own …. the road signs for the Golden Circle are perfectly shown and getting lost would be very difficult at best.
If your by yourself then I would say do the tour … but if your more than 1person … I would say rent a car and do it on your own …. that way you can stop when you want, take as much time as you want, eat when you want,etc., and not be held hostage by inconsiderate tourist.
The Golden Circle is a must do …. We took about 8 hours for the entire trip …. and for the most part it's simple easy driving seeing some spectacular landscapes from plains to lakes to rivers, to horses and sheep ….
Well worth the effort to do it …..
Great Tour with an Excellent Guide:
Before leaving for my vacation in Reykjavik, I booked a Golden Circle Tour through Bustravel Iceland (website bustravel.is) for September 10. I was picked up on time at the hostel and stayed on the same small bus for the tour. Bustravel's buses may be a little older than some of their competition, but their price is better and their driver/guide, Ragnar Thorsson, was one of the best I've ever had. He was knowledgeable (he had been a reporter), interesting, patient, and above all else, had a wicked sense of humour. The pace of the tour was great; we had plenty of time at the various sites (especially at Geysir), and Ragnar told us lots of fascinating information about his country and culture. It's obvious that is he proud of his country and its accomplishments and enjoys his job and meeting foreign guests. I would certainly recommend Bustravel for tours from Reykjavik.
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
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