Experience Iceland’s magnificent Golden Circle!
Iceland’s Golden Circle is one of the country’s most popular tourist trails – and for good reason. Within a circuit doable in a day from Icelandic capital Reykjavik is a selection of some of the country’s finest and most spellbinding sights.
Season Tours is one of many Icelandic tour operators offering guided tours around the Golden Circle and Iceland Monitor was given the opportunity to join in on an exciting journey around this stunning area of the country.
8:30am and guide for the day Gunnar begins his rounds picking up day-trippers direct from their Reykjavik accommodation.
After a smile and some friendly words of welcome, Gunnar launched into his informative commentary of the surroundings we were driving through, starting from the very centre of Reykjavik city.
First stop was the small town of Mosfellsbær to sit down with a cup of coffee and a cake to stock up on energy for the day ahead and get to know each other.
We then took the usual road north in the direction of the Þingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland’s ancient parliament. But – as a very pleasant surprise – Gunnar turned left off the main road some way before Þingvellir to show us a more off-the-beaten-track destination.
Þórufoss waterfall, set in stunning valley carved out of the volcanic landscapes over successive ice ages, is a less well-known Golden Circle sight, but certainly worth the detour. Scenes from the famous Game of Thrones series were filmed here.
Onwards to Þingvellir and a wonderful account from Gunnar of the geological features of the area, where the European and North American tectonics are moving apart.
The man-made Viking waterfall of Öxarárfoss and the shimmeringly beautiful cold-water Flosagjá pool were highlights at this stop.
By this stage, the group was well and truly ready for a hearty lunch. After a quick stop at the Vígða Laug christening pool and body stones – with fascinating historical commentary from Gunnar – we were treated to a sensational lobster bisque at the nearby Lindin restaurant. Clean bowls and thumbs up all round!
After lunch, it was straight on to the iconic Gullfoss waterfall, the majestic grandeur of which needs no description. This was followed by another more off-the-beaten-track stop in the valley of Haukadalur, the highlights of which were the beautiful church and a visit to a ‘real’ troll’s grave!
With Gunnar’s impressive geological, historical and botanical knowledge keeping us informed at every stage, it was on to the Geysir geothermal area to enjoy – and hopefully catch a good snapshot of – the iconic spouting hot spring Strokkur.
Gullfoss and Geysir are often seen as the be-all-and-end-all of the Golden Circle – and they are indeed fantastic destinations. However, Gunnar still had a couple of brilliant extra tricks up his sleeve for the return journey back to Reykjavik.
First was the Faxi (meaning ‘horse’s mane’) waterfall, so named because the elongated and cambered cascade was thought to be reminiscent of the shape of the mane of a horse.
This was followed by the stunning red-earth Kerið volcanic crater. The eerie surroundings and bare geology of site, coupled with the attractiveness of the pool having formed inside the crater make it the ideal site for viewing, strolling and – of course – the obligatory selfie!
Return to Reykjavik is around 5:30pm and day-trippers are driven right back to their accommodation after a very full day of wonderful sights, expert guidance and good Icelandic fresh air.
More details on the Season Tours Golden Circle Tour can be found here. The price for an adult is currently quoted as ISK 26,950 (approx.: €190; $220; £150).