The Golden Circle covers three of the most famous attractions in Iceland. Geysir, a world famous erupting geothermal hot spring. Gullfoss, one of Icelands most magnificent waterfalls and the historic Þingvellir National Park. All Golden circle tours can be booked online with short notice, even on the same day. The Golden Circle is an essential day tour for anyone visiting Iceland.
Geysir is a collection of hot springs in a geothermal area in the south west of Iceland. The most famous geyser Strokkur erupts every 6-10 minutes and shoots hot water 20 meters (70 feet) up in the air.
This natural phenomenon and display of volcanic power is truly amazing. Seeing a geyser erupt a sight that can't be missed for anyone visiting Iceland.
The geysers are in an area called Haukadalur about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Reykjavik. Once you are there you will see steam rising from the ground. Many hotsprings and hot rivers are located in the area. Be careful to not step in the hot water when walking around but don't worry too much as they are clearly marked.
In the area you will also find a visitor center with facilities. Food can be bought at Hótel Geysir and the Glíma restaurant & coffeeshop. At the Geysir store you can buy souvenirs, Icelandic designer clothing and more.
Gullfoss (Golden falls) is one of Icelands most majestic waterfalls. Gullfoss is located about 1.5 hours away from Reykjavik. The waterfall originates in the Langjökull glacier and gets it's name from the gold hue it gives off as it tumbles downward into the canyon.
The waterfall is a part of Ölfusá river and drops down into a crevice of 32 meters (105 ft) in two steps being 11 meters and 21 meters each.
On many occasions rainbows can be observed dancing across the top of this magnificent sight. Gullfoss has an interesting history that involves investors trying to harness its awesome power. Thanks to one woman's (Sigríður Tómasdóttir) efforts to preserve the nature it's still with us today.
The waterfall can viewed from a few different locations. The upper deck next to the visitor center gives a great view from above. By walking down the staircase the waterfall can be viewed from the lower deck. From there the waterfall seems to vanish into the earth.
From the lower deck you can walk a path that leads towards the first plunge of the waterfall. This will give you a great view into the crevice and a feeling of the true power of the waterfall. This path can be closed if conditions are considered too risky.
Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir) is Icelands most historic site. This is where the worlds first parliament was established by the vikings in 930 AD. Thingvellir was designated as a world heritage site in 2004. Þingvellir is located close to Reykjavik, only about 40 minutes drive away.
Þingvellir is also a natural treasure with it's vast lava fields and rivers leading into Icelands largest lake. The Þingvellir valley has been an inspiration for numerous painters and photographers alike.
Starting from the visitor center you walk out to the scenic deck known as Hakið where you can and witness the magnificent lava formation. You can almost witness the continental drift as you take a walk between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
As you walk down towards the valley you can read interesting tidbits about our history, viking era and how the laws of the land were establisted at Lögberg a great scenic point.
Þingvellir is also a popular spot for snorkling and diving as the crystal clear fissures of Silfra offer a once in lifetime experience.
Kerið is a volcanic crater that is often visited as an addition on the Golden Circle tour. The Kerið caldera was formed 3000 years ago and is about 55m deep (180 ft) and 270m wide (890ft). You can walk around it or venture down to it. At the bottom you will find a small lake with a vivid aquamarine blue despite it's shallow depth.
Kerið is a beautiful sight and a great addition to the Golden Circle if time allows. The express and combo tours don't always have time to stop at this sight but some of the grander excursions do.
The Golden Circle is a 300 KM route that departs from Reykjavik and makes stops at Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss. All stops include a visitor center where you can grab snacks, get souvenirs and use the facilities. Extra stops can be made at Kerið crater or at local farms where guests can interact with the Icelandic horse and taste some of the local produce.
Guided day tours to the Golden circle take about 6 to 8 hours depending on the stops. At each stop you will spend up to 60 minutes. If activities such as snowmobiling, glacier excursions or hot spring bathing is added the trip will extend to 10-12 hours. Tours are offered in a regular coach, mini bus, SUV and super jeep both as a part of a group or as private tours.
All tours offer pickup from major hotels and guesthouses in Reykjavik as well as the designated bus stops downtown. Some tours offer to pickup in neighbouring townships such as Kópavogur, Garðabær, Seltjarnarnes, Hafnarfjörður and Mosfellsbær. A few tours also start in Reykjanesbær near the Keflavík airport. All private tours offer pickup from custom locations including airbnb's and hotels in the countryside. A small additional fee might be applied based on the location.