The classic Golden Circle tour is at the top of TripAdvisor’s list of things to do in Iceland and is naturally the most popular route tourists take when visiting this tiny volcanic nation. So is it worthwhile?
The tour left Reykjavik BSI Bus Terminal at 9am, still under the cover of January’s long night, and headed east towards our first stop
Friðheimar is the first stop, where you’ll learn how Iceland grows produce to feed its people, an impressive task for a country covered with snow and darkness for long stretches of time! Inside the tomato greenhouse, you’ll also be able to sample some of the organic tomato soup or tomato juice.
Geysir Hot Spring Area
The next stop will give you an appreciation of the geothermal forces that have shaped Iceland. You’ll have a chance to walk with your guide around the bubbling springs and geysers, and be taken to Strokkur geyser, which erupts water as high as 30m every five or so minutes.
In a country filled with impressive waterfalls, Gullfoss can hold its own. The impressive three-step falls drop into a 62m deep canyon and offers the perfect Iceland photo opportunity.
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir is a very interesting site in iceland, both geologically and historically. The UNESCO park marks where you “can stand in two continents at once” as as the visible Mid-Atlantic ridge signifies the meeting point of the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates, where the country is quite literally being pulled apart a couple of centimetres every year. It is also the site of the world’s first parliament; Alþingi. (Apologies for the poor photo quality, the snow really started bucketing down, but hey, that’s Iceland for you).
Should I do a Golden Circle Tour?
A Golden Circle tour will typically take a whole day as a round trip from Reykjavik. If you’re short on time, or are travelling in winter (like I was!), then a Golden Circle tour is definitely worthwhile. If you’re travelling when the days are longer and the weather less treacherous, I would suggest looking at a more flexible touring opportunity such as “Iceland On Your Own” bus touring, or hiring a car. Because once you get out into Iceland’s fascinating countryside, one guided day tour won’t be enough!
I took my tour with the ubiquitous Reykjavik Excursions, who are the largest tour operator in Iceland, and also operate the airport Flybus. I couldn’t fault their professionalism and would recommend them. Naturally, they have a large range of tours, and if you have the means to include some of the tour add ons, like a pony farm visit, glacier walk, lava tunnel tour etc, then you definitely should.
Tour cost = 9,900 ISK, approx AU$115 and departs daily, year round. BYO lunch or buy on the road. Visit Reykjavik Excursions for more information.