Golden Circle Tour with Grayline
A trip to Iceland is not complete without a day tour of the Golden Circle, which is one of the oldest routes in Europe, and represents the circle of three primary stops on the route – Pingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall and Haukadalur. We chose Grayline tour operators who have been operating tours in Iceland for over 25 years and have a wide selection of trips to choose from. The Golden Circle Classic tour was approximately £60, which is fantastic value given how much you see and learn.
The pick up times for the tour are 8am, 9am or 10am – we opted for the 9am pick up at the bus stop near Skuggi Hotel and were taken to the main bus terminal for the tour to depart at 9.30. We arrived back at around 5.30 and it was such a jam packed day of history, culture and nature – I had no idea that Iceland is located on an tectonic plate border which is divided at the south west and the north west and is growing at around 2cm a year!
One important to thing note before I give you details of the tour is how much we loved our tour guide Jakob – he was so friendly, funny and knowledgeable – if your tour is with him, you are guaranteed to have a great time.
Our first stop was at Pingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia are pulling apart so you can stand in two continents at once – how amazing! The scenery is stunning and you get to see Iceland’s largest natural lake when the sun is rising in the morning. Iceland’s first Parliament was also formed here over a thousand years ago – the location chosen given the mighty landscape surrounding it! Also, Game of Thrones was filmed here – if you are a massive fan, Grayline offer a dedicated GOT trip with the extras in the programme giving the tour which is pretty cool.
The next stop was Gullfoss Waterfall where we also stopped off for lunch at Gullfoss Cafe, where they offer sandwiches, soups and salads. I couldn’t believe it when Jakob told us that Iceland over 5000 waterfalls and every single one has a name!
The Gullfoss gorge was formed by flash flood waters that forced their way through cracks in the basalt lava layers. The average water flow in Gullfoss is a whopping 109 cubic meters a second but can reach 2,000m a second which is unreal. You can walk down a short pathway to get close to the waterfall (be careful of the ice and you can feel the mist of glacial water on your skin! A very impressive sight.
The waterfall (also called Golden Falls) has a really interesting history to it – the daughter of a farmer saved the waterfall from being sold and potentially destroyed. She walked to / from Reykjavik 12 times, each time taking her 7 days, and met with everyone who had taken her father to court. When all was lost she said rather than seeing the waterfall being destroyed because of industrial interest she would throw herself in to the water. The public stood by her and the government ruled that the waterfall was the property of the people and must be preserved for all time. Make sure you look at her memorial which is down the staircase – what a powerful woman.
Last but not least was the trip to the Geysir geothermal area.The geyser eruption is caused by surface water gradually seeping down through the ground until it meets rock heated by magma – the heated water then rises back toward the surface by convection through porous and fractured rock – all sounds rather complicated! Strokkur is very active with eruptions every 6-10 minutes so you are guaranteed to see an eruption up close which is pretty cool. You can take some awesome photos and videos – just be patient and wait – the usual height is 15–20 m, although it can sometimes erupt up to 40 m high.
I thoroughly recommend the Golden Circle Classic Tour with Grayline!
East London Girl: Golden Circe Tour Grayline