Iceland´s Golden Circle Tour
Just what will you see on this tour? Generally, the “golden circle tour” consists of three prime locations, or attractions: Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park all located in southwest Iceland.
Gullfoss (which translates as “gold waterfall”, whereas, ‘gull’ is gold and ‘foss’ is waterfall) is probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland and the one you will often see pictures of. It is located on the Hvita (white) River. It is a powerful site and certainly worth seeing. The falls drop in two steps and then the river turns sharply to the left, forming a fairly narrow and steep canyon.
“Geysir” is a hot springs geyser located in an area called Haukadalur. We actually get our word, “geyser” in English from Icelandic. Specifically, this geyser is called strokkur, which means “boy.” If you have ever been to Yellowstone Park, then you kind of know what to expect. Strokkur is smaller than the one in Yellowstone but it is no less beautiful. What is also different about viewing the geyser in Iceland is the visitors can get quite a bit closer to it than American safety standards would dictate. I am not saying it isn’t safe, in fact this is something I like about Iceland as opposed to America: fewer rules, i.e. you are a grown up and can look after yourself.
Next up on the golden circle tour, though not necessarily in this order, is Thingvellir. Thingvellir is the site of the original Althing, Iceland’s first parliament. It dates back to 938 A.D. That’s right; Iceland had a parliamentary democracy over 1000 years ago. This site is also located about 40 minutes outside of the capital city, Reykjavik. Thingvellir is also a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Icelanders traditionally came from all over Iceland to this spot annually. People bartered goods, resolved civil matters and decided on laws. It was also quite a social gathering I imagine. The site is right on a volcanic rift and you can walk between the rifts. There’s a beautiful waterfall and deep pools of crystal clear water, all off which flows out into a rather large lake called Thingvellirvatn, or “the water of Thingvellir.”
There are a few ways you can see this tour. First, you can take a tour bus which is the most cost-effective way but certainly the least personal and intimate. You can also choose to book a tour with one of the many jeep tour companies. This option is much more adventurous, personal and unrestricted, especially in terms of time. The jeep tour option can be more fun because most likely they will take you off road to see what the tour bus patrons will not. The third option, and also the most expensive, is to rent a car, secure a map and do it all yourself. Don’t worry too much about getting lost. Iceland is pretty easy to get around in and there aren’t that many roads that you would get massively confused as you might in a metropolitan area.
If you are only going to be in Iceland for a short time, the golden circle tour is a good option. It will give you a decent overview of some of the country’s highlights. But don’t think that these attractions are necessarily the best Iceland has to offer, they aren’t. In fact, Iceland has hundreds, if not thousands of natural wonders. If you ever have the time and wherewithal, I would recommend spending a couple weeks camping, hiking and exploring this natural wonderland, it is one of the most pristine wildernesses left on earth.
If you are looking for things to do in Iceland and are short on time, try the Iceland golden circle tour, it is pretty good as far as Iceland tours go. If you want a different idea try the Langjokull super jeep tour Iceland. Have fun! – David Brooks
David Brooks is a freelance SEO consultant and geothermal energy advocate.