The Golden Circle is a popular tourist trail in Iceland, covering a 300km loop from Reykjavik to central Iceland and back. It allows you to see some of Iceland’s most famous sights, including geysirs and the magnificent Gulfoss waterfall.
We started with a beautiful drive at sunrise to the Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation centre, where we learnt all about how they use geothermal heat to grow their tomatoes. You can see these greenhouses all over iceland and they look pretty incredible glowing orange beneath that purply blue sky. In the greenhouse there’s a cafe where you can warm yourself up with a hot drink and there’s also a shop where you can buy some of their tomato chutneys and products.
The Geysir Geothermal area
Next we stopped at the Geysir geothermal area to see the Strokkur geysir spurting out columns of water up to 30 metres in the air every 4-8 minutes. I have to tell you, I have never experienced cold like it. It was incredibly windy- so windy that I was being pushed backwards along the icy pathway to the geysir. The guide recommended we walk to the side of the path on the fresh snow so as not to end up falling over on the compact ice. I highly recommend wearing proper hiking boots because I can’t imagine what it was like for people attempting it in Uggs!
The Strokkur geysir was very impressive. I stood there and waited, then just as I got distracted fiddling with my camera, steamy water just shot up in the air. I had to wait another 5 or so minutes for it to go off a second time! Taking photographs was a bit difficult because if I took one glove off to operate the camera, my hand went numb and painful within a few seconds! So wear proper ski gloves and only take them off if absolutely necessary.
The whole geyser area is stunning and allowed me to get some gorgeous shots. There’s also a huge gift shop a fancier restaurant and a fast-food area so they give you plenty of time to shop and get lunch.
The Gulfoss Waterfall
The Gulfoss waterfall was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in my life. Admittedly I haven’t been to Iguassu or Niagara and I can only imagine what they’re like but this was spectacular. The waterfall is created by the river Hvítá, which tumbles and plunges into a crevice some 32 m (105 ft.) deep. Words cannot describe how enormous and powerful this waterfall looks, so I’ll let the photo do the talking.
You can walk down a set of stairs to the main viewing area to grab some photos, or you can walk along the top to see it from a different angle.
Thingvellir National Park
Our final stop of the day was Thingvellir National Park, where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year.
By this point I was feeling very, very cold and even though the bus was warm, my feet were still numb, so I didn’t feel like getting off. However I’m glad I did because the 20 minute walk was very scenic and I got to take a picture of the beautiful sunset.
All in all I can see why this is the most popular trip to do in Iceland- the sights you see are out of this world and it gives a great taster of the Icelandic wilderness.
Reykjavik Excursions operate day tours from the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik as well as the efficient Flybus airport transfers. They also have free Wi-Fi on the coaches!
Golden Circle tour starts from £48
Getting to Iceland
WOW air currently flies 10 times per week from London Gatwick to Reykjavik with twice-daily departures on Monday, Thursday and Sunday.
WOW air’s direct route between London Gatwick and Reykjavik costs from just£49 one way, which includes taxes and hand luggage allowance (one bag measuring 56cm x 45cm x 25cm) plus handbag and duty-free shopping bag.