The Golden Circle is the ultimate tourist route in Southern Iceland and is a definite must do when visiting! The route allows you to visit some if the country’s most stunning sights and natural phenomena’s including waterfalls, geysers and national parks.
Extreme Iceland’s Golden Circle Surprise Tour was the perfect way to spend a day! It was a minibus tour which lasted the whole day and combined two tours; The Golden Circle express tour and the Magical Auroras tour (searching for the Northern Lights).
Cost: 16,900 isk (about £120)
Time: 11-12 hours
Pick up: 11-11.30 or 1-1.30
Available: September – April
With high wind speeds and a chance of rain, reversing the usual route was a good decision to avoid dangerous conditions on the roads. The first stop on the tour was Gulfoss waterfall and it was amazing! Even though it felt like the windiest corner on earth, it was so pretty and the water was so forceful. The second stop was Geysir geothermal hot spring area which had a circular path to walk around lined with steaming and bubbling water. The original Great Geysir is not currently active, but the main attraction is Strokkur, a smaller geysir which erupts every 5-7 minutes and can reach up to 30 meters high. The excitement and surprise of the spray from one eruption knocked a tourist over. The third stop was Thingvellir National Park, a world heritage site, sitting on the boarder of two tectonic plates and is one of Iceland’s greatest historical sites. The walk to Oxarafoss waterfall and the viewing platform was really scenic and a good end to the day.
Geysir geothermal area.
Thingvellir National Park.
Along this route it is also a good idea to stop by the roadside a couple of times to feel the force of the wind, overlook the greenhouses powered by geothermal energy, look at the villages typically for summer residence and holiday homes and see the Icelandic horses.
Searching for the Northern Lights
A few hours after being dropped off in Reykjavik the minibus returned to start part two of the tour. There is never a guarantee that the Northern Lights will be visible, however you are taken to the best places to view them, where there is no light pollution and the clearest skies. Waiting outside the minibus, wrapped up warm, looking at the sky was exciting and the tiniest glimpse of something made everyone happy. The Northern Lights are typically neon green but sometimes appear as white, red or purple movement in the sky. With this tour there was the option of re-joining another tour if there were no sightings of the lights.
What you should bring:
– Food – it probably comes as no surprise that Iceland is really expensive, so a trip to the supermarket beforehand will cut costs, however, there are a number of places to get food throughout the day.
– Coins for the toilets – after a full day of sightseeing and being on a coach/minibus, jumping the barrier at the sights might not be ideal.
– Warm clothes – it goes without saying, especially in the winter months.
– A windproof jacket– in case like everyone else, you nearly get blown away on the path to Gulfoss.
– Camera – you will regret it if you don’t.
Why you should pick a tour over self-drive:
– You will have a knowledgeable and helpful guide with you.
– You get picked up and dropped off at convenient locations.
– The tour guides know and are used to driving in the changeable weather conditions on the long open roads.
– You have the chance to meet new people.
– Apart from the fact you can sit back and enjoy the scenery, you stick to a schedule to make sure you get the most out of your day.
Without a doubt it will be money and time well spent!