Iceland surprised me in so many ways. I believe I may have found true paradise and stood and took countless photos of it whilst my hand almost dropped off from the cold. It really is magnificent and I want to tell everybody about it.
The Golden Circle tour is the most popular tour to take in Iceland, and there are very good reasons why. However, the first thing I want to say in this post, before many of you may stop reading from boredom (I don’t blame you), is that the company you should go with is Your Day Tours. This is a small company, started only a couple of years ago, and run by 3 brothers. They operate minibus tours for the golden circle route and the south coast route. They are very different to the other big coach tours because there’s only a maximum of 19 people on the bus and they do their best to beat the crowds to each of the stops. The guide we had (who was the youngest brother) was incredible and told us so much about Icelandic culture and was fabulously funny. He also gave us an Icelandic drink and snack early in the day which you won’t get on a big coach tour. It all felt very personal and the tour was incredibly enjoyable. I learnt more than I thought I would about the country and the people in it.
The first couple of stops were small, but it was good to break up the journey. The first was in a town about half an hour from Reykjavik, which I can’t remember the name of, but it had an exhibition about the earthquakes that can occur here and a demonstration of the plates meeting in Iceland. It was very interesting and right next door was a bakery which I very much enjoyed. I got a massive pastry. If I could remember any of the names I would recommend the place and the pastry. We then headed to a waterfall called Faxi which was small, quiet and lit by very early sunrise. My camera didn’t like it as much as I did, so these are the only decent photos from this stop.
Next came the big boy. Mr Gullfoss. This waterfall is fed by one of Iceland’s glaciers, which was a beautiful backdrop. The views around here are actually stunning and it was incredible to view this monumental waterfall. What I remember most though was fighting through blistering winds across solid ice, heading towards the edge of the waterfall with only a rope to protect us. It was pretty scary but also hilariously exhilarating. The waterfall crashed below us whilst we stared over it with freezing hands. The water should have been frozen by this time of year but it flowed freely, only partially frozen. The sun continued rising, setting the glacier on fire.
We circled back a little way to a little town called Geysir. Here we stopped for a long lunch break and spent time exploring the geothermal area. The geysir that now erupts regularly is called Strokkur and supposedly erupts every 3-8 minutes. I don’t believe this. We waited for a good 15 minutes for it to erupt and to be honest was quite underwhelmed when it did. I felt like a full on tourist waiting with the hundreds of others pointing their phones towards the natural bubbling bath before us. Even though the eruption may have disappointed a little, the area was beautiful. The ground is constantly steaming from every hole and against the sun and the mountains, it was truly beautiful. It was also very eggy.
Our last stop for the Golden Circle tour was Þingvellir National Park which honestly took my breath away. This is a main stop for anyone visiting Iceland because it’s where you can experience walking between two plates; as a result of movement of the Eurasian and North-American plate boundaries that run through Iceland. It’s quite surreal.You can read more about it on this website: here. After walking this famous walkway we wandered around the area as we were given a lot of time here (perks of your day tours). We took in the views of the park and the mountains beyond as well as finding quaint bridges, a church and frozen parts of the lake. It’s a spectacular place and I would’ve loved to spend a few days here.
The tour was magical and I would highly recommend it to anyone. There are tonnes of big bus tours that go around this popular route (Greyline, Reykjavik Excursions.. I could go on), but please choose our small company that treat you right and give you the most amount of time in each place, also beating the crowds. It was a fantastic day and we were super lucky with the weather – as you can probably tell from the photos.
I hope you enjoyed this!