To make sure that no one doubts what is a must-see in Iceland, the biggest attractions have just been dubbed the Golden Circle. They include. Geysers, waterfalls and the point where tectonic plates meet.
If one spends only a few days in Iceland then this tour will allow one to see the biggest attractions of the whole island (and even in one day), but we hope you will plan more days in Iceland, because the country has much more to offer!
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Golden Circle, must have Iceland
Travel agencies are outdoing themselves with offers for Golden Circle tours. We rented a car and did this route on our own, which we also recommend to you. You have plenty of time and you are independent, which is important especially when you hit bad weather – we unfortunately had that….
Sometimes you just have to wait a while and the clouds go away and the sun comes out :)
So our tour of the Golden Circle certainly took more time than is stated in the colorful brochures, but we got to places we wouldn’t normally get to ( you can read about the advantages of renting a car here).
However, if you prefer to go as part of an organized bus tour, you will certainly have no problem finding a good deal :)
The Golden Circle includes many attractions, but the biggest ones by far are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall (considered one of the most beautiful in the world!) and the famous Geysir – this was our minimum plan for one day.
We started our tour from Keflavik, where we had an overnight stay in super conditions – it was one of the many one-story single-family houses in the area. We had a rented room, shared bathroom with other guests and a kitchen at our disposal. Since the other guests were arriving late at night, we had the whole house to ourselves most of the time. The Guesthouse hostess pointed out to us many interesting places, showed us websites where we could track the chances of the aurora borealis appearing, etc.
We set off for the Golden Circle first thing in the morning, heading toward the capital, and then bounced down Route 36 toward Þingvellir National Park – the place where two tectonic plates meet: Eurasia and North America. This is one of the few places on land where you can see the point of contact :)
We particularly recommend walking up to the Oxararfoss waterfall, on the way passing the site where parliament was held from 930 to the end of the 18th century.
Eurasian and American plates are moving away from each other at a dizzying rate of 1 to 18mm per year, so when we arrive in a few years we will measure how much has happened in that time ;)
During the walk, our hearts were also stolen by the sheep that will accompany us throughout our journey (not the same ones, of course ;) ). Of course, we couldn’t miss our skip either ;)
Unfortunately, the weather did not spoil, and by the time we reached the waterfall, we were thoroughly soaked and frozen. A few photos and we returned to the car, where hot tea in a thermos was waiting (always have something warm to drink on hand!).
Then we moved towards the geysers. It is here that the Great Geysir, after which the geysers are colloquially named, is located.
A path for visitors leads to two geysers: the Great Geysir and Strokkur. Along the way you pass hot springs and smaller geysers (the smell is quite peculiar). While the latter (Strokkur) is quite active and it only takes a few minutes to see an explosion, the famous one is not so cooperative.
It used to be able to shoot 80 meters high, but of course it had to be disturbed by some tourist throwing a stone into it, and the movements of tectonic plates have done their job and now you have to be lucky to see the ejection (apparently it can do it 2-3 times a day, but we were not so lucky to see it).
Fortunately, his colleague Strokkur bravely replaces him and tourists return happy to have seen a real Icelandic geyser :) We managed to capture it in photos.
In addition, we climbed a nearby hill, from where there was a picturesque view of the immediate area (and it is certainly even more picturesque in nicer weather ;)).
Iceland’s most famous waterfall
Again, back to the car, warming up, and we headed for the most famous waterfall in Iceland – Gullfoss. This double waterfall is quite an attraction and makes a huge impression, especially around the surrounding greenery, and the icing on the cake is the rainbow that appears.
It was one of those places where it was worth waiting for better weather.
While there, we recommend walking to the viewing platform right above the waterfall itself.
We recommend bringing earplugs and warm, waterproof fleece with you (even when it’s not raining). Our HiMountain (made in Poland!) gave it a go! :)
This was definitely a good harbinger of the rest of the trip, and, as we know, the appetite grows as we eat, so our expectations also grew for the next days and the attractions that were on our map :)
Will Iceland live up to our expectations? More coverage coming soon!
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