Last night I decided to see if there was any space left on any excursions today – despite the last minute nature of my search, I was in luck, and the Golden Circle tour I had been eyeing up was still available with Reykjavik Excursions. I didn’t hesitate and booked it. Unlike everything else in Iceland, I actually thought this was incredibly reasonably priced at under £65 for a six hour tour with an expert guide.
I made sure I was ready and waiting at the bus stop near my hotel at the designated pick up time which was 9:30am. Given this was a six hour tour, I had made sure to really fill up at breakfast as I wasn’t sure when the next opportunity to buy food would be. The bus arrived, and I was let on as my name was checked off a list. This bus then took me to a more central bus station where I got on a bigger coach that was clearly labelled with ‘Golden Circle Direct’, the name of my tour.
At this point in my life, I am completely unloaded by doing things by myself, but I did note a couple of other solo travellers embark the coach which was nice to see!
Setting off on the Golden Circle tour
It wasn’t long before the coach was full and we were on our way. Our tour guide introduced himself as Peter and dived straight into telling us interesting facts and funny stories about Iceland and the places we were going to see around Iceland’s Golden Circle. This excursion seemed like the obvious way of seeing just a few of Iceland’s more famous amazing sites, which is why I chose it. On the tour were three stops: Thingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Geothermal Field, and the Gullfoss Waterfall.
As we drove to our first stop, Thingvellir National Park, the whole coach of people learned all about the fascinating history of Icelandic politics, how geothermal power plants work, and some amazing geology of the country. A fact I particularly enjoyed is that there are no dinosaur fossils to be found on Iceland, as the oldest rocks in the country are some millions of years younger than dinosaur fossils!
Thingvellir National Park was a great first stop to get into the swing of the day. A couple of viewing platforms offered breathtakingly gorgeous views of a politically important place to the country. From the viewing platform you are standing right on the edge of the American tectonic plate, which is also very cool. You can walk down into the ravine below into a no-man’s land between plates – I am no geology expert, but I found the whole thing very cool.
The next stop was the Haukadalur Geothermal Field, where we were warned countless times not to touch the water because it was boiling hot. I saw plenty of bubbling pools of water and an exploding geyser. This was quite a busy site, but honestly, it didn’t really detract from any of the interesting things I saw and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The final stop of the tour was the Gullfoss Waterfall, and this is probably my favourite from the day. There was a viewing platform that didn’t involve much walking, and another one that involved over a hundred steps. I opted for the steps and went down to find a beautiful view of the immense falls. I got a couple of photos, and then just stood and watched the water come tumbling down for another few minutes – what a sight! This viewing spot is quite far away from the impact zone of the falls, but I still felt a bit soggy by the time I went to climb back up the steps again – taking a waterproof with me was probably the best wardrobe decision I could possibly have made for this trip.
The coach returned to Reykjavik via a different route to the one we had come on, so Peter the tour guide could tell us about other interesting things we passed – it was great!
It’s worth noting that despite my initial worries about being hungry throughout the day, each stop on the tour actually had a little visitor centre, complete with café, gift shop, and toilets!
Overall, I had a great day out and feel like I was able to see a bit of Iceland’s amazing scenery. I learned about the country and saw fantastic things – I’d definitely recommend this tour to anyone who is short on time while in Iceland. If you have more time then definitely look at tours that have more stops!