The Complete Golden Circle Tour Iceland Guide
If you’re planning on visiting the adventure capital of the world, Iceland then you must have heard of the Golden Circle Tour. It’s the most popular tour in Iceland going and now I see why!
What is the Golden Circle Tour?
The Golden Circle Tour is a full day adventure starting in Reykjavik and will take you to the three most visited natural nature attractions in the southern part of Iceland, Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area and Þingvellir National Park.
Your guide will pick you up between 08:30 and 09:00 depending on which bus stop you’re waiting at and then you’ll meet the rest of your group. Group sizes are relatively small (max 18) meaning it’s a more personal experience and a great way of making new friends.
The Golden Circle Stops
Stop 1 – Kerið Volcanic Crater
You’ll begin the scenic drive with a pit stop at a café to use the bathroom facilities (a must as there’s none at the first stop) and stock up on snacks for the day. You’ll continue to the first stop, Kerið crater, which is approximately three thousand years old – impressive right!
You can take the circular walk around the top of the crater and even descend down to the pristine waters of the crater lake, well that’s if you go in summer. During winter the craters lake is iced over and covered in snow, making it a great picture. Scientists believe that Kerið was once a cone-shaped volcano, but upon eruption, it is widely believed that the volcano depleted its magma reserve, causing the foundation to fall in upon itself and result in the formation it has today.
Stop 2 – Gulfoss Waterfall
Once you can no longer feel your fingers or toes it’s time to head back on the heated minibus to the next destination, Gulfoss waterfall (our favourite stop) or often referred to as the ‘Golden Falls’ – hence the name of the tour!
The water in Hvítá River travels from the glacier Langjökull, before cascading 32 meters down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Once you’ve marvelled in the awe of Gullfoss visitors can warm up and head to the café which serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds: hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs for friends and family back home.
Stop 3 – Icelandic Horses
On route to our next destination, we had a nice surprise and got to stop off at a local farm and feed some Icelandic horses. It’s the perfect opportunity for that perfect selfie. We were only here for a couple of minutes, but it’s great to see these furry creatures up close!
Stop 4 – Geysir Hot Spring Area
After a short drive through the Icelandic snowy mountains, we arrive at Geysir Hot Spring Area. This is the longest stop as here’s where you get to have dinner! You have over an hour to walk through the Geysir Hot Spring Area and attempt to capture the lively Strokkur, which spouts water 30 metres into the air every few minutes, as well as sampling the restaurant. I highly recommend the pizza; it was delicious and filled me up for the rest of the day adventure.
Stop 5 – Thingvellir National Park
Check out this brilliant YouTube video:
Our final destination on the Golden Circle Tour was Thingvellir National Park. Here you can walk the designated path that separates North Americas and Europe’s two tectonic plates. There are not many places in the world where you can do this, making the Golden Circle Tour a must on your Iceland to-do list!
The path you walk on in the park is hilly but manageable and provides amazing views of the valley so don’t forget your camera and preferably sturdy hiking boots. There’s also free toilets which I suggest you use before the final journey back to Reykjavik, where you’ll arrive around 5pm.
Who is the Golden Circle Tour for?
ANYONE! Literally, whether you’re young or old, a solo traveller or enjoying a family holiday, the Golden Circle Tour would suit anyone. There’s minimal physical activity involved and you can always opt-out of the small walks and stay on the bus. If you want to see some of Iceland’s best natural wonders whilst learning about Icelandic culture then this is the perfect tour for you. Just a quick tip, if you’re taking children it may be a good idea to bring iPads/books for the drive to keep them entertained as you can be in the minibus for an hour at a time driving between each destinations.
Which tour operator should I choose?
If you’ve already searched on the web for the Golden Circle Tour you’ll soon realise there are lots of tour operators to choose from, but how do you know which one’s best? Well that’s where we come in, after doing our research we decided to choose Saga Travel and we weren’t disappointed.
Saga Travel is a creative and dynamic tour operator with small group guarantee for all scheduled departures – meaning you’ll have a more personalised experience. They offer a range of action-packed day tours from Akureyri, Lake Mývatn and Reykjavik and a range of private tours, short breaks and tailor-made travel experiences all over Iceland. So make sure to check out their website if you’re looking for multiple tours whilst in Iceland and book in advance as this popular tour operator is often booked up!
They have a great team of expert guides who will provide you will unforgettable memories whilst on vacation in Iceland. We had the pleasure of Kristjan as our guide who made the long drives between stops fun and interesting with his funny jokes and captive storytelling – all in fluent English may I add! You could tell he had a real passion for his home country, which made the experience that much more authentic.
How much is the Golden Circle Tour?
The Golden Circle Tour is 10.900 ISK per person, including a knowledgeable tour guide who will be happy to answer any of your questions and comfortable transport with free pick up from Reykjavik town.
How to book the Golden Circle Tour?
It’s easy, quick and simple to book with Saga Travel. Just head to their website to book online or you can ring one of their dedicated travel consultants to further explore which tour will suit your interests best. They’re happy to give travel advice and answer any questions you have.
What do I need to bring?
- Warm clothing especially during those winter months
- Camera to capture some mega insta shots
- Bottled water and snacks
The Golden Circle Tour is a must-do when visiting Iceland, with spectacular scenery across all of the three sites, with a great guide that provides excellent information about the history of the geographical and cultural significance of the area.
Where to next? Check out my other Iceland travel guides;
- Reykjavic beer tour
- Iceland Glacier tour
- Northern Lights Tour In Iceland
- Horseback riding south Iceland