The Golden Circle, Iceland

While I was in Iceland, I got to take a trip around the Golden Circle (also known as triangle), on the Top 10 Tour, with Extreme Iceland. Iceland’s Golden Circle consists of Þingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall, and Strokkur geyser. Each one of these attractions is worth the trip in itself; I especially loved Þingvellir.

Our tour started out at Þingvellir, lifting the bar for the rest of the trip. We continued on to nearby Gulfoss, for amazing views and a midday shower. We finished the day with a stop at the Geyser hot springs, featuring the continually erupting Strokkur.

Our tour bus picked us up at our hostel, and quickly whisked us out of the city. It was my first time leaving Reykjavik and I was in awe of my surroundings.

I would have been perfectly happy just driving around all day, looking at the countryside. I will never tire of lava fields and mountainscapes.

We made a quick stop to fit for some hiking boots and warm clothing before we arrived at Þingvellir. Our van pulled into the parking lot and everyone began walking to what looked like a large backyard patio–standing alone on a hill top. I couldn’t see anything beyond it, so I didn’t think much of it.

We climbed the stairs of the patio (which turned out to be a wooden viewing area), and I got my first sight of the wide open landscape that was Þingvellir. When most people think of Þingvellir, they think of the main pathway that tourists walk down. Þingvellir is so much more. There is actually a vast valley area that was created by drifting plates. The entire region is full of rocky crops, dips, lakes and gorges. It is beautiful.

Of course, it is still amazing to see the main pathway, where you can say “I stood between two continental plates“.

One of the most beautiful features of Þingvellir are the crystal clear ponds near the end of the walking trail. The rocks at the bottom are layered in algae that seems to turn the water a turquoise blue and glistens when there isn’t even any sun. There really are no words to describe these awesome bodies of water. They were also full of coins that people had thrown in for wishes.

Next, we were on to Gulfoss. Before walking over to the waterfall, we stopped for a quick lunch at the Gulfoss cafe. We warmed up, filled our bellies, and continued on to the next attraction.

Arriving at the first viewing point, we saw a common view of the golden waterfall. It’s not really golden, but that is what Gulfoss means.

We took some photos, then decided to split up. Kathleen would take the lower path, along the waterfall, and I would take the upper path, above the gorge. And we were off.

Kathleen walked down the winding trail, through the mist of the thundering falls. She arrived on a large flat-rock surface and looked the powerful falls in the face. She got wet.

I walked along the edge of the cliff until I made it to a rocky outcrop near the drop. I shuffled my way out to the edge, at sat down with my feet dangling over the nothingness below.

The view from up there was pretty astonishing, and I would definitely suggest that hike to anyone heading to Gulfoss.

Our final destination in the Golden Circle was the hot spring area of Strokkur. We arrived to the looming mist, puffing out of the ground in front of us.

Chains lined the path, and signs showed that it was dangerous to wander off of them. The signs warned of high heat and boiling water. We didn’t want to mess with geology.

We ventured around the area, looking at other bubbling waters and salt deposits. We paid a visit to the dormant geysir (yeah–that’s where the word geyser came from!), that stopped erupting after an earthquake in 2000. It was huge, and I could only imagine what that eruption would look like.

Finally, we made it to Strokkur. The air around it smelled of sulphur, and the steam was hot. People gathered around its edge, waiting for the spectacle. The water bubbled and steamed, raising and lowering in the pressure.

It lowered one last time, deeper than the others, and then — SPLASH!

It thundered out of the ground in a tall, thin, tower of boiling water. Everyone oohed and ahhed over it and dozens of camera shutters went off at once.

Eventually the crowd dwindled away, as the tourists were impatient and didn’t want to wait for another eruption. We waited.

We witnessed several eruptions, some only two or three minutes apart, before we decided to head back to our bus.

It was now the end of the day, and we were thoroughly exhausted. Part of our Top 10 Tour with Extreme Iceland, aside from the Golden Circle, included climbing a glacier. I had absolutely no energy left in me, and I was fully satisfied by everything that we had done in that day.

I would whole heartedly suggest this tour to anyone visiting Iceland; I loved it.


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5 Responses to “The Golden Circle, Iceland”

  1. Kieron
    October 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    We did the Golden Circle tour last week – it’s certainly a must on any tourist who is visiting Iceland for the first time.

    Can’t believe you did the other tour (including glacier walking!) on top of the Golden Circle though! We were asleep for half the coach ride and it only went for 8-9 hours.
    Kieron recently posted..Don’t Ever Look Back vs. Traditional Chicago-Style Food

  2. Cailin
    October 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Its so different seeing it all nice and green and not snowy like when I was there! Beautiful! 🙂
    Cailin recently posted..7 best things to do in San Francisco

  3. Seattle
    October 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Kieron – I knowwww some of those tours are so long and tiring! I mean–they’re worth it, but definitely exhausting!

    Cailin – I’d love to see it in winter too! I think it’s probably like Canada–you have to see it in at least two seasons :]

  4. Geoff
    October 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Its so various seeing it all nice and green and not snowy like when I was there as well. I’d love to see it in winter season too! I believe it’s most likely like Canada–you have to see it in at minimum two seasons.
    Geoff recently posted..How to Make Him Fall in Love With You

  5. Arnar Olaffson
    February 15, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    The Golden Circle is one of the most popular tourist routes located in the southern part of Iceland. The Golden Circle includes three main stops in their routes including Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss, Haukadalur which created huge pleasure to its visitors.

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