Iceland and the Golden Circle

Strokkur doing her party piece

Strokkur doing her party piece

I’m not generally a big fan of bus excursions; I detest being herded around with a bunch of other tourists, ordered to get off the bus here, take a picture there and then get back on the bus.

However since I had limited time in Reykjavik I thought I would give this one a go. I was undecided between doing this Golden Circle tour or doing a whale-watching trip and in the end I picked this. I have seen whales before; in fact I ended up quite underwhelmed by just seeing tails appear and disappear in the far distance. Plus I was a bit underdressed. I was afraid whale watching out in the bay would be a bit cold for me in my little summer cardi.

Route of the so-called golden circle tour


So decided; Golden Circle it was.

The golden circle refers to a circle starting out from Reykjavik. Trips do vary but usually it starts with a visit to the Geysir geothermal area where the Strokkur geyser shoots a column of water into the air every 5-10 minutes or so.

Looks like something from Zombie Apocalypse

Looks like something from Zombie Apocalypse


I tried to take a selfie here but missed

I tried to take a selfie here but missed

Then we went just up the road to Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall, which was pretty spectacular.

'Golden Falls' (Gullfoss in Icelandic.

‘Golden Falls’ (Gullfoss in Icelandic).


Trivia Alert!!!!! The falls appear on the cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s album Porcupine.

Then finally we travelled on to Þingvellir (clue: Þ is pronounced th) National Park, where the continental drift between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates can be seen.


The park is now a Unesco World Heritage centre

These plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year, forming canyons. Some of these canyons are filling with cold, clear water and offering great diving opportunities.

clear water filling the gap between two tectonic plates

clear water filling the gap between two tectonic plates

I took this tour with a company called Reykjavik Excursions, although there are a couple of other companies offering largely the same deal. The guide was very knowledgable and entertaining. If, like me, you have limited time (I only had three full days here) it is an excellent choice, however I really wish I’d had the time to explore these places independently, particularly Þingvellir, as there were so many other things to do there.

Ah well, there’s always another time.

Sarah’s useless Iceland fact: The population of the entire country comes in at just under 340,000 people, of whom half live in the Reykjavik area.  For comparison, the London Borough of Southwark (where I live) has almost as many (around 303,000).  Iceland has a lot of free space.

7 replies »

  1. Love the selfie lol, made me giggle. It looks as if someone has thrown some gas canisters onto the land, amazing. Nature really is full of surprises isn’t she. I liked the little known fact about how many people live there as well. I guess when London finally fills right up we could always move there. A bit too far north for me I think. Really enjoying reading your travels my friend x

  2. Brilliant outing! makes me want to be there. bus trip definitely paid off this time! I too am not a fan of bus excursions. THIS would be a worthwhile exception

  3. We just spent 4 days in Iceland at the beginning of August. It was breathtaking. (Although as spectacular as Gullfoss is, I likened it to the Trevi Fountain of Iceland, tourist wise ;-). ) I would go back in a heartbeat. Another trivia fact: 97% of the country is wired. Weird, right?

    • Yes I only had 4 days too which is why I took the tour. If I come back again I’d hire a car and go somewhere less touristy but still spectacular I think, even sharing with another 5 tourbuses
      Great island fact!

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