When I was looking up flights to England, it became clear that every affordable option was going to include a layover in Iceland. I had heard incredible things about Iceland from other travellers and decided to take advantage of WOW Air’s stopover system and booked 3 nights in Reykjavik.
The great thing about Iceland is that you can visit for any duration. Drive around the whole country for a week, or enjoy a weekend stopover! Whatever you choose, you will love it.
On our second day, we embarked on a full day tour of the Golden Circle with Iceland Horizon. A day trip is a great way to experience everything from geysers to volcanic craters if you’re only in Iceland for a few days!
Thingvellir National Park
Our first stop on the Golden Circle Tour was Thingvellir National Park, home to the viking parliament and the division between the plates. We walked along a trail on the Mid-Atlantic rift, with the end of the North American continental plate rising up on our left.
Prior to booking our stopover, I had no idea that you could walk along the edge of tectonic plates in Iceland. It is truly remarkable to look up at a steep rock face and know that it is the very end of an entire continental plate.
There is a trail that leads from one parking lot to another that takes about 20 minutes to walk, and our group was dropped off at one end and picked up at the other. Our group arrived just before a fleet of coach tour buses, so we had a great opportunity to take photos of the plates and walk the path before it was over crowded. The driver, Dooley, was amazing at navigating through the parking lots and staying ahead of traffic!
We made a short stop at Laugarvatn lake. Our guide pointed out Laugarvatn Fontana, a spa that bakes bread for it’s café under ground, and made an extra stop so that we could take a look. Baking the bread takes a long time, but it’s possible because of how hot the earth is underground.
It was a chilly morning, but I noticed kids swimming out in the lake. I reached my hand in to the water and discovered that it was steaming hot. In some areas, the water was actually boiling and bubbling.
Geysers At Haukadalur
Our next stop was Haukadalur, home to the geysers. The geothermal activity in Haukadalur keeps the area so warm that many people were removing their jackets, and the smell of rotten eggs in the air thickened each time hot water shot up from the earth.
Strokkur is the largest geyser in the area, and it can reach impressive heights. Every now and then a gust of wind would sweep through just as the Strokkur erupted, showering people with geothermal water. It’s a good idea to have a water proof cover for any camera equipment or cell phone that you take with you, in case you get splashed!
Also known as the Golden Waterfall, Gullfoss is another main attraction on Iceland’s Golden Circle. Gullfoss is located on the Hvítá river, and the water plummets down 32 meters in 2 stages, tossing up splashes and misting the air.
There is a trail over looking the waterfall, and a wooden staircase leading to a path below that takes you right up to the edge of the falls.
Kerið Crater Lake
Kerid crater is located in Grímsnes, and our tour guide made a short optional stop here for those who wanted to get off the bus and see it. It cost 200 ISK per person, and we spent about 15 minutes here.
This volcanic crater was another unplanned stop that Dooley made for us, and I’m grateful that he did. This was one of the highlights of the Golden Circle for me.
I love it when you get to see something you didn’t even know was there. The water at the bottom is an incredible shade of a blue, and the surrounding rocks are bright red. Hiking down to the bottom of the crater only takes a few minutes, and a small trail wraps around the edge of the water. I darted around it and took some pictures from inside.
Why I Loved Iceland Horizon Tours
I researched reviews extensively and chose Iceland Horizon’s Golden Circle Tour over others for two main reasons. The first, all of the reviews of the guides were exceptional positive. The second, the tour group was small. There were about 12 people in our group, and that is a typical size for Iceland Horizon tours.
Dooley was our guide. He was knowledgable about Iceland, told great stories, and pointed out sights that we never would have noticed on our own. What we thought were just shadows in the side of a mountain were actually homes, he told us, from when people lived in caves. He made small additional stops at places that were not on the itinerary, such as the crater and to let me pet some horses, so that we could experience more of Iceland. I would absolutely book with this company again!
*This is not sponsored content. Opinions are, as always, my own.
- Duration of Golden Circle Tour: 1 day
- Booked with: Iceland Horizons
- Cost: approx. $90USD