The Golden Circle is one of the top routes to take within Iceland to hit some of the best natural features the South has to offer! It’s a loop of around 300 km starting and ending in the capital of Reykjavik and all tours will get you to the top three sights to visit; Þingvellir National Park, The Gullfoss waterfall (Golden Falls) and the geothermal valley of Haukadalur which is where the Strokkur geyser will be found. We were lucky enough to also get to visit the Hveragerði greenhouse village with Reykjavik Excursions whose tour we hopped on for the day!
Fredheimar Cultivation Centre
The cultivation centre was our first stop just over an hour away from Reykjavik through some stunning scenery over a mountain or two, past raging rivers and flew by the famous Icelandic Horses racing over the vast landscape - idyllic hey? Once we got to the centre, we were greeted by the owner of this family run farm, Knútur. He invited us all inside one of his many greenhouses and showed us around, explaining how he’s managed to grow tomatoes and cucumbers so well all year round in a land that gets on 4 hours of sunlight in winter. With many skilled techniques such as using the hot water from the ground to keep the houses warm, artificial sunlight installed and even importing bees from The Netherlands to germinate the plants these guys have this covered! You can even try the delicious tomatoes in homemade soup or take home a jar or two of chutneys made from the farms ingredients. This just reiterated to me the true ingenuity of the people in Iceland, they don’t let anything stop them it seems.
Haukadalur - Strokkur Geyser
There is no way to describe this other than to say my well known catch phrase fuckadoo! I knew it was going to be insane, and I’ve seen geysers shoot water up into the sky before but definitely not like this. Surrounded by an area of steaming and bubbling water seeping out of the ground, the walk up to the Strokkur Geyser was quite a spectacle in itself. The water is coming out of the ground at 80-90 degrees so you’re advised not to touch it, although I kinda think we should remove the safety signs here and let Natural Selection decide who lives and dies. It’s bubbling, it’s steaming like a kettle so it’s clearly rather hot but go ahead and play with it anyway…
But, to be delight as we were walking over to the main event it erupted with a bang shooting a tunnel of water & steam up to 40m high! We managed to get a few cheeky pictures but unfortunately it just doesn’t do it justice. You really have to be there and up close to watch the water bubbling before hand, to feel the anticipation of the crowd waiting for it to finally blow! Not to panic though, you won’t be standing and waiting in the cold for long as it will go between 8 and 16 minutes on average. I can only imagine how majestic it would look in the snow, truly representing Iceland’s favourite slogan, ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’.
Said to be more powerful than Niagara Falls, the Gullfoss falls are absolutely spectacular. Once again, I don’t think pictures can do it justice. The river Hvita races towards the falls, where it first falls 11m, then 21m between two stepped stages of the rocks before reaching the 32 m deep (105ft) crevice. Due to the angle of some of the view points for the falls, it does look like the river just disappears into the earth! I guess where else would it happen if not in Iceland? Unfortunately this is just an illusion, as the water tumbles over the rocks it reaches the river below and continues to flow southward until it comes to the end of the 2.5 km long crack and continues on its journey on less turbulent ground.
Þingvellir National Park
The national park is somewhere I have wanted to visit for years and was my main reason for finally booking my ticket to Iceland. I have always been fascinated by geology and tectonic activity, so being able to see a rift valley and the divergent plates pulling apart the two continents was pretty exciting for me I’m not going to lie… (Geology Rocks - oh yeah, I threw in that pun). Home to also the largest lake in Iceland, and the spot where the first Icelandic parliament was formed so this area has a little bit of everything for everyone! I was also told it’s a cracking place to do a little fishing too so there is no reason to complain! I keep saying this so I’m sorry, but no photographs can do places like these justice but my travel friend and photographer did an awesome job so check them out below as the pictures say so much more about this place than I can!
Other stops within the Golden Circle also include include Kerið volcano crater, Hveragerði greenhouse village, Skálholt church, and the Nesjavellir or Hellisheidarvirkjun geothermal power plant. You can try and hit them all in one day, but you’re going to be pretty snoozy afterwards!
I would also like to thank Reykjavik Excursions for helping us out by showing us Iceland with them! If you’re heading over there check them out, they offer a huge range of trips from the more budget end ones we tried to extreme adventure and VIP tours! Next time I’m out there I’m hoping I’ll have enough time to try some of those crazier trips, such as diving between the tectonic plates, lava tube caving and even hiking the glaciers!
This trip was sponsored by Reykjavik Excursions however all views of the experience remain my own