This summer I got to spend 48 hours in Iceland. I had no idea what to expect, but visiting Iceland seemed like an exciting layover. I mean, why not give it a try?! The only trivia I knew about Iceland prior to our trip was about their famous puffins. We read a story about the adorable birds every year in 4th grade.
After doing a little research, we decided to visit the Blue Lagoon on Day 1 and do the Golden Circle Tour by Reykjavík Excursions on Day 2.
What made us decide on the Golden Circle Tour?
Although the Golden Circle Tour seemed a little pricey to us at first (it’s 10.500 ISK or about $90 a person in USD), we started to really think about the cost. The tour is 7 hours long, and you get to stop at 4 unique destinations.
- Friðheimar Greenhouse
- Geysir Hot Spring Area
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Thingvellir National Park
Since we had no idea what driving would be like in Iceland, we were a little weary about renting a car. A guided tour of some sort seemed like a less stressful option. Considering the Golden Circle Tour is only about $12 an hour AND it includes admission to all of these awesome spots, we figured we’d give it a try. The tour also covers quite a large part of the country, so this was a great bonus since we were only staying for 48 hours.
***I should note that this is definitely not how we normally travel. We are usually all about walking and taking things at our own pace!
Is the Golden Circle Tour worth it?
YESSSS!! My vote is yes. We both really loved it. The day we went was rainy and chilly, but because of the tour we still got to see so much of Iceland. Iceland is literally like visiting another planet. The lava fields and abundance of nature is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. While we were on the bus the tour guide was very informative, and we learned a lot about the history of Iceland as well as what it is like to live in the country today. We were given ample time at each stop and freedom to explore in our own way. The tour ended up being one of the highlights of our whole vacation.
Here’s a little more information and photos from each stop.
This is the first and shortest stop on the tour. The family that runs the greenhouse is super sweet and passionate about sustainable farming in Iceland. At the stop, you can buy a cup of fresh tomato soup and homemade bread. It was absolutely delicious and especially welcome in that rainy weather!
Geysir Hot Spring Area
This was SO MUCH FUN! You get to see lots of geysirs including the famous Strokkur geysir that shoots off every 4-8 minutes. It was awesome to watch! There is also this huge hill that you can climb if you are feeling adventurous. We went all the way to the top, and the view was just incredible. Be careful! If you do decide to climb, make sure to wear appropriate shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. The ground is basically clay, which was very slippery and messy in the rain. My Vans took quite a beating, but it was totally worth it! There’s also a cute little food court at this stop where you can quickly grab a bite to eat like a burger or croissant.
I honestly don’t even have words for this waterfall. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to do it justice! It’s absolutely immense and just phenomenal. You can also get really close. No matter what you decide to do in Iceland, make sure to put this on your list! Be prepared for a lot of stairs though.
Thingvellir National Park
This was the last stop on the tour before dropping us off back in Reykjavík. I must admit that I was a little sleepy by this point, but that was mainly due to all the adventure and still being jet-lagged. The park is breathtaking, and it was fascinating to see the actual spot where the tectonic plates meet. They have filmed Game of Thrones here too (had to throw that in).
If you decide to do the Golden Circle Tour, make sure you arrive at the bus depot on time. Reykjavík Excursions has smaller buses that will pick you up at your hotel about 30 minutes before the tour departure time and drop you off at the main bus depot. For some reason, our bus did not come and the woman who ran the guest house we were staying at actually drove us to the bus depot. We literally hopped on the tour bus as it was about to leave! They only do 2 tours a day, so if you miss the bus you are basically out of luck. I’m pretty sure what happened to us was a fluke because we also used this service to do the Blue Lagoon and to get to the airport. We didn’t have a problem with those at all!
The Golden Circle Tour is a perfect way to see Iceland if you don’t have a lot of time. It’s a great value and will definitely be an experience you’ll never forget. If you have more time in Iceland, you might want to consider renting a car and doing your own version of the circle. The roads in Iceland are very well-marked and seemingly easy to navigate.
I hope this helps with your decision making! Have you gone on the Golden Circle Tour? What did you think? Let me know if you have any questions too!