Over Thanksgiving I went to Iceland, it seems like everyone has been going the past few months and after spending 4 days there I know why. It is absolutely stunning! Even in the heart of downtown Reykjavik you have mountain views and ocean views. Take a drive outside the city and it gets even prettier. I teamed up with Reykjavik Sightseeing during my trip and went on a Golden Circle Tour. There are tons of Day trip bus tours out of Reykjavik and from the moment I started planning my trip I knew I wanted to do the Golden Circle. This trip takes you to, Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Springs, and Gullfoss Waterfall. If you can only do one tour during your time in Iceland I definitely recommend the Golden Circle Tour, it is a full day and you get to see so much of what makes Iceland unique!
Now first things first, Iceland does tourism and they do tourism well. When you book your trip it will ask where you are staying and based on that information you will either be assigned a bus stop or you will be picked up at your hotel. We were assigned a bus stop just a couple blocks from our Hostel. The way all tour companies do it is a half hour before your tour starts you will be picked up at your pick-up location, they give you a half hour window for pick up. (example: for a 10am tour you would be picked up between 9:30 and 10:00am) the mini-buses go around and picks everyone up and then bring you to the large tour bus. The Reykjavik Sightseeing buses were great! They were comfy with plenty of leg room, there was a bathroom on board incase you needed it, the wifi was surprisingly great, and there were USB ports to charge your phone or camera. Our tour guide was really helpful and informative at each stop. I wish we had had just a little more time at the Geysir Hot Springs since that was also our lunch stop but its a long day so they need to keep things moving.
Our tour started at Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The North American and Eurasia tectonic plates (throw back to 8th grade science anyone?) have been pulling apart for hundreds of years creating a lava rock valley, walking through the rift you are literally standing on two continents at once! In addition to being seriously cool Þingvellir National Park is breathtakingly beautiful. From the observation deck you look over the biggest lake in Iceland, Þingvallavatn. In November the sun doesn’t rise until around 10:30am so we got to watch the sun come up over the lake!
Back on the bus we headed to Geysir Hot Springs. If you come to Iceland and don’t see the Geysir you did something wrong! Walk up to the Strokkur Geyser which erupts every 8-10minutes sending steaming hot water up into the sky from the ground. It is really cool to watch it erupt. Pro tip stand up wind from it, during the first eruption I stood down wind and was immediately met with a face full of steam the fogged up my camera lens. I was not prepared for the smell, it kind of smells like low-tide but you get used to it after a minute. It was really cold so we only watched two eruptions before heading inside to get lunch, but on a nicer day I would have stayed out and watched a few more! Be sure to check out Litli-Geysir too! Inside there are a few different places to get lunch and there is a cool gift shop.
The next stop was Gullfoss but our tour guide let us make a quick stop along the road to meet some Icelandic Horses. I was so excited! I had been taking about meeting an Icelandic Horse since we booked our trip, I was bummed we couldn’t fit in horse riding during the trip.
The last stop on the Golden Circle Tour, Gullfoss Waterfall, did not disappoint. If you have ever been to Niagra Falls (the Canadian side) this is 10 times cooler! You can walk down a watch the glacial waters come down from an observation deck, or you can walk along the top and look down. We did both, but if you only have time for one go to the top! Looking down was incredible, it is so big and beautiful. I would definitely come back in the summer and see Gullfoss not all covered in ice and snow. This was probably my favorite stop of the day!
After that it was time to head back to Reykjavik! It was a long day and I was completely exhausted. We had flown in at 6am and boarded the 9am tour! I took a nap on the way back to the city and woke up just in time for the bus to drop us off back at our hotel. I was also supposed to do a South Coast tour with Reykjavik Sightseeing but unfortunately due to weather conditions the tour was canceled. Thank you so much to Reykjavik Sightseeing for making this trip possible! Next time I am in Iceland I will definitely be booking with them again.
I received compensation for this post in form of a free tour, but as always all opinions are my own.