After arguable one of the best night’s sleep that I’ve ever had, we set off early from our hotel for a full day of exploring some of the magical landscapes that Iceland has to offer in the area. I would highly recommend The Golden Circle tour as an excursion on your trip but be warned there are soooo many tourists all doing the same thing as you! This is the one and only thing about all the excursions that I didn’t like the most – just too many people! It spoils it for me a little bit. Firstly we arrived at Þingvellir National Park, which is about 40kn from the capital. Þingvellir is situated in a rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It also marks the boundaries between Mid-Atlantic and Eurasian tectonic plates. Close by there is Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Here it is possible to go scuba diving in the Silfra Canyon and swim between these two tectonic plates at quite a steep cost.
The Alþing – the parliament assembly was formed way back in 930 AD and thousands of people from all across the country continued to meet at Lögberg, the Law Rock until 1798 along side the Icelandic Commonwealth period. Major events in the history of Iceland took place here as thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds and trades gathered to discuss the laws and future of the country as well as talk through any issues and any significant news. It was seen as the centre of Iclandic culture and has had a great influence on the present day of the country. Þingvellir national park is now part of the World Heritage list as of 2004 for its significance to the country in terms of culture, history and geography.
After exploring this beautiful site we then headed on our way to Haukadalur Valley, the geothermal home to the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. “Geysir” literally means “to gush”, it was incredibly fascinating to watch the hot spring water being sucked into the earth before exploding so high into the air! Research shows that it is earthquakes that have reactivated the geysers over time and Strokkur geyser now erupts approximately every 10 minutes. We were there for about half an hour but had noticed that it had erupted about 5 times as sometimes it will erupt massively and then a few little times too straight after. It was all very exciting to witness and there were lots of cheering and clapping from tourists after the large eruptions. There is a taped out area to stop tourists from getting too close but I would recommend standing out of the way depending on which way the wind is blowing as there is a chance you will either get wet or have a huge cloud of rotten egg stinking steam in your face! Apparently the hot springs can also reach temperatures of up to 100°C.
Our final stop of The Golden Circle Tour was Gullfoss Waterfalls “The Golden Falls” near Selfossi. At a staggering 100ft in height at least, it is clear to see why this is one of the most iconic waterfalls in all of Iceland. I loveeee waterfalls, there is not a lot else on this Earth that makes me feel so calm and at peace.
If you follow the walkway from the Gullfoss restaurant there are two viewing platforms – one at the top and one at the bottom (kind of). The view was just amazing, the sound was mesmerising – one of the best waterfalls that I’ve ever seen but I just wish we could get closer to it… Even though that is probably quite dangerous. With how cold it was while we were in Iceland it was actually really difficult to look and admire the Falls for longer than a few seconds at a time. The wind that was coming from that way was so strong and gave me instant brain freeze and a feeling of a severe migraine. My phone and camera also ceased to work a few times I’m assuming just because of how cold it was. Nonetheless, it was incredible and I would highly recommend visiting, The Gullfoss Visitor Centre and Restaurant are also really nice with great facilities- we were greeted to some much needed Icelandic meat soup, tea and cake to warm up again!