Iceland – The Golden Circle Tour – Self Guided

The Golden Circle Tour is infamous in Iceland. If you’re a tourist in Iceland, someone would have shoved a flyer in your face about it. I never did find out the Icelandic phrase for “No Thanks” so I just shook my head from side to side instead.

The thing is, you don’t need to pay the 7600isk each (£40) for a tour company to take you to the natural attractions on the Golden Circle Tour.

We punched it into Google and found where each point of interest was and we drove it ourselves! Driving is easy in Iceland. Although you’re on the left hand side of the car and drive on the right, the roads are easy to navigate. There were sections of road when we were driving for miles and miles and we didn’t see another vehicle. Doing it this way meant that we could stop where we liked and do what we wanted when we wanted. Freedom!

Because we were driving the tour ourselves, there were bits we didn’t plan on seeing, so we skipped them. There were other things on our schedule that took priority.

We started the trip after a few days exploring the Country’s capital City, which included the Phallus Museum… Check that out. It’s not a massive museum, but I guess size doesn’t matter there.

The first stop on our tour was Pingvellir (Some people write it as Thingvellir) National Park. It’s about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik.

There’s a visitor centre located close to the viewpoint at Hakio. The visitor centre has a an interactive exhibition and it’s open 0900-1700. Admission is free. You will have to pay 200ISK (£1) to use the toilets however.

The faults and fissures of the area make evident the rifting of the earth's crust.

The faults and fissures of the area make evident the rifting of the earth’s crust.

Pingvellir is part of a fissure zone that runs through Iceland, sitting on the plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. From the viewing platform at the Visitor Centre, you can stand on the Eurasian Tectonic plate looking over a rift, at the North American plate. Pretty spectacular when you realise what you’re looking at.

Looking out to the North Atlantic Tectonic plate whilst stood on the Eurasian plate.

Looking out to the North Atlantic Tectonic plate whilst stood on the Eurasian plate.

From the Pingvellir visitor centre, it’s a short drive to the Geyser region. Iceland gave the World the word Geyser, which came from Geysir, which is a small inactive geyser on the Golden Circle Tour. At the same spot, you’ll find Strokkur. Strokkur is a geyser, which has erupted every four to eight minutes since the 1960s. It’ll sometimes erupt up to 40m high!

Iceland' most famous Geyser

Iceland’ most famous Geyser

You’ll notice the smell here. The warm water from beneath the earth is full of sulphur, and it stinks. A blog post will follow, all about the smelly water!

You’ll find a visitor centre here too. There’s a small exhibition room, which allows you to experience an earthquake of 5 on the Richter scale. There’s a small gift shop and clothing outlet. There’s a cafe and a restaurant, both of which are pretty well priced. Sadly, there’ no customer wi-fi.

When you do drive here, be careful of the mahoosive speed bump outside. You’ve been driving for miles and miles at 70mph without seeing a single soul and then BAM, there’s a speed bump the size of an elephant with a weight problem.

From the geysers, we drove to Gullfoss. Foss is waterfall in Icelandic, and Gull is the name of the waterfall. Hence; Gullfoss.

Gullfoss is a waterfall on a humongous scale. Photographs really don’t do it justice. There’s a short walk from the car park to the viewing platform. There’s a lower car park for people who don’t want to or can’t walk the stairs. Gullfoss is located within the Hvita river. The waterfall begins with three ‘steps’ and then plunges 11ft before plunging a further 21ft into a 32ft crevice.

The water drops into the 32ft crevice just out of shot, looking like it disappears into the Earth...

The water drops into the 32ft crevice just out of shot, looking like it disappears into the Earth…

When we finished here, we didn’t intend on doing the rest of the Golden circle, as it headed back towards Reykjavik and we were heading East.

We saw some things that were absolutely awesome and all created by the Earth. We didn’t spend anything except money on gas, which is reasonably priced. Our first tank of fuel had a 15% discount anyway, so even cheaper!

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