Navigating the Golden Circle
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Golden Circle in Iceland but what exactly is it. When visiting Reykjavik, it’s highly recommended to visit the surrounding area of Iceland’s natural beauty and the highlights can be seen as part of the Golden Circle journey. The Golden Circle includes the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area, and Thingvellir National Park. Navigating the Golden Circle can be easily done in a rental car or organized tour. This is a full day journey and it still won’t allow a lot of time in each destination due to the limited daylight hours and the amount of things to do and learn in each place. I chose to use Reykjavik Excursions which included the Golden Circle as well as a visit to a Fridheimar tomato and horse farm.
Fridheimar Tomato and Horse Farm
Our first stop along the tour was the Fridheimar Tomato and Horse Farm which included a brief tour of the family owned greenhouses and overview by the family representative. It was quite interesting to hear how vegetables are grown organically in Iceland year-round and how certain bees have to be present for pollination. This farm focuses on tomatoes and offers a multitude of products made out of tomatoes, including tomato beer. It offers a warm place to enjoy a delicious drink or meal in its restaurant.
The farm is also a horse breeding farm and gave us the opportunity to get up close to the Icelandic horse. The horses were very gentle and fluffy.
Geysir Geothermal Area
The next stop was a visit to the Great Geysir which is the origin of the word “Geyser” here in the USA. I hadn’t realized that the originally named geyser in the world is called “Geysir” or the Great Geysir and is found in Iceland. The original Great Geysir does not erupt as often as others and so you are directed to another geysir that does erupt every 4 to 6 minutes called Strokkur. The scenery in this geothermal area was amazing even if it was super cold due to the wind… dress warmly.
After a short drive from Geysir, we arrived at Gullfoss waterfall which is one of the most impressive waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Gullfoss is a two tiered waterfall and quite large with a drop off into a canyon. There are many vantage points to see the falls so be sure to check them all out. It was a cold and windy day as the falls can show with portions frozen… dress warmly.
Thingvellir National Park
After about a 45 minute drive, we arrived in Thingvellir National Park which is famous for being the only place above sea level to view the meeting of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates… essentially you are on the edge of North America and Europe. There is so much to see here and we had a limited amount of time to do about a mile walk along the rift between the tectonic plates which provided a multitude of photo opportunities as the sun was out and starting to set (sun sets at 3:45 pm). This park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We came back later to Thingvellir National Park to view the Northern Lights. See my blog Iceland – The Northern Lights.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Golden Circle and would highly recommend. As this was my first time to Iceland and having a limited amount of time to see as much as possible, this tour worked out well. When I return to Iceland during the warmer months, I would definitely rent a car and spend more time in each area to explore.