I recently visited Iceland for a short break and wanted to experience as much as possible in those few short days. Iceland is a very expensive place in the first place but with so many different things to do and experience it’s well worth saving up a little first and do everything the first time round instead of having to go back again. I found a really good package that included a few tours, flights and accommodation so decided to go for it. One of the included tours is the Golden Circle.
The Golden Circle tour starts around 9am in the morning with pick up 30 minutes prior to this, I chose to do it as a Super Jeep tour rather than a coach or bus tour, the Super Jeep can seat up to 6 people but on mine there was me and my partner and another couple so plenty of room. The Jeep is huge and very high so depending on your size you may have trouble getting in and out, I was 5 months pregnant and struggled a little.
The Golden Circle tour takes you to Thingvellir which is a national park and where you can see the tectonic plates shift. Then you go to Geysir and Gullfoss where lunch is also taken after the tour. You stop at Stokkur geyser to see the most popular tourist attraction, a spout of boiling water 25-30m high, it erupts every 10 minutes or so. There are other smaller hot springs in the Geysir area. After that you go to Gullfoss the most famous waterfall in Iceland then lunch. On the way back the driver may also stop at a volcano or crater depending on the weather and driving conditions.
Thingvellir – is very cold so wrap up warm, you can see the tectonic plates but it’s not very exciting, looks like a crack in the ground not much to see. Then a short walk down a path where you will see green pastures and frozen river (in winter) the jeep waits for you on the other end. This was a waste of time, Thingvellir is supposed to be a national park but there is nothing to see also there is no sun at that time of day so it’s very dull.
Stokkur geyser – this was fascinating to experience a natural hot spring and the photo opportunity is fantastic if you have a good camera as it spouts water very quick! Other than that the other smaller springs are not that interesting.
Gullfoss waterfall – is the worst of the three on the tour, it was extremely cold and bitter, you couldn’t enjoy the waterfall, and yes it’s big but not beautiful in any way! You can walk down to where the waterfall starts but like I said not much to see here.
After the waterfall there is a restaurant at the top of the viewing platform where most tours stop for lunch, the food was terrible and there isn’t much choice. It’s also very expensive so if you can bring your own packed lunch to save money and to keep hunger at bay!
If you were to book this as an independent package it would cost around £177 each so £354! You also drive to the top of a glacier on a mountain where you can have a one hours snowmobile ride. Although it looked fun I was 5 months pregnant and I was far too cold so my partner and I stayed in whilst the other couple went. The driver drove us around and we got some nice pictures. The snowmobile ride costs around £105 each for one hour! It was ridiculous, you spend half an hour learning how to use and control the snowmobile then drive round in a circle for the remainder of the time!
Altogether the Golden Circle costs £564 if you include the snowmobile ride which is just not worth it; you also need a little more money for food and souvenirs on the day. As I booked it as part of a package it didn’t really cost us that much so if you really want to go get it as part of a package don’t book independently. The Golden Circle tour is a waste of money as there isn’t much to see, it would be better value for money if you rented a car and did it yourself as the roads are very quiet and easily accessible.