Iceland attracts many tourists firstly because of the beauty of its nature. Also, the filming of the Game of Thrones and earlier the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that stopped air traffic in Europe at least for a week played a role in increasing the popularity of Iceland. The most favored tour of the country is the Golden Circle. Be prepared to be one of the very many tourists when you take a Golden Circle tour. Still, if you are in Iceland for the first time it’s a must do to visit Iceland's most iconic attractions. They include Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir geothermal area. One of the trusted tour companies offering this tour is the Gray Line. Building on more than a quarter century of experience, Gray Line Iceland is the local expert for destinations and sightseeing around Iceland. Their big bus tour can also be a money saver for you. Here is my review of their tour.29golden circle iceland 1350254

This Golden Circle tour first takes you from Reykjavik city to the Thingvellir National Park:

Natural beauty and rich history of Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir is one of the most frequently visited tourist sites in Iceland. Each year, thousands of visitors go there. Thingvellir (literally, "Parliament Plains") by the river Öxará was the Althing general assembly established in the early 10th century. It continued to meet there until 1798. Major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Thingvellir. Today Thingvellir is a protected national shrine. According to law, the protected area shall always be the property of the Icelandic nation. Thingvellir was included in the World Heritage list for its cultural values in 2004. The park there lies in a valley that marks the boundary between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plate. Visitors can admire the views of Thingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. 12golden circle iceland 135005111golden circle iceland 135004810golden circle iceland 135004513golden circle iceland 1350055Then the tour continues to the iconic Gullfoss waterfall.

The power of Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall) is located in South Iceland on the Hvítá (White) river which is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. At Gullfoss waterfall, we had the opportunity to take a short walk down a pathway and get right up close to this powerful waterfall. It’s great to feel the mist of glacial water on your face as it cascades down into the narrow Hvítárgljúfur Canyon. The water falls down 32 meters in two stages into a rugged canyon. On a sunny day, a shimmering rainbow can be seen over the falls. 17golden circle iceland 135007718golden circle iceland 135007920golden circle iceland 135009119golden circle iceland 135008622golden circle iceland 1350101

Gullfoss is more than just a pretty waterfall; it has a story to tell. In the early 20th century foreign investors wanted to use the power of Gullfoss to produce electricity. In the early 20th century, Englishman Howells wanted to buy Gullfoss from Tómas Tómasson, a farmer who owned Gullfoss at this time. Tómas declined Howells´ offer to buy the waterfall but later he leased it to him. The farmer´s daughter, Sigriður Tómasdóttir sought to have the rental contract voided. Her attempts failed in court but before any damage was done to the waterfall the contract ended because of the lack of payments of the rental fee. The struggles of Sigriður to preserve the waterfall brought to people's attention the importance of preserving nature. That’s why she is often called Iceland´s first environmentalist.23golden circle iceland 1350106 In 1940 the adopted son of Sigriður acquired the waterfall from Sigriður´s father and later sold it to the Icelandic government. Gullfoss and its surroundings were designated as a nature reserve in 1979 to protect the waterfall and allow the public to enjoy this unique area.

Then the tour continues to Geysir geothermal area.

Geysir geothermal area

The geothermal field at Geysir geothermal area has a surface of about 3 km². Most of the springs are aligned along a 500 metre long and 100 metres wide strip of land running from south to southwest of Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill. This area is best known for the Great Geysir. The Great Geysir, Iceland's most famous hot spring that has given the name to geysers all over the world, last erupted on February 20, 2016. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 metres in the air. However, eruptions have stopped altogether for years at a time. An earthquake in the year 2000 revived the geyser again and an eruption took place for two days straight, reaching 122 metres in height. In the last decade, eruptions have decreased considerably and it is now considered almost inactive. I was lucky to see it erupting in 1999 when I was visiting Iceland for the first time. The Great Geysir is not the only geyser in the Geysir hot spring area. The most active geyser in the area is called Strokkur. It sprouts hot water as high as 30 meters into the air every few minutes or so. Strokkur's activity has also been affected by earthquakes, although to a lesser extent than the Great Geysir.27golden circle iceland 135014429golden circle iceland 135025428golden circle iceland 135019230golden circle iceland 135028531golden circle iceland 1350324This is also the place for a lunch break usually taken at Gullfoss Cafe at the service centre at the Geysir area. It's also good opportunity to buy souvenirs from Iceland.33golden circle iceland 1350356

Surprise stop: the Faxi waterfall

It was nice to have a surprise stop on our tour: the Faxi waterfall. Faxi is a wide, serene waterfall in South Iceland on the Tungufljót River, approximately twelve kilometres away from Gullfoss and Geysir, the two attractions on the Golden Circle. Here the river stretches to a width of more than 90 metres (300 feet) and plunges into a broad fall of 7 metres (22 feet) in height, bypassed on the left by a small fish ladder. Hiking and salmon fishing are the two most popular activities in the area. Faxi is a beautiful scenic waterfall, one of the most photogenic waterfalls in Iceland. Therefore it’s worth visiting.37golden circle iceland 1350373

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Hveragerdi - Stone and Mineral Museum

Our last stop was a great little exhibit of many rocks and minerals located in the gas station market. Four generations of Ljósbrá family members have travelled and collected these beautiful earthly gems and today have created a wonderful exhibition free to the public. The owner was very informative and friendly and very proud of his heritage.38golden circle iceland 135037839golden circle iceland 1350379

40golden circle iceland 1350382While you’re viewing some of Iceland’s hidden treasures, there is also an opportunity to stop by their gift shop where visitors can find handmade keepsakes to take home.

What did I like about this Gray Line tour?

I very much enjoyed the stories told by the expert tour guide sharing fascinating facts & history including stories about elves and favourite Icelander’s Christmas dish, fried rock ptarmigan, that I have never heard of before. 50golden circle iceland 1350136

51golden circle iceland 135006952golden circle iceland 1350115The duration of this tour is 8 hours. You can also enjoy the other Gray Line tours including the Northern lights tour. And for sure no trip to Iceland is complete without visiting Blue LagoonLooking for places where to stay in Iceland? Click here!

Have you been to Iceland? Share your impressions in the comments section!

Note: I was invited by Gray Line tours but all opinions are my own.

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  • Published by Anita on 02 December 2017

    Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveler, passionate photographer, and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    traveling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner planning and executing her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her also on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter, and Bloglovin.


    Very nice to read your experience on the tour. It's something I'm considering for when I will visit Iceland!
    Wow the pics are so amazing,each and every place mentioned is just awesome. I hope to visit Iceland soon .Thanks for sharing this beautiful post

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