From Laxnes Horse Farm we were picked up by a major tour operator called the Grayline (not to be confused with America’s Greyhound line!). Laxnes Horse Farm paired up with this tour company and there are many more combo tours you can find here. If you are looking into booking tours throughout Iceland and not renting a car, Grayline comes highly recommended. Our tour operator was funny and made jokes throughout the entire 8 hours or so we spent in our bus.
She also provided great insight into the Icelandic culture and some common quirks and anecdotes to be found there. Such as the double standards of Lutheran priests – as being so far off the mainland was the perfect excuse to live a life to one’s liking.
Our first stop on the Golden Circle Tour was the national park Thingvellir. Not only did this place offer stunning views throughout the valley, but it is also considered quite extraordinary. It is here that the Continental Drift is happening, pulling both the Eurasian and North American plates apart from each other. You can see it and stand on it, like I did. Or you can snorkel through it (in warmer weather) and see it from below the water surface (this is certainly on my bucket list!).
After our short and windy stop here, we drove through the valley and our tour guide explained that we were passing the ancient parliament Althingi, which was founded in the year 930 A.D.
Our next stop was waiting for a few more tourists outside of a spa, who looked quite relaxed when entering the bus. The next time I will have to stop for an extra treatment here, too.
Then, we went to our next highlight: Gullfoss waterfall! Iceland has many amazing waterfalls to offer but this one is by far the closest to Reykjavik. It was the perfect time of year to experience it, as the ice was slowly melting away and giving ground to the powerful water masses below it. Actually, quite a few of my friends were impressed by the pictures I took as they had been here in the summer months and did not see Gullfoss in its icy form. Unfortunately, not all platforms were open yet, so we were only able to see it from far above. I guess you can go closer to it during the warmer months.
We then went on to the hot spring areas, where Geysir can be found. Geysir translates to old man and he is not overly active anymore. However, other hot springs certainly are and we waited around to see this one erupt 3-4 times during the ten minutes or so we were there.
I also snapped a lovely picture of Litli Geysir. The guide warned us to not stand too close to any of the geysirs and also to not stand behind it when it erupts as the wind could carry the hot water over to us. Some tiny hot springs could be found all around us but we were wary not to touch them as the water could have seriously harm us. It was nice to just hold a hand over it and warm up, since the temperatures were still quite freezing outdoors.
After browsing through souvenir shop and having a quick bite, we drove past the picturesque crater landscape and saw more Icelandic ponies.
Our last stop was Skalholt church in the South of Iceland. This one the most historical sites in the country, as it used to be center for culture and politics 1000 years ago. It was the seat of Icelandic Christianity, which was not as rigorously enforced as in other European countries. It is also here where the first school ever was founded. In addition, you can find a reconstruction of an original Icelandic house, which must have given lots of fuel for The Game of Thrones and other movies.
After this quite eventful day, I was happy to be back in Reykjavik by 7pm. The cold and drizzle had slowly gotten to me and I was looking forward to an evening in town. The very next day I had the chance to see more of Reykjavik before I departed to the airport. There are still lots of things I haven’t seen and experienced. For example, my Northern Lights Tour was consistently cancelled throughout my entire stay. Better luck next winter. And I never made it to the Blue Lagoon, which I certainly have to in the future. I would also love to travel the entire island for one or two weeks all by myself.
Iceland – good-bye for now but see you later!