What is the Golden Circle in Iceland ?

What is the Golden Circle in Iceland

We are from time to time asked what is the Golden Circle in Iceland? There is a short and a long answer to that question. The short answer would be: It is a route in Iceland that include the scenic highlights of the South West part of Iceland that has been given the name Golden Circle, read further for the longer and more informative answer.

 Places seen on the Golden Circle Iceland.

The name Golden Circle or “Gullni hringurinn” in Icelandic refers to the route from Reykjavik to Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss which are the highlights of the route and back to Reykjavik and make it a circle. The Gold in the name comes from “Gullfoss” which literally means Golden waterfall.

Thingvellir National park

Thingvellir have been a National Park since 1928 and a UNESCO world Heritage site since 2004. This place has both historical and geological interest. It is where the National Parliament was founded in 930 and where it resided until 1798. From a geological point of view Thingvellir are also extremely interesting, the reason being that it is one of the best places to see the power of the continental drift with your one eyes. By walking down Almannagjá fault or dive or snorkel in Silfra fissure you will clearly see where the country is splitting apart.

Diving in Silfra fissure in Iceland

Diving in Silfra fissure in Iceland

Geysir area

Not many know that the word geyser is in fact an Icelandic word. The word derives from one particular geyser in Iceland and you have probably guessed its’  name already, it is Geysir!
Geysir has not been very active in the past few years but when it was most active it would hurl boiling hot water up to 70 meters (230 ft) in the air. At the Geysir area are lots of different kind of beautiful hot springs but now the main attraction is Strokkur geyser. It is very active and erupts every 5-10 minutes.

Strokkur geysir

Strokkur geyser

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss or the Golden falls is a beautiful two tiered waterfall, thundering down 32 meters. It is located on Hvítá River (white river) whose source is  Langjökull glacier. Due to its origins, the colour of the water tends to be from blue-gray to brown. According to Google sightmap the waterfall offers a pretty popular photo opportunity and ranks in the 807th place of world’s most photographed places when this is written.


Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland

Gullfoss Waterfall

Map of the Golden Circle in Iceland

The Golden Circle is 250 km/155 miles in total and here you can find our Map of the Golden Circle in Iceland showing you the three main highlights on the way.


What is the Golden Circle in Iceland map

what is the Golden Circle in Iceland map

Tours to the Golden Circle in Iceland

There are many tours available around the Golden Circle in Iceland and it is included in all of our self drive tours itineraries. If you are situated in Reykjavik and would like to do a guided day tour our two most popular Golden Circle tours from Reykjavik are the Golden Circle Classic which is a bus tour and  the super jeep version of the same tour the Golden circle by super jeep and Langjökull glacier. As the name suggests you travel by a big 4×4 and get to go on Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjökull, with the added option on going on a snowmobile tour.

We also offer several other tours to the Golden Circle and combination of Golden Circle tours with activities such as whale watching, Blue Lagoon, horseback riding and city sightseeing to name a few. There are too many excursions to name them all here in this short article but you can see our wide variety of day tours to the Golden Circle here.

We hope this answerers the question of what is the Golden Circle in Iceland.  If you have any questions regarding our trips or services please send us a inquiry or chat with us on-line through our main page.

Iceland Vacation Ideas

Iceland Vacation ideas

Do you need any Iceland Vacations ideas? well here below you will find some ideas that might help you in planning your vacation in Iceland. Here we mention our most popular tours that are tried and tested but if you have something else in mind and need any further help please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Self drive vacation ideas

The Self Drive tours are always popular and driving the ring road around Iceland is the best way of seeing diversity of the country. With the geysers in South West, glaciers and black volcanic beaches in the South, The beautiful fjords in the East, go whale watching or horseback riding in the north, experience the deep tranquil fjords in the North West and the scene of the Icelandic Sagas in the west. By driving yourself you get the freedom and flexibility to do and see what you want in the time you choose.

The 7 day self drive tour around Iceland is great idea for those who don’t have much time but still want to drive the full circle. We call it the express circle for a reason and wouldn’t recommend driving around Iceland in any shorter amount of time since you would be seeing most of the country behind the front window of your car. The 10 day self drive tour around Iceland is a lot more relaxed way of seeing the country and great Iceland vacation idea for those who want to take their time enjoying the sights and perhaps take part in some optional activities along the way. The third trip around Iceland we can recommend is the 14 day self drive tour around Iceland it includes the circular road around Iceland but also the lesser visited but in our opinion one of the most beautiful part of the country with its deep tranquil fjords and small fishing villages so if you are looking for a relaxed vacation this is the Iceland vacation idea for you.

Because the self drive tours offer such a great flexibility there are many options and if you can’t find the tour you are looking for we are happy to customize a tour for you.


Dyrholaey in South Iceland

Circle group tours with a guide

For many travelling with a group is a good idea since they get to know other like-minded people along the way and the added benefit of having a professional guide and driver means you can point your eyes at the sights along the way and not so much on the map, GPS and guidebooks. The guided group tours can also be a good idea if you are a solo traveller. Two of our guided group tours have been equally popular and those tours are the 7 day guided group tour and the 9 day guided group tour around Iceland.

 Iceland New Year vacation

Spending new years in Iceland is a good vacation idea and a different experience  from what most are used to. Icelanders get a bit crazy around midnight on New Year’s eve and the sky lights up from the hundreds of tons of fireworks being set of.

Northern lights vacation ideas

Seeing the northern lights is a once in a lifetime experience the best way of experience them is to leave the city lights and head out to the country side. If you are looking at tours that offer the best chance of seeing the northern lights it is a good idea to do a Self drive tour like the 7 day tour of the South. For those who prefer to stay in Reykjavik and just do a one night excursions to hunt for them then this northern lights city break would be a good choice. If you are very interested in the northern lights then our 8 day guided northern light tour is the best bet, with sightseeing during the day, lectures on the northern lights and then searching for the aurora borealis after dinner.

People watching the Northern lights in Iceland

Northern Lights in Iceland

 Hiking in Iceland

Iceland is a hikers paradise with lots of different options depending on your level of fitness and time available.  Here are all hiking tours we have available but here below are some Iceland hiking vacation ideas that have proved to be most popular. The Laugavegur hiking trail in Iceland is without a doubt the most popular one and no wonder the huts get fully booked very early so booking well in advance is advised but we pre-book our tours so we often have availability longer. Our 4 day Laugavegur hiking package is something we can definitely recommend to hikers that have some experience but for those looking for something more easygoing then a better idea would be this 5 day hiking tour around the South coast

To get more Iceland vacation ideas you should browse through our main page and see if there isn’t something for you.

Easter in Iceland

Easter in Iceland

For the locals Easter is usually considered a family time and where you stuff yourself with delicious chocolate Easter eggs. The Easter in Iceland is in effect like a five day weekend and all schools, offices, banks and such are closed. Many shops are also closed during this time so it is not the ideal time to visit if you intend to shop a lot but for most it is not the reason for their visit. Most restaurants and cafés are open during Easter and all day tours are operated as like every other day.

Family time

For Icelanders the Easter holiday is often longer than during Christmas with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and the following Monday being public holidays. During Easter it is very popular for Icelanders to rent a cottage in the country side, relax and spend some quality time with their families.  If conditions allow going skiing is also a popular past time and towns like Akureyri in the North and Ísafjörður are packed with skiers. Ísafjörður  also hosts a popular music festival at this time called “Aldrei fór ég suður” . Although being a music festival it has a very relaxed vibe where all the organizers and staff are working for free making this happen.

Icelandic chocolate Easter egg

Icelandic chocolate Easter egg

Chocolate Easter egg- Páskaegg

The Chocolate Ester egg or páskaegg in Icelandic is a must during Easter. Theses chocolate eggs come in different sizes from very small up to the size of a human head. They are all stuffed with all sorts of candy and in each egg is a small piece of paper with traditional proverbs or sayings. If you end up in a family gathering in Iceland you will probably hear people ask each other what proverb or saying they got in their egg. Translating those sayings into English can be hilarious so getting a egg and ask an Icelander to translate it for you can be a great conversation starter.

Whale watching in Iceland – Where to go

Where to go whale watching in Iceland

Whale watching in Iceland has in recent years become very popular activity for visitors and several operators around the country offer tours to see these majestic animals in their natural environment. We are often asked questions like where to go whale watching? when is the best time seeing the whales? and what whales can I see in Iceland? So we are going to answer those questions in this short post.

whale watching in Iceland
Where to see whales in Iceland

Whale watching tours are operated from the capital city Reykjavik, Vestmannaeyjar islands of the south coast, Husavik  Akureyri and Dalvik in the north and Olafsvik on Snaefellsnes peninsula by eleven different companies. So the question is where to go? well the simple answer is where there is room for it in the itinerary. It is highly popular to add whale watching to our self drive tours and based on our itineraries we most often recommend either whale watching in Husavik or in Reykjavik.

When to see whales in Iceland

The best time of year to see whales around Iceland is from April to October with the peak season in June, July and August. In Husavik tours are operated from end of March to the end of November but whale watching tours from Reykjavik are operated all year. The time of day doesn’t seem to have any affect on the likelihood of spotting the whales. In the summer whales and/or dolphins were seen on about 98% of the tours operated by our partners and if no whales are seen you can go on another tour so it is very unlikely that you won’t see anything.

What whales can expect to see

There is a bit difference between the North and South which whales you can expect to see. The season you travel is also a factor as well as conditions each day but here below are examples of whales and dolphins you can see in Iceland

Minke Whale

The Minke Whale, or Hrefna in Icelandic measures from 7-11 meters and weighs in at 8-10 tons, is the most common whale around the country and in fact the world so it is likely that you will see them on your tour in either north or south.

Humpback whale

Humpback Whale or Hnúfubakur in Icelandic, measures from 13-17 meters and weighs from 25 – 40 tons. The Humpback travels great distances each year to get to Iceland’s coast or about 8300 km one way and can expect to live up-to whopping 95 years. It is more likely to see the Humpback from Husavik than Reykjavik.

Blue Whale

The Blue Whale is the largest know animal to have lived on earth measures from 25 – 30 meters and weighs from 150 -200 tons, to put its size in perspective the heart is the size of a small car.

Fin Whale

The Fin Whale is about 20-28 meters in length and weighs 70 -120 and as the Humpback it has a high life expectancy and can live up to 90 years and some found are believed to have reached 140 years of age.

Orca or Killer Whale

The Killer Whale is a part of the dolphin family they measure from 6-9 meters and weighs 3-9 tons. The world most famous Killer Whale is probably Keiko who starred in the movie Free Willy.

other notable whales and dolphins include sperm whale, Sei Whale, Pilot Whale, Harbour Porpoise and  White-beaked Dolphin but there are over 85 different species that have been spotted around Iceland so the list is long.

Whale watching tours

As mentioned before it is easy to add a whale watching tour to your Iceland holiday package just contact us at tour@tour.is and we will work out where it is best to add a whale watching tour to your itinerary.

If you are staying in Reykjavik you can look at the whale watching tour from Reykjavik we offer departing from Reykjavik Harbour or the whale watching combination tours below.

Whale watching and the Golden Circle Combines whale watching with Iceland’s most popular sightseeing tour the Golden Circle

Whale watching and the Blue Lagoon takes you whale watching and to one of Iceland’s most visited attraction the Blue Lagoon where you can relax in the warm waters after being out at sea.

Whale watching, the Blue lagoon and Keflavik Airport is a great choice for those who want to use their time in Iceland to the fullest on their departure day and go on Whale watching, visit the blue lagoon and then get dropped of at Keflavik airport for their flight back home.

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland

 One of Europe’s best hot spring spas and a wonder of the world

Just recently Fodor’s travel announced Europe’s best hot springs spas and no wonder the Blue lagoon in Iceland was on that list.

This is not the first time the Blue Lagoon has got such acknowledgements because the National Geographic magazine included it on their list of 25 places they named “wonders of the world, world’s most awesome places”

Blue Lagoon massage

Relaxing massage at the Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue lagoon was formed accidentally by excess water form a geothermal plant in the area. Since then people have been enjoying hot baths in the rich water and even apply the silica mud to their skin which has proven to do wonders for people with psoriasis.

Useful tips regarding the Blue Lagoon

Here you will find some useful tips if you plan on visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

 Opening hours

The Blue Lagoon is open 10:00 – 20:00 from September to May and 09:00-21:00 in June and from August 10th to September 1st.
During peak season in July and to  August 11th it is open from 09:00 -23:30

AVOID the Crowds and visit OFF-PEAK

It can be very busy during summer and it is recommended to book the date and time in advance. Peak times are unpredictable but Tuesdays and Wednesdays seem to be more quiet  and so do the late afternoons. If you can direct your visit to these times it is well worth it but the lagoon is big so you should easily find a place without feeling crowded

Blue lagoon hair care tip

The water  is rich in minerals such as silica and therefore very good for your skin but it will make your hair pretty unmanageable, but there is a trick you can use to avoid this. You can either keep your head out of the water all the time or simply put hair conditioner on before entering the lagoon and leave it while you bath.

In water treatments

There are several in water treatments available at the Blue Lagoon and if you opt for one of those you are in for a treat, they are heavenly believe us. The treatments are available from 11:00-19:00 but are very popular and therefore it is essential to book them in advance. To get most out of the massages it is recommended to arrive well in advance of your appointment and warm up the muscles in the warm waters.

Tours to the blue lagoon

We offer several tours to the Blue lagoon here you can see our spa experience including entrance and massage. Those who just  want to visit the blue lagoon without treatments the Blue lagoon direct would be the tour for you or the Blue Lagoon and Keflavik airport if you are going to fly out that same day or if you want to visit directly from the airport on arrival and then getting a transportation to Reykjavik we would recommend the Blue Lagoon from Keflavik airport. To combine the Blue lagoon with other tours can be a good choice.

The combination tours we  offer are The Blue lagoon direct and the golden circle afternoon where you get to visit the lagoon as well as the Golden Circle one of Iceland’s most popular day tour. the City sightseeing and the blue lagoon direct combining Reykjavik sightseeing tour with a visit to the lagoon and for those interested in combining whale watching  there is the whale watching and the Blue lagoon direct. Tours with private transfers can also be arranged upon request.

If you have any questions or would like to visit please contact us through this on-line form or send us a mail directly  to tour[at]tour.is we are also available through chat at www.tour.is

Limited availability Summer 2013

After contacting numerous Icelandic hotels and guesthouses in the middle of April, asking about their current booking situation for the summer season 2013, the answer is the same at most hotels and guesthouses. They are currently booking up fast and are already almost fully booked for the entire summer season, June through August and well into September. This is a  a significant increase from the last years. If you are serious about a trip to Iceland this summer, – you should move forward NOW and book your tour !

The Laugavegur Hiking Trail – already sold out the entire summer of 2013

According to the manager of Ferðafélag Íslands – The Iceland Touring Club that owns and operates several mountain huts along the Laugavegur Hiking Trail, –  by far the most popular hiking trail in the Icelandic highlands, all accommodation in the huts  is already fully booked this summer. The club owns five huts along the Laugavegur Trail, at Landmannalaugar, Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn, at Emstrur and Skagfjörðsskáli in Thorsmork.  Each mountain hut has a capacity for 60 -75 people each night. Same applies to many other mountain huts that the club owns in other parts of the central highlands during the summer of 2013, – everything is currently booking up fast.  In the last 4 – 5 years,  there has been a great increase in the number of groups that wish to hike the Laugavegur trail and they have never before seen such a great demand as for the summer of 2013.

Hotels and guesthouses in Iceland can tell a similar story. Many hotels and guesthouse in Iceland are already fully booked at many dates in  June, July and August and it has already become difficult to find vacancies.

Northern Lights – Time Magazine

Photo By Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson

Time Magazine has published photographs of the Northern Lights in Iceland,  taken by the Icelandic photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson. According to Time, the Northern Lights attract a great number of visitors to Iceland every winter.

The aurora’s eerie, constantly changing light show is created when charged particles from the Sun collide into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, literally electrifying it. Because of our planet’s magnetic field, the phenomenon occurs within a pair of ovals around the north and south magnetic poles. Therefore Iceland, which typically lies under the shifting northern auroral oval, is blessed with frequent and spectacular displays.

Please Click Here to view more of Ragnar amazing photos from Iceland

Game of Thrones in Iceland

The icicles in Jon Snow’s beard are real — the result of filming in Iceland rather than using special effects — in the hit HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones.”

A video has been posted,  revealing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the cast and crew filming scenes in the snow-covered  Lake Mývatn area of Iceland. The upcoming season of “Game of Thrones” will continue to follow Jon Snow, played by Kit Harington,

“It’s harsh weather conditions. It’s not easy to shoot here,” Harington said in the video. “But the country’s so beautiful that it makes it such a pleasure to come here.  Harsh conditions indeed. ”

“Yesterday we were shooting in a blizzard, so we couldn’t see how beautiful it was,” said Ciarán Hinds, who is joining the cast as Mance Rayder, the Wilding leader and “King Beyond the Wall.”

Watch the video here:


New Northern Lights Tours

Due to the great popularity of the Northern Lights Exploration tour we are proud to present new Northern Lights focused tours to our selection. The Northern Lights Exploration tour sold out quickly in 2012 but we reacted fast by adding several additional departures to supply the high demand for the tour. The additional tours also sold out quickly in 2012, so the demand was considerably greater than supply. We have received excellent feedback on the tour from our customers which you can read all about on TripAdvisor.

The new options for a winter holiday in Iceland with the main focus on seeing the northern lights are carefully thought out tours of various duration, created by seasoned travel experts.

Below is a list of the new Northern Lights focused tour packages for 2013-2014.

The Land of the Northern Lights

North Iceland Aurora Challenge

Northern Lights & Spa Experience – South Iceland