Europe · Review · Travel

An Icelandic Classic – Our BusTravel Iceland Grand Golden Circle Tour

Spread the love

For most visitors to Reykjavík, the classic way to see some of Iceland’s incredible nature is to take a trip around the Golden Circle. It is a series of natural sights created by the geothermal activity of the island. We took this tour in 2012 but decided that it would be fun to see it in the snow on our latest trip. Plus, it was one of the tours in our BusTravel Winter Wonders in Iceland package so it would be rude not to. Join us for our BusTravel Iceland Grand Golden Circle Tour.

This post may contain sponsored content or affiliate links that help support the blog. All opinions are our own.

The Breakfast Stop

Our first stop was to a roadside centre with a nice coffee shop/convenience store, a nice, cheap Bonus supermarket and a museum. The visitor centre has some information about the volcanic and tectonic activity of the area. In the floor, a fissure was illuminated with fake lava. We spent a little time reading the info before splitting up to use the bathroom.

I popped into the supermarket to find a good value breakfast treat and emerged with two packet muffins just as Mr Fluskey messaged me to ask if I wanted one of the fancy pastries from the cafe. I had to disappoint him and present him with a cheap and cheerful variation. (Budget travel for the win).

Kerid Crater

There are a few volcanic lakes in South Iceland but this is the most popular one to visit. It has the clearest caldera (clearer when it isn’t covered in snow).

We gazed in wonder at the people who had made it all the way down to the icy lake. Not only was Mr Fluskey worried that one of them would fall through the ice, but I thought the climb back up was so steep that they would miss the bus. Miraculously, everyone made it back, dry and almost on time.

Islenski Hesturinn

Icelandic horses are unique. The breed is completely its own. They stand much smaller than your average horse but they are really hardy and really strong. Not only that, but they are adorable. While most horses have three gaits, Icelandic horses have an extra two including the tolt which makes the horses look like they are swimming. The body moves smoothly while the legs are pumping away! Any Icelandic horses that leave the island are never allowed to return in fear that they could bring diseases that would wipe out the lot so we are always pleased to meet them here.

On a previous trip we were lucky enough to try riding these little powerhouses but this time, it was a much shorter interaction. The bus pulled up next to the fence for 10-15 minutes. Here, there was a wooden cupboard where you could buy “horse candy” on an honestly box system. A few people bought a bag and everyone else crowded around to watch them feed the waiting horses.

The Mighty Gullfoss

Back in 2012, we took a Golden Circle tour in October. It was cold, with some icy areas but mainly, the way down to Gullfoss was clear. There was ice forming where the spray from the dramatic falls was coating the path. It was slippery but fun getting down to the rocky platform.

This time, we couldn’t get anywhere near it. The brutal, sticky snow was coming in harsh and sideways as we climbed down from the bus. The way to the overlock was straight into the stinging ice. Everyone struggled forward, unable to look up properly. Luckily, it is eased off just enough as we reached the overlook. We could see the river flowing down to the falls, over its double drop. Sadly, we couldn’t see into its 32m deep canyon caused by the retreating rock face. The ice that had formed around the water prevented that spray from bursting back up into the air so it was sadly missing its common rainbow. It was so cool to see the icicles though.

Geysir Geothermal Area

The Geysir park is one of the most popular stops along the Golden Circle. Water, heated by geothermal activity, courses through the rocks here. You can see it carve through the snow, bubble and boil in the Little Geysir and erupt from its silica tunnels.

Strokker is Iceland’s most famous geyser. There used to be a much bigger one here in the geyser geothermal area, (the one after which every geyser in the world is named). However, a big earthquake in the early 1900s stopped it erupting…but it could come back one day. In the meantime, we get to watch Strokker’s boiling water burst up every seven minutes or so, reaching fifteen to twenty metres into the sky. We got to watch it blow twice before cold winds and the returning stinging snow drove us into the visitor centre.

It was lunchtime and this was our longest stop. There was a large visitor centre here which had one large restaurant, a small cafe and a shop. We were fully planning to grab one small thing from the cafe so that we could officially take one of the tables, but it was shut. The restaurant had huge queues and we really didn’t fancy joining just for a soft drink. Instead we illegally perched at one of the tables, preparing to be kicked off at any moment. The prominent, “No Picnics” signs made it clear that we were being naughty. We ate our sad sandwiches before braving the snow again to get back to the coach.

Thingvellir National Park

During this trip to Iceland, we had been to Thingvellir on two other occasions. The first was as part of our Northern Lights Tour with busTravel Iceland. Then, the next morning just ten hours later, we took a dip in the waters that flow through it. Visitors can snorkel in the Silfra fissure that runs from the national park, into the lake, fed by glacier water that trickles from the rocks.

It was great to see the national park both in daylight, and wearing more appropriate sightseeing layers. This is the seat of Iceland’s government. This was one of the first democratic governments in the world, if not the first. It was decided that a large, open area would allow everyone to come that wanted to. It was held here from 930AD to 1798AD before restarting in Reykjavík in 1881.

We followed the group up onto the same bridge we had tried to see the northern lights from. Everyone was given a small talk but the cold drove everyone out of the wind. We chose to make our way down into the snowy rift. On a clear day you can see the edge of both tectonic plates and the national park is full of cracks and fissures as the land rips slowly apart. In this snowy-laden day, we decided to stick solidly to the paths. The snow was so deep in some spots that we didn’t get to far before it was time to return.

Final Thoughts on Our BusTravel Iceland Grand Golden Circle Tour

The Golden Circle Tour is a must-do for all visitors to Iceland. It was so cool to see it in a totally different light. Speaking of, during our midsummer trip, our friend took this trip on a crazy all-night adventure. She saw it all in the midnight sun so clearly, there is no bad time to visit. I am sure we will be back again ourselves one day.

Rosie xx

Spread the love

Leave Us A Comment