Golden Circle extended | Private day tour to both classic and unique sites
NB: Golden Circle Extended Private Tour is capable of sextet. But do not hesitate to contact us if one or more tambourine men have joined your band. We will provide seats for everybody!
Golden Circle is the classic day tour in Iceland. During 7 hours ride common visitors will see famous sights like Thingvellir National Park where Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates meet, Strokkur the geyser which erupts every 5 minutes up to 30 meters and Gullfoss — one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
But you are not a common visitor! We offer you to extend this day tour, make it longer for a few hours and much more interesting. Just be sure this is the case when size matters.
During this extended day tour you will also visit:
- Picturesque Nesjavellir road which leads you through huge lava rocks, geothermal area and Thingvallavatn lake (available only summertime);
- Cozy farm where you may taste local ice cream and see a farm life just on the other side of the window separating guests who eat ice cream and cows that gave a milk to produce this delicious ice cream;
- Beautiful secret waterfall of turquoise color;
- 6000 years old Mars-like volcano crater;
- Warm and cozy Secret Lagoon — oldest swimming pool in Iceland built on a natural pool.
This is a great option to make Golden Circle tour more vigorous and full of new great locations where big tourist buses don't meet.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 10 hours
- Activities: Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English, Russian
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.
At the Nesjavellir geothermal area in Southwest Iceland, you’ll find Iceland’s second-largest geothermal power station.
The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station is located a short drive from the Hengill geothermal area and Thingvellir National Park. The power station produces around 120 MW of electrical power and around 1,110 liters of hot water (80-85°C) per second. The power station serves the Greater Reykjavik Area.
Brúarfoss ('Bridge Falls') is a relatively small waterfall compared to many of its Icelandic counterparts, but its diminutive size does nothing to take away from its staggering beauty. Both locals and seasoned travellers regard Brúarfoss as one of the country’s hidden gems, often labelling it 'Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall.'
The glacial river Brúará falls 2-3m, ending in a U-turn at the base of the waterfall, where the river is concentrated into a deep crevice that runs through the centre of dark volcanic rock formations. This creates sky-blue rapids that almost defy the imagination—and the vistas are made all the more beautiful by the surrounding, lush green flora, which provides a stark contrast to the flowing water.
Brúarfoss makes up just a small part of Brúará, whose origins lie in the mighty Hvita river which runs from the glacier Langjökull.
- See also: Waterfalls in Iceland
Brúarfoss is found in the west of Iceland, roughly one hour and twenty minutes east of Reykjavik. The waterfall takes its name from a stone arch that once stood over it, acting as a bridge for those who wished to cross.
According to legend, this natural stone bridge was destroyed in 1602 by a minion of the Skálholt episcopal see. At that time, Iceland was suffering a severe famine, and by destroying the bridge, the minion prevented the starving peasants from reaching the bountiful lands claimed by the church.
On July 20th, 1433, the Danish bishop, Jón Gereksson, was drowned in the waterfall after being placed in a bag, tied to a large stone and thrown in. Though details are somewhat hazy, it seemed that Jón had, in a jealous rage, attempted to murder the lover of a young woman named Margrét Vigfúsdóttir. In return, she swore her heart to any man willing to avenge the murder attempt and, thankfully, the son of a chieftain, Þorvarður Loftsson, was there to oblige her.
There has been much discussion in Iceland, concerning the steadily increasing stream of travellers who visit the area and trample its delicate natural landscapes. Unlike the larger waterfalls in Iceland, Brúarfoss does not have a designated parking space and tour operators leading groups to the area have been known to cross private land in order to reach the falls quicker. This is in violation of the ‘No Trespassing’ sign clearly on display, though there are routes to the falls that leave the area untarnished.
It is recommended that visitors park their vehicles by the Brúará bridge (on Road 37) and that they walk along the river to the waterfall. The bridge provides the best vantage point for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
During winter, snowfall will often conceal the walking paths, making the waterfall even more difficult to locate. Therefore, to avoid unnecessarily damaging the surrounding nature, you should only visit the waterfall during summer.
The Secret Lagoon is a man-made hot spring of natural resources located at Hverahólmi, the geothermal area next to the village of Flúðir in southern Iceland.
The hot spring is situated within the range of popular tourist route the Golden Circle in the geothermal area of Flúðir, a village renowned for its greenhouse activity and general horticulture. A major advantage of this geothermal activity is the natural and age-old thermal pools to be found in the area. Hrunalaug is one of those, a minuscule and natural hot spring that has regrettably undergone a great deal of damage in the last years due to increased numbers of visitors. The Secret Lagoon, however, has been modified to accommodate a much larger number of people. It makes use of its natural terrain and geothermal heating, leaving the water at a temperature of 38-40° Celcius (100° Fahrenheit) all year long.
The pool was constructed in 1891 and is officially the oldest swimming pool in the entire country. Icelanders simply call it 'the old pool' or 'gamla laugin'. In the year 1909, the first swimming lessons took place in the pool, which continued until relocated to the new pool in Flúðir in 1947. Before the 1900s, the Icelandic people rarely knew how to swim, in spite of being a nation of fishermen surrounded by an ocean. The sea that surrounds the island was simply too cold to swim in. Today, near every single Icelandic person is an able swimmer, since swimming lessons are constructed in pools and are mandatory for every Icelandic child. After the opening of the new pool in Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon as good as fell into oblivion. It has since then been thoroughly renovated and enjoys a large array of visitors each day.
The area all around the hot spring consists of mossy lava fields and geothermal activity, including a small geyser that erupts every 5 minutes, or so which can be seen from the pool. The steam that rises from the surrounding terrain into the air gives the place its distinct and magical atmosphere.
Starting time : Flexible
Water and snack in the car
Secret Lagoon admission with towel
What to bring:
Good to know:
- This is private tour for 6 passengers maximum;
- Due to short daylight hours during wintertime, we skip some locations and enjoy Northern Lights on the way back to Reykjavik.