Golden Circle & Silfra Snorkelling Small Group Tour
This amazing adventure starts with a pick up from Reykjavik for a scenic drive to the geothermal area of Geysir, the home of the one and only Geysir. There the ground gurgles, bubbles and super heated water escapes from the ground with enormous force. Next we stroll down to Gullfoss, the undisputed queen of Icelandic waterfalls. Gullfoss is an amazing sight, the water rushes down three steps of lava layers with breathtaking power and grandeur. Thingvellir is the third place we visit. Thingvellir is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the original birthplace of the world 's oldest existing parliament. In addition, it is the place where the great tectonic plates of America and Europe meet. You will see the continental rift up close as you snorkel through the stunningly clear blue waters of Silfra.
The snorkelling is a relaxing but exotic trip in an environment most will only encounter in their dreams. Silfra fissure is one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets, an otherworldly scene that is world famous for its heavenly shades of blue. The crystal clear water in the deep fissure gives you a feeling of being weightless as you float along with the lazy current. Although the water temperature is only around 2 degrees Celsius our super warm dry suits make this adventure possible.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 9 hours
- Activities: Snorkelling, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum age: 12 years old
- Languages: English
The Golden Circle is a 300 km route to the 3 most popular natural attractions in Iceland. The Golden Circle consists of Geysir, Gullfoss and Thingvellir.
See this for Golden circle tours.
Geysir is a geyser that gives its name to hot springs all over the world. But although Geysir itself is not active anymore the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur (spouting a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, regularly about 15-20 meters into the air), Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
The 'Golden Waterfall', is the second part of the Golden Circle, and one of the most beautiful and powerful waterfalls in Iceland, plummeting 32 meters into the river gorge of the popular rafting river Hvita. It is Iocated about 10 km from Geysir.
Thingvellir national park
The largest attraction of the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park. The Icelandic parliament was founded there in 930 and remained until the year 1798.
Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important places to visit in Iceland, not just for its historical and cultural values, but for also its magnificent landscape.
Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain and volcano range and is the site of a rift valley, where the tectonic plates meet, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic ridge.
Of particular note at Thingvellir are the magnificent Almannagja gorge, and the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland. The popular Gjabakkahellir lava cave is also in the area.
The fissure Silfra is located by Thingvallavatn, Iceland's largest lake, and is famous for its clear waters and popular for diving and snorkeling, as you can literally swim between continents.
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.
Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries.Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, and Gjabakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Starting time : 09:00
Small group guarantee
Reykjavik pick up & return transfer
A certified guide
A visit to Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring Area & Gullfoss Waterfall
Snorkelling in Silfra fissure
All necessary snorkelling equipment
Food & drinks
What to bring:
Warm outdoor clothes
Good hiking shoes
A change of clothing
Good to know:
Prior to diving or snorkelling, you will be provided with the document; "Diving and Snorkelling in Silfra Fissure: A Handbook to Prepare You for your Adventure".
This handbook will guide you through the entire process of snorkelling and diving at Silfra, from how to put on a drysuit to information about the fissure itself. The handbook will also contain a questionnaire asking whether you have suffered, or currently suffer, from issues relating to the tour, such as lung disease or allergies to the cold.
If you answer yes to any of these preconditions, you may need medical clearance from a doctor before joining, or you may be refused outright. If you have any queries regarding your eligibility for these tours, please don't hesitate to contact the tour operator directly. You will also sign a liability waiver within the handbook itself. The following regulations must be met:
be at least 150cm tall
be at least 45kg
be at least 16 years of age
be comfortable in water and be able to swim
be physically fit
be ready to wear a sometimes tight & constricting dry suit
not be pregnant
Fantastic tour! Pick up was prompt, the guide was knowledgeable and informative, and the scenery and the experience were amazing!
This was a great tour. Nothing prepares you for how beautiful Silfra is and our snorkeling guide, Ronan, was so enthusiastic and helpful and he let us explore at our own pace and he made way to see Silfra in all of its beauty!
Due to the storming on the day of our tour, the national park was closed and we cannot do the snorkeling... However, Guide to Iceland reply to refund the amount of cancellation for snorkeling :) Hope that I will visit Iceland and do the snorkeling one day in the future!
Great value trip from Reykjavik. We had an extra day in the city and wanted to see the waterfall again so we booked this tour with snorkeling. The water was freezing but very much worth it!
Most of the experience was amazing, however the pick up time took around 45 minutes without any notice was quite annoying. The national park was amazing, so beautiful. Snorkeling was really cold, not much to see under water, but the geographic meaning was important. Overall, I would recommend this trip if they could manage the pick up time in a better way.
Picking up took 1 hour which was described to be 30 mins!! This is the longest picking time among all my tours! We set off from Reykjavik after 10:30 which is also the latest one! Snorkeling was really interesting, that's definately the highlight in this tour. However, We got only 20 minutes at the gullfoss, 45 minutes at Geysir including lunch time, and the worst, we didn't get a chance to see the Þingvellir national park!!