Geothermal heat escaping the ground, south Iceland

Just about two weeks ago, my father-in-law came to Iceland with a bunch of his student (He is a physics and mathematics teacher in Finland) on a study trip. Being a guide, I of course took care of arranging the various meetings they were to have but I also had the opportunity to help out planning the fun part of the trip, namely a self-drive tour to Geysir and Gullfoss. An "Almost Golden Circle tour" if you want.

This was actually a rather enjoyable experience, we started at about twelve o'clock from Reykjavik and drove South-East. We passed the region of the Blue Mountains where everything was beautifully snow-covered. We soon came by Hveragerði and stopped there by the Greenhouses. We also had a look at Grýla, the local geothermal park.

Grýla geothermal area, south Iceland

After this short stop, we went on to drive North-East through the Laugardal valley. This area really is quite different from most everything you'll see in The Greater Reykjavik region, it is a fell area with actually quite many trees  and very few people. It kinda reminded me of Southern Lapland, but with much shorter trees.

A hot spring in south Iceland

After a little while, we reached Geysir and swarmed in the park like the tourists that we were! The many tinier springs and hot-pots bubbled all in harmony as we kept on towards the big thing, you probably know what I mean:

Strokkur at Geysir geothermal area

We had quite a lot of fun there but we had to quickly run back in the cars in order to reach Gullfoss before day-end. The ride between Geysir and Gullfoss takes just a couple minutes but it really takes you to a completely different world: Now we were high in the mountains and nothing but rocks and snow to see in all directions. If Laugardalur reminded a bit of Southern Lappland, Gullfoss definitely reminded me of the barren, Northern Lapland!

After a little while we reached the parking lot and walked on a rather icy path towards the waterfall. And god, was it really huge! We could not go really really close because the summer path was closed due to snowfall but it was still really amazing. Judge by yourself:

Winter view over Gullfoss, south Iceland

At about that time the sun began to disappear in the cloudy horizon and we decided to head back to Reykjavik without stopping by Þingvellir. So yes, we did not do the Big Three Icelandic attractions but we still had a great time. I totally advice you to try it on your own (or on a tour) when you come visit.

See also: 

Golden Circle Tours

The Ultimate Itinerary for Iceland

Vikings, Waterfalls and Hot-springs

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