Our second day in the “land of fire and ice” was dedicated to the famous Golden Circle, including the Thingvellir rift, the famous two Geysirs and the Gullfoss waterfall.
|Destination||Iceland, Golden Circle and Ring Road from Laugarvatn to Hella|
|Where I stayed / Recommendations||We stayed the evening of this day at the “Welcome Riverside Guesthouse“, which gets a “maybe” recommendation. It was the cheapest room of our tour – around 70 Euros per night. The room (shared bathroom) was OK, and as only one other room of the entire house was occupied, the shared bathroom was no problem. The shared kitchen was well equipped, as far as we could see – we did not use it.|
|Restaurants||Restaurant Strönd: nice Restaurant adjacent to a golf course|
|Things to do and see||Geysir and Strokkur: quite a spectacle
Gulfoss: pretty impressive waterfall
Thingvellir: set one foot on Europe and one on America
|Recommendations in a nutshell||Be prepared to meet the thousands of tourists that visit the Golden Circle each and every day…or go in winter.|
We were looking forward to an early start – at check-in the Laugarvatn Hostel personnel had told us that breakfast would start at 7:30. However, upon arrival at 7:30 we were told to wait until 8 – a little bit annoying. But then the breakfast (included in the room price) was quite OK. Our first stop on the “Golden Circle” route was supposed to be the Bruarfoss waterfall near Laugarvatn. Unfortunately, the short way from the road to the waterfall has been closed, it’s private property now and they redirect you to a car park about 2 km away from the waterfall. Thus, it takes more than an hour hiking just to get there and back, and we decided that it’s not worth the time. Considering the hundreds of waterfalls in Iceland.
Geysir and Strokkur
So, we skipped the Bruarfoss and went straight to the Geysir area in order to see it before the biggest loads of tourists. Which – of course – is illusionary…but still, a fascinating place:
There are colorful “billabongs”…
…and bubbling ponds…
…that suddenly start erupting:
The “Geysir” place includes in fact two individual geysirs, the so-called “Great Geysir” and the Strokkur Geysir next to the first one. While the Great Geysir is really powerfull – the water goes up to 70 meters high – the Strokkur Geysir (pictures above and below) is “more reliable” and erupts quite frequently.
In fact, we waited for more than 45 minutes for the Great Geysir to erupt – in vain. The water starts moving a little bit quite frequently, but then – nothing:
It’s really a bit frustrating. Obviously, the Great Geysir erupts rarely and without any schedule. However, the Strokkur Geysir is a lot of fun; it erupts approximately every 5 minutes, so you can watch it quite often:
And here’s a nice little movie of an eruption:
After that the famous Gulfoss waterfall was next on our list. Before visiting I consulted a few websites in order to get some additional information about the best time and place to take nice pcitures, like this one:
However, it’s not as complicated as these websites suggest…and you’ll get wonderful pictures anyway:
We were lucky with the weather and got pictures with sunshine and shade, showing the waterfall and its green surrounding in shiny colors:
Very impressive is the spray of water that you’ll have to pass to get to the platform at the upper end of the waterfall:
Prepare to get a little wet!
Also very impressive as well is the mount of water that goes down a few smaller steps, before it falls into the gorge:
The tiny people on the left side give an impression about the sheer size of this waterfall.
Our final stop on the “Golden Circle” was the famous ancient meeting place Þingvellir (anglizised Thingvellir). And first a short hint: don’t use the car park at the visitor center – this costs about 5 Euros. All the other car parks are free and as close to the attractions as the one at the visitor center. You’ll have to walk up and down the main path anyway – so it really doesn’t matter whether you start at the top:
…or at the bottom:
The name “Thingvellir” means something like “assembly field” and generates from Alþing (Althing), the national parliament of Iceland, founded at Thingvellir in the year 930 and being located there until 1798. For Non-Icelanders, it is mainly the place where the European and American tectonic plate meet and in fact drift apart by 2 cm per year. So, there’s really the chance to stand on two continents at the same time! However, where exactly in the narrow rift valley this special place is…
…is a bit difficult to determine. Well, most people just enjoy the path between the two lava walls, which belong definitely to two different continents:
And there is definitely more to discover that just this gorge, like this very pretty small river that runs along the rift:
and its waterfall:
If you’re coming late in the afternoon, you might even be able to enjoy it without too many other visitors.
And contemplate the water falling:
Next to the small church at the bottom of the central way, there are many nice little waterways…
…and some cute little birds in action:
Next to the car park for handicapped people, there’s a very nice small gorge with fantastic blue water:
…where you may drop a coin (and come back?):
Overall, Thingvellir – despite the loads of tourists – is a great place.
Greetings from the Gulfoss waterfall!
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.