Iceland is one of the most geologically interesting places on earth. Because of it’s location on the mid-Atlantic range, the geothermal activity is rampant. This is why there are so many volcanoes, lava fields and hot springs throughout the country. One place you can see […]
Tag: travel blog
One of the ‘can’t miss’ things to do in Iceland is the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle consists of a few prominent sites, including Þingvellir National Park, the Gulfoss Waterfall, and Haukadalur Geothermal area. There are a few other stops you can make. One we made was at the Kerið volcanic crater.
Because we rented a car, we didn’t have to book a bus trip to see these famous sites. Looking into those, they seemed pretty pricey. Those all leave from Reykjavik at 9am. Knowing that information, we left our Air BNB at 8:30am, hoping to be able to beat the crowds a bit.
The whole drive, including stops, took us about 4 hours.
Þingvellir National Park
Pronounced “Thingvellir”, this national park is just 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik. Iceland’s parliament was founded at this site in 980AD. It’s also one of the sites where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plated meet.
There’s a nice look-off here, and you can do a little hike to a waterfall. We skipped the hike based on a recommendation from a friend, that this was the least impressive of all of the waterfalls we would be seeing. We didn’t feel any regret in skipping this.
When we were driving to the next site, we found another beautiful lookout from the other side of the lake.
Haukadalur Geothermal Area – The Geysers
The geyser was the thing I was most excited about seeing along the Golden Circle. When we were getting close, we did see the geyser go off. We got to the site, and we stood watching what we thought was the geyser for a while, until we heard another one go off behind us. The Strokkur geyser goes off every 5 to 10 minutes. We stood there for about 25 minutes and we watched it go off 3 times (4 if you include the time where we were busy staring at something else!)
I had at great time at the geyser! We both could have watched it all day. Hot tip – there’s a cafe and restaurant at the geyser.
Gullfoss, AKA “golden falls” is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. It has a really cool duo waterfall thing going on. In the warmer months, you can get pretty close to the falls. But when we visited in October, this walkway was already frozen over.
Kerið Volcanic Crater
Our last stop on the Golden Circle was the Kerið Volcanic Crater. In the warmer months, the vegetation around the crater gives a really cool rainbow effect. It cost ISK 40 to get into the crater area, and you can walk around the top and then down into the crater.
The water was frozen, but they do not recommend walking on it. Listen to that! The water is pretty deep and you don’t want to risk falling in. We saw people doing some pretty dumb stuff, like trying to climb up and down the crater. Maybe don’t do that??
I also saw this great bird with fuzzy feet.
We enjoyed the Golden Circle, but I’ve got to be honest in saying we didn’t love it. The geysir and Gullfoss were really cool, but the other sites weren’t our favourite. I’m not really sure why. We enjoyed our south shore drive a lot more.
- If you’re driving, fill up your gas tank before leaving on your journey. Gas stations along the way are few and far between.
- Bring lunch! There aren’t a whole lot of restaurants on the route, and the ones you find tend to be geared towards tourists.
- Use the free bathrooms when you can! Þingvellir and the geysers had free bathrooms.
- These aren’t the only stops along the Golden Circle! Do some research and find a few hidden gems.
We had decided beforehand that we wanted to do some sort of excursion offered by our travel company, Sunwing. We had all agreed that we wanted to go on some sort of boating/snorkeling expedition. Our contact point at the hotel told us about an excursion that sounded like exactly what we wanted.
It was a tour lasting about 4-5 hours, that included a boat trip to go see the famous Arch, snorkeling, lunch, and bottomless drinks. The tour was put on through Novotours in partnership with Sunwing for about $100 CAD.
A shuttle bus took us to the marina where we collected our tickets and got on the boat. We were handed a cocktail upon arrival, which is exactly what I want from vacation.
We then made the trek out to the Arch. You can only see the Arch from the water. There’s no point of land where you can see it from. If you want to see it, but aren’t interested in doing an excursion like this, a water taxi can take you out for less than $20.
We then headed out into the sea to a spot way past our hotel where we could do some snorkeling. On our way there, we were able to see some sea lions and whales.
We got to the snorkeling spot, and I was genuinely surprised at how many fish we were able to see. I had never been snorkeling before, so this was a real treat.
After snorkeling, we had a very delicious lunch and headed on home. It was pretty overcast that day, so I didn’t reapply my sunscreen as much as I should have and ended up with a pretty good burn.
I thought the tour was well worth the money. We all agreed this was our favourite part of the trip. The crew were all wonderful and provided excellent service. The food was great. The snorkeling was amazing. I would absolutely recommend this excursion if your hotel offers something similar.
For more on where we stayed in Cabo, check out this post.
The pomme de terre affair continued into Dublin, of course. For dinner our first night in the capital city, we meandered the streets until we were too hangry to try and choose a place, so we walked into a restaurant close to our immediate location. […]
Did I mostly know Galway from pop culture references such as the 2007 sobfest “P.S. I Love You” and hit Ed Sheeran song that you’re probably sick of Galway Girl? Sure. But I fell in love with the small(ish) city on the western coast of Ireland.
After landing in Dublin, we immediately hopped on a bus to Galway. We pre-booked but were able to get on an earlier bus. It was reasonable priced for this service and there was wi-fi on the bus which made the 2-hour trek a breeze.
Our main purpose for visiting Galway was that it wasn’t quite as far to the Cliffs of Moher as Dublin was, and it gave us a chance to explore another Irish city.
It was a short walk to our Air BNB from the bus station. Where we were staying was centrally located and we could walk everywhere we wanted to go.
This was the place where we did most of our bar-hopping since we could walk everywhere so easily. There was like, 20 pubs within 10 minutes of our Air BNB.
I loved Galway. It was incredibly charming, and I could see myself spending more time there in the future.