Explore the best of Iceland’s southern highlights with this roundup of the best Golden Circle Tours departing from Reykjavik.
If you’re seeking to explore Iceland’s magnificent natural wonders on a day trip from Reykjavik, then one of the best and most popular options is the epic Golden Circle Route.
That’s because the road distance is a mere 230 kilometers (140 miles) return, meaning you can visit the main attractions in Southwest Iceland including Gullfoss Waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, and the fascinating Geysir Geothermal Area in a single day.
However, before you rush out and purchase the cheapest tour you can find, you’ll want to know that they are not all equal. In fact, in this travel guide, I have compared the top six Reykjavik Golden Circle tours, each offering different attractions, stops, and inclusions.
So, whether it’s a convenient bus tour or a more comprehensive trip with a chance to snorkel between the Eurasian tectonic plates, this guide will help you choose the perfect Iceland day trip!
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
About Iceland's Golden Circle
When planning any trip to Iceland, you would've heard about the Golden Circle, but what exactly is it? The Golden Circle in Iceland is a tourist route in the south of the country that covers 300 kilometers of attractions, such as the Blue Lagoon, waterfalls, geysers, and more.
6 Best Golden Circle Tours from Reykjavik
Below is a roundup of the best 6 Golden Circle Tours from Reykjavik that you can experience and book through Get Your Guide & Viator in just a few quick clicks. These tours have been enjoyed by thousands and boast some of the best reviews.
If you're staying in Reykjavik and aren't hiring a car but still want to experience the Golden Circle in Iceland, you should book the Golden Circle Classic Day Trip.
On this day trip, you'll experience the three main attractions of the Golden Circle and learn about the history and geology of each site.
You'll travel from Reykjavik in an air-conditioned vehicle to see the breathtaking Gullfoss Waterfall, the bubbling pools and Strokkur waterspout at Geysir Geothermal Area, and the fascinating tectonic rift at Thingvellir National Park.
Along the way to each destination, you'll learn all about how Islanders use the natural steam and geothermal waters in the country to produce sustainable energy.
If you're staying in Reykjavik for a short amount of time, this guided tour is a must!
Another fantastic day trip to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik is the Golden Circle, Kerid, & Secret Lagoon Tour.
Your tour guide will pick you up in a bus from central Reykjavik and take you on a journey to some of the most famous attractions in the country.
Your first stop of the day is Kerið Volcanic Crater. Here you can marvel at the crater from all angles, including the top, along the winding path that descends into the crater, as well as the lake at its center.
The second stop of the day is the Secret Lagoon. Here you will have 90 minutes to soak and unwind in the thermal waters and take in the peaceful surroundings.
Your third stop of the day takes you to the active hot spring of Strokkur. Active every eight minutes and spouting steaming water 30 meters into the air, this is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in the country. Afterward, you'll be taken to Gullfoss Waterfall, one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. Standing there, you'll feel the spray of the glacial Hvítá River as it plummets into the 32-meter-deep crevice, a sight you cannot miss while holidaying in Iceland.
Finally, your last stop of the day is Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart a few centimeters every year.
By seeing so many fantastic attractions in one day, this tour is a great one to book if you're staying in Reykjavik!
If you're looking into Reykjavik excursions to the Golden Circle, this tour may be the one for you!
This Golden Circle, Kerid Volcanic Crater, and Blue Lagoon day trip from the country's capital is the best way to see some of the main attractions in Iceland.
This 11-hour day tour begins when you're picked up at your hotel and taken to some of the most popular landmarks in the Golden Circle. Some of the places you will see on this day trip include
- The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates at Thingvellir National Park
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- The geysers and pools at Geysir
- The lake-filled Kerid volcanic crater
- The Blue Lagoon
For an epic adventure-filled day, this Golden Circle Reykjavik tour is one of the best!
Did you know that Iceland is home to one of the top dive sites in the world? And did you know you could visit there on a day trip from Reykjavik?
The Golden Circle with Snorkel in Silfra tour is one of the most unique day trips you can do from Reykjavik. You will be picked up from your hotel and taken to some of the most beautiful sights in the country.
Your first stop of the day will be Þingvellir National Park to see the North American and Eurasian continental plates pulling apart.
The second stop of the day will take you to Gullfoss Waterfall, one of the most popular waterfalls in the country. Afterward, you will spot the erupting geyser in the Geysir geothermal area.
Finally, the last and most unique part of this day trip takes you to the Silfra Rift. Considered one of the top dive sites in the world, you can snorkel between tectonic plates floating on pure, filtered glacial water. How about that for an epic bucket list experience?
You can't visit Iceland without seeing the famous Northern Lights. So, why not book this Golden Circle and Northern Lights Tour?
This two-part tour takes you from Reykjavik to visit the Golden Circle in the morning and the Northern Lights in the evening.
In the morning, this tour of the Golden Circle will take you to the country's two national treasures, including Þingvellir National Park and Gullfoss Waterfall. Here you will be able to see the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates as well as admire the breathtaking Gullfoss Waterfall cascade 32 meters into a canyon.
Afterward, you'll have a three to six-hour break where you can grab dinner before starting on your evening Northern Lights tour. Only visible during the winter months, this spectacular natural phenomenon is one of the most popular drawing cards in Iceland. During this tour, you will search for the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in the incredible Icelandic wilderness.
Car Rentals in Iceland
With amazing self-drive itineraries like the Golden Circle Route & the famous Ring Road, Iceland is one of the world's most epic road trip destinations.
But make sure to book your car in advance as cars often sell out in peak season.
Is going snowmobiling in Iceland on your bucket list? If so, why not tick it off on one of the best Golden Circle tours?
On this tour, you will explore Iceland's Golden Circle on a day trip from Reykjavik. You will begin your day on a bus equipped with an audio guide available in ten languages to learn more about the sights you'll see.
Your first stop of the day will take you to Þingvellir National Park, the birthplace of the longest-running parliament in the world. Here, you can also visit the continental plates of America and Eurasia pulling apart to create a rift valley.
Afterward, you'll head to Geysir Hot Springs to visit the home of the original geyser. Here, you'll see hot water sprout into the air at Strokkur Geyser.
At your next stop, you'll arrive at one of the most famous places in Iceland, the Gullfoss Waterfall. Take your time marveling at this incredible waterfall and the beautiful surrounding areas.
The last stop on your Golden Circle in Iceland tour will take you to the snowmobile base camp at the foot of Langjökull Glacier. Here you will hop on a snowmobile tour and ride across the eternally-frozen snow and ice fields of one of the biggest glaciers in the world. What better way to end your day than on one of the best Reykjavik excursions to the Golden Circle?
Related:Top Glacier Boat Tours in Iceland
Main Attractions on Reykjavik's Golden Circle Route
Spanning around 300 kilometers, there are plenty of things to see along the Golden Circle route. Some of the most famous attractions you'll see include Gullfoss Waterfall, Blue Lagoon, and the Northern Lights. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to see at each location.
1. Gullfoss Waterfall (Golden Falls)
The Gullfoss Waterfall, also known as Golden Falls, will be one of the first attractions you tick off while exploring the Golden Circle. What makes this waterfall so unique is that it plummets 32 meters into a canyon. It's no wonder it's a waterfall at the top of many people's bucket lists!
2. Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir)
Iceland is divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift, some parts of it are on the North American tectonic plate, while others are on the Eurasian plate. What makes this national park so popular for tourists is that it's where you can see these two tectonic plates, which are slowly moving apart every year.
As mentioned earlier, Thingvellir National Park is also home to one of the best diving sites in the world, Silfra Fissure. Here you can snorkel and dive between two tectonic plates in the pure, filtered glacial water.
This park is also home to the famous Icelandic Mink Reindeer and you can see some Icelandic Horses too.
3. Blue Lagoon
Located south of Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is arguably one of the most famous attractions in Iceland. But what is it, exactly?
Found in Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa known for its regenerative qualities due to the water being so rich in silica in sulfur. Silica mud is available for free on the sides of the pool for guests to enjoy a face mask.
Depending on how long you want to stay at the Blue Lagoon, there are day trips from Reykjavik or you can stay at the luxury accommodation that the lagoon encircles.
4. Great Geysir Geothermal Area
The Great Geysir Geothermal Area is one of the best places to visit in Iceland because it has been around for more than 10,000 years.
This area is famous for its boiling mud pits and more than a dozen exploding geysers. One of the most popular geysers is Strokkur Geyser, which spouts steaming water 30 meters into the air every few minutes.
5. See the Northern Lights!
Finally, you can't take a trip to Iceland without trying to see the Northern Lights. However, if you're staying in Reykjavik, it's best to get out of the city to chase down this natural phenomenon.
Due to the light pollution in Reykjavik, it makes it hard to see the Northern Lights, which is why it's recommended to head out into the wilderness where the skies are clear to see the Aurora Borealis.
A great alternative...Nightly Northern Lights Bus Tour from Reykjavik
6. More Highlights on the Reykjavik Golden Circle Route
Did you know there is a lot more to see along the Golden Circle route? Here are a few more attractions you can see along the way!
- Secret Lagoon - You've heard of the Blue Lagoon, but have you heard of the Secret Lagoon? Known locally as Gamla Laugin, the Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland and is known for its rich natural resources of warm water coming from the hot springs.
- Selfoss - Selfoss is the largest town in South Iceland and is the perfect place to stay if you want to be near the Golden Circle.
- Sólheimar Ecovillage - If you love living an eco-friendly life, then you must visit the Sólheimar (Home of the Sun) Ecovillage. This village is famous for its devotion to sustainability, community living, and artistic ethics.
- Faxafoss (Faxi) - You've heard of Gullfoss Waterfall, but what about Faxafoss? This wide, serene, and lesser-known waterfall is located in South Iceland and is definitely worth a visit.
- Skálholt - If you're into history and religion, Skáholt is a must-visit. The town is a popular tourist destination and features a large evangelical Lutheran Church that was built between 1956 and 1963.
- Langjökull Glacier - At 935 square kilometers, Langjökull Glacier is the second-largest glacier in Iceland. Jeep and snowmobiling trips as well as skiing and hiking are popular here.
- Kerid Crater - Located in the Grímsnes area of South Iceland, Kerid Crater is approximately three thousand years old and home to one of the most unique lakes in the country.
Do you want to experience the beauty of Iceland's glaciers? Don't miss these epic Ice Cave tours in Iceland (with two you can book all-year-round).
Where to Stay in Reykjavik for Your Golden Circle Trips
If you're smart and plan your trip to Reykjavik in advance (I recommend at least a month), you'll have some great options to choose from. The best area is generally the city center, close to most of the attractions, and serves as a great base to explore the city and surrounding higlights.
1. The Reykjavik Edition Luxury
This is a spectacular hotel that offers its guests the ultimate relaxation and luxury. From its beautiful interior design to its incredible onsite restaurant, it ticks all of the boxes.
2. Apótek Hotel Mid-Range
A true historic experience can be had at this 1917-built hotel. It offers its guests comfortable beds and great views over the surrounding city.
3. Kex Hostel Budget
One of the best hostels to stay in Reykjavik known for its calm atmosphere for meeting new people and its prime location within the city.
FAQs About Touring Iceland's Golden Circle Route
Can you drive the Golden Circle route by yourself?
Of course, renting a car is one of the best ways to travel in Iceland, since you'll have more flexibility to see the natural attractions in your own time. The benefits of booking a tour instead are that you can enjoy a more convenient itinerary with a local guide.
How long does it take to do the Golden Circle in Iceland?
You can easily complete the Golden Circle in three hours. However, to spend more time at each location, you could spend a few days touring the route.
Does the Golden Circle include the Blue Lagoon?
Yes, the Blue Lagoon can be found along the Golden Circle route.
Is the Secret Lagoon free to visit on the Golden Circle?
While the Secret Lagoon isn't free to visit, it's a lot cheaper than the famous Blue Lagoon.
More Iceland Travel & Adventure Guides
I hope that you've enjoyed this comprehensive Iceland travel guide to picking the ultimate Golden Circle tour from Reykjavik! While you're here, check out some of my other guides below for more inspiration and unique travel ideas for your visit to the Land of Fire and Ice!