One of the tours you will certainly want to take when you are in Iceland is the Golden Circle Tour. Not far from the capital, easy to get to, with beautiful natural wonders to explore, the Golden Circle is by right one of the most popular destinations in Iceland. If you want to see something more than the usual Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss, there are many other locations that are not seen on regular Golden Circle bus tours and, with a private tour, you can combine the main sights with the less popular ones for a great experience.
Here is my list of the top five detours I recommend if you want to see something different but still beautiful and interesting in the Golden Circle Area.
The Kerið crater.
- The Kerið crater.
Some regular Golden Circle tours stop here, but it often depends on the guides and timing. If you are taking a private tour, you should definitely ask your driver to take you here because it is a spectacular natural wonder.
Kerið is an oval crater that formed thousands of years ago with a lake in the bottom. The blue and green colors of the water create a contrast with the red, orange, black and green rocks surrounding the lake.
Because of its shape, Kerið has great acoustics and several artists have held concerts here, including the famous Bjork.
There is a small fee of about 500 ISK when you visit the crater but it really is beautiful.
If you love waterfalls, you should not miss this one, it is one of the most mesmerizing and beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. The water is very blue and it creates a beautiful contrast with the black lava rocks around it.
Although it has become quite popular lately, it is not so easy to find and the path that takes you to the waterfall from the car park is not easily accessible in bad weather, so make sure you go there with someone who knows where to find it or you will easily get lost. From the car park it is a 10-15 minutes walk to this gorgeous waterfall.
Another one of my favorite places, Friðheimar is a tomato farm in Reykholt. If you want to experience something different, this is the perfect stop to have lunch inside a greenhouse. The place is open from 12 to 16 and all they serve here is made with the locally grown tomatoes. I would recommend tomato soup with their excellent freshly baked bread and of course one of their cocktails or desserts….everything with tomatoes! This place has also become more popular in the past few months so it is better to reserve a table if you are planning on having lunch there.
If you still have space in your stomach after a nice lunch at the tomato farm, why not make a stop for some delicious ice-cream?
Efstidalur is a family run farm on the Golden Circle route where you can see cows being milked and ice cream being made. There is also a restaurants and you can go horseback riding in the area. It is a nice place to stop if you are interested in trying local products and the ice-cream is really good, especially the salted caramel!
Sólheimar is a tiny eco-village formed in 1930 where every person contributes to the community without regard to their age or disabilities. After all the natural wonders you see on the Golden Circle, it is nice to make a stop here and see an example of a beautiful community humankind was able to create. There is a bakery, a cafe, a guesthouse, some art venues, there are workshops held regularly, and an educational exhibition center on sustainable development, a very interesting and different place to visit, in my opinion.
These are just some of the extra stops you can make during your Golden Circle Tour. There are many more places that would be worth a visit but these are certainly some of my favorite and hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I do while you visit this beautiful country.
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Text: Elisa Maccagnoni – Iceland premium tours