We were up, bright and early at 6:30a (2:30a back home) for breakfast in our Air BNB of eggs, bagels and oranges. After showering and packing up the car, we start of north east to begin the 8a-2p Golden Circle tour.
Our first stop is Þingvellir. Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is a historic site and national park in Iceland, east of Reykjavík. It’s known for the Alþing (Althing), the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. On the site are the Þingvellir Church and the ruins of old stone shelters. The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault.
The morning was windy as we walk through the fault but we were there early enough to enjoy a less-crowded path. The tall cliffs are Game of Thrones heaven and we snap lots of great pictures, before walking back to the car.
The second stop was Geysir park about an hour away. Geysir lies in the Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill, which is also the home to Strokkur geyser about 50 metres south. We enjoyed watching Strokkur erupt about 7x, each being approximately 6 minutes apart. The best part was watching and laughing at those who were in the ‘splash zone’ of the geysir, and got completely soaked and were caught by complete surprise.
There at the Geysir center we ate our packed lunch our on a patio table, made of sandwiches, pears, chips and some cookies. The afternoon was now clear and beautiful out, with the sun shining but still major wind.
Following Geysir, a quick couple of miles up the road was Gullfoss waterfall. Gullfoss, meaning ‘golden waterfall,’ is a waterfall located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. The wind was crazy strong, as we walked the walking path down to the falls, but it was well worth it because you can stand right up next to the massive falls. After snapping up a couple of photos, we hiked back up to the car and enjoyed the beautiful drive back to Reykjavík.
Back at our Air BNB, we all took a quick little hour nap and then drove into town to explore downtown Reykjavík. Its misting out, but that doesn’t stop us from our first stop – Hallgrímskirkja church. Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. At 74.5 metres high, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. This is my absolute favorite part of Reykjavík, because I just love its tall, stark white inside, with beautiful, detailed outside. We paid 1000 krona ($10.00 USD) each to take the elevator all the way up to the top of the steeple, to get an incredible arial view of the whole city, from each direction.
The next spot was Sun Voyager Sculpture right on the water. It was crazy windy so we took a few pictures and walked along the harbor down to Harpa Concert Hall. Harpa is one of Reykjavik’s greatest and distinguished landmarks. It is a cultural and social centre in the heart of the city and known for its beautiful geometric glass architecture. It was so warm and cozy inside so we stayed inside to warm up our hands all the while admiring the tall glass windows and mirrored ceilings.
It was time for dinner so we made our way two streets over to the famous hot dog stand – Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. Its just a small, 2-manned stand but oh my goodness, were these not the BEST hot dogs we’ve ever had! What sets Icelandic hot dogs apart is that they are made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with pork and beef. The condiments are raw and fried onion, ketchup, remoulade, and sweet mustard.
After dinner we did a little bit of sightseeing on our way back to the church. We saw City Hall, some beautiful building murals, and the main shopping street – Skolavordustigur.
After all the walking, we hopped back in the car, back to our Air BNB for our last night, and prepared for our next day driving the south shore of Iceland, and our first day driving the Ring Road.