Reykjavik, Golden Circle and South Coast Summer Package
A warm welcome from Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital.
We are pretty confident when we say that this four day experience will have you wanting more. Much more. You can‘t see all there is to see in Iceland in just one trip. However, we promise that you will get up close and personal with all of the things that makes Iceland so unique. Whilst your time with us might be brief, but we still have so much to show you. Iceland’s wild and raw beauty, history and nature’s raw power await you in ways you have never seen before. This Reykjavik based tour combines the ‘must see’ locations of Iceland’s classic “Golden Circle” tour, as well as visiting the sublime South Coast. Geothermal eruptions, shifting continents, blissful bathing, thundering waterfalls, black sand beaches, live volcanoes, and the majesty of glaciers . Yes, that’s quite a schedule. There is a lot going on, both on and underneath this volcanic island.
What to expect during your trip to Reykjavik
It is the Icelandic summer, which means the days are very long or even endless. So, you can say goodbye to the darker nights for a few days and say hello to the midnight sun. You will also have plenty of time to get to know our beloved Reykjavik and experience summer in the city and see how much Icelanders truly worship the sun. You will also learn about Iceland’s unique geology and why our location on the map makes us so special and why we have such turmoil going on beneath our feet. Reykjavik and Iceland’s fascinating history is also on your agenda, from the days of the first settlers, the oldest surviving parliament in the world, right up to modern day Iceland. Everything is ready for you, so come on in!
Pssst! We have a winter version of this tour right here!!!
Pssssssssst!! Because we care so much about this wild, but fragile little island, here is where you can help. Head on over to take The Icelandic Pledge before your visit. Thanks for caring.
- favoriteThe biggest little town in the Nordic region
- favoriteThe Famous Golden Circle Tour
- favoriteThe Spectacular South Coast
- favoriteThe Incredible Blue Lagoon
Innifalið í verði
- Airport Transfers
- 3 nights in a premium hotel in Reykjavík
- Continental breakfast
- Guided walk of Reykjavík
- Guided coach trips
- Tomato soup and fresh bread lunch at Friðheimar
- All other meals
Reykjavík and the Capital Area
Reykjavík is the nation’s capital, with almost 230,000 people living in the greater capital area. This is over two-thirds of the total population.
History and Culture (Saga og Menning)
The name itself, Reykjavík, was the name that was given to the city by its founder, Ingólfr Arnarson.
Upon the first glimpse of the area, the geothermal springs and the subsequent steam clouds inspired him to call the city Bay of Smoke or Smoky Bay. Nowadays, Reykjavík is a thriving little town, with a rich and vibrant culture in music, art and theatre. Iceland Airwaves and Secret Solstice are two hugely popular music festivals held in the winter and summer respectively. These two events attract music lovers from all over the globe, promoting exceptional local talent as well as major international artists. Music is very important here, and Reykjavík has one of the most beautiful and unique concert halls in the world.
Harpa stands proud on Reykjavík’s harbour, beaming its dazzling light show for all to see. The lights themselves almost appear to represent the Aurora Borealis, and its exquisitely designed windows look as though they are inspired by fish scales. Two things that Iceland has in abundance.
Also, the very famous Hallgrímskirkja church in the middle of town, a beacon and shining symbol of the city. We recommend taking the lift to the top and take in the stunning panorama. You might have to wait in a cue, but it’s totally worth it. Reykjavík is also most definitely not short on museums, either. From the National Museum, Settlement Exhibition where you can see a wonderfully preserved early settlement house, Reykjavík Art Museum, Maritime Museum, Whales of Iceland museum that celebrates the giants who live nearby, many art museums celebrating Icelandic painters and sculptors such as Einar Jónsson and Ásmundur Sveinsson, whose work you can see dotted around the city. There is even a, *ahem* penis museum, so I guess you could see we see the absolute wonder in everything here.
Cuisine – (Matargerðin – Ma-tar-gerth-in)
Reykjavík also boasts a wide array of outstanding restaurants including one Michelin star winner, offering popular fare as well as high-end Nordic cuisine using twists on traditional recipes and using local ingredients.
Fish features heavily on the Icelandic diet (well, we are an island, you know?) and lamb is plentiful and is a very common feature on almost every menu. Popular local dishes are meat soup (kjötsúpa), which is a lamb and vegetable broth, plokkfisur, a cod and potato dish, as well as dried fish (harðfiskur) fermented shark (hákarl) and the world-famous Icelandic hot dog (highly recommended) There is also a broad selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, as we as a wide variety of international cuisine available.
The City – (Borgin)
The city itself is utterly charming.
The old town invites you to take a step back into the past and a chance to see the quiet and characterful streets and colourful buildings, whilst the main shopping street of Laugavegur is full to the brim of stores that promote local, handcrafted treasures and international brands, as well as a generous offering of restaurants, bars and cafés open until the wee hours of the morning.
The Nature – (Náttúran – Now-too-ran)
There are hiking routes very close to the city. For example, we recommend paying a visit to Esja, the mountain across the bay (the one you can’t miss)
It takes around 2-4 hours to reach the top and back, depending on how fast or slow you want to go. This is best recommended in the summer months, as the winter can be deceptively dangerous and unpredictable if you pick the wrong day. You can go a little further into Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjörd) to escape the city for the day, and here you will find the hiking trail to Glymur, one of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls. It is also a short hop to nearby Hafnarfjörður, a pretty little town with a beautiful harbour area and the third-largest town in Iceland. It is also quite special because the town is partially built in a lava field and is very close to the volcanic systems of the Reykjanes peninsula.
Suðurströnd – Soo-thoor-stroond
South Iceland is certainly the country‘s most popular and most visited region, and for good reason.
Nature, Waterfalls, and Volcanoes – Náttura, Fossar, og Eldfjöll (Now-too-ra, Foss-ar og Eld-fy-oot-l)
There is so much going on beneath our feet here, and most of the earthquakes that happen every day in Iceland happen on the south coast. Some of Iceland’s most famous and active volcanoes are located in this region. Volcanoes such as Hekla, Katla, and Eyjafjallajökull (perhaps our most famous, thanks to its world-stopping eruption in 2010) as well as Grimsvötn and Barðarbunga in the southeast, where the most recent eruptions occurred. Iceland’s south coast is also home to the most famous black sand beach, Reynisfjara. The sand itself is a result of the lava from eruptions past meeting the Atlantic Ocean. The sea’s gradual erosion of the lava breaks it down into super fine, very soft sand, making the beaches of Iceland pretty unusual and special. Close to Reynisfjara is the Dyrholaey nature reserve, offering the best view over any of Iceland’s beaches.
The southern region is the most volcanically active part of the island. The mid-Atlantic ridge, which separates the Northern American tectonic plate from the Eurasian tectonic plate, runs right underneath Iceland, and so it is possible to see the continents being slowly pulled apart by about 2-3 centimeters a year. There is no better place to get a sense of the scale of this than in Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is part of the Golden Circle route. This route also includes Geysir, one of the most famous geysers in the world (in fact, it is where geysers get their name from), and Gullfoss, or The Golden Falls, one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. The south coast is definitely not short of waterfalls, that’s for sure. Here, you will also find Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss.
Glaciers – Jöklar (Y-oo-klar)
The largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, which covers 8% of the country is situated in Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of Iceland’s glaciers are found in the south. These colossal, ice giants can be easily visible from Iceland’s ring road, a single road that takes you around the entire country. Closer to Reykjavík, and you will find the glacier of Sólheimajökull. This glacier is retreating at an alarming rate, like all the glaciers in Iceland, so visiting them offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the direct impact of climate change on our planet and how it affects us all.
Horses and Wildlife – Hestar og Dýralíf (Hest-ar og – Deer-a-leef)
There are many horse farms in the south of Iceland, and this is one of the most beautiful places to ride the Icelandic horse.
These incredible beasts are one of a kind, built for withstanding harsh, Icelandic winters. They may be shorter than most horses, but they are incredibly powerful and hardy animals but generally with a very sweet nature and temperament. We recommend saddling up whenever possible, offering a spectacular and unique way to enjoy some of Iceland’s most stunning countryside.
Adventure – Ævintýri (Aye-vin-tee-ri)
Skógafoss waterfall is also the beginning or endpoint of the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail.
This spectacular hike will take you between the glaciers of Mýrðalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull and down into the valley of Þórsmörk, named after the Norse god of thunder, Thor. This is perhaps the most famous summer day hike in the country, but it can also be done over two days, with camping overnight. Iceland offers a great deal of mountain adventure, and for the most intrepid, we have Iceland’s tallest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur. Thrill-seekers will not be disappointed with what is on offer on Iceland’s south coast. Here, there are all sorts of guided activities, from glacier walking, ice climbing, rock climbing, snowmobiling, quad biking, hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, river rafting, snorkelling, scuba diving, zip-lining, paragliding, skiing, you name it! It’s a paradise for the adventurous.
Hollywood in Iceland and as Westeros
Iceland’s south coast has also received growing popularity from film crews.
Movies such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Arctic, Captain America: Civil War, Interstellar, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Fast and Furious 8, Oblivion, and Batman Begins. Also, top TV shows such as Star Trek: Discovery, Vikings, and, of course, Game of Thrones, which heavily relied on some of Iceland’s otherworldly landscape as the setting for “Beyond the Wall” and the home of the Wildlings.
The south coast really has it all, and it isn‘t surprising to see why it is so popular and is almost always an essential part of someone’s first trip to Iceland. It’s just waiting for you now, that’s all.
Trips in the South Coast
The Reykjanes Peninsula
We have five, grumbling volcanic systems in the Reykjanes peninsula, a UNESCO Geopark very close to Reykjavík. This often-overlooked region has a great deal of rugged beauty and gives you a glimpse of the raw power that slumbers beneath the surface that can awaken at any time. In fact, this may be the very site of the next volcanic eruption, if you have been following the news.
Volcanoes and Hot Springs – Eldfjöll og hverir (eld-fy-oot-l og kv-err-ir)
The tranquil lake of Kleifarvatn is a beautiful sight to be greeted with, especially when glittering in the sun. Close to Kleifarvatn is the area of Krýsuvík and Seltún. This bizarre, Martian landscape is quite an experience for the senses. You are welcomed by the pungent aroma of sulphur and invited to walk the wooden paths between the popping, hissing, and bubbling mud pools and steam vents. There is a spectacular palette of colors here, from vibrant reds to burnt orange, copper, yellow, blue, silver, you name it.
Gunnuhver is another geothermal hot spot and Iceland’s largest mud pool. With a huge fumarole that billows sulfur-rich steam into the air. It’s like someone left this humungous, eternal kettle steaming and doesn‘t know how to switch it off. There was once a bridge over the area, but the earth eventually claimed it. The area itself is named after a ghost, Guðrún (Gunna) and you can read her tale when you arrive.
The bird cliffs of Valahnúkur and Reykjanesviti lighthouse are other recommended stops. Here, you will find the statue of the Great Auk, a large flightless bird that once lived in Iceland and around the North Atlantic coast. Whilst they are not related to penguins, they do look very similar, and as such, this is where penguins get their name from due to their similarity. Sadly, they were wiped out in the middle of the 18th century, and it is believed that the very last of the species perished in Iceland. The statue itself stares out to sea towards the island of Eldey, where the last of its kind met their ultimate end.
Finally, the Bridge Between the Continents offers a unique opportunity. The bridge itself straddles both the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, so you are on a different continent on each side of it. There isn‘t even any border security, and you don’t even need a passport. How cool is that?
The Blue Lagoon – Bláa Lónið (bl-aow-a-low-nith)
Of course, perhaps the most famous attraction on the Reykjanes peninsula is the world-famous Blue Lagoon spa.
The water that collects in this reservoir is rich in minerals and other good stuff, such as silica and algae. These have been proven to have curative properties to skin ailments such as psoriasis. It is absolutely recommended that you ensure the Blue Lagoon features on your schedule. As it is only 20 minutes from the airport, how could you not?
Trips to Reykjanes
add Day 1 - Arrival and Reykjavík
Your first day begins with a warm welcome at Keflavík International Airport.
We will then head on a short drive to the city‘s capital, and the most northern capital in the world – Reykjavík. It will then be time for your to check in to your hotel, settle in and freshen up. Reykjavík may be small in size, but it is big in character. So, later in the day, we will have our guide meet you at the hotel and you will then be taken on a short, but fascinating tour of this charming city. You will learn a little about how the city came to be, as well as Icelandic culture and of course plenty of tips as to where to head off on your own as you use the rest of the day to explore.
add Day 2 - The Golden Circle
After breakfast at the hotel, we will leave Reykjavík in our rear view mirror and head towards today‘s first destination.
Þingvellir – (Thing-vet-leer)
Þingvellir National Park is the site of the world‘s oldest parliament, it is both the most politically significant and geologically significant place in Iceland. So, it is no wonder it is one of Iceland‘s UNESCO World Heritage sites and the first stop on our tour today. You will learn about how the early Viking parliament was founded in 980AD, before it eventually moved to the centre of Reykjavík. What is equally unique about Þingvellir is that you can see the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates pulling apart. Iceland is actually growing, by around 2-3 centimetres a year. If you think about it, that‘s about as fast as your fingernails grow. In geological terms, that‘s super fast!
Friðheimar – (Fr-eeth-hey-mar)
After your visit to the parliament plains, we will then stop for lunch. Friðheimar tomato farm is a very special opportunity to learn how Iceland uses geothermal energy to grow tomatoes in special greenhouses. After a short introduction about the greenhouse, you will then be treated to their very famous tomato soup and freshly baked bread. They also have a selection of award winning Bloody Marys and tomato beers!
After lunch we head to stop number two, the world famous Geysir. Geysir (where the word geyser comes from) is the site of the original Great Geysir, which has laid dormant for over 100 years. However, it‘s brother, Strokkur, erupts regularly, around every 5-8 minutes. It‘s eruptions can reach between 20-40 meters, as it shoots 100 degrees Celsius, sulphur rich water into the air. We can‘t say that we recommend the smell, so you might want to bring a peg for your nose, because you never know which way the wind might be blowing!
Gullfoss – (Goo-tl-foss)
After your date with Strokkur, it is only a short journey to one of Iceland‘s three most famous waterfalls, and the second largest waterfall in Iceland – the legendary Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Gullfoss is a breathaking waterfall (and it has that extra magic when it has partially frozen) a bit like a two-tiered wedding cake. Glacier water comes from Langjökull, the second largest glacier in Europe, and cascades with incredible ferocity at around 140 cubic metres per second down a 32 metre gorge. It is pretty spectacular, you have our word on that. You can even get right next to the raging canyon and feel the pressure on your chest as you are beautifully reminded by Mother Nature just how small we are.
Once you are feeling relaxed and revived, we will whisk you back to your hotel and the city is yours for the evening once again.
Optional Activities in the Golden Circle
add Day 3 - The South Coast
We hope that by this time everyone will have had a good night‘s rest, and ready for another round.
Seljalandsfoss – (Sel-ya-lands-foss)
We begin by heading to another of Iceland‘s most famous waterfalls – Seljalandsfoss. Unique, because the cave behind it offers an opportunity to venture behind the waterfall itself. This is a glimpse of what is to come, as you travel to the next waterfall on our schedule, and one that you are guaranteed not to forget in a hurry…
We would say that Skógafoss and Gullfoss continually wrestle for position as the most famous waterfall in Iceland, but they are both uniquely stunning, and Skógafoss is especially jaw-dropping! 25 meters wide and 62 meters high, this outstanding, natural wonder is a joy to behold. Don‘t get too close though, because the spray will soak you to your skin unless you have the right clothes on! Gazing at this treasure of the south coast makes it easy to see why it has been used in so many movies and TV shows. Legend has it that the first settler to this area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, hid his treasure of gold in the pool beneath the falls. Many tried to reclaim it, but in the end it was the pool who claimed the spoils. So, don‘t try to look for it!
Sólheimajökull – (Soul-hay-ma-yoo-koo-tl)
After your visit to Skógafoss, we will head further south to the glacier of Sólheimajökull. In most countries, glaciers tend not to be too accessible on foot. Not in Iceland, here you can take a short walk directly to one. The glacier is beautiful, with its own lagoon, filled with lazily floating icebergs. The glacier ice has a beautiful contrast with the black, volcanic ash that peppers the surface. However, its rapid disappearance is a very important reminder of global warming‘s effect on our planet, and specifically how it is effecting Iceland‘s glaciers.
Reynisfjara – (Rey-nis-fya-ra)
Last, but by certainly no means least, is the famous black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Extremely powerful undercurrents and swells means that this beach is constantly pounded by the raging ocean. The sand itself is lava from past eruptions that has been gradually broken down by the sea‘s power. It is quite a thing to stare out past this magnificent wall of water and know there is no more land until you reach Antarctica. Reynisfjara is one of the most beautiful and unique beaches in the world, and you will see why.
Then it is time to go back to your hotel. We are sure that, wherever you end up for the evening, you will no doubt be sharing stories and memories of your adventures with us, and hopefully all be talking about when exactly want to come back!
add Day 4 - Departure
All good things must come to an end. However, you aren‘t quite done yet. After breakfast we will take a a short but sweet whistle stop tour of the Reykjanes peninsula and geopark.
Kleifarvatn – (Klay-var-vat-n)
to five volcanic systems, Reykjanes has a particular, raw beauty. First stop, the lake of Kleifarvatn. Look around the lake, and you will see that there is no running water, because the water itself comes from underneath. The rocky ledges give magnificent views across the entire lake. From there, it is just a short hop to the geothermal, lunar landscape of Seltún.
Seltún – (Sel-toon)
Here, you have a unique opportunity to walk a wooden path that runs between boiling, popping mud and hissing steam vents and a kaleidoscope of colours.
We will then travel on the visit Gunnuhver, a fumarole where a huge, white could of steam is forever billowing out from the depths of the earth.
The Bridge Between the Continents
Finally, you will visit the Bridge Between the Continents. Here, you can walk back and forth over a bridge that begins in Europe, and ends in North America. However, we assure you that it will be the shortest and cheapest intercontinental trip you have ever taken. The bridge was built in a way that connects both tectonic plates, so you can hop back and forth as you please. No time-zone, no jet lag, and no passport is needed!
Departure from Keflavík International Airport
It is then time to return to the airport, and we will be very sorry to see you go. However, we will have a sneaking suspicion that you will want to return one day, because Iceland has much, much more to offer. However, until that day comes, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home and we will see you on the next adventure.