We don't very often do the organised tours but decided that the best way to see a large amount of southern Iceland in one day would be to do a full day tour called the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route that covers about 300 km looping from Reykjavik into central Iceland and back.
Our first stop was Guilfoss the Golden waterfall -
After taking lunch at the restaurant at the top of the waterfall, we made our way to Haukadalur a geothermally active valley to see the geysers including Geysir (which gave it's name to all the others) and Strokkur the most famous geyser in this area. Strokkur erupts about every 4-8 minutes, 15 - 20 m high, sometimes up to 40 m high. Strokkur was first mentioned in 1789, after an earthquake unblocked the conduit of the geyser. Its activity fluctuated in 19th century, in 1815 its height was estimated to be even 60 m. It continued to erupt until the turn of 20th century, when another earthquake blocked the conduit again. In 1963, upon the advice of Geysir Committee locals cleaned out the blocked conduit through the bottom of the basin, and the geyser has been regularly erupting ever since. Geysir only erupts about four times a day now and sadly we were not treated to that eruption during our visit. I watched Strokkur erupt about 5 times and every time it made me jump LOL!!
Haukadalar was an amazing place with all the geothermic activity it looked like the whole area was on fire -
One of my favourite geysers was Litli Geysir
It didn't erupt but bubbled away constantly.
We then made our way to Thingvellir which is a national park and the site of the first Icelandic parliament, it is also in this area where there is a rift valley caused by the mid-Atlantic ridge which marks the meeting point of the Eurasian and North American plates. Sadly it was raining so hard by now that we weren't able to get any decent photographs.
Our final stop as we headed back into Reykavik and the ship was the Perlan (Pearl) where we enjoyed panoramic views of Reykavik. The Pearl is a hot water storage facility that has a large viewing platform at the top and also contains shops, restaurants and a museum. Outside the Pearl we encountered these sculptures which we decided were Icelandic bankers laughing at all those people who lost their money.
Of course when I got home I googled them to find out what they really were and they are four dancing musicians created by Torbjorg Palsdottir (1919-2009). She created these alien-like figures in 1970.
Some of the views from The Pearl
We really enjoyed our whistle stop tour around the Golden Circle and I would love to come back to Iceland one day to explore it in our own time.