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Icelandic 'Golden Circle' Tour Info?

Old Apr 24th, 2003, 08:29 PM
  #1  
ALF
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Icelandic 'Golden Circle' Tour Info?

I'll be in Reykjavik for 4 days in early May, and am looking at a few tours to take. I've read about the 'Golden Circle' tour, which sounds like a great way to start - can anyone recommend a tour operator for this trip?

Also, a trip to Westmann Island(s) sounds interesting - to look at birds and volcanoes. Has anyone done this?

Finally, do you have any other recommendations for trips to see the scenery of Iceland, given that I only have a limited amount of time? I would love to see waterfalls, geysirs, volcanoes, and wildlife.

Thanks!
Al
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 11:43 PM
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If you're on your own a tour may be best, but I had a great time with a rental car. They are a bit expensive, but having one will enable you to see more in less time. If you are with someone else, the cost of the tour may be more than getting a car for a day. And driving in Iceland (on the main roads) is as easy as anywhere else in Europe. IcelandAir has self-guided car tours as well as more traditional day tours: http://www.icelandair.com/main/view.jsp?branch=3448391.

That said, just about any tour of the Golden Circle will take you to the same sights (some shorter tours may leave out Thingvellir, which would be a shame). The only difference may be the time spent at each location, meals provided and other details.

Other places to go? The Blue Lagoon is great. You may also want to consider a few spots on the south coast (particularly if you have a car). Dyrholaey is spectacular - you can see it from the top of a cliff outside Vik (http://www.naturalarches.org/gallery...-Dyrholaey.htm). There's also a beach on the south side of Vik (park at the restaurant/gas station on the highway and the beach is right behind it) that would be good for a picnic. This is supposed to be a good spot for Puffin viewing the right time of year (I wasn't there at the right time).

Further west you can see Skogafoss - visible from the road, and really one of the most beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen. Svartifoss - the waterfall that looks like organ pipes. Kirkubaerklauster - a small spot on the ground where the basalt has been worn away by the glaciers - it looks like a church floor. And Vatnajokull, which is the largest glacier on Iceland, or Skaftafellsjokull, which is a park where you can hike on the glacier.

Even if you can't make it that far west, there are some tours that include airfare from Reykjavik to Hofn in the west, with a tour to the top of the glacier. I've seen other info on glacier tours on the Snaefellsnes peninsula just north of Reykjavik.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 11:50 PM
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We were in Reykjavik last weekend for three days and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We took the golden circle express tour which leaves in the afternoon and lasts about six hours. The express tour covers Gullfoss, geysir and Pingvellir (spelling?). The difference between and the full day and the express one is that you get to spend more time at Pingvellir and visit the geysir museum on full day tour (8 -9 hours). We didn't feel we were rushed thorough on this express tour. There are many tour companies to choose from, as we booked at the Tourist Information Centre we went on the one chose by the Centre. I think the company we went with is called Reykjavik Excursions. We have a very good guide who's very knowledgable and made the trip very interesting.

If it is more than two of you, it is probably cheaper to rent a car and do these three places on your own. But prepare to do some homework about these places if you do otherwise you won't find these places as special or interesting.

We also took super jeep tour and it was fun! This jeep tour took us through some breathtakingly beautiful places north of Reykjavik and we ended up in the Langjokull glacier. The super jeep tour was expensive but it worth the money.

We hadn't have time to visit other places but promise ourselves to come back next time for a longer period. We enjoyed our trip to Reykjavik very much and I am sure you'll enjoy yours as much as we did for Reykjavik is such a special city.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 04:11 AM
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There are bound to be stacks of pamphlets at your hotel. If you want to take a bus tour which is hassle free, you ring the number on the back of the pamphlet and they pick you up. I preferred to let someone else drive in Iceland but perhaps you should get a rental car then you can tour for twelve hours a day and see more. As regards to wildlife a boat trip out from a port near Reykjavik will take you whale watching. Check to see if you can see whales at the time you go.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 07:01 AM
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Try this link for Reykjavik Excursions for some tours in Iceland. Be sure and get your vouchers in the U.S. though to avoid higher costs.
http://www.re.is

They offer discounts for more than 1 tour in a day, which is totally possible, but I don't know if that only applies to the tours that are purchased in Iceland. The Golden Circle tour is wonderful. You will see waterfalls, glaciers, geysers and Thingvellir National Park. I was glad that someone else did the driving. The roads in Iceland are quite vast. It's a really interesting place.

Another day trip I did was the South Shore Adventure. It's about an 8 hour tour and you go to 2 waterfalls and a glacier.

I did go to the Westmann Islands for a day trip. It was a really interesting place and they have a film you can watch at the movie theater about the eruption. Very interesting. You don't really see a volcano, but you can walk where it erupted and it's still hot after all this time.

Enjoy your trip. It gets really windy in Iceland, so be prepared!!
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 09:58 AM
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ALF
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Wandr, Naturaltan, rquirk, & Deborah,

Thanks so much for your wonderful suggestions! I too tend to be a 'drive it yourself' kind of person, but the folks I'm traveling with are not. I'll try to convince them its worth renting a car.

Is the Blue Lagoon really worth it? It just seems like a commercial hot-spring resort which might be pleasant, but is it so unique that it would be worth seeing at the expense of some waterfalls?

Thanks again!

Al
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:15 AM
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Another vote for touring with RE-we enjoyed our Golden Circle tour immensely last year. Our guide was absolutely fabulous. Most of the passengers were German, only a handful of English speaking tourists. Our guide not only narrated the full day tour in German, but in English as well! He flipped languages as easily as flipping on a light switch. Of course Islandic is his native language and he managed a few phrases in Islandic as well-not that they were understood by the non-Islandic tourists!
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:19 AM
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Amy
 
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Although the Blue Lagoon is more "touristy" now than it used to be, it's still a really neat experience. I'd suggest doing it as part of a day that includes whale watching and/or horseback riding; the Viking horses are unique! Also, you can visit the lagoon on your way to the airport on your trip home. It's quite invigorating.

Iceland is marvelous...have a wonderful time!
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 01:14 PM
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You must go to the Blue Lagoon!! It's awesome. Like Amy said, you can go on the way to the airport and be relaxed for your trip home. I would recommend taking an old bathing suit though because the sediments leave a weird residue and try not to get your hair too wet because it takes forever to comb it out!!

I enjoyed having taking the bus, but I was on my own. Some of the places on the tours are on some back roads and up steep hills. As long as you can find your way, rent a car. The roads are in wonderful shape (except the back roads are a bit bumpy). Have a great time.
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