The Golden Circle is located in Iceland’s west-central portion, about an hour’s drive east of the capital city of Reykjavik.
It’s a remarkable area characterized by astonishing natural attractions like geysers, waterfalls, mountains, and hot springs. It’s also the country’s premier natural and recreational destination for locals and international visitors alike.
Though it’s cold and icy during the winter, it’s open year-round, and features activities like snowmobiling, snorkeling, hiking, climbing, and riding ATVs.
Nearly all tours begin and end in Reykjavik and last about eight or ten hours.
Below are 15 of the best and most convenient tours of Iceland’s Golden Circle.
1. 3-Day Golden Circle, Glacier Lagoon, and Ice Cave Tour
Spread over three glorious days in Iceland’s Golden Circle, this value-packed tour is an excellent option for those who prefer not to skimp on their vacation experience.
Tours begin and end in Reykjavik, follow the Golden Circle Route, and include attractions like the black sand beaches at Reynisfjara, ice caves, the glaciers at Vatnajokull, and Thingvellir National Park—a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On day three, guests will have the option of setting out on a glacier hike with a certified mountaineer guide.
Round-trip transportation, twin or double occupancy room with private bathroom for two nights and breakfast each morning is included.
2. Golden Circle Snorkeling in Silfra with Photos
Because of its name and northern location, most visitors associate Iceland with year-round snow, howling wind, and sub-zero temperatures.
Though that’s partially true, thanks to its abundant geothermal springs that constantly pump warm water to the surface, it’s possible to enjoy outdoor activities like swimming and snorkeling.
This ten-hour tour from Reykjavik starts in Thingvellir National Park, where massive tectonic sheets are slowly pulling apart, creating a majestic and otherworldly landscape.
Guests can expect to see the Gullfoss Waterfall, powerful geysers, rifts in the landscape, impressive glaciers, and snorkel in a heated pool of amazingly clear geothermal water before returning home.
3. Golden Circle and Glacier Snowmobiling from Reykjavik
Snowmobiles are impressive machines designed to traverse rugged and icy landscapes with relative ease. For those looking for an exhilarating experience, they’re the perfect means to explore the Golden Circle.
After setting out from a central Reykjavik location, guests and their guide will set off for the famed Golden Circle.
Participants will benefit from a short orientation, during which they’ll learn to handle their machine and get an overview of the things they’re about to see.
Thingvellir National Park is the tour’s centerpiece—known for both its historical importance and stunning natural attractions, like hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, and deep glacial canyons.
4. Full-Day Whale Watching Tour
Despite its often harsh climate and remote location, Iceland’s Golden Circle is full of tour and activity options to accommodate visitors with a variety of interests.
This two-part combo tour is the perfect way to experience a unique mix of activities, the highlight of which is a morning cruise that allows guests to see a number of marine mammal species, like humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises in their natural environments.
It’s also common to spot sea birds, and even orcas if you’ll be visiting between October and March.
The tour’s afternoon portion includes historic sites, waterfalls, and geysers by coach.
5. Full-Day Tour with Kerid Crater from Reykjavik
It’s difficult to imagine a place with a more diverse array of impressive natural features than the Golden Circle in Iceland.
From powerful geysers and majestic waterfalls to geothermal pools and massive craters, it’s definitely worth a visit, even for those who’ve only got a day to spare.
This full-day tour option from Reykjavik includes stops at all the attractions listed above, as well as an impressive historical one: the site of the first Viking parliament at the Rock of Law in Thingvellir National Park.
Tours include the services of a guide and time to explore by bus and on foot out in the elements.
6. Lava Tunnel Walk and Golden Circle Tour
For countless millennia, volcanic and geologic activity has been creating an underground labyrinth of tunnels in and around the Golden Circle.
Though it’s not an activity recommended for the claustrophobic or squeamish, exploring the subterranean tunnel network – or Leitarhraun – is a truly memorable experience.
The area is less than an hour from Reykjavik and is open to visitors year-round.
Each participant gets all the equipment they’ll need, like helmets with headlamps, before following their guide into a world few will ever see.
Tunnel tours last about an hour, after which guests will board a bus and head to other attractions like the Gullfoss Waterfall and geothermal hot springs.
7. Black Beach ATV Tour
Though in ages long past the Vikings weren’t lucky enough to have motorized ATVs at their disposal, guests who opt for this mechanized Golden Circle tour will largely follow in their footsteps.
After a brief orientation from their experienced guide, eager riders will set out down the rift valley in Thingvellir National Park, where tectonic plates are gradually pulling the land apart.
Tour highlights include the Strokkur Geyser that regularly shoots powerful streams of heated water more than 100 feet into the chilly Icelandic air with a deafening roar.
Waterfalls, glaciers, iconic geologic formations, and black sandy beaches are also on the itinerary.
8. Farm Visit and Secret Lagoon Tour
Though it doesn’t feature a particularly hospitable climate, the area around the Golden Circle is home to several dairy farms.
They’re often overlooked by tourists intent on seeing the impressive natural attractions, but for those interested in unique cultural experiences, they’re great places to spend a few hours.
This combo tour includes many of the area’s most notable attractions, like Thingvellir National Park and the aquamarine crater lagoon at Kerid. There’s also a side-excursion to a local dairy farm that’s often one of the highpoints of many visitor’s days.
Guests will tour the farm, meet the family that runs it, and sample local products like cheese, soup, and delectable Icelandic ice cream.
9. Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon Early Access Tour
There may be no better way to start the day than by soaking in a geothermal pool, marveling at some of the world’s most stunning scenery.
After pick-up at a central Reykjavik location, guests will head by bus with their guide to Secret Lagoon, where they’ll have 90 minutes to relax in the spring’s therapeutic waters before setting out on the sightseeing portion of their day.
Participants will have plenty of time to marvel at area gems like the Gullfoss Waterfall and the awe-inspiring geysers in Thingvellir National Park.
At ten hours, it’s a long day, but everything is included except food, drinks, and tips.
10. Golden Circle and Fontana Wellness Tour from Reykjavik
Originally built nearly 100 years ago, the Fontana wellness complex has grown significantly since then. It’s still the region’s epicenter for those who want to pamper themselves in geo-thermally heated hot tubs, steam baths, and spas.
This full-day tour begins and ends in Reykjavik and includes guided bus and spa portions that most guests consider perfect complements to one another.
Coach tour sights include the geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, gorges, and other remarkable natural attractions in Thingvellir National Park and the surrounding areas.
Round-trip transportation is included, and drinks and light snacks will be available throughout the day.
11. Golden Circle and Kerid Crater Small-Group Tour
For savvy travelers looking to have an intimate experience and get the most bang for their limited travel dollars, small group tours are definitely the way to go.
This Golden Circle and Kerid Crater combo tour is limited to less than 20 participants, begins and ends in Reykjavik, and includes many of Thingvellir National Park’s most impressive attractions.
Tour highlights include volcanic craters, deep chasms, and spouting geysers, as well as the unique ability to stand with one foot in Europe and the other in the Americas.
It’s a great option for those who’ve had their fill of Reykjavik’s urban setting and long for wide-open spaces and breathtaking natural attractions.
12. Golden Circle and South Shore by Luxury Jeep
Visitors and Icelanders tend to agree that the Golden Circle is the country’s most stunning natural area. For those staying in Reykjavik, there is no shortage of tours to experience it in all its splendor.
This full-day Golden Circle and South Shore Luxury Jeep tour is limited in size, which means a more relaxed and personalized experience than is typically found on larger ones.
After departing from Reykjavik, guests will drive through idyllic farm country and view the impressive landscape largely formed by tectonic and volcanic activity.
Main tour features include the mesmerizingly blue glacier in Myrdalsjokull and one of the country’s largest waterfalls in Skógafoss.
13. Full-Day Golden Circle Tour with Blue Lagoon Option
Though most of Thingvellir National Park’s main attractions can be seen while on a full-day tour, many visitors choose to visit multiple times because the sights are just so impressive.
Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to its rugged and rustic splendor, it’s also the birthplace of the oldest parliament in the world.
That means tons of varied attractions to suit travelers with a variety of interests.
This unique combo tour offers both natural and historical attractions, and an option to visit the famed Blue Lagoon as well.
Tours include transportation by bus, and GPS activated audio guides available in multiple languages.
14. Waterfalls and Volcano Lake Crater by Minibus
Communing with Mother Nature has never been easier for those who opt to take part in this Golden Circle waterfall and volcanic lakes tour from Reykjavik.
Tours include transportation to and from your lodging in the city and are limited in size, ensuring a more intimate and memorable experience.
Thingvellir National Park is ground-zero as guests learn about the region’s immense tectonic actions that are slowly separating the landmasses of Europe and the Americas inch by inch.
Other centerpieces include stops at one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls, an impressive crater lake, and countless geysers hurling superheated water dozens of meters skyward.
15. Private Ice Climbing at Sólheimajökull
Though it came in at number 15 on this list of best Golden Circle tours, the private ice climbing excursion at Sólheimajökull is almost certainly the most exhilarating.
That being said, it’s definitely an activity best left to the young, fit, and fearless.
These five-hour tours begin with a detailed overview of how to use the ice equipment to ensure a safe and memorable day.
Things generally start at a slow pace until everyone gets acclimated to the conditions. From there, climbers will experience immense sinkholes, boulder and ice-strewn ridges, and unobstructed vistas of some of the area’s most incredible landscapes.