Let's dive into the day two itinerary of our long weekend in Iceland! For those of you who don’t know, the Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in southern Iceland. It covers about 190 miles looping from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. It is the area that contains most tours and travel-related activities in Iceland. The three primary stops on the route are the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and Geysir. If you don’t have a ton of time in Iceland, this is a good way to see a few really great things in one big loop!
Golden Circle Stop 1: Drive to Þingvellir National Park for Snorkeling Adventure
We got up very early this day and drove straight to Thingvellir National Park, which is the first stop on the famous Golden Circle. Hoping for something more immersive than just walking around the park, we booked a snorkeling trip through Arctic Adventures. While on the tour, we snorkeled in between the North American and Eurasian Continental Plates.
It felt like something straight out of Pinterest. I will give a fair warning: the water is absolutely freezing and it is not comfortable. You are in the water for about 40 minutes and it is 35 degrees. You are in a dry suit, but prepare to get wet and for your face and hands to freeze, as they are not entirely covered. Your face will go numb within about three minutes which helps because you can’t feel the pain, but I wanted to put that out there in case it's not something you’re interested in!
It was a once in a lifetime experience swimming between the tectonic plates. The canyons and rock formations underwater are simply amazing – there are no other words for it. This was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. After the snorkeling portion, we walked back to the bus and had hot chocolate and cookies to warm up. Next, we changed out of our suits, got in the car and moved on to the next stop in the Golden Circle.
Stop for Lunch: Friðheimar (Tomato Greenhouse)
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this was my favorite place ever. There is this stunning greenhouse off the side of the road that grows primarily tomatoes. The greenhouse uses 100% renewable energy. Pipes transport hot water from the local hot springs to the greenhouse. The water is still around 200+ degrees Fahrenheit when it arrives! The internal climate is perfectly controlled for a temperate, pH level, humidity, light and various other factors. Additionally, 600 bumble bees (imported from the Netherlands) help pollinate the tomato plants. Since there are no pests indigenous to the area, the greenhouse does not ever use pesticides. Anyways, that’s enough of a science lesson for today, but this place was incredible.
They only have about 5 things on the menu, and they’re all tomato based! Also, if you’re a fan of Bloody Mary’s, this is your spot. They are best known for their homemade tomato soup. They have an unlimited buffet with their fresh, warm bread served with their homemade tomato soup with toppings such as cucumber salsa and sour cream. Each table had a basil plant as its centerpiece with scissors attached to each plant so you could cut your own fresh basil to add to your meal. Just look at the pictures and see for yourself how insanely dreamy this place was!
Tip: I would make reservations, as it got pretty crowded while we were there. You can shoot them an email to make a reservation!
Golden Circle Stop 2: Drive to Geysir
Geysir is the second stop in the Golden Circle! We agreed that this was our least favorite thing we did. While seeing a Geysir is cool if you haven’t seen one before, this place was by far the most crowded. It was FILLED with tour buses and people standing around taking pictures. We stayed here for about 15 minutes, waited for the geyser to shoot out of the ground, then got back on the road.
Golden Circle Stop 3: Gullfoss
Gullfoss was the third (and last) stop on the Golden Circle. Gulfoss is a huge waterfall, and the most powerful one in Iceland. Enough water falls from it that it could fill up 60 tanker trucks per SECOND. We stayed at this waterfall for a good amount of time because I wanted to see it from every angle. You can go down this big set of steps and walk right up to the waterfall (from the top of it) and hear/see just how powerful it really is. This stop was pretty touristy, but it was beautiful and a must-see nonetheless.
Back to Reykjavik!
From here, we drove back to our Airbnb, which was about a 1 hour and 40 minute drive.
Cancelled: Northern Lights Tour
We had booked a Northern Lights Tour through GetYourGuide.com. Unfortunately, we found out a couple hours beforehand that it was cancelled because of the cloud coverage. The way the tour works, though, is they pick you up around 9:30 or 10:00pm and drive you around on a bus for ~4 hours chasing the Northern Lights. They’ll take you to remote areas to look for the best break in the clouds and the best view of them. It was a bummer that it was cancelled, but we were happy that we saw the lights the night before.
Dinner: Sushi Social
By the time we got back to our Airbnb, it was already around 6:30 or 7, and we were very hungry from a long day on our feet. We went to this cute, trendy restaurant with amazing cocktails called Sushi Social. It might sound weird to go to a sushi restaurant in Iceland, but the fish in Iceland is AMAZING so this was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had.
We ordered the “Simply the Best” and every single thing we had was just insane. It started with a “Lobster Cigar” with chorizo, dates and chili jam. Then came two sushi rolls, followed by beef tenderloin and another amazing Skyr-based dessert (we swapped the dessert it came with for Skyr, because we loved it so much!). I also had the best cocktails ever at this place: a ginger/rosemary/orange margarita, and a mango mojito made only from fresh mango puree, rum, lime and mint.