This article is the third in a series of stories devoted to my trip to Iceland. For a complete overview of all sightseeings, I invite you to read:
- Day 1: Dyrhólaey, Reynisfjara, Vík, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss
- Day 2: Keldur, Friedheimar and Thingvellir
- Day 3: Geysir, Gulfoss, Skálholt, Brúarfoss, Kerid andStokkseyri
- Day 4: Reykjadalur, the hot spring river of Hveragerdi, Reykjavik and Gardur [to be published]
Our itinerary of the day in the Golden Circle
From Selfoss, we travel 211 km stopping at:
- Geysir to see the world famous geyser Strokkur explode every 6 minutes.
- Gulfoss for the power of the waterfall.
- Skálholt for a lunch break. This historic town is a good place to stop and make a pause.
- Brúarfoss to enjoy the most secret and perhaps the most beautiful waterfall of the Golden Circle, far away from the tourists.
- Kerid for its beautiful reddish color crater.
- Stokkseyri to finish the day in style at the seaside and eat a good platter of langoustines..
Geysir: see the gushing Strokkur
We woke up on a sunny day. We were lucky to arrive early enough to avoid the crowds and could enjoy the spectacle of the Strokkur geyser exploding every few minutes. Strokkur is nothing more than a big boiling basin of natural geothermal water. At first sight it's a hole in the ground. The water is so hot (around 120C) that it slowly increases the pressure underground. Every 6 to 10 minutes, a bubble of a beautiful blue rises to the surface when the pressure becomes too strong and begins to release steam. It finally burst the bubble to form powerful gushing water up to twenty meters into the air. This is a show I highly recommend! Don’t miss out visiting Geysir and try to get early or come when the tourists head back up to Reykjavik.
The Strokkur geyser
A small pool of (very) hot water reflecting some clouds
Gulfoss, power of nature
Also known as the Golden Falls, Gulfoss is, with Dettifoss (which we have not seen), certainly the most famous waterfall in Iceland. It is located within easy reach of Geysir. The fall is fed by the Langjökull glacier and flows in two stages in a 32m deep canyon. The show is really beautiful whatever angle you are looking at it. A footbridge and trail allows getting closer to the waterfall. If you don’t want to get soggy, better get yourself dressed in a raincoat. The views from the ridge overlooking the waterfall offer sublime views over the river and mountains and is a great spot to take some photographs.
The first of two falls
The second fall of Gulfoss pourring into the canyon
The river seen from the top
Skálholt, historical landmark of Iceland
We felt quite hungry after our vists to Geysir and Gulfoss and so decided to follow our guidebook recommendation for a good place to eat in the small village of Skálholt (160 inhabitants). This place is located in the middle of the Golden Circle and was a very important cultural, social and religious center from the 11th to the 18th century. An imposing church and a beautiful turf house are the major landmarks. The main building serving as a cultural center hosts the restaurant that according to the manager (and cook) has the best value for money in the country. Our meal was indeed affordable but you will only have the choice between two dishes. For our part the soup and the fish stew were pretty good. In any case, Skálholt is an excellent alternative to the expensive tourist traps. Remember to make a phone call to make sure it's open.
Beautiful turfhouse in Skàlholt
Golden Circle landscape in Skàlholt
The turquoise and magical waters of the Brúarfoss waterfall
The Brúarfoss waterfall is perhaps the most beautiful we have seen in Iceland. It is neither tall nor broad, but it is so picturesque. The strikingly blue water harmoniously descends the river through the rocks and renders a very poetic landscape. We could have stayed there for hours!
To find it, make some research in advance because it is rather secretive and difficult to access. Officially you have to park at the parking lot along Route 37 at the junction of the Bruara River from where a path will take you to Brúarfoss in an hour's walk. However, we took the less official route which crosses the holiday village. Just search the web for best indications to find the waterfall. There are barely any indications and even some pole signs indicating directions has been tagged as the residents probably don’t like the traffic and trespassing over their properties. After you’ve finally found a place to park at the end of the holiday village, you’ll need to look for a path (we had to go through a fence hole) to access a first bridge. From there, a more or less obvious path will take you to the waterfall. Good luck but it is well worth it!
The river flows
How beautiful is this blue?
Short video of the cascade
Walk around Kerid’s crater
On the way back to Selfoss there is another sight worth stopping by, though less spectacular than all the other places we saw during the day. Access requires paying a small entrance fee and will allow you to walk around the crater and down to the lake. The colors are certainly pretty but after thought we should have stayed a little longer in Brúarfoss.
The Kerid crater in summer
The crater is 55m deep and the lake is only 7m
Me, on top of the Kerid
An all langoustines meal at Fjorubordid in Stokkseyri
We ended the day by the sea. Our host at Selfoss recommended a very good restaurant in Stokkseyri, Fjorubordid, which only serves langoustines. This restaurant is frequented by locals and the butter and garlic langoustines were a delight. The bill may be a little salty (like almost everything in Iceland) but I highly recommend this restaurant if you are in this area.
Sunset over the ocean in Stokkseyri
A flower grows on the rocks
Small chapel on Stokkseyri dike
The butter and garlic langoustines, yum!
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