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A Day Exploring The Geysir And Gullfoss In Iceland


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Jennine Gallimore



Iceland, also known as the “Land of Fire and Ice,” is a country filled with breathtaking natural wonders. From its stunning landscapes to its unique geothermal activity, Iceland offers visitors an unparalleled experience. One of the must-visit destinations in Iceland is the Geysir and Gullfoss, two iconic attractions located in the Golden Circle route. These two attractions showcase the raw power and beauty of Iceland’s geological formations.


Geysir, the namesake of all geysers around the world, is a geothermal area in southwestern Iceland. It is home to numerous hot springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser. Gullfoss, on the other hand, is a mesmerizing two-tiered waterfall located in the Hvítá river canyon. This powerful waterfall is known for its thunderous cascades and breathtaking views.


Visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss is like stepping into another world. The geothermal activity at Geysir creates a surreal atmosphere, where you can witness boiling mud pits, vibrant colored mineral deposits, and the thrilling eruptions of the Strokkur geyser. At Gullfoss, you’ll be in awe of the sheer power of nature as you witness the water plummeting down in a stunning display of force.


A day trip to the Geysir and Gullfoss offers more than just the chance to see these natural wonders up close. It provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique geology of Iceland, understand the country’s cultural heritage, and experience the thrill of adventure.


In this article, we will delve into the magical world of the Geysir and Gullfoss. We will explore the best ways to reach these attractions, what to expect when you arrive, and highlight some of the must-see sights and activities. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or simply someone looking for an unforgettable experience, a visit to the Geysir and Gullfoss is sure to leave you awe-inspired.


Geysir: The Famous Icelandic Hot Spring

Geysir is a geothermal area located in the Haukadalur Valley, in southwestern Iceland. It is renowned for being the birthplace of all geysers worldwide and has given its name to this remarkable natural phenomenon. While the Great Geysir itself is currently dormant, its neighboring geyser, Strokkur, steals the show by erupting with magnificent displays of boiling water and steam every few minutes.


When visiting Geysir, you’ll be captivated by the otherworldly landscape shaped by geothermal activity. As you walk through the area, you’ll notice bubbling mud pots, steaming vents, and a myriad of hot springs. The vivid colors of the minerals create a surreal atmosphere, making it feel like you’ve stepped foot on another planet.


The star attraction of Geysir is undoubtedly the Strokkur geyser. It puts on an impressive show, shooting boiling water up to 40 meters (131 feet) in the air. As you watch in anticipation, the water explodes and cascades back down, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. It’s an awe-inspiring sight that will leave you amazed at the power and unpredictability of nature.


Aside from Strokkur, there are several other geysers in the area, although they might not erupt as frequently or dramatically. Each one has its own unique characteristics, offering a fascinating glimpse into the geothermal activity beneath the Earth’s surface.


Geysir holds great importance in Icelandic history and folklore. The word “geyser” actually comes from the Icelandic verb “geysa,” meaning “to gush.” The Great Geysir itself was known to have erupted up to 80 meters (260 feet) in the past, but it has been mostly dormant since the early 20th century. Nevertheless, the Strokkur geyser ensures that visitors still get to witness the power and beauty of geothermal eruptions.


Exploring Geysir is like entering a natural wonderland. You can take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalks, marvel at the steam rising from the ground, and feel the warmth of the Earth beneath your feet. The geothermal activity also creates a unique aroma in the air, adding to the sensory experience of the place.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply someone in search of a truly unique experience, Geysir is an absolute must-visit destination in Iceland. It’s a place where you can witness the forces of nature at work, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.


Gullfoss: The Majestic Waterfall in Iceland

Gullfoss, also known as the “Golden Falls,” is a stunning waterfall located in the Hvítá river canyon in southwest Iceland. It is one of Iceland’s most iconic and breathtaking natural attractions, drawing visitors from all around the world.


As you approach Gullfoss, the sound of rushing water fills the air, and a sense of anticipation builds. When you finally catch your first glimpse of the waterfall, you are immediately captivated by its sheer power and beauty. Gullfoss is a two-tiered waterfall that plunges down into a rugged canyon with incredible force. The cascades of water create a mesmerizing display, with mist rising and rainbows often forming in the sunlight.


The name “Gullfoss” translates to “golden falls,” which is fitting because on sunny days, the glacial water takes on a golden hue as it crashes against the rocks. The golden color, along with the roaring sound and the mist enveloping the area, creates a truly majestic and awe-inspiring scene.


One of the remarkable features of Gullfoss is its unique shape. The waterfall drops in two stages, with the upper cascade measuring 11 meters (36 feet) and the lower cascade reaching an impressive 21 meters (69 feet). This tiered design adds to the grandeur and dramatic effect of the waterfall, creating a scene that seems almost otherworldly.


Visitors have the opportunity to get up close to Gullfoss through well-maintained viewing platforms that offer stunning perspectives of the waterfall. The sheer power and magnitude of the rushing water can be felt as you witness it cascading down the canyon walls. The surrounding cliffs further enhance the sense of grandeur, making Gullfoss a truly unforgettable sight.


Gullfoss holds great significance in Icelandic history and culture. The waterfall was at the center of a preservation battle in the early 20th century when plans were made to harness its power for hydroelectricity. However, local activist Sigríður Tómasdóttir fought to protect Gullfoss, even threatening to throw herself into the waterfall to prevent its destruction. Thanks to her efforts, Gullfoss remains unspoiled and serves as a symbol of the Icelandic spirit and commitment to preserving their natural heritage.


When visiting Gullfoss, take the time to explore the surrounding area. Walk along the marked paths and enjoy panoramic views of the waterfall from different angles. In the summer, the landscape is lush and green, while in the winter, Gullfoss transforms into a frozen wonderland, with ice formations adding to its allure.


Gullfoss is not just a majestic waterfall; it’s a testament to the raw power and beauty of nature. A visit to Gullfoss is an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of Iceland’s natural wonders and the immense forces that shaped them.


Exploring the Geysir and Gullfoss: A Day Trip Itinerary

Visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss in a day allows you to experience two of Iceland’s most iconic natural attractions. The Golden Circle route is the perfect itinerary to explore these stunning locations, as well as other nearby points of interest.


Start your day early to make the most of your time. Begin your journey by heading to the Geysir area, which is approximately a one-hour drive from Reykjavik. As you drive along the scenic route, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Iceland’s rugged landscapes.


Upon arriving at the Geysir area, be sure to allocate enough time to explore the geothermal wonders. Stroll along the boardwalks that wind through the area, allowing you to get up close to the steaming vents, bubbling mud pots, and of course, the impressive Strokkur geyser. Keep an eye out for the eruptions of Strokkur, which occur approximately every 10 minutes, shooting hot water high into the air.


After immersing yourself in the fascinating geothermal activity, it’s time to continue your journey to Gullfoss. The drive from Geysir to Gullfoss takes around 10-15 minutes, and along the way, you’ll pass through stunning Icelandic landscapes. Keep an eye out for roaming Icelandic horses or perhaps catch a glimpse of the Langjökull glacier in the distance.


Upon arrival at Gullfoss, prepare to be amazed by the sheer power and beauty of the waterfall. Take your time to explore the different viewing platforms, each offering unique perspectives of the cascades. Feel the mist on your face and hear the thunderous roar of the water as it plunges into the canyon below. Don’t forget to capture this awe-inspiring sight through your camera lens, but also take a moment to simply soak in the breathtaking surroundings.


Depending on your schedule and preferences, you can choose to enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the designated areas nearby or visit one of the local cafes to savor some Icelandic delicacies. Keep in mind that during the peak season, it can get crowded, so it’s best to plan accordingly.


After a fulfilling time exploring Gullfoss, consider adding extra stops to your itinerary. The Golden Circle route offers additional attractions such as Thingvellir National Park, the historic site where the Icelandic parliament was established in 930 AD, and the beautiful Faxi waterfall. These add-ons will further enrich your experience and provide a deeper insight into Iceland’s history and natural beauty.


As the day draws to a close, make your way back to Reykjavik, reflecting on the amazing sights and memories you’ve created throughout the day. The Geysir and Gullfoss day trip offers a perfect balance of natural wonders and cultural discoveries, leaving you with a deeper appreciation for the raw beauty of Iceland.


Getting to the Geysir and Gullfoss

Reaching the Geysir and Gullfoss is relatively easy, as both attractions are located on the popular Golden Circle route in southwest Iceland. Here are a few options for getting to these remarkable destinations:


Renting a car and embarking on a self-drive adventure is a popular choice for many visitors to Iceland. The Geysir and Gullfoss are both conveniently located along the Golden Circle, which makes it easy to navigate and explore at your own pace. From Reykjavik, simply head east on Route 1 and then take Route 35 to reach the Geysir area. From there, it’s a short drive to Gullfoss. Make sure to check road conditions and weather forecasts, especially during winter, as weather conditions can sometimes impact road accessibility.

Guided Tours:

If you prefer not to drive or want a more curated experience, joining a guided tour is a great option. Numerous tour operators offer day trips to the Golden Circle, which typically include visits to the Geysir and Gullfoss. These tours provide transportation, expert guides, and the convenience of a pre-planned itinerary. It’s a hassle-free way to explore these attractions and learn more about the geological significance and cultural history of the region. Keep in mind that tour availability and schedules may vary depending on the season, so it’s best to book in advance.

Public Transportation:

While public transportation options to the Geysir and Gullfoss are limited, it is still possible to visit using a combination of buses. From Reykjavik, you can take a bus to the town of Selfoss and then transfer to another bus that will take you to the Geysir area. From there, you can either take another bus or rely on organized shuttle services to reach Gullfoss. It’s important to note that public transportation schedules may be less frequent compared to other options, so planning your timing is essential.


Regardless of how you choose to get there, it’s recommended to allocate enough time for your journey, especially if you plan to make additional stops along the way. The Geysir and Gullfoss are popular tourist destinations, so it’s best to arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds and fully enjoy the experience.


Now that you know how to get to the Geysir and Gullfoss, it’s time to embark on your journey and witness the wonders that await you in the heart of Iceland’s Golden Circle.


Things to Do and See at the Geysir and Gullfoss

When visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss, there are plenty of activities and sights to explore. Here are some of the top things to do and see at these remarkable natural attractions:


  • Watch the Strokkur Geyser: The main highlight at Geysir is witnessing the incredible eruptions of the Strokkur geyser. As you patiently wait, you’ll see the geyser shoot boiling water high into the air, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
  • Explore the Geothermal Area: Take a walk along the boardwalks and immerse yourself in the geothermal wonders of the area. Marvel at the bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, and vibrant mineral deposits that create a surreal landscape.
  • Visit the Great Geysir: While the Great Geysir is currently dormant, you can still see this iconic attraction and imagine the eruptions that once made it famous. Learn about its history and significance in Icelandic culture.
  • Learn at the Geysir Center: Visit the Geysir Center, an educational and exhibition center, to delve deeper into the geothermal phenomena. Learn about the geology of Iceland and gain insights into the powerful forces that shape the island.


  • Marvel at the Waterfall: Stand in awe of the majestic Gullfoss as it plunges into the canyon below. Feel the mist on your face and witness the raw power and beauty of nature.
  • Explore the Viewing Platforms: Gullfoss offers well-maintained viewing platforms that allow you to see the waterfall from different angles. Take your time to explore and capture breathtaking photos of the cascading water.
  • Hike the Surrounding Area: If you’re feeling adventurous, consider hiking the trails around Gullfoss to discover more hidden gems of nature. The surrounding landscape is picturesque, offering opportunities for memorable hikes and exploration.
  • Learn the History: Gullfoss holds a significant place in Iceland’s history. Take the time to learn about the preservation battle fought by Sigríður Tómasdóttir to protect the waterfall from hydroelectric developments. Gain a deeper appreciation for the environmental activism that shaped Iceland.

Both Geysir and Gullfoss offer visitors a chance to connect with the natural wonders of Iceland. Take your time to fully engage with the surroundings, soak in the beauty, and appreciate the immense forces that shaped these remarkable landscapes.


Remember to respect the natural environment and follow any guidelines or directions provided at the attractions. By doing so, you contribute to preserving these incredible sites for future generations to enjoy.


Tips for Visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss

Visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss can be an incredible experience. To make the most of your trip and ensure a smooth visit, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan your timing: The Geysir and Gullfoss are popular tourist destinations, especially during the peak season from June to August. To avoid large crowds, consider visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This will give you more space to enjoy the attractions and take stunning photos.
  • Dress for the weather: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to dress in layers and be prepared for changing conditions. Make sure to bring a waterproof jacket, sturdy shoes, and warm clothing to stay comfortable during your visit.
  • Bring your camera: Both the Geysir and Gullfoss offer incredible photo opportunities. Don’t forget to pack your camera or smartphone to capture the awe-inspiring landscapes and impressive geological formations. Be prepared for sudden bursts from the geyser and take multiple shots to capture the perfect moment.
  • Stay on designated paths: While exploring the Geysir and Gullfoss, it’s important to stick to the marked paths and respect any barriers or signs. This ensures your safety and helps preserve the delicate natural environment.
  • Take your time: Both Geysir and Gullfoss deserve your full attention and appreciation. Take your time to explore each attraction and soak in the beauty. Don’t rush through the experience – instead, allow yourself to be fully immersed in the incredible sights and sounds.
  • Bring snacks and water: It’s always a good idea to pack some snacks and water for your visit. While there are facilities and cafes available, having your own refreshments can be convenient, especially if you plan to spend a significant amount of time exploring the area.
  • Respect the environment: Iceland takes great pride in preserving its natural landscape. Respect the environment by disposing of any trash properly and following any guidelines provided at the attractions. Help keep these sites pristine for future visitors to enjoy.
  • Check road conditions: If you choose to self-drive, make sure to check the road conditions and weather forecasts before your trip. Some roads may be closed or require specific vehicle types during certain seasons. Stay informed and drive safely to ensure a hassle-free journey.
  • Consider the Golden Circle: The Geysir and Gullfoss are part of Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, which also includes other notable attractions like Thingvellir National Park and the historic town of Reykholt. Consider exploring the entire Golden Circle to make the most of your visit and see more of Iceland’s natural and cultural wonders.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to the Geysir and Gullfoss. Immerse yourself in the beauty of these incredible attractions and create lasting memories of your time in Iceland’s remarkable landscape.



Visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss in Iceland is a truly remarkable experience that allows you to witness the incredible power and beauty of nature. From the explosive eruptions of the Strokkur geyser to the thunderous cascades of Gullfoss, these two attractions offer a glimpse into Iceland’s unique geological wonders.


Exploring the Geysir and Gullfoss provides an opportunity to connect with Iceland’s raw and untouched landscapes. The geothermal activity at Geysir immerses you in a world of boiling mud pots and vibrant mineral deposits, while Gullfoss takes your breath away with its awe-inspiring waterfall cascades.


A day trip to the Geysir and Gullfoss is best experienced following the popular Golden Circle route. Whether you choose to drive yourself, join a guided tour, or rely on public transportation, the journey is well worth it. Plan your timing, dress for the weather, and remember to take your time to fully appreciate these natural wonders.


While visiting the Geysir and Gullfoss, respect the environment and stay on designated paths to help preserve these pristine areas for future generations. And don’t forget to capture the memories with your camera, but also take moments to simply be present and marvel at the extraordinary sights before you.


The Geysir and Gullfoss represent the unbridled beauty of Iceland, reminding us of the powerful forces that have shaped this remarkable island. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply someone seeking a profound connection with the Earth, a visit to the Geysir and Gullfoss is an experience that will stay with you long after you leave.


So, embrace the adventure, immerse yourself in the wonders of Geysir and Gullfoss, and let the magic of Iceland’s natural landscape leave an indelible mark on your soul.