Last week I was lucky enough to go on a trip I hadn't tried before, called the ‘Silver Circle’ tour. I knew all about the Golden Circle day tours and I’ve taken the trip many times, across different seasons and weather conditions! The silver circle, however, was new to me and I was far less familiar!
I was picked up between 8-8.30 am by a friendly guide at a convenient pickup location in Reykjavik, which brought the small group total up to around 6 or 7 - which was perfect! The drive took around 1 and a half hours, in icy and snowy conditions, so our guide chatted to us about Iceland and it’s history and folklore, and encouraged us to ask questions.
For our first stop, we headed out to Reykholt the home of Snorri Sturluson, one of Iceland’s most famous historians, poets, and politicians from the 13th century. After we had arrived in the small village, we followed our guide around the farmhouse, and she showed us the church and the statue of Snorri.
It is very photogenic and well preserved with its beauty and historical importance, and our guide was very knowledgable. There is a small museum exhibit which explains more about Reykholt’s history and Snorri’s work, and we also got to see Snorralaug, an ancient geothermally-heated pool, preserved from Iceland´s medieval period. It was very icy and easy to slip, so crampons or suitable hiking boots are definitely my recommendations if you come during the winter months!
We took some more photos and then jumped back inside the minibus for another 20 minutes to the waterfalls.
Arriving in Borgarfjordur, West Iceland, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss were the next stops on the tour. We were free to walk around the natural beauty and the waterfalls for around an hour, including time to buy food at the cafe, if we wanted it. The waterfalls at Hraunfossar are a unique group of narrow falls, flowing out of the lava over a distance of around 900 meters. Langjökull glacier is visible from this point of view and on the day I went, white snow covered the entire landscape beyond the glacier, contrasting with the pale blue and turquoise shades of the water below.
Barnafoss is just around the footpath from Hraunfossar and was a similar shade of milky blue but can often be a frothy white, pale gray or deep blue - depending on the season. Barnafoss waterfall translates to “Children’s Waterfall” as Icelandic folklore tells how long ago a widow on a nearby farm left her two children unattended while she went to a Christmas church service. When she came home her children had disappeared and their footprints lead to a stone arch over the river. The waterfall is stunning and can be photographed from a wooden bridge which crosses the fall.
Krauma Natural Geothermal Baths
Our last stop was at Krauma Spa, which uses naturally boiling hot water from Deildartunguhver - Europe’s most powerful hot springs, blended with cold glacier water from Rauðsgil, from the Ok glacier. Combined, these waters are used in 6 different relaxing geothermal baths, ranging from 36° to 45°C with a cold pool between 5-8°! It was snowing by the time we got to the baths, which made for a truly unique experience! In between darting in and out of all of the warm pools we had seconds to desensitize to the cold winds and snowflakes!
We made full use of the relaxation room; a room with big glass windows looking out onto the beautiful Icelandic landscapes and enjoy the cozy fireplace and peaceful music, some even took a quick nap!
We spent over 2 hours at the spa, so some people had some lunch while others made use of the 2 steam rooms! For the first hour, our minibus group was the only group in the spa, and even after a few more couples and groups joined us, it didn't get crowded or noisy - it was very tranquil.
We left the spa at around 2.30pm, and headed back to Reykjavik, stopping only to take beautiful photographs of the icy fields and snow-covered scenery! We arrived around back in the city for about 4.30pm.