The Golden Circle & Fontana Geothermal Baths | Sightseeing & Hot Springs
Come along for a tour of the finest sites in Iceland, along with a luxurious soak in the warm waters of Laugarvatn Fontana Spa & Wellness Center. Traverse the famous Golden Circle, with three of the most well-known sites in Icelandic history and culture: Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park.
Gullfoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in all of Europe, where huge quantities of water rush over the two-tiered falls and down into the gorge below. Geysir geothermal area is another natural wonder, full of bubbling mud pots, steaming vents and geysers which explode regularly, flinging scalding water high into the air. The most active, Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes, sending water as high as 40 m (131 feet).
Last is Þingvellir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the world’s first parliament was founded in 930 AD. The Vikings who came here to participate in the politics of the day looked out on these same rifts, walked the gorge between the two techtonic plates, and gazed at the silvery waters of the nearby rivers and fissures which reach deep in the earth.
Relax in the natural geothermal baths at Laugarvatn Fontana Spa & Wellness Center after such a thorough tour of the Golden Circle. After exploring so much of the south coast, Laugarvatn Fontana Spa is the perfect way to relax and revitalise both body and mind.
For almost a century locals in the community of Laugarvatn have been enjoying the healing powers of natural steam from a geothermal field at the edge of the lake. Built over this geothermal area, the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa & Wellness Center features geothermal steam rooms, hot pools and outdoor mineral baths and a fantastic view over the lake. If you are there in the evening and conditions are just right, you may be able to enjoy the Technicolor dreamscape of the Northern Lights as you relax!
At Laugarvatn Fontana Spa & Wellness Center you will also find Fontana Café that offers a nice selection of healthy and locally produced delicacies and refreshments. The menu also includes soup of the day and trout from the lake which is a great idea for those that just want to enjoy the facilities without going to the baths.
Don't miss out on these essential Icelandic locations, topped off by pure relaxation! Check booking availability now, by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 9 hours
- Activities: Sightseeing, Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English
- Highlights: Golden Circle,
The Golden Circle is a 300 km route to the 3 most popular natural attractions in Iceland. The Golden Circle consists of Geysir, Gullfoss and Thingvellir.
See this for Golden circle tours.
Geysir is a geyser that gives its name to hot springs all over the world. But although Geysir itself is not active anymore the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur (spouting a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, regularly about 15-20 meters into the air), Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
The 'Golden Waterfall', is the second part of the Golden Circle, and one of the most beautiful and powerful waterfalls in Iceland, plummeting 32 meters into the river gorge of the popular rafting river Hvita. It is Iocated about 10 km from Geysir.
Thingvellir national park
The largest attraction of the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park. The Icelandic parliament was founded there in 930 and remained until the year 1798.
Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important places to visit in Iceland, not just for its historical and cultural values, but for also its magnificent landscape.
Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain and volcano range and is the site of a rift valley, where the tectonic plates meet, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic ridge.
Of particular note at Thingvellir are the magnificent Almannagja gorge, and the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland. The popular Gjabakkahellir lava cave is also in the area.
The fissure Silfra is located by Thingvallavatn, Iceland's largest lake, and is famous for its clear waters and popular for diving and snorkeling, as you can literally swim between continents.Geysir,
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.Gullfoss,
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.Þingvellir,
Þingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Þingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries. Þingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagjá, which marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Öxarárfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, Þingvallakirkja Church and Gjábakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Laugarvatn is a hamlet of around 200 people, by the lake of the same name and originally formed around the boarding school there. It is located in South Iceland, around 93 km from Reykjavik. Laugarvatn is popular as a summer resort and as a stop for travelers, as it is located near many of Iceland’s top attractions, such as Gullfoss and Geysir (part of the Golden Circle) and the ancient Skalholt bishop seat.
Environment & Spa
The environment of Laugavatn is very pleasant, as a forest has been planted there and brooks and streams further contribute to the scenery. A beautiful and shallow lake, Lake Laugarvatn is rich in aquatic life and good char and lake trout fishing can be made there as well. Boats and gear for watersport can indeed be rented at Laugarvatn. As the shores of the lake feature geothermal springs, it was decided to build a spa there.
At the Fontana spa at Laugarvatn you can relax in the excellent geothermal swimming pool and the three steam rooms known collectively as Gufan. The spa also features a Finnish-style sauna and three interconnected mineral baths. At the spa you can also enjoy the stone artwork of artist Erla Thorarinsdottir. At the Viska hot tub you’ll further have a nice view of the Laugarvatn surroundings. Vatnid (‘The Lake’) and Strondin (‘The Beach’) complete the experience, the black sand of the former having been shown to be beneficial to those suffering from joint illnesses and Vatnid offering a healthy cooling down between visiting Gufan and the Ylur sauna.
Gallery & Accommodation
While at Laugarvatn, we also recommend checking out the Gallery Laugarvatn, which features a wide display of Icelandic handicraft and offers bed and breakfast as well.
Laugarvatn has a boarding school that functions as a popular hotel, i.e. Hotel Edda, in the summer. A number of guesthouses, hostels, rental apartments and cottages are also to be found in the area. Laugarvatn offers all basic services and is highly popular throughout the year.
Pickup time : 08:30
Complimentary pick up and drop off for hotels and guest houses in Reykjavik
Round trip transportation
Professional travel guide
Entrance fee to Fontana Spa
What to bring: