We all know the golden circle is something you must see. It’s like the Eiffel tower in Paris – you know it’ll be touristy, but you cannot not go.
There is however an alternative, less visited, self invented “golden circle” that even offers a substitute for the so sought after Blue Lagoon.
Our first stop is the Secret Lagoon that really holds up to its name as we drove past it first thinking it was just a random farm. But as soon as we found it, the first thing that I noticed was how cosy it is. We walked into this family-like restaurant with windows all around that allowed us to see the lagoon in the back. It is such a familiar place that there are no time slots, no booking ahead, and also no barricade in order for them to get a hold of who has and has not paid. And I say that last one as a positive thing – it reminds me of the secure and trustworthy country Iceland has always been. When being explained the rules of the house, the woman mentioned how we need to shower naked and with soap before entering the pool. This didn’t come as a surprise to me, but the fact that she said it I must say I liked. Because it keeps the pools clean and it has been a habit in the country since I remember. The water might not be white and have the different face masks that are good for your skin, but at least there is no one having sex in there. Overall, the price comparison is more in line with what you get than it is for its alternative – depending on what you are looking for and willing to pay of course.
The second stop can be an alternative for the Gullfoss waterfall that is on the route of the Golden Circle and hols the name Urriðafoss. To be honest, it is one I had never heard of before looking up what to do in the area. The waterfall, however, was pretty impressive and turns out to be the most voluminous one on the island. The thing I liked the most about it was that it only had a few cars in the parking lot up front. Walking down the waterfall we saw some fishermen down the stream and that’s when I found out it is known to be a place for salmon and sea trout.
The last stop is Selfoss, which is a town that I honestly skipped a lot when driving down south. Turns out, it has a few places worth visiting. There’s a small bookcafé that a couple opened up about 12 years ago. The facade of the building doesn’t do justice to the cosiness when entering. As soon as we walk in, we are surrounded by books. Even though most of them are in Icelandic, they have an English section as well. The town has, apart from that, a church and a swimming pool – as for any town in Iceland to be honest. There’s a hostel, Selfoss HI Hostel, where you could end your day that is just located on the main road, with both private and dorm rooms. Plus about it, it has a hot pot in the garden and offers breakfast at an extra price.
Even though I must admit that this alternative route isn’t that comparable to the golden circle, I can promise you less than half of the tourists that you would have seen when doing that one. Of course you just need to see, what you prefer. From there, you can either stop in Hveragerði on your way back to Reykjavík or go further down the south coast where there are also many sights worth seeing.
To those interested, you can book this scheduled tour here. And this tour is available all year around; Golden Circle day tour and the Secret Lagoon in Iceland.
Jóhanna Pétursóttir is Icelandic but has lived most of her life abroad.