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Getting There

Bus tours are popular and convenient, but many visitors prefer the flexibility of a rental car. The cost of a single Golden Circle bus ticket is only slightly less than renting a cheap car for 1 day, and the stop at Þingvellir, for instance, is never long enough for a hike into the valley. With a car you might also work in Hveragerði or the Þjórsárdalur valley. The roads are open all year but can be very slippery and dangerous in winter. Note: If you plan on taking the interior Kjölur Route to Akureyri, you can see Geysir and Gullfoss then.

By car, Þingvellir is less than an hour from Reykjavík; take Route 1 north of Mosfellsbær, then turn right on Route 36. From Þingvellir, continue east on Route 36, turn left on Route 365, and turn left again on Route 37 in Laugarvatn; when Route 37 ends, turn left on Route 35. From there it's a short way to Geysir, and another 10 minutes to Gullfoss.

Regular service from Reykjavík Excursions (tel. 562-1011; www.re.is) costs a bit less than a formal tour and is an economical way to spend all day at Þingvellir. Bus 6 leaves from BSÍ terminal in Reykjavík daily mid-June through August at 8:30am, stopping at Þingvellir (9:15am-10:15am), Laugarvatn (10:45am), Geysir (11:15am-1pm), and Gullfoss (1:15-2pm). Bus 6a does the reverse route without extended stops, arriving back at Reykjavík at 4:45pm. A one-way ticket to/from Þingvellir costs 1,000kr ($16/£8); to/from Geysir 2,300kr ($37/£18); to/from Gullfoss 2,550kr ($41/£20). Children ages 4 to 11 get 50% off.

Bus 2 on Þingvallaleið (tel. 511-2600; www.bustravel.is) leaving Reykjavík's BSÍ terminal daily at 12:30pm from June through August, stops at Hveragerði, Selfoss, Laugarvatn, Geysir, and Gullfoss -- and on the return trip, Reykholt, Laugarás, Selfoss, and Hveragerði -- but does not allow time for sightseeing.

Bus 2 leaves BSÍ terminal at 12:30pm daily June through August, reaching Gullfoss at 3:15pm and Geysir at 4:25pm.

Organized bus tours leave from Reykjavík's BSÍ terminal, and prices include free hotel pickup and dropoff. Standard tours generally last 8 hours and leave at 8:30 or 9am. Reykjavík Excursions (tel. 562-1011; www.re.is) charges 7,000kr ($112/£56) for the standard Golden Circle tour, which includes Kerið Crater and Hveragerði. For Gullfoss and Geysir only, the "Gullfoss Geysir Direct" tour costs 5,700kr ($91/£46) and lasts 5 1/2 hours. Children ages 12 to 15 get 50% off; ages 11 and under ride free. The Golden Circle tour from Iceland Excursions (tel. 540-1313; www.icelandexcursions.is) costs 6,600kr ($106/£53) and includes Nesjavellir geothermal power plant, Skálholt, Kerið Crater, and Hveragerði. "Gullfoss & Geysir Express" costs 5,200kr ($83/£42) and lasts 6 hours. For the more culturally inclined, the 5-hour "Wonders of Þingvellir" tour, focusing exclusively on Þingvellir and the Halldór Laxness Museum, costs 4,800kr ($77/£38), with departures June to August 20 weekdays at 1pm. Ages 13 to 17 get 50% off; ages 11 and under ride free. Iceland Total (tel. 585-4300; www.icelandtotal.is) has a Golden Circle tour focusing exclusively on the big three destinations for 6,813kr ($109/£55).

Visitor Information

Þingvellir has two visitor centers (www.thingvellir.is). Approaching from Reykjavík, the first you come to is the interpretive center, at the top of the Almannagjá fault; the turnoff from Route 36 is marked "Fræðslumiðstöð" (June-Aug daily 9am-7pm; Apr-May and Sept-Oct daily 9am-5pm; Nov-Mar Sat-Sun 9am-5pm). The center has fun and informative video displays explaining the area's natural and cultural history. Farther along Route 36 is the information center (tel. 482-2660; May-Sept daily 8:30am-8pm; the cafe is also open Apr and Oct 8:30am-8pm and Nov-Mar Sat-Sun 9am-5pm) with cafe and bookshop. The plan is to expand services at the interpretive center; so, by the time you are reading this, you may be able to find maps or park rangers there. Many visitors skip the information center anyway, since from the interpretive center it's a short and agreeable approach on foot down to the historical sites.

The Geysir Center (tel. 480-6800; www.geysircenter.com; June-Aug daily 9am-10pm, May and Sept daily 9am-8pm, Oct and Apr daily 10am-4pm), across the street from the geothermal area, has an information desk, cafe, and extensive souvenir shop.

The unstaffed Gullfoss visitor center (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm; Sat-Sun 9-7pm) is right next to a cafe and gift shop (tel. 486-6500; Oct-Apr daily 8am-6pm; May-Sept 8am to as late as 10pm), where questions can be directed.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.