The Golden Circle of Iceland drives winds through the heart of the country’s stunning interior, past active geysers, gushing waterfalls, and rumbling glaciers. This area features Iceland’s most iconic sights, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the most visited areas of the island nation. The Golden Circle can be done as an overnight trip or over two days; however you choose to do it, this guide will help you experience the highlights without wasting any time or money.
The Best of Iceland’s Golden Circle
What is the Golden Circle?
The Golden Circle is a 300 kilometre (185 mile) route through some of Iceland’s most popular attractions. The circle can be travelled in either direction, though most people choose to head clockwise to begin their journey at Thingvellir National Park and end it with a visit to Þingvellir. This area contains multiple sites including Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park. It’s also home to one of Iceland’s major sightseeing attractions, the Gulfoss waterfall.
Planning Your Trip
The Golden Circle is a classic sightseeing route in Iceland and travels through some incredible natural wonders. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular with tourists — there are so many things to discover. While you can explore these attractions on your own, tours are highly recommended; they offer professional drivers and guides who know what they’re doing, while eliminating any worries about transportation or extra stops. After all, you don’t want to waste time researching your own plan if you don’t have to. If you’re planning a trip but aren’t sure where to start, follow these tips:
- Research the best times to travel based on your interests
- Learn more about Iceland’s culture
- Start compiling an itinerary that covers everything from sites you won’t want to miss, like Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir, to fun experiences like horseback riding.
Getting Around the Golden Circle
If you’re just driving along, make sure to stop at least once every hour or so. You can buy food and drinks, take pictures, or just walk around to stretch your legs. Once you feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see, get back in your car and continue. The Golden Circle drive won’t be a relaxing one, but it will let you discover some interesting sites if you have time on your hands.
What to Do at Þingvellir National Park
When travelling through Iceland’s Golden Circle, you’ll discover Þingvellir National Park, where natural wonders blend with cultural ones to create a unique destination. This area is home to Lake Þingvallavatn—the largest lake in all of Iceland—as well as ancient Viking ruins and glaciers and geysers.
Driving From Thingvellir To Geysir and Gullfoss
If you have time, it’s worth driving (or taking a bus or a tour) from Thingvellir National Park to Gullfoss, Geysir, and Haukadalur. You will see many of Iceland’s most beautiful natural sites on your way, including Langjokull glacier (the third largest in Iceland), verdant landscapes, and highlands dotted with multicoloured houses and farms. The drive itself is beautiful — tunnels, bridges, and waterfalls all feature along your journey.
What To Do At Strokkur Geyser
The Strokkur Geyser is one of several geysers in an area known as Geysir, located just west of Lake Thingvallavatn. If you’re only stopping by for a few hours while you’re visiting Iceland, make sure to fit in a trip to see these erupting hot springs.
What To Do At Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss is a beautiful waterfall located on the edge of a canyon, and it’s easy to spend a few hours exploring and walking in its nearby attractions. While you are in The Golden Circle, don’t miss out on visiting these sites. Some require hiking, but all are worthwhile.