GOLDEN CIRCLE ICELAND
Welcome to the Ultimate guide about the Golden Circle in Iceland!
The Golden Circle is without a doubt the most popular route to do during your stay in Iceland.
And rightfully so!
Its accessibility from Reykjavik and the numerous wonders you get to see on the route truly make it an adventure not to be missed!
If you are coming to Iceland and you want to know more about what the Golden Circle is, what you will see, when to do and how long it takes to do...
Then this guide was written for you!
WHAT IS THE GOLDEN CIRCLE?
The Golden Circle takes it's name for being the most popular tourist route in Iceland. Covering about 300km (that's 186 miles for my american friends reading this), it creates a loop from Reykjavik to the South Coast of Iceland.
The term 'Golden' is used to signify that this route connects many of Iceland's most famous, beautiful and treasured natural wonders.
It's relatively short distance, packed with numerous spots to visit, has made the Golden Circle the most popular destination amongst travelers coming to Iceland as it offers the convenience of a short trip and the wonders of Icelandic adventure all in one!
I can assure you that not doing the Golden Circle whilst in Iceland will make your trip feel incomplete, don't miss out on it!
Gullfoss (The Golden Waterfall) during winter in Iceland.
WHAT CAN YOU SEE ON THE GOLDEN CIRCLE?
The classic Golden Circle has three highlight stops:
- Þingvellir Nation Park
- Geysir & Strokkur
- Gullfoss Waterfall
But in reality, there are endless things to do and see when you explore the Golden Circle.
The route submerges you in no ends of landscapes, waterfall and wilderness.
However, there are a few attractions which you should not miss on account of their popularity and sheer beauty!
1. THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK
Thingvellir National Park is usually the first stop on the Golden Circle tour as it is the closest from Reykjavik (40 minutes drive from Reykjavik).
The beauty of Thingvellir is breathtaking. It home to the biggest lake in Iceland, as well as the clearest waters in the world!
A great place for diving and snorkelling!
Snorkeling between the tectonic plates of Europe & North America at Þingvellir.
2. GEYSIR GEOTHERMAL AREA
We have all see the crazy explosions of Geysir somewhere online!
Well, did you know that we have them here in Iceland?
Better yet, they are your second stop on the Golden Circle tour!
These pools of boiling water erupt due to the lively geothermal activity happening below the ground.
This is one of the best places on earth to witness geothermal activity like this!
The Great Geysir is fairly silent but still active so some of you may be lucky enough to see it erupt when you're there!
Worry not, there is another geyser called Strokkur which erupts every 6-10 minutes, so you can be sure that you will witness this natural phenomenon when you go there!
3. GULLFOSS (GOLDEN WATERFALL)
The uniqueness of Gullfoss, aside from the fact that it is incredibly huge, is that you can view the waterfall from above! Thus giving you the illusion that the waterfall is falling into the ground!
Truly a sight to be witnessed!
Seeing this huge waterfall from above is sure to give you amazingly powerful scenery. There are different paths around the waterfall that you can take to see the waterfall from different viewpoints!
Gullfoss waterfall during Summer.
Other things to see and do on the Golden Circle:
Here below you'll find some brilliant additional stops & sights that are in the 'Golden Circle area'
Note: Our Golden Circle tour visits these stops (& a few more gems)
Hveragerdi is often overlooked, but we believe that this place deserves a stop and here is why:
This is a town that is located on an incredibly active geothermal area.
It is home to a great geothermal park as well as a hot geothermal river!
It is also famously known as the 'Earthquake' town! Indeed, due to its location, it is often subject to small earthquakes!
Maybe you will witness a small earthquake while you're there! Exciting!
5. FAXI WATERFALL
Although much smaller than Gullfoss, it's beauty is very much on par!
Faxi waterfall has an amazingly peaceful feel to it and I'm sure you'll enjoy just standing by the water and letting your mind drift to the sound of the water flowing.
I highly recommend going!
6. KERIÐ CRATER
Kerid Crater is a volcanically created crater lake on the Golden Circle route.
It's a great place to stop at and walk around the unusual crater in the middle of nowhere.
Yet another weird sight that you should see whilst in Iceland that is on the Golden Circle!
Note that a small fee of 400isk is required to be paid to enter the crater in order to pay for its maintenance and protection.
This is one of my favorite photos of Kerið as it's taken from great distance (you can really see it's enormous size with the cars parked on the right as context.)
7. SECRET LAGOON NATURAL HOT SPRING
This little gem is incredible.
In Iceland we call it 'Gamla lauginn' which simply means the old swimming pool, since this is were Icelanders would go to learn to swim waaay back in the day.
Today, it's a warm and cosy place to relax after a full day of incredible sightseeing.
Located on the Golden Circle, once you're there you will truly feel like your having a bath in the middle of nowhere!
It's absolutely amazing!
We visit and take a dip in this Natural Hot Spring on our Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon combo tour.
Secret Lagoon, Iceland.
GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR
Because the Golden Circle in Iceland is such a must-have on your Icelandic 'to-do' list, many tours have been designed to help tourists get the most out of their Golden Circle adventure!
But what is the best Golden Circle Tour in Iceland and why?
According to customer feedback, we can proudly say that we offer the best Golden Circle Tour in all of Iceland! (Yes, Really!)
Being absolutely in love and proud of our country, we designed the best possible tour of the Golden Circle to showcase the beauty and excitement of Iceland.
Our Golden Circle Tour, as well as being the best in Iceland, is also one of the most complete and amazing experiences you'll do whilst in Iceland.
We chose this particular Golden Circle tour, here at Wake Up Reykjavik, as we believe it is the best quality tour, highest rating & available at the best price possible.
Geysir (one of 3 Golden Circle attractions) erupts boiling water into the air every couple of minutes.
If you fancy doing the Golden Circle Tour, you may also want to consider doing it with a stop-over in the Secret Lagoon!
We also offer another bestseller tour, that not only visits the highlights of Golden Circle but also the incredible Secret Lagoon natural hot spring.
We recommend this tour to all of you who want to witness the beauty of the Golden Circle and end with a relaxing swim in a beautiful, natural hot spring in the middle of nowhere.
GOLDEN CIRCLE FAQ
Hopefully I've helped out in answering any questions you might have had on the Golden Circle above. But here below you'll find a few more frequently asked questions on the Golden Circle answered :)
Let's get started!
Can you drive the Golden Circle in one day?
Depending on how you go, how long you stop and how many stops you do, the Golden Circle takes different amounts of time. However, one thing is for sure, you can do it all in one day!
How long does it take to drive the Golden Circle?
Exploring the golden circle is definitely a full day of fun. On average, it'll take between 8-9 hours, depending on how many stops you make.
In hand picking the perfect tours for you, we took into consideration your time as well as assuring that you get the most out of your tour!
Can you drive the Golden Circle during winter?
Yes, you definitely can. The Golden Circle is available and accessible all year round. However, Iceland will have big snow storms a few days a year, in which case some roads might close resulting in access to the golden circle being limited. It's possible to view road conditions and weather forecast right here.
The roads can get icy during winter time and day lights will be limited from November-February. So for unexperienced drivers in the snow, I would always recommend doing a tour to have an experienced driver take you.
THE GOLDEN CIRCLE MAP!
If you are self-driving the Golden Circle, here is a little map with the three main attractions so that you can check where you are going!
- Thingvellir National Park
- Geysir & Strokkur
We wouldn't want you to get lost!
WHERE TO EAT ON THE GOLDEN CIRCLE?
So you're going on the Golden Circle, you're having a fantastic time, you're seeing amazing things... but you're likely going to get hungry, so here are a few places that you can go to make your wilderness adventure a foodie adventure as well!
Friðheimar just has to be on this list. Located just a bit further down to Faxi Waterfalls, this restaurant is actually a tomato farm!
Yes! you will be able to enjoy some delicious meals made with homegrown ingredients, guaranteed to give you an amazing culinary experience! Perfect for all of you foodies out there!
In addition to all this, you'll be able to visit the farm, buy local products and maybe even witness a horse show! Not to mention, it's really close to the Secret Lagoon...
Go to their website: https://fridheimar.is/en
Located in the Geothermal town of Hveragerði on the Golden Circle, this restaurant probably has one of the most unusual and unique cooking methods in the world!
Incredibly, Varma prides and specialises itself in cooking food in natural hot springs!
You have to see it (and taste it!) to believe it, but it's true! Their lamb and duck take approximately 18 hours to cook and taste AMAZING.
Go to their Website: https://www.facebook.com/VeitingahusidVarma/
Efstidalur Farm and Shop
This great farm restaurant is a perfect stop for a few reasons.
First of all, they pride themselves in using only locally and home-grown ingredients for their delicious meals but they also serve their own Homemade Ice Cream!
Whether you're not very hungry, or you have space for dessert, their Ice Cream is perfect. Made from their own dairy, they offer a wide range of different flavours which we are sure will please all of you
Go to their Website: https://efstidalur.is/
And there you have it.
The ultimate Golden Circle guide!
Now you know what it is, what places you'll get to visit when to do the golden circle, what the best tours are, what to eat, and how to do the golden circle yourself!
So now it's up to you!
Either you can book a tour with us or rent your own car!
But either way, the Golden Circle is the one thing you can't miss when in Iceland so make sure to make the most of it and enjoy the experience to the fullest!
Do let me know in the comments what your best experience was on the Golden Circle!