Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle

The Golden Circle Iceland

The Golden Circle, located in Southwest Iceland, is arguably the most popular attraction in the country, and it’s really easy to understand why.  Located not far from the city of Reykjavik, it’s an easily accessible 140 miles of stunning, natural beauty. I believe it’s one of those experiences that everyone should see if the opportunity arises.  It’s absolutely breathtaking.

The Golden Circle Iceland

We visited the Golden Circle during a holiday in Reykjavík in the month of October and to my mind, it was the perfect time to see it.  Although the weather was quite chill and there was a snap to the air, it was a visual riot of vivid autumnal colors- golds, rusts and reds galore.

How To See The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle Iceland

There are several ways to experience the Golden Circle, such as bus tours or hiring a car and driving it yourself.  The roads are fully paved and the route is easy to navigate.  It can be completed in 3.5 to 4 hours but if you can linger longer, you won’t regret it.

If you’re not up for a bus tour or driving the route yourself, I would highly suggest hiring a driver to take you around for the day, as we did.  It was so nice not being rushed and we were able to swan about at our leisure and spend as much time as we wanted at each site along the way.  And there’s always something a little luxurious about being chauffeured, yes?

Highlights of The Golden Circle

Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park

The Golden Circle Iceland

Thingvellir has a long and rich history going back to the year 930.

The Golden Circle Iceland

And it’s the only place on planet earth where tectonic plates can actually be seen above the ground.

The Golden Circle Iceland

The large cracks are actually the separated North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

The Golden Circle Iceland

Pinvallakirkja Church is one of the first churches built in Iceland.  The original church was built in 1015 but it collapsed in 1118.  The church on site these days was built in 1859 and it houses three bells:  one from 1118, one from 1698 and the last from 1944 when the Republic of Iceland was formed.

The Golden Circle Iceland

Between Thingvellir’s historical significance and its amazing landscape, it is an area that’s considered very special to both Icelanders and visitors alike. The park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

Stokkur Geyser

The Golden Circle Iceland

Located near the Hvítá River in the Haukadalur Valley, Stokkur is one of the most famous geysers in Iceland.  It erupts often…every 6 to 10 minutes, to be exact, so a sighting is guaranteed!

The Golden Circle Iceland

It truly was awe-inspiring to watch Stokkur erupt.

The Golden Circle Iceland

Seeing the steam rising from the ground was really neat.  It was almost like special effects in a movie as it just seem to come out of nowhere.

The Golden Circle Iceland

There was even a tiny geyser to see!

Gulfoss (Golden) Waterfall

The Golden Circle Iceland

Gulfoss Waterfall is located on the Hvítá river and is fed by Iceland’s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. The water falls on two levels and ends up in a canyon at the bottom.

The Golden Circle Iceland

Kerid Crater Lake

The Golden Circle Iceland

Located in in the Grímsnes area, the lake was formed by a volcano that erupted and emptied itself of its magma. Once the magma was gone, the volcano collapsed into itself. The lake is formed of red rock and is about 55 feet deep.  Its a short walk to reach the bottom.

Other Areas Of Interest Along The Golden Circle

Not far from the Golden Circle there are various restaurants to dine at and we had a really nice meal at Friðheimar, a restaurant located in a green house that grows tomatoes. The menu is actually tomato themed but in the best of ways.  The soup I had was delicious and a great way to warm up after spending so much time outdoors.  There was even a shop to pick up tomato-based condiments and the like. I purchased a curry sauce that was really nice.

And if you’re like us, it’s never too cold for ice cream.  Ever.  Efstidalur is a farm with an ice cream shop that serves up delicious, home-made, organic ice cream.

We also visited Secret Lagoon, a geothermal spa.  It’s the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. And it’s much less touristy than Blue Lagoon, too.  It is quiet, secluded and low key.

The Golden Circle Iceland

I hope you enjoyed reading about all of what Iceland’s Golden Circle has to offer.  Is Iceland on your list of must-visit places?  Let me know in box below.

Thanks for reading!  Cheers!

3 thoughts on “Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle

  1. If Iceland was not on my wish list of places to see, it certainly is now. It’s not a place that immediately comes to mind when planning a vacation but I can see that anyone who does go there will not be disappointed. Thank you for sharing your photo’s and thoughts on this beautiful city.

  2. Wow! This looks like a truly amazing adventure! We have never thought of traveling to Iceland, but since we are trying to make a list for the next couple of years, I will put Iceland down as a possibility. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

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