The most popular route in Iceland is definitely The Golden Circle. This Icelandic route offers 3 spectacular natural attractions for tourists. The Golden Circle of Iceland consists of Gullfoss – One of the most popular waterfalls in the world, Geysir – An active Hot Spring Area & Þingvellir (pronounced as Thingvellir) National Park – Historic, beautiful & every Icelander’s favourite.
There are numerous tour operators in Iceland offering special tours for The Golden Circle. If you are a solo traveler & looking to save money, you can hop on one of these tours & do the entire Golden Circle in about EUR 60 – 80.
If you are a group of at least 2 or more people, you should ideally rent a car for 1 day & explore The Golden Circle on your own. Not only the drive is fantastic (paved roads all the way) but it is also cheaper & more fun. This way, you can spend as much time as you want at any particular place. Get a car from Blue Car Rental because they have the widest variety of cars at best prices!
Usually, all the Golden Circle tours start from Reykjavik – The capital of Iceland. First stop usually is..
Gullfoss – The Golden Circle Stop #1
Gullfoss is the most famous waterfall of Iceland. And it has the right to be the king as well. The first stop of the Golden Circle is about 120 km away from Reykjavik city. It will take you around 1.5 hours to reach Gullfoss. The road till the parking is completely paved. You can park your vehicle & then roam around in the area.
There are 2 levels from which you can admire the waterfall. You should go on both levels obviously. Start with the first level – Take the little hiking trail & go till the edge of Gullfoss. This is definitely one of the most thrilling moments of the trip.
Climb the stairs, read more on the history of Gullfoss & see the waterfall from top. From both levels, the serenity of the place is simply unmatched. You can easily spend about 2 hours at Gullfoss.
Geysir – The Golden Circle Stop #2
The second stop in the Golden Circle tour is Geysir. It is only about 10 km away from Gullfoss. What is Geysir you ask? Well, it is a hot spring area where you can spot boiling mud pits, exploding hot spring & many other natural wonders in the area.
The original Geysir is not active right now but Strokkur is very active. Every 5-7 minutes, it shoots water out as high as 80-100 ft. It is a remarkable experience & a must visit attraction in Iceland. You can simply walk around the area (which is well marked) & see mud pits etc.
Like a fool, I waited for Geysir to explode without reading the information. After waiting for about 30 minutes, I lost patience & started walking towards the car. That’s when I read about Geysir. It is inactive. It will only explode when there’s a high level of earthquake. So in case, you see Geysir shooting out water, RUN!
Þingvellir National Park – The Golden Circle Stop #3
How to pronounce Þingvellir? It is pronounced as Thingvellir. This is a beautiful national park located about 50 km away from Geysir. It will take you around 40 mins to reach Þingvellir National Park.
You can stop at this cafe & Þingvellir National Park’s information centre located just 5 mins away from its parking. Pay the parking fee to the staff, get an idea of the trail & park your car in the parking.
The trail is very simple, literally anyone can do it. You can see the waterfall, the oldest parliament in the world, the history of the place, a beautiful church, fascinating landscapes & a lot many things. You can easily spend about 3 hours at Þingvellir National Park.
Also, if you want to snorkel/scuba dive in the clearest water in the world, then head to Dive.is. They have amazing diving experiences. I snorkelled & it was the best thing ever!
After Þingvellir National Park, you can head to Reykjavik city. About 37 km away from the park, Reykjavik can be reached in 35 minutes. Overall, you can complete the Golden Circle comfortably in 8 hours.
Go, enjoy the Golden Circle on your own.
Pictures: Parichay Mehta
Wondering what to explore next in Iceland? Try the South Iceland! Read all about its attractions here.
Want to explore something amazing in Iceland? Read about a day trip to Reykjanes Peninsula here.