The Golden Circle is one of the beautiful routes in the south of Iceland. The beauty of the Golden circle is highlighted with Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Field, and Gullfoss Waterfall. It is the most beloved route for tourists and must visit when you travel Iceland.
What is the Golden Circle?
The Golden Circle is the 300-kilometer router towards the south of Iceland. It is also known as “The Golden Triangle,” because it has three main magnificent features a geyser, a stunning waterfall, and a Þingvellir or Thingvellir national park.
The whole Golden circle Iceland is hallmarked by wonderful and distinctive geological features and precious landscapes that are hard to be found anywhere else throughout the world.
The best thing about the Golden Circle is that all these landmarks are situated very close to each other and one can visit all of them in one day.
A very short description of Golden Circle is that it is the usual route around three mesmerizing natural beauties in Iceland i.e. Thingvellir national park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir that erupts. Most people drive in a circle around these attractions that is approximately 190 miles.
If it is your first visit to Iceland, you are definitely going to the golden circle Iceland tour. If it is not your first tour to Iceland you may want to drive by yourself around the golden circle and discover other landscapes and attractions along the way that the buses tour most of the time whizz by.
Þingvellir or Thingvellir National Park
The first main stop along the way to Golden circle route is the Þingvellir or Thingvellir, National Park. It is a magnificent and spectacular landscape. The national park has historical and geological significance.
The major attraction about this park is that it lies on the point were Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. It is called a rift valley because the plate drift apart and it seems like the earth is cracking from the center.
You may be surprised to know that you can walk between the giant cracks in the earth and it is surely going to be an unforgettable experience. You can stand on both continents at the same time.
The complete visit will require 45 mins to 2 hours. The site is open 24 hours and full day parking will cost 750 Icelandic krona or 7 USD.
Geysir Geothermal Field
After Thingvellir National Park, the next stop is Geysir Geothermal Field. This is characterized by historic and well known Geysir and many other hot and bubbling pools. It is the most famous attraction along the Golden Circle Iceland route and hence the most crowded.
The original old geyser is not active nowadays but the new scenic Stokkur is the main thing to see here. The geyser erupts after every 10 minutes in the air at the height of 50 feet. Tourists always wait for this scene and gather around the area to witness the eruption and capture perfect photos.
The time you spend in the geothermal field depends on the number of times you want to see this phenomenon. It can be a quick 20 minutes stop before to go ahead to your next destination.
You can visit the whole Geysir area in 20 minutes to 1 hour. The time varies depending on how many times you are willing to watch geyser sets off and climbing up the mountains to get an aerial view of the whole area.
The whole Geysir Geothermal Field is free of cost and it is open 24 hours so you can visit it at any time without any time restriction.
The Gullfoss Waterfall is the next spot after Geysir and is just 10 mins away from it. It is the part of the Ölfusá River. There are two ways to see the waterfall. Each way has its own parking area. It means you can see it from any one side if you don’t have enough time but we advise to see it from both sides.
When visiting the waterfall it is recommended that you must wear warm clothes or wear a raincoat because the water droplets and mist with wind may sprayed over you when the waterfall splash in front of you.
You can also see the rainbow if you are lucky enough to visit the waterfall with the shining sun. You can capture an outstanding photo of this natural scene.
It will take 1 hour in all to visit whole Gullfoss waterfall and it is free of cost. You can visit it at any time of the day as it is open 24 hours.
In addition to these main attractions along the way to Golden circle route, there are many other landscapes and natural fascinations you can enjoy, some of them are Gjabakkahellir Cave, Kerid crater lake, Thingvallakirkja Church, Faxi waterfall, Silfra fissure, Secret Lagoon, Friðheimar Greenhouses, Hvítá River Base and many more.
All of these are extra stops which you can witness with more details when self-driving the whole route.
How to tour Golden Circle Iceland?
Mainly there are two ways to sightsee the Golden Circle one is self-drive and other is guided tour. The guided tour is the best option for you if you are visiting Iceland for the first time or if you are visiting alone. You can also choose half or full day guided tour if you are short on time.
There are many tour guide companies available at the Reykjavik. In guided tours, you will have limited time to stop at each spot as scheduled by the tour guide but you will have enough time to see the main three beauties of Golden circle without much efforts of planning and driving to and from the whole golden Circle route.
Alternatively, if you have no restriction of time or you are traveling with a small group of friends or family, the best option is renting a car and drive day long tour by yourself. This way of Golden circle Iceland tour is quite affordable.
To get there from Reykjavik, there are two routes, one is a short route and the other is long one. If you take the short route to get there which is through highway 1 and highway 36 where you will be able to see only main sites. The longer route is more scenic with a range of beautiful mountains and routes from Highway 1 and Highway 435.
There is an overabundance of car rental services and companies in Iceland and there is a major difference in prices among them. You need to be careful while renting a car. It is recommended to choose a reputable car rental agency to make sure that you are renting a car good in condition for a safe tour.
If you are going for more than one day, make sure that the car agency has the good service and service stations throughout the country so that you can be saved from unnecessary inconvenience.
The time required for Golden circle Iceland tour
The time required for the Golden circle tour Iceland totally depends on you. You can move through the whole route in just 4-5 hours if you are only going to see the highlights version. If you stop at various points along the circle, make snaps and do a detailed visit, it may take 7-10+ hours.
It also depends on your way of transportation, like if you drive the route by yourself, you may stop at many spots and visit all the landscapes in addition to three main beauties of Golden Circle and make snaps, it will require more time as compared to going on the bus with a guided tour.
Weather in Iceland
You can’t forecast the weather in Iceland as it is highly unpredictable. You can face any weather condition at any time along the way. You may experience a snowy white out and immediately clear blue skies on the same route in just an hour of drive.
You can also experience all four seasons in a single day in a month of October. So, there is a need to check the weather and conditions of roads before you go for Golden Circle tour Iceland.
Whenever you visit Iceland, keep the Golden circle tour on your bucket list. No matter you take a self-drive or a guided tour, the Golden circle tour Iceland will definitely be a full day of pleasure and enjoyment during your whole visit to Iceland.