Exploring Iceland- The Golden Circle

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The Golden Circle is a popular day trip from Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.
This route covers about 186 miles (300 km), looping from Reykjavik into central Iceland and back.

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 Þingvellir National Park is the first stop. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in some of Iceland’s most fascinating historical and geological sites.
As you drive into the park, you will pass Þingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake.

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One of the most popular stops within the park is Öxarárfoss, a waterfall formed from the Öxará river. When we visited in March, the waterfall was partially frozen over, but was still beautiful nonetheless.

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Stunning geological formations are found throughout the park, and yes, trees do exist in Iceland!

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 Þingvellir is home to the Silfra Fissure, which gives those who are brave enough to jump in the cold water (35°F–39°F/2°C–4°C year-round) the opportunity to snorkel/scuba dive between the North American and Eurasian continents. The crystal clear water provides up to 100m of visibility!

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We saw a different fissure (from above)- Nikulásargjá (better known as Peningagjá “coin fissure”), as it is littered with coins at the bottom.

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 Þingvellir Church is another scenic and historical attraction within the park.

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As you continue through the park and along the popular Golden Circle route, you will again pass Þingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake.

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We also passed a little hut (not clear of its purpose, but it was cute, so we stopped to take a photo!)

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Icelandic horses are practically everywhere you look in Iceland, and along the Golden Circle route, there is certainly no shortage!

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These curious creatures are the most friendly of animals and will approach passer-bys in hopes of interaction and possible treats!

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I couldn’t get over how thick their coats were, but understandably so in the coldest of winter months when we visited!

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The drive from Þingvellir to the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur is about 45 minutes. The valley of Haukadalur contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.

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Geysir (pictured below) has been inactive since 1916.

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Strokkur, on the other hand, erupts once every 5-10 minutes.

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This troll, near the valley of Haukadalur, watches over the land!

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There’s a lovely gift shop near the geothermal valley where you can stock up on touristy souvenirs and/or high quality Icelandic clothing (Geysir).

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The final (main) stop along the Golden Circle route is Gulfoss (“Golden Falls”), located less than 10 minutes from Geysir.

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The day we visited was extremely windy, making it very challenging to capture a good image, even with the use of a tripod.

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We made one last stop, at Kerið volcanic crater lake, before heading back to Reykjavik.

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Kerið, approximately 3,000 years old, usually has standing exquisite aquamarine water at its base, but as with many locations we visited during our winter trip to Iceland, it had frozen over.

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To see this day in action, check out a quick video of our adventure below!

We were able to explore the Golden Circle at our own pace, thanks to local guide and photographer, Jorunn, and Geysir Car Rental.


  1. Breathtaking pictures! Visiting Iceland is definitely on our bucket-list…and seeing these pictures, I feel like booking the next flight to Iceland!

    • Thank you so much! I definitely recommend that you make it your goal to visit Iceland someday. I had no idea we would love it as much as we did. Simply amazing landscape and scenery!

  2. Fantastic pictures and excellent info on what to look out for on the Golden Circle trip. One question… Are the roads to get around the sites you visited for the Golden Circle suitable for a NORMAL car? I assume the major attraction sites are tarmac roads with car parks? I’m visiting at the end of May and thinking of hiring a normal car to do the Golden Circle trip in.

    • Nigel, you should have no problem getting to the sites along the Golden Circle with a NORMAL car. All roads are paved and there is plenty of parking at each stop. Enjoy Iceland! You’ll love it! 🙂

  3. Hello! I am going to Iceland next summer and I am going to rent a car. Do you recommend a local car rental like https://www.reykjavikauto.com or a multinational company like https://www.avis.is? How was your experience with Geysir? Thanks in advance!

    • We’ve now rented from both. We spent a few days in Iceland just last month and rented with Budget. We had nothing but positive experiences with both Geysir, a locally owned company, and Budget, a larger international corporation. That being said, I would consider the cost, coverage, and reviews, and go with whatever seems like the best fit for you! Have a great time! 🙂

  4. Many thanks!!!!

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