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.
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.
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.
Stunning geological formations are found throughout the park, and yes, trees do exist in Iceland!
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!
We saw a different fissure (from above)- Nikulásargjá (better known as Peningagjá “coin fissure”), as it is littered with coins at the bottom.
Þingvellir Church is another scenic and historical attraction within the park.
As you continue through the park and along the popular Golden Circle route, you will again pass Þingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake.
We also passed a little hut (not clear of its purpose, but it was cute, so we stopped to take a photo!)
Icelandic horses are practically everywhere you look in Iceland, and along the Golden Circle route, there is certainly no shortage!
These curious creatures are the most friendly of animals and will approach passer-bys in hopes of interaction and possible treats!
I couldn’t get over how thick their coats were, but understandably so in the coldest of winter months when we visited!
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.
Geysir (pictured below) has been inactive since 1916.
Strokkur, on the other hand, erupts once every 5-10 minutes.
This troll, near the valley of Haukadalur, watches over the land!
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).
The final (main) stop along the Golden Circle route is Gulfoss (“Golden Falls”), located less than 10 minutes from Geysir.
The day we visited was extremely windy, making it very challenging to capture a good image, even with the use of a tripod.
We made one last stop, at Kerið volcanic crater lake, before heading back to Reykjavik.
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.
To see this day in action, check out a quick video of our adventure below!