Iceland’s Golden Circle route is one of the country’s most popular day tours. Starting in Reykjavík, you’ll travel about 250 km (155 mi) around South Iceland. Along the way, you’ll check out the 3 best places to stop on the Golden Circle: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall.
Head for Þingvellir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was home to the Alþingi, Iceland's Viking-era parliament. From the 10th century, Þingvellir was used as a political gathering place for Icelanders.
During your visit, you’ll also be wowed by geology in action. The park sits on a rift valley created by the drifting apart of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. At Almannagjá gorge, you can even follow a trail through the valley.
Or you could go to Silfra fissure, a section of the canyon that’s filled with natural spring water. The crystal-clear visibility has made it a renowned spot for scuba divers. Why not join a guided snorkeling excursion for a thrilling experience?
Further along the Golden Circle, in Haukadalur valley, you’ll find the great Geysir geothermal area. Although Geysir itself is now dormant, you’ll find the active Strokkur geyser right next to it.
Strokkur usually erupts with a boiling plume of water and steam, around every 10 minutes. So you won’t need to wait long to see this spectacular sight for yourself.
Furthest from Reykjavík is Gullfoss waterfall, which makes up the trio of top attractions on the route. Gullfoss – meaning ‘Golden Waterfall’ – is actually what the Golden Circle was named after.
If you’re lucky with the weather and it’s a sunny day, the golden hue of the water makes it clear how the waterfall got its name. You might even spot rainbows in the spray of the falls. But with its two-tier drop into a gorge that’s 70 m (230 ft) deep, Gullfoss is stunning no matter the weather.
One of the best ways to explore the Golden Circle is by renting a car. This will give you the freedom to spend as long as you like at each attraction. You’ll also be able to make extra stops along the way.
If you’d prefer not to drive, you could join a guided excursion from the capital. This lets you sit back, relax, and take in the views. Plus, you’ll learn about the places you visit from your local guide as you go.