Golden Circle tour – By Rental Car
I visited Iceland in the winter time, November 2017, when a thick layer of snow covered the country! I would 100% recommend Iceland as a travel destination, there is just so much to see and explore!
The Golden Circle is a circular route that you could start and finish in Reykjavik, this makes it perfect for a day trip.
The circle includes the breathtaking natural points, Pingvellir National Park, The Geysir, The Magnificent Gulfoss Waterfall. and much more!
There are many bus day trips around the golden Circle leaving from Reykjavik, However, I would suggest renting a car if you are able to drive, it is easy to get around and you can stop and start at your pleasure.
Check out Suzy the beast!
As the car travels the route is 300KM and takes around 3.5 hours, It is then up to you how long you stay at the stops on the way. On our trip we left at 8AM to get to the first stop for sunrise at 09:30AM.
We decided to head clockwise around the Golden Circle and below is the route on the map with the stops we chose:
- 1. Reykjavik
- 2. Pingvellir National Park
- 3. Geysir
- 4. Gulfoss Falls
- 5. Secret Lagoon at Fludir
- 6. Kerid Crater
Pingvellir National Park
We arrived at the Almannagja area of Pingvellir National park and parked up the car, paying the 500 Krona parking fee, This is where the visitors centre is located.
Pingvellir is the beautiful site chosen by the Viking Settlers in the 10th century as a site for the worlds oldest parliament. The site has been a National Park since 1930 and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
Interestingly, the Park lies in a rift valley marking the crest of the Mid Atlantic ridge and the boundary between the Western edge of the Eurasian plate and the Eastern edge of the North American plate. These plates are moving apart at around 2 centimetres per year!
As we headed into the rift the snow started falling down and I ended up in a little mini blizzard and covered in snow!
There is a beautiful view-point over the National Park and also the rift, you are able to walk down between the rift and there is a path that you can follow and explore. You will be tempted to spend all your time here! There is so much to explore the biggest natural lake in Iceland is close by, the Oxafoross waterfall and the Silfra Fissure which is the only place in the world you can snorkel/scuba between two tectonic plates!
The Strokkur Geysir
As you approach the are you will see a beautiful big Visitors Centre, here you can park outside and walk across the road to the Geysir.
As you enter the path to the Geysir there is a stand alone donation box to help with the upkeep of the area.
You can smell the sulphur in the air and you can also see the boiling waters of between 80-100 degrees running in small streams.
I will keep it as a surprise but you can tell when you approach the main spectacle as everyone is waiting around eagerly for the 100 ft explosion which happens every couple of minutes!
I would suggest heading into the visitors centre here as there are lots of shops with good souvenirs and gifts, there is also some well-kept toilets!
There is a good choice of food in the restaurant here, from lamb to pizza. If you were looking for a lunch stop I would suggest this place. It is quite pricey as most visitors centres and Iceland in general is but it is worth it.
This sight is not to be missed. The sheer size and volume of this waterfall is breathtaking! The Hvita river cashes over in two stages until it disappears over a cliff into a narrow crevice of 20 meters!
Park up and take a walk around the waterfall, there are many different angles to view the waterfall from. Head round the side or down the slippery steps to where I think the best view is!
I stood for a long while just admiring this natural beauty!
Secret Lagoon at Fludir
The Secret Lagoon was slightly difficult to find as our SatNav took us to a road close by! However, we drove around the area for a few minutes and found a sign leading us down the road.
The Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, made in 1891. Have a look around on the walls at the snack area there are some awesome pictures of people enjoying the pool. The pool is at around 38-40 Celsius all year round, perfect to laze around in!
The pool is open until 8 in winter and 10Pm in Summer check out the website for up to date information here
The Kerid Cater Lake
A stunning crater around 55 m deep, 170 m wide and 270 m across.
The Crater has a 400 Krona entrance fee payable to the person sat at the top in a kiosk, you will receive a little leaflet with details of the crater.
There is a route around the top of the crater and also some steep steps down to the lake. Having visited in the winter season the lake at the bottom was completely frozen over and we were able to walk and run across and experience the crater from its middle.
Iceland is a fantastic place and the Golden Circle is incredible there is so much to see on the route. Make sure you stop for a picture with the many Icelandic horses!spend your time wisely and keep an eye on when sunset is so you can enjoy everything you want in the light!
A few extra potential Stops on the Golden Circle:
Laugarvatn Fontana – A spa and wellbeing centre check it out here
Skálholt Cathedral – A Cathedral run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland check out more here
Hverageroi – Beautiful Geothermal Town, I was driving past here when I saw the Northern Lights!
Hellisheidi Power Plant – Power plant and exhibition exploring the use of Geothermal Energy in Iceland have a look here
Leave me a comment below! Would love to hear your thought on the Golden Circle!
Are you going to the Blue Lagoon? Check out my some top tips and my experience here
Click on any of the pictures or the below to pin and read again later!