The Golden Circle is one of the most popular tourist routes in southern Iceland, covering about 300 kilometres (190 mi) looping from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back.
There are three main stops within the area which are include Þingvellir National Park (the location , the Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.
ÞINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK
Þingvellir (which literally means “Parliament Plains”) is a centre of Icelandic culture. It is a site where the first government structure came into place in Iceland with the Alþingi or general assembly came together shortly before 930AD.
The location, which was easy to access from all regions of the country by old overland routes is also at the junction of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The plates are drifting apart where west of Almannagja (Everyman’s Gorge) the land is moving westawards, while to the east of Hrafnagja (Raven Gorge) it is moving eastwards, at a rate of about 3 mm annually. Over 10,000 years this divergence has amounted to 70m and in the same period the valley floor has subsided by 40m. In some places, chasms have filled with water and create beautiful areas where divers can explore.
There are a range of walking routes around Þingvellir that extend from the around the main visitor centre. If you’re keen to get away from the crowds, head to the other information centre in the northern end of the park and walk around the old remains of farming areas such as Skogarkot.
Gullfoss (which means ‘Golden Waterfall’ in Icelandic) is an iconic waterfall in the south of Iceland on Hvítá (White) river.
Designated as a nature reserve and protected since 1979, it is fed by the island’s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. This powerful display of Mother Nature plunges 32m into a 70 m canyon and you can have many upclose views at the many vantage points in the area. You can take a walk from the café/restaurant to the point where the water falls into the canyon or there are also viewing points at higher ground to take in the enormity of this natural wonder. If you’re lucky, you may also see a rainbow!
HAUKADALUR: GEYSIR AND STROKKUR
Haukadalur is the name of a valley in southern Iceland which provides an upclose view of some of Iceland’s iconic geothermal activity. Most notably, it contains the two geysers (periodically spouting hot springs) Geysir and Strokkur.
Geysir was Iceland’s first biggest geyser and has been reported to spurting hot water around 70m in height. In recent years it infrequently produces spurts but can be seen bubbling amongst the sulphur rich region.
Stokkur, located just 50m south of Geysir spurts more frequently, at 30m in height every 8-10 minutes.
You can drive yourself to all these places (if you have two or more people, hiring a car can be an affordable way to travel) or you can choose one of the many bus tours that depart from Reykjavík.
Reykjavík Excursions buses: re.is
Sterna Buses: sternatravel.com
Trex Travel Experiences: trex.is