Iceland: The Golden Circle

If you’re only in town for a few short days, the Golden Circle is the route everyone does to get a quick snippet of the sights in Iceland.  It’s the perfect day trip.  If you plan to drive the southern coast of Iceland too, I highly recommend doing the Golden Circle first. The southern coast is so breathtaking that the Golden Circle will pale in comparison. It’s not that it’s not beautiful. It’s just the scope of the landmarks are hugely different.  The sights on the Golden Circle are also very touristy, so unless you’re going at very odd hours, you’ll be bumping into a lot of people.

You can do this drive yourself or book a tour.  We’ve sworn off tours for a while after this incident in Barcelona, but it overall works out better for us so that we can keep at our own pace and see exactly what we want to see.  We left for the road around 2pm (jet lag?) and got back to our apartment by around 10pm.  Granted, a big chunk of that time went to a restaurant we stopped at which we were at for about 2 hours.  The restaurant Fridheimar was an amazing experience though being in a large greenhouse.  More food adventures to be shared on a separate post!

We weren’t quite sure how Dominic would handle the long road trip, but he seriously rocked it to the point where it prepped him for what to expect the next day when we drove the southern coast (a significantly longer drive). That’s also a good reason to do this drive first – to ease yourself into things and get a taste of what the country has to offer on the road.

Inside the restaurant Fridheimar where Dominic met bumblebees.  See more here.

The walk to the Gullfoss Waterfall – the weather was the most intense for us here!

Seeing the Strokkur Geyser (several smaller ones here too)

You’ll notice everyone stands around with their cameras up waiting for the geyser to blow.

Puddling jumping!

Beautiful wildflowers everywhere.

Silfra is the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  It was raining and closed by the time we went, but it is an amazing sight as you can see down into the water.  It’s some of the clearest water in the world.

This is where people go down to snorkel/dive – you have to pay a company though!  You can see how clear and blue it is.  It’s also fresh water – so fresh that apparently animals can’t live in it.

Another perspective of how clear it is.  The space moves centimeters apart every year.  Amazing, right?


  • The highlights on the Golden Circle are Gullfoss Waterfall, Strokkur Geyser, and Silfra in Thingvellir National Park
  • It’s a very popular tourist route, so you won’t feel very isolated if you do the drive alone.
  • Be prepared for some very volatile weather.  The weather in Iceland can vary every 10 minutes of driving going from sun, to fog, to rain, to wind.

Also, check out my post on The Blue Lagoon, The Southern Coast, Reykjavik, or head straight to the travel guide.

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