08 17 2015.

iceland: the golden circle

For our first full day in Iceland, we decided to tour The Golden Circle. For those unfamiliar, The Golden Circle is a 300-kilometer loop around South Iceland that hits a few scenic locations – all most definitely worth seeing!

You can either choose to do the loop on your own or you can go by bus. The bus tends to take a bit longer, depending on how long you decide to stay at each location. We drove it, spent more time at each spot and took hundreds of photos – extending our Golden Circle day by a few hours.

We left from Reykjavík and headed in a clockwise direction, hitting Þingvellir National Park first. From the parking lot, we headed directly to Öxarárfoss – a beautiful waterfall that’s pretty hidden from all roads. Aside from the 20-30 other people also enjoying the falls from a rather small wooden platform, the view was beautiful.

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It was also an absolutely gorgeous day. Clocking it at around 16 degrees C/~60 degrees F – we were quite warm and content with just windbreakers, since the wind had a tendency to pick up, especially over flat areas.

From the falls, we decided to walk up to the visitor center, a good 30 minute walk away. The gift shop offered coffee, some small snacks and (what we would come to find out) typical Iceland souvenirs.

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You could see for miles in every direction from there.

The visitor center also had a public restroom nearby that cost 200 Krona to go in (and you could pay by credit card!) and offered some stunning views of the landscape from the handwashing area. I can’t say I’ve ever been able to gaze at a beautiful national park while washing my hands before!

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From there we drove another 50 minutes or so (60 kilometers) to our next location: Geysir. Technically, Geysir is no longer as active as it used to be and only erupts every few years. Its neighbor Strokkur, however, is much more active and erupts every 5-6 minutes. That was exciting to see – as I’ve never seen a geyser erupt before, and we saw it erupt 5-6 times while we were there!

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Then we were on to the next sight! Gullfoss is a stunning staircase waterfall that seems like it just disappears into a gap the Earth. It’s surprisingly quiet, too, for being so large. There was zero evidence of there even being a waterfall nearby while we were in the parking lot.

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We actually stayed there for a while. There just seemed to be so much to look at – always a new angle to view it from.

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Our final stop of the day is an optional add-on location that we decided to explore on our way back. Kerið is a volcanic crater that’s filled with a pretty sizable lake at the bottom. Apparently the acoustics in there are amazing. Icelanders like to use the space for music festivals. The audience will sit around the edge of the water – as it acts as a natural stadium – while the musical act will play from a raft in the center.

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Overall, I think we ended up spending almost 10 hours driving around the circle at our own pace and taking plenty (okay, way too many!) photos at each location. Hey – live it up while you’re there! The stops are truly spectacular and pretty unique!


1 Comment

  1. I visited Iceland a couple years ago and loved it. If you’re looking for other wonderful things to see and do (honestly, Iceland has too many cool things), you should check out the blog Unlocking Kiki (http://unlockingkiki.com/), an American expat living in Reykjavik. She has tons of suggestions for places that are off the beaten path.

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