Iceland · Travel

Iceland’s Golden Circle: A Great Day Trip

Touring Iceland’s Golden Circle was on top of the list of things to see and do on our first full day of our Iceland road trip.

After having our first Icelandic breakfast at the farm in Selfoss where we had stayed for the night, we received personal recommendations from our host on attractions around the area that are worthy of a visit. And then off to the Golden Circle we went!

Like most of the days we spent in Iceland, it was wet and windy. It was also a little chilly, but we’re Canadian. Anything above zero degree is not worth complaining about. ;-) I think the average temperature during our stay was around 6° Celsius.

After stopping only once to take a look at the view from a lookout area, we arrived at Kerið crater lake/caldera. It is interestingly composed of red volcanic rock (instead of black).

One side of the caldera was a little less steep than the rest and we saw a bench down there so we decided to walk down to the edge of the water to check out the view. (Actually, I just wanted to sit on a bench I saw down there. Heh.)

It was free to visit in 2013 but now you have to pay an entry fee of 400 ISK per person.


Our next destination was Thingvellir National Park. It is a site of natural and historical significance. It’s a place where the North American tectonic plate meets the European plate and also the place where the Icelandic parliament began in 930.

It was free to park and visit in 2013. Now the park is still free to visit but there is a parking fee starting at 500 ISK for a sedan.

This is the Drowning Pool in Thingvellir. Here, they used to drown women who committed such crimes as getting pregnant out of wedlock, and behead criminals in general in the olden days.


This is the beautiful Thingvellir church and farmhouse on the other side of the park. We could’ve walked there but it was rainy and we got lazy so we drove to the parking lot on the other side. We still ended up having to walk a fair distance, so our laziness didn’t really pay off. It was still a nice walk, though.


On our way out of Thingvellir, we stopped at a small restaurant at the visitor centre where we had a light lunch and bought some postcards. I had a soup. Not sure what kind of soup (corn, maybe) but I was starving and it tasted good so I didn’t really care what it was. We also stopped to take a picture of this cute little hut.


Our next stop was Geysir. It’s an interesting area with many hot springs and a couple of geysers, only one of which still erupts regularly. The most active one is called Strokkur. We saw it erupted at least 3 times while we were there.


The Geysir geyser (the English word “geyser” is actually originated from the Icelandic word “geyser”) has been dormant for decades but still looks rather intimidating.


Once we’d seen enough of Geysir, we took a short drive to the beautiful Gullfoss, which is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It is quite impressive and powerful.


We stopped at a couple of other places after: Faxi, a smallish waterfall, and Skálholt</a, a church of historical significance.

Then we just drove until we found a place to have dinner in Reykholt (FYI, there are several places called Reykholt in Iceland) where I had my very first bowl of lobster soup. I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of it but it was delicious! I didn’t really take too many food photos during this trip. I’ll try to do better next time.

Our tour for the day ended in Hella, where we stayed for the night. Our destination the next day was the Westman Islands, but that belongs to another post that I still have yet to write. :-)

If you need more inspiration for an Iceland road trip that’s more than just the Golden Circle, check out our full itinerary. We went for two weeks but the itinerary can be modified to fit a 10-day trip.

Alternatively, you could sign up for “>a bus tour of the Golden Circle from Reykjavik for relatively cheap. It’s a good option for those who are only in Iceland for a stopover in Reykjavik for a day or two.

I would highly recommend Iceland as your next destination if you haven’t been. It’s simply amazing!

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