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About Golden Circle Tours

The Golden Circle tour usually consists of three main stops - Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.

GOLDEN CIRCLE MAP

map of golden circle activities

Here is a map of all the main attractions around the Golden Circle Route. Check out this comprehensive blog post on Golden Circle to find out more. Below we’ll tell you more about each of these places.

Thingvellir National Park

Walking Path in Thingvellir National Park Iceland

Þingvellir often spelled Thingvellir, is one of the most prominent places in Iceland. It is not only a geological wonder but also a place where one of the earliest democratic parliaments in the world was founded during the Viking Age in 930 CE. People have been gathering here for hundreds of years to settle arguments. 

Thingvellir is located in a unique place between the drifting Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. In Sifra, you can even go on guided tours snorkeling or diving in between the continental plates.

Geysir Geothermal Area

The Great Geysir and Strokkur | Haukadalur, Iceland.

 

The Great Geysir was the one to put Iceland on the map. When travelers first started visiting Iceland, they would always come to see it. The Geyser in Iceland also gave the name to all the other geysers worldwide. The word "geysir" comes from the Nordic verb "að geysa," which means "to gush." The name "Geysir" is taken from the Nordic verb "að geysa," which means "to gush." This name was very fitting when Geysir was at its most active and spouted water 170 meters (557.7 ft)!

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall on Summer in Iceland

Gullfoss, also named "The Golden Falls," is usually the last stop on the Golden Circle tour. This mesmerizing two-stage, 32-meter (104.9 feet) high waterfall originates at Langjökull glacier, the second-largest glacier in Iceland. You can view Gullfoss from a viewpoint above or by walking down to the platform on the first drop. We recommend seeing it from different angles as it all serves incredible vistas!

Strokkur

Geysir Geyser Eruption in Iceland

Strokkur, Geysir's "little brother," is the most active geyser in the Haukadalur Valley. It erupts every 4 to 10 minutes! The boiling water jumps 15-20 meters (49.2 to 65.6 ft) into the sky, causing the crowd to awe. It also happens extremely fast, so make sure always to have your camera ready!

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FAQs about Golden Circle Tours

How long does it take to drive the Golden Circle in Iceland?

Driving the Golden Circle from Reykjavík and back, without stops, takes 3 hours and 20 minutes. But we don’t recommend going that quickly! Each stop deserves at least 20-30 minutes of exploration. At Thingvellir, you’ll need even more time to walk through the park and learn about its rich history. 

The Golden Circle is usually a half-day tour. If you add food stops and other attractions, you will have a full day. To make the most of your Golden Circle tour, add bonus adventures, like snorkeling in Silfra Fissure or relaxing in the Secret Lagoon.

Can you drive the Golden Circle in winter?

The Golden Circle is a great day trip all year round!  Winter is a magical time to drive the route. Still, it’s important to dress warmly, wear proper hiking shoes (you can also purchase ice grips for your shoes at any gas station) and have experience driving in snow and ice. Check road conditions online here and make sure you have good winter tires.

If you’d rather not drive in winter, join a guided Golden Circle tour that brings you directly to the sights. 

What do you see on the Golden Circle tour?

Iceland’s most famous destinations lie on the Golden Circle. The three most popular stops are Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss Waterfall. However, you can also add many other stops along the way, such as Kerid Crater, Laugarvatn Lake, Hellisheiðarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant and historic Skálholt. How much you want to see on the Golden Circle is up to you! 

Where do you stop on the Golden Circle?

The three most popular stops on the Golden Circle are Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss Waterfall. You can also stop at restaurants and cafes near these notable attractions and add-on stops at Kerid Crater, Laugarvatn Lake, Hellisheiðarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant and historic Skálholt. 

Is the Blue Lagoon in the Golden Circle?

The Blue Lagoon is slightly west of the Golden Circle. However, all of these destinations are located close together in Southwest Iceland. Many Golden Circle tours also stop at the Blue Lagoon.

Is the Golden Circle free?

No fee is required to drive on the Golden Circle route. All sites on the Golden Circle are free to visit with the exception of Kerid Crater.

Why is the Golden Circle called the Golden Circle?

The name Golden Circle comes from one of the most popular stops on the route: Gullfoss Waterfall, or “the golden falls.” This title perfectly describes the beauty and magic of this special part of Iceland.