The Golden Circle
The most celebrated of all Iceland’s adventures, the Golden Circle offers three significant sights, all easily reached from a Reykjavík base on a day trip by road at any time of the year.
The marvels of continental drift can be seen at Þingvellir National Park, along with a look at Iceland’s ancient parliament, which was set here for nearly a thousand years.
Beyond this stunning split in the Earth’s tectonic plates, where you can stand on two continents at the same time, two more geological spectacles can be found a little further on.
The boundless majesty of nature is always on show at gushing Geysir and the golden Gullfoss waterfall, which lie just a few miles from each other.
The Golden Circle is quickly reached from Reykjavík, by following Route 36 to Þingvellir.
Throughout the centuries, Þingvellir has been the spiritual home of the Icelandic nation, the location for national festivals and law-making sessions, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
An accessible viewing platform offers astounding views across the split in the Earth’s crust, with the widening gap between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates to grasp your attention.
The next stop on the Golden Circle is Geysir, the place that gave its name to all erupting hot springs. Geysir itself is mostly dormant now, but nearby Strokkur is very active, sending fountains of superheated water high into the sky every six or seven minutes, while steam and hot pots bubble and splutter all around.
The third section of the Golden Circle is gorgeous Gullfoss, the “Golden Falls”.
A double drop waterfall with millions of gallons of water crashing more than 30 meters down into a narrow canyon, sending spray into the air and setting off countless rainbows on sunny days and equally staggering when partly frozen in the winter months, Gullfoss is a treat for all the senses.
Heading south away from Gullfoss towards Selfoss, the vast Kerið volcanic crater is also worthy of a visit, with its dramatic red hues.
From here, the return to Reykjavík should take no more than an hour.