THE GOLDEN CIRCLE IN ICELAND – TOUR & GUIDE
Here you’ll find all the information on our Golden Circle Tour + We created a guide for you that includes everything you need to know and what to expect on this spectacular route in Iceland.
Most tourists have heard of the Golden Circle in Iceland, and for some it’s the entire reason to visit our island, but if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.
Our Golden Circle
Personalized Day Tour
We will stop at every location with plenty of time for photos, snacks and simply enjoying the views.
We offer a personalized experience tailored to what you want to see on the Golden Circle Route.
We start our day early at 7.30 by picking you up at your accommodation in Reykjavík area to beat
the traffic and crowds. The length of the tour depends on the agreed upon stops and how we’ve
come to tailor your Golden Circle tour. There are no age limits and upon requests we provide car
seats for your little ones. Our vehicle is a 5 seat 4×4 Hyundai Santa Fe, which includes driver +
group of 4 people.
To make the most of your last day in Iceland we also offer a dropoff at
Keflavík Airport at the end of your Golden Circle Tour (charges apply).
Our Golden Circle Itinerary
This is our usual itinerary that can be personalized and tailored to your group’s preferences.
Personalized Itinerary Example Additional Stops
Personalized tours are subject to agreement in each case.
This list of attractions is only for reference of what we can offer.
Gullfoss waterfall is the largest waterfall in Europe by volume.
It’s possible to see it from a distance up high but also to walk up close for that picture of a lifetime.
THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK
Thingvellir is the biggest national park in Iceland with many historic and geological interests. You will see where the Eurasian plate meets the North American plate (continents meet) and learn about the history that took place in Thingvellir.
We’ll walk around the geothermal area where the world famous geyers, Geysir and Strokkur live. As you might have noticed, all geysers draw their name from Geysir, the first geyser to be documented in Europe. Geysir can sometimes be a bit moody about erupting but his little brother, Strokkur, will definitely put on a show for you.
Kerid crater is believed to be 6500 years old and the remnants of a volcano which stood there long
ago. We’ll be able to walk down to the bottom of the crater where a shallow lake has formed amid the volcanic rock. The view from the brim of the crater is also a sigh to see.
What to bring?
We recommend to dress appropriately for the season and weather. A heads up, the weather can change dramatically in just a few hours, no matter the season.
Contact us today to Personalize your Tour
GOLDEN CIRCLE ICELAND COMPLETE GUIDE
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
We made a complete guide for your visit to the Golden Circle in Iceland.
What is the Golden Circle?
The Golden Circle is a circular route in southern Iceland with spectacular attractions and some of the most famous ones in Iceland. These attractions include Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss the largest volume waterfall in Europe, and Geysir in Haukadalur Geothermal Field.
The route stretches for around 300 km / 186 miles and starts and ends in Reykjavík Capital. The reason for the popularity of the route is the closeness to the city and the convenience of being able to create a scenic day trip of it that starts and ends in Reykjavík, our beautiful and quaint capital of +120K residents that we like to call a city.
We highly recommend the Golden Circle to anyone visiting Iceland.
WHERE IS THE GOLDEN CIRCLE IN ICELAND?
The Golden Circle is located in the south of Iceland about 47 km / 25 miles east of Reykjavik.
WHY IS IT CALLED THE GOLDEN CIRCLE?
The route gets its name from Gullfoss, one of the main waterfalls. Gullfoss translates to ‘Golden Waterfall’. The circle part is very descriptive and refers to the fact that the route is circular. Who came up with the name? We don’t actually know but it’s pretty good marketing if you ask us. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to travel something called the Golden Circle in Iceland?
Why do the Golden Circle in Iceland?
The Golden Circle has spectacular views and attractions.
- You can experience the only place in the world where you can stand between two continental plates, in Þingvellir, a distinctive geological landscape that changes every year and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- You can enjoy the breathtaking views and the power of Gullfoss the largest volume waterfall in Europe.
- You can see the first known geyser documented, Geysir, and the one that the English word is derived from. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 metres (230 ft) in the air, although reports suggest that back in the 19th century, its waters would reach up to 170 metres (560 ft) high.
Just because the route lies close to the city and the drive can be done in a day, don’t underestimate its charm and the power of mother nature you’ll experience on the day.
How long does it take to drive the Golden Circle?
The drive is around 300 km / 186 miles and can theoretically be done in 4 hours. That is without any stops. Which to be honest is just a waste of petrol or electricity.
To make the most of the trip we recommend taking your time and either do the route in half a day or a full day. Anywhere between 7-12 hours will give you enough time to see the 3 main attractions and choose a few unique spots to stop at along the way.
View additional recommendations of what to see and things to do further down the article.
THE GOLDEN CIRCLE IN MILES AND KILOMETERS
The drive is around 300 km / 186 miles with a start and ending in Reykjavík. This does not include attraction detours including Langjökull, Hvítá River Rafting, Þjórsárdalur and the Secret Lagoon.
It’s a fast and easy drive to Iceland’s Golden Circle, just 47 km / 25 miles east of Reykjavik. This is the distance to the closest attraction, Þingvellir National Park. The furthest of the three attractions is the Gullfoss waterfall, 116 km / 72 miles east of Reykjavik.
One of the furthest detour attractions, or things to do, is Hvítá River Rafting which is 156 km / 96 miles from Reykjavík.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE GOLDEN CIRCLE?
The Golden Circle can be visited year round. Most of the attractions here are open year-round and the roads are open and well-maintained in both summer and winter. It’s also one of the most popular day trips from Reykjavik, meaning it can get quite busy.
Most of the tours from Reykjavik depart in the morning between 8am and 10am. Some half-day tours also depart in the afternoon, between midday and 2pm. The majority of all the tours are back in Reykjavik in the early evening. The three most popular stops for tours are of course the highlights, which are Þingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss. Expect these locations to be busy from 10am until 6pm. In winter, due to the reduced hours of daylight, these locations will likely be busy from 10am until around 4pm.
The best option to visit the Golden Circle outside the busy times and to avoid the crowds on, If you are visiting Iceland in summer, you will have almost unlimited hours of daylight at your disposal, so if you toured the highlights before 9am or after 6pm, you are likely to be visiting with fewer people.
If you’re seeking mild weather and longer days, the summer months from June to August are ideal. During this time, you’ll have the luxury of almost endless daylight, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the Golden Circle’s attractions. On the other hand, if you’re captivated by the allure of winter landscapes and the possibility of witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights, visiting the Golden Circle from November to February is recommended. While the days are shorter, the pristine white snow blankets create a magical atmosphere and beautiful photo opportunities. It’s worth noting that some attractions may have reduced operating hours during this season.
Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October) offer a delightful balance between the two extremes. The landscapes come alive with bursts of colorful blooms in spring, while autumn paints the scenery in stunning hues of red, orange, and gold. These seasons also tend to be less crowded compared to summer.
However, we would say that you shouldn’t let the possibility of crowds put you off. The attractions are all fairly large with plenty of space and are all worth seeing even if they are a bit busy when you visit.
Even locals go tour the Golden Circle in summer during busy season because it really is a captivating experience.
DO YOU NEED A 4X4 CAR?
No, the Golden Circle is completely paved and does not require a 4×4 car.
What to see on the Golden Circle in Iceland
Normally when people drive to the Golden Circle they aim to see Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss, Geysir and Kerið. Some of the additional places worth visiting include these listed here.
Discover Þjórsárdalur, a hidden gem just outside the official Golden Circle route, offering a chance to escape the tourist crowds and explore off the beaten track. In the valley you’ll enjoy the natural wonders of this picturesque place, where majestic waterfalls such as Hjálparfoss, Háifoss, Glanni, and Þjófafoss await.
In Þjórsárdalur, you’ll find a tranquil oasis brimming with awe-inspiring sights, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking the unspoiled wonders of Iceland.
Uncover the historical charm of Skálholt, a small village renowned as Iceland’s early town. Steeped in
rich history, it was the residence of the country’s inaugural bishop and school. Don’t miss the opportunity to pause and appreciate its delightful cathedral or venture to the nearby Secret Lagoon. Skálholt beckons with its fascinating past and invites you to immerse yourself in its quaint ambiance and the allure of nearby attractions.
Helgufoss and Þórufoss
Discover the captivating beauty of Iceland’s remarkable waterfalls, conveniently located near the Golden Circle route. While Gulfoss waterfall is a classic highlight, don’t miss the opportunity to
explore other hidden gems in the vicinity. Two standout options include Helgufoss and Þórufoss
(‘Thorufoss’) waterfalls, both named after Icelandic female names – Helga and Þóra. Helgufoss awaits
just off Route 36, en route from Reykjavik to Thingvellir. Meanwhile, Thorufoss, situated along the Laxa i Kjos river, can be reached by following Route 48 after Helgufoss, before reaching the majestic Thingvellir National Park.
Enjoy the beautiful views of these mesmerizing waterfalls in summer or winter.
Things to do on the Golden Circle in Iceland
Apart from the main attractions and things to see on the Golden Circle there are other things to do in the area.
Friðheimar Farm “The Tomato Restaurant”
Friðheimar Farm is a gorgeous place where you can sit down for lunch of special homemade tomato
soup and home-baked bread. The tomatoes are all grown on-site, pollinated by imported Dutch bees
in a greenhouse powered by the earth’s internal heat. Non-drivers can even sample a geothermal
Bloody Mary at the greenhouse bar.
The restaurant is inside one of their greenhouses filled with majestic tomato plants and greenery.
Hvítá River Rafting
Experience the breathtaking beauty of Iceland’s landscapes from a fresh perspective. River rafting
along the Hvítá river offers an exciting and enjoyable way to spend your day.
Located on the same river that creates the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, the rafting Hvítá river rafting
tours boast magnificent views from within canyons and cliffs that sets the stage for an unforgettable adventure. You’ll be mesmerized by the scenery that unfolds before you, offering a unique and
For most River Rafting Tours in Iceland no prior rafting experience is required, making it accessible to all. Most often children as young as 11 years old can join in on the excitement.
The hidden gem known as the Secret Lagoon is everything you desire from a tranquil hot pool
experience, without the overwhelming crowds and the misty, opaque blue waters of other popular
spots like the Blue Lagoon. As Iceland’s oldest hot pool, the Secret Lagoon holds a rich history. After
its construction in 1891, it underwent a temporary closure, only to be revived with renovations and
a change in ownership.
Nestled amidst breathtaking natural beauty, the Secret Lagoon embodies the essence of a secluded
hot pool. Its most alluring feature is undoubtedly the absence of crowds and artificial elements,
allowing you to immerse yourself in pure, unspoiled surroundings. Here, you can unwind in serenity
and revel in the unadulterated natural vibes that permeate the atmosphere.
At the Secret Lagoon, you’ll find all the necessary amenities to enhance your visit. Separate changing
rooms ensure privacy and convenience, adding to the overall comfort of your experience.
If you seek an escape from the mainstream and a chance to indulge in the authentic allure of a
hidden hot pool, the Secret Lagoon eagerly awaits your arrival. Discover this well-kept secret and
embrace the harmonious blend of tranquility and natural splendor it offers.
Snowmobiling on Langjökull
For an unforgettable adventure, the perfect choice is to combine a Golden Circle tour with exhilarating snowmobiling on the Langjokull glacier, or even include a visit to a breathtaking ice cave.
As you ascend the glacier, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views on clear days, while the journey
it self in a specially designed 4×4 super jeep adds an extra layer of excitement. This is a must-do excursion for daring adventurers, offering an experience that should not be missed.
Embark on a captivating journey as you drive from Þingvellir to the Geysir Geothermal Area and
make a meaningful stop at the remarkable ecovillage of Solheimar. This charming village invites you to discover a community that thrives on inclusivity and the realization of everyone’s potential, irrespective of age or disability.
At Sólheimar you’ll experience a friendly and heartwarming atmosphere where you can delve
deeper into their inspiring mission. By visiting this village, you’ll gain valuable insights into how they
foster a supportive environment that empowers every resident. Witness firsthand how Solheimar
embraces diversity and champions their cause with unwavering dedication.
As you explore Solheimar’s ecovillage, you’ll encounter a tapestry of stories that showcase the
village’s commitment to maximizing the talents and abilities of each individual. It’s a testament to the power of community and the boundless potential that lies within us all.
To support the Ecovillage Sólheimar you can stop at one of their cafés or their beautiful craft shops that display and sell handmade work by the residents.
Fontana Geothermal Baths
At Fontana Geothermal Baths you can indulge in a blissful retreat nestled in the charming town of
Laugarvatn, perfectly situated between Þingvellir and Geysir. This tranquil oasis is designed to offer
you a haven of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Unwind amidst the soothing steam, allowing it to envelop you in its comforting embrace. Feel the
tensions melt away as you immerse yourself in the age-old tradition of the Finnish sauna, revitalizing
both body and mind. For families seeking a delightful aquatic experience, the shallow, kid-friendly bathing pools provide a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone to bask in.
Camping on the Golden Circle in Iceland
Even though the Golden Circle is a spectacular day trip some people choose a different approach like camping in the area. Mostly this is a common thing to do for the adventurous bikers that cycle around the entire island.
These are some of the camping spots around the Golden Circle if you are one of those adventurous people visiting Iceland with plenty of time on your hands.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Hvolsvöllur and discover a campsite that offers excellent facilities
and even a playground for the kids. Set up your camp here and enjoy the convenience of reaching
the magnificent Seljalandsfoss waterfall within minutes of waking up. Located within walking
distance of the village, Hvolsvöllur campsite provides easy access to essential amenities like a
grocery store, pharmacy, and a refreshing swimming pool. Don’t miss the chance to delve into Viking
history at the Njál’s Saga Center, a captivating attraction that awaits your visit.
Discover the year-round gem of lake Úlfljótsvatn’s campsite, offering an exceptional experience.
Operated by The Icelandic Boy and Girl Scout Association, this family-friendly campsite boasts
excellent facilities. Campers can indulge in the joy of fishing in the lake at no additional cost (last
time we checked). During the peak season, the scouts organize a myriad of activities, ensuring an
unforgettable stay. You’ll be able to embrace the beauty of nature and engage in exciting adventures
at the family friendly Úlfljótsvatn campsite.
Located in a prime spot, the campsite at the Geysir geothermal area offers a convenient experience.
Situated near a golf course, it provides an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in their
passion. Within walking distance, you’ll find the mesmerizing Geysir and the nearby hotel, offering
additional amenities such as a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Immerse yourself in the wonders of
the geothermal area, explore the surrounding attractions, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of
this well-positioned campsite.
Nestled by the enchanting lake Laugarvatn, the campsite offers a delightful and family-friendly experience. Complete with a soccer field and a playground, it ensures fun for all. Conveniently
located near shops and restaurants, you’ll have easy access to amenities. While you revel in the campsite’s charm, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Fontana spa, where relaxation and rejuvenation await. Immerse yourself in the beauty of lake Laugarvatn, indulge in outdoor activities, and treat yourself to a tranquil spa experience, making it an unforgettable stay.