Complete Guide to Iceland’s Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a ring road in the south of Iceland and includes the capital city of Reykjavik
The Golden Circle is a ring road in the south of the country and includes the capital city of Reykjavik. It is one of the must see and most traveled routes. It is possible to book tours of the Golden Circle, and the route features some great sights and attractions. Making your way around the Golden Circle is a great way to get a flavour of Iceland, and you will appreciate the rugged and unusual beauty of the land.
Rent a Car
Although Golden Circle tours are brilliant by far, the best option is to rent a car. Here, you can choose how long you spend on each stop on the Golden Circle and spend more time in places you like the most. When renting a car, many opt for Reykjavik Cars as they have solid reputation for providing an excellent service, offering a good range of both 4 x 4 and two-wheel drive vehicles.
Now you have your transport let’s take a look at the best places to visit on the Golden Circle.
The Gullfoss Waterfall is both spectacular and intriguing. The water falls over 90 feet but in two stages, as one part of the waterfall feeds another. It is formed by the Hvítá river that flows southwards from Langjökull. During the summer, the meltwater increases the flow rate increases to around 140 cubic metres per second, making a spectacular sight.
There are several places to view the mighty waterfall, all of which are from above it. This gives you a great view of the cascading water as it falls 30 feet then 60 feet into a canyon below.
Geysir Hot Springs
One of the most visited places in South Iceland, the Geysir hot springs area is 2 square miles of geothermal field. It features the might Strokkur which blasts water a 100 feet into the sky every few minutes. The region brings Iceland to life, and when you see it for the first time, you realize the power of the land. The geothermal field was once the seat of the lords of Haukadalur.
The visitor center gives plenty of information about the region showing presentations and featuring exhibits.
There is no cost to visit the region, but you are advised to stay within marked areas as the water is extremely hot.
Thingvellir National Park
UNESCO protected Thingvellir National Park has strong cultural significance to Icelanders. Here, in 930, the country founded its first parliament, possibly the first parliament in the world and the country’s national and cultural identity were born.
The Althing, the parliament was formed in a valley where Eurasian and American tectonic plates begin to drift apart.
Lögberg (Law Rock) was the platform where the business of government was done. Every summer, around 5,000 people gathered for around two weeks. Laws were announced, legal disputes thrashed out, and anyone with a grievance or wanting to discuss an important issue could do so.
As well as politics, merchants would sell their wares, feasts were held, and news from overseas was shared.
In the 1260s, clashes among the chieftain families led to the country becoming part of the Kingdom of Norway. Any remaining power the parliament had was slowly transferred to Norway then later The King of Denmark who became the country’s absolute monarch in 1662.
In the 19th century, the region’s importance became prominent once more as Iceland moved towards independence, which it achieved in 1944 when it became a republic.
Today you can visit this historic region and get a flavor of the past. The region is not all about the history, however, as you can snorkel in Silfra Fissure. There are brilliant hiking trails that take you to places few have seen, such as Europe’s largest panoramic waterfall.
It is advised you take in the visitor center as your first stop. Here, you can get all the information you need to plan where you are going to visit. The park is quite small in comparison to other Icelandic national parks, but it has so much to see and do that you’d be forgiven for being overwhelmed.
Make sure you take in Almannagjá. It is a marked trail that takes you to the boundary of the North American tectonic plate.
Another great place to see is Lögberg (Law Rock). You gain a sense of the significance and its importance to Iceland.
For a change of pace, Silfra fissure has formed where the North American and Eurasian plates have drifted apart. It is possible to scuba or snorkel in the lake and is one of the few opportunities to do so between continental plates.
Last work on the Golden Circle
It is a good idea to dress in layers when visiting Iceland as the weather can change dramatically. Each day it is a good idea to check the weather forecast, so you know what clothes to wear for the day.
Iceland is a great country and one to explore at your next opportunity.