Iceland’s Golden Circle is the most popular tourist route in the entire country, thanks to its close proximity to Reyjkavik. We spent two nights and one full day in Þingvellir National Park on our roadtrip between the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Glaciers of south-east Iceland. We stayed in a charming lakeside cabin, explored Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park and visited Geysir geothermal area and Gulfoss waterfall.
Þingvellir National Park
We stopped at a supermarket before we got into the park as there are none in the park or nearby. We routed directly to our cabin as we were quite quickly losing daylight but still stopped for a couple of photos at various viewpoints.
Iceland is divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift, with parts of the island nation on the North American tectonic plate, and others on the Eurasian plate! Þingvellir National Park is located in a rift valley caused by the separation of the two plates and is the only place in the world where the rift is above sea-level, which is pretty incredible in itself.
There really is no where in the world quite like Iceland. Even the moss which you see covering the rocks and lava fields has taken decades to grow, so make sure you always stick to the paths and always, always, always take your rubbish with you!
A cabin on the lake
We stayed in a gorgeous cabin on the shore of Þingvallavatn or Lake Thingvellir which had a private hottub and sauna (my dream)! It was the perfect Iceland cabin and honestly felt like we were staying in the middle of no where which was lovely.
For more details about this drool-worthy cabin, you can read all about it here: Lundur Cottage.
Geysir geothermal area
The Geysir geothermal area is one of the top-visited locations in Iceland. It’s a high-temperature geothermal area which features Geysir (one of the most famous geysers in the world) as well as other smaller geysers. Geysir is mostly dormant, however visitors can see the smaller (but still incredibly impressive) Strokkur errupt!
Strokkur errupted around every 8-10 minutes whilst we were there so we were lucky enough to see it about 4 times from different angles! It shoots around 20-30m in the air and just before it errupts you can see the water start to bubble and then it seemingly bursts and shoots up in the air!
The colour of many of the hot springs in the site is also so beautiful! I’ve always wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park in the US and see their geysirs, and this has only made me want to visit even more! Again, remember these are incredibly hot and dangerous so keep to the marked paths at all times.
Gulfoss, also known as the Golden Waterfall is, from our understanding one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It is seriously epic and you’ll get magnificent views from every angle! I find waterfalls mesmerising, particularly ones with such power and force behind the masses of water spilling over it. Again, be a responsible tourist and stick to the paths! There have been tourists have been injured (or killed) and fined (the lucky ones) for doing stupid and risky things at various sites around Iceland.
The views are truly spectactular from the various viewing platforms. It was quite misty thanks to the wind, so we’d recommend wearing a high performance raincoat and protecting your camera!
There is so much more to see and do in the region including diving between the tectonic plates at Silfra! We had booked to snorkel the fissure but both had really bad headcolds so decided against it as we still had three weeks left of our winter holiday left and didn’t think the cold water/wind/weather would help us get any better. However, everything we read about the experience when planning our holiday sounded seriously epic and if we ever return to Iceland – this will be at the top of our to-do list!
Most people visit the Golden Circle on a day trip from Reyjkavik but we had a car so decided to stay two nights (the night we arrived and the next night after a big day of exploring). It was so lovely and peaceful of an evening and whilst the weather unfortunately wasn’t conducive for Northern Lights spotting, the area would be perfect if all the conditions worked in your favour!
All the sites in Iceland’s Golden Circle had free entrance and parking was also free. There were visitor centres in Gulfoss and Geysir and like everywhere in Iceland – food and drinks and very expensive. We loved our time exploring the Golden Circle and would highly recommend it to all visitors to Iceland!