The Golden Circle is the single best-trodden tourist trail in Iceland…and that's because it includes some of the most remarkable sights in Europe, nay, the universe!
At its core the Golden Circle is a 300 kilometre long round trip, usually starting and ending in Reykjavík, which takes in at least three of Iceland's most recognised, gold-star attractions. Interestingly the origins of the name Golden Circle remain a mystery to historians and philosophers alike – much like the mystery surrounding the name New York, in fact.
Þingvellir national park is a key component of the tour, and you can read a whole article about its massive natural, political, historical and geological importance to Iceland and the whole world by clicking right here (or even right-clicking and opening in a new tab if you like).
The next pillar in the golden troika is Geysir. Or at least that's what most tourists call it. In fact the word Geysir refers strictly to the Great Geysir at Haukadalur, which only erupts a few times a year in modern times. Haukadalur is also full of other pools, springs and geysers – including Strokkur, which you will see erupt spouts of boiling water every few minutes. Read all about it here!
Then we come to the raging majesty that is Gullfoss, the powerful, cascading, roaring, rainbow-making waterfall that is sure to make you feel about as big as Stuart Little. It has its own suitably grand article for your reading pleasure here.
The Golden Circle can take as long as you want it to. It is often taken as a day trip; but there are plenty of places to stay along the way and plenty more to see than just the Big Three.
Other Golden Circle opportunities open to you include popping into a geothermal greenhouse or two to see how Icelanders grow their own delicious, pesticide-free vegetables year-round; a jaunt around the small but perfectly formed Kerið crater lake; a closer look at Icelandic religious history at the beautiful Skálholt cathedral; the Nesjavellir geothermal power station (more interesting than it sounds); and the small town of Hveragerði…
(Banner photo (top): harald wittmaack)