Golden Circle is the most popular tourist route in Iceland. The route goes east from the capital Reykjavik, completes a loop and returns to Reykjavik. Time needed to cover the route is one day.
Usually Golden Circle Tour includes three major sites or attractions: Geysir, Gullfoss and Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir). All of them are located in West Iceland, southwest of Reykjavik. The order of appearance of the sites is: Thingvellir, Gullfoss, Valley Haukadalur with the geyser park and Strokkur geyser. Other important stops along the Golden Circle are volcano crater Kerid (Kerið), Church in Skálholt and geothermal power station Nesjavellir.
Thingvellir Park (Þingvellir)
The first stop on the route is the Thingvellir National Park, where the Iceland's ancient parliament was established in 930 which is considered the world's first parliament. Iceland is a parliamentary democracy for more than 1000 years. Icelanders were gathering every year in Thingvellir to exchange the goods, to discuss the legal and social affairs and to set the rules. Thingvellir Park that was selected by the UNESCO as the World Heritage Site is the only place on earth where you can watch the tectonic plates when they are lifted off the ground. You can enter the park walking between the plates of America and Europe and feeling really big for a moment. There are also the magnificent waterfall and deep and clear pools with little bridges over them. View over the valley from the observation rock that belongs to America is breathtaking.
Second stop is Gullfoss Waterfall (which means "golden waterfall") and it is probably the most famous waterfall of tens of thousands, which are in Iceland. The waterfall is located on the river Hvita. This is a powerful site definitely worth seeing. The waterfall is divided into two stages and then the river turns sharply to the left into a narrow and steep canyon. It is definitely recommended to walk along the whole route, about half an hour walk and see the falls from different angles. On the clear days when the sun shines at the specific angle, you can see a spectacular rainbow over the waterfall.
Geysers Park (Geysir)
At the third stop we will visit the Geysers Park. It is a hot springs park located in an area called Haukadalur. The word "geyser" is a bit confusing. "Geyser" is the name of nature phenomenon when boiling water and steam erupt from the bowels of the earth, but the "Geyser" (Geysir) is also the name of one of the geysers in the park. In fact the whole phenomenon geyser is called after the Geysir in the park and hence the confusion. Near the Geysir there is a smaller geyser called Strokkur, which means "the child".
Strokkur is currently the most active geyser in the park and although its water jet is smaller than that of Geyser, it is as spectacular, as its. Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes on the average - prepare your cameras.can see a spectacular rainbow over the waterfall.
Crater Kerid (Kerið)
Kerid is a lake inside the volcanic crater, which is located on the roadside of Highway 35. The main features of the crater Kerid are the fact that it is incredibly easily accessible and it has a perfect shape. The colors of the mountain combine red and black and integrate perfectly with the magnificent background of the surrounding landscape.
The crater depth is 55 meters and at approximately 3,000 years old, it is only half the age of most of the surrounding volcanic features. While most of the crater walls are rather steep and with almost no vegetation, one wall is sloped more gently and blanketed with a deep moss. The lake itself is quite shallow and reaches a depth of up to 14 meters depending on rainfall. Due to minerals from the soil, is opaque and the bottom cannot be seen.
Church Skálholt was the seat of the first bishop in Iceland. It is a place of special historical value in the annals of Iceland. For seven centuries, the place was a scene of significant events in the religious-political life of Iceland, events that influenced the political, spiritual and cultural existence of Iceland.
In 1000 AD, Iceland adopted Christianity as the official vote of the people at the meeting of the Alþing that gathered each spring in Thingvellir. Iceland's first bishop was elected in 1056 and built the first cathedral in Skálholt and until the time of the Reformation in 1550, there were all the Catholic bishops.
After the Reformation in Iceland, when the Nordic countries adopted the Lutheranism, New Testament was translated for the first time to Icelandic. The Lutheran bishop was elected named Gissur Einarsson, while the last Catholic bishop, Jón Arason of Hólar, was executed in Skálholt along with his two sons. Most church properties were nationalized by the King of Denmark and volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and epidemics destroyed what was left of the area. Bishop of Iceland moved to Reykjavik and Skálholt has remained a historical site. The church building was restored and the place has become an important historical heritage site in Iceland.
Faxi waterfall is a beautiful wide waterfall not far from the waterfall Gullfoss. Many travelers often skip visiting it and it's unfortunate. The waterfall is not very high but impressive and intensity of falling water creates a fog, through which many times you can see a beautiful rainbow.
How to get there?
Most travelers usually combine the Golden Circle route as a part of the overall trip to Iceland, the recommended time for this route is an entire day. You can go for a daily trip by bus from Reykjavík. Another option is to take a guided Jeep tour; this option is much more adventurous, personal and unlimited, particularly in terms of time. Jeep tour can be more enjoyable, as you will probably go to the dirt roads to see what the bus passengers miss. This is just the beginning...
If you are going to visit Iceland for a short time only, the Golden Circle route is the best option to experience Iceland in minimum time. The most famous attractions are on the way but Iceland has a lot more to offer. In fact, Iceland has hundreds if not thousands of natural wonders. If you have the time and desire, the comprehensive tour in Iceland will reveal the wonders of nature on the island, which is considered one of the purest nature areas left on the planet. For more information on the tour "Golden Circle" and other tours in Iceland, please contact us - we are good listeners :)
Golden Circle - Price List for the daily trips - 2015:
- Golden Circle tour by bus with English speaking guide - Duration 8 hours - 64 euros per person.
- Golden Circle tour by private car with a driver-guide (up to 4 travelers) - Duration 7 hours - 490 euros total.
- Golden Circle tour by private van with a driver-guide (up to 6 travelers) - Duration 7 hours - 660 euros total.
- Golden Circle tour by super jeep with a driver-guide including Glacier langjökull - Duration 7 hours - 245 euros per person.
- Private Golden Circle tour by super Jeep with a driver-guide including Glacier langjökull - Duration 7 hours - 990 euros in total.
* These trips include pick-up and return to the hotel or the ship's mooring place.