Iceland has always been high on our bucket list and it should definitely be on yours too! A destination with some amazing landscapes to check out, epic waterfalls, glaciers, continental plates and the occasionally quirky superstition too! One of the best routes to take which encompasses some of the best of Iceland is the “Golden Circle”, a 300km loop from Reykjavik.
You’ll start in Reykjavik is this where the international airport is. We definitely recommend visiting numerous sites in the city like the old harbour in Hafnarfjordur town and Bessastadir, the presidents house. For great views of the city we recommend dining at Perlan. From here you can see Hallgrimskirkja church on Skolavorduhaed which stands proud over the city.
Thingvellir National Park
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and definitely a must along the Golden Circle. Its also a centre of historical and cultural importance to Iceland and as been a popular tourist hotspot for many years. Situated right on the Mid Atlantic Ridge you’ll find Iceland’s largest natural lake here and plenty of fantastic things to do. Scuba diving is the latest craze here and at Silfra Lake you can dive between the tectonic plates of the Americas and Europe with amazing clear waters offering great visibility.
Iceland has many beautiful waterfalls but the 32 metre high Gullfoss waterfall is Iceland’s most famous by far. The Golden Waterfall offers spectacularly dramatic views all around as the water from the Hvítá (White) river cascades over rocks and down within the canyon that reaches 70m in height. You’re almost always guaranteed to see rainbows here and this iconic location is definitely one to tick on off your list. We’re actually luck the falls still exist as in the early 20th century English investors planned to damn the falls and build a hydro-electric power station. Its thanks to Sigriður Tómasdóttir and her fight with the courts to overturn a lease on the land that eventually the power station was never built.
Langjökull Glacier Ice Cave
Viewing glaciers from the outside is one thing but to get a whole new perspective there’s nothing quite like going inside! The Langjökull Glacier Ice Cave experience. Experience the deep blue ice for yourself through tunnels and caves within the glacier. The entire indoor complex is lit with a state of the art LED system from OSRAM too so the ice doesn’t melt from the lighting. Its an incredible experience and tours also include travelling over the glacier on specially modified snow trucks. This experience should be high on your checklist!
Geysir hot springs
For me one of the best stops along the Golden Circle is the Geyser Hot Springs where you’ll find the earth’s heat breaking free from the depths and bubbling up to the surface in boiling mud pits and amazingly dramatic geysers. The most famous of which is Strokkur which shoots water some 30 metres up in the air every 5 – 10 minutes. Its a fantastic site and no trip to Iceland is complete without at least one photo of this blasting column of water. There’s also a new visitors centre and exhibitions too which is worth visiting. There’s actually more than a dozen blow holes here but only Strokkur is currently fully active. The Geysers here have been shooting water in to the sky for over a thousand years. This is the place that did, after all, give its name to the famous natural phenomenon!
The best way to visit this area is by renting a car at the airport and taking your time at each of the Golden Circle’s best locations. Travelling at your own paces gives you the opportunity to see the best of Iceland.