We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. Read our disclosure policy.
Iceland is one of my favorite places in the world. We are lucky that we get to go here quite a bit due to the fact that it is often a layover stop on our way to other parts of Europe (thanks to the cheap flights through Wow Airlines, Icelandic Air and Scandanavian Air). Each time we visit, we are able to spend the better part of a day. Being that it is light all but 2-3 hours a day in the summer months, we get a lot accomplished! While you can spend time doing a ton of things in this beautiful country, nothing beats spending a day on the Golden Circle.
What is the Golden Circle? It is a circular route that takes you from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. Because it is 3oo kilometers, it is easy to do most (if not all) in a day. It really depends on where you stop and how long you spend at tourist locations. If you are planning your own trip without a tour company, be sure to get tickets for the excursions & places you want to stop in advance to save you time & money.
Things to see on a day on the Golden Circle:
- Þingvellir national park
- Gullfoss waterfall
- Geyser Strokkur
- The Crater Kerið
While you can take private tours, we always rent our own vehicle. We always book a rental car online prior to our trip. Just make sure you get a car with built in GPS. If you don’t have GPS, just be sure to download the Golden Circle on Google Maps.
Þingvellir National Park
This natural wonder is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Almannagjá is a canyon formed between two tectonic plates. This was formed during the continental drift and is truly something to behold.
Besides being a natural wonder, it is also a very important part of Icelandic history as it home to the oldest existing parliament in the world (930 AD).
The actual word Geyser is derived from the Icelandic verb gjósa which means to erupt. If you have never seen a live Geyser, this one is pretty cool. Not only will you be able to walk right up to it (there is a small barrier), you will also feel the spray!
Besides the actual Geyser viewing areas, there is a small gift shop and a (pricey) cafe.
You will find that Iceland has many waterfalls, but nothing is quite as colossal as Gullfoss. Gullfoss literally means ‘Golden’ and it is easy to see why it got it’s name. It is definitely Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall.
The crater was formed about 6500 years ago and has a blue lake in its bottom. The striking colors of the early juxtaposed with the water make this a remarkable site. You can take in the beauty from above or hike to the bottom. Both views are pretty spectacular.
The key to doing to Golden Circle in a day is to not spend too much time in one location. If you do, you risk missing the little things; like wildlife, the natural beauty, and even the oddities, like these rock statues.
Have you had a chance to spend a day on the Golden Circle in Iceland?