#reykjavik

The Golden Circle is a term or a description for one of the most popular tourist route in Iceland. The drive is based on three natural wonders not far from Reykjavík the capital of Iceland. Most of the time the tour starts and ends in Reykjavík and is driven in a day. The first stop is at Þingvellir which is a sacred place in Iceland where Almannagjá gorge and Öxarárfoss waterfall play a significant role. Þingvellir also has profound historical meaning in Iceland as it was the meeting place for Alþingi, the oldest parliament in history.  Secondly, there is Geysir, the hot spring area where the geyser Strokkur erupts every ten or fifteen minutes.  Thirdly and most importantly there is Gullfoss waterfall the most impressive waterfall in Iceland.  A waterfall that is often mentioned on lists of top ten most fascinating waterfalls on the planet. The distance from Reykjavík through the town Mosfellsbær and Road Nr. 36 to Gullfoss via Þingvellir and Geysir is approximately 120 kilometers or 75 miles.

Almannagjá at Þingvellir National Park

Almannagjá gorge is an important place in Iceland, both geologically and historically

How to drive the Golden Circle?

Tourism in Iceland has exploded in recent years, and so has the Golden Circle drive.  Sometimes during summer, the road is packed with busses, and rental cars as are the parking lots by the three natural wonders.  Usually, the buses depart from Reykjavík between eight and nine in the morning and arrive at the three natural wonders at a similar time. This is for many reasons a very convenient time to start and drive the tour as it fits well with lunchtime at Geysir or Gullfoss.  If you are not intimidated by crowds you should start at the same time, otherwise start your tour early, around 6 am or 6:30 am.  A stop at any of the three attractions takes about half an hour to 45 minutes. The road is an asphalt road and easy to drive in any car, small or large.  It is a two-way lane so keep in mind that the road is a bit narrow but reasonably easy to drive.  The exception is in winter when the weather is sometimes quite harsh, and the road from Reykjavík to Þingvellir is either closed or very slippery and challenging to drive. If you are traveling in winter, you should always check the weather and road conditions anyway.  You should also consider the time of year and season when planning a trip to Iceland as there is a considerable difference between seasons.  Here you can read about the best time or season to visit Iceland.

Þingvellir National Park is a place you can visit all year round

Þingvellir National Park is a place you can visit all year round but exceptionally beautiful in autumn colors

Why drive the Golden Circle?

All of the three attractions on the Golden Circle route are more than worthed to visit.  Þingvellir is one of a handful of places in Iceland where you can see the North Atlantic rift system that stretches from the south pole up through the Atlantic ocean through the island Iceland. When you are in the gorge Almannagjá, you are between the European and American tectonic plates and at the spot where they drift apart.  For those interested in history Þingvellir is also the most prominent place ins Iceland as it played an essential role in the judiciary and lawmaking process from the days of settlement throughout many centuries.  It is also the place where Icelanders decided to abolish heathenism and take up christianity in the year 1000.  Geysir is one of the best known hot springs in the world, and the English term geyser comes from the old hot spring Geysir, the big brother of Strokkur that still erupts today.  Gullfoss, of course, is one of the most impressive waterfalls on the planet and is one of the natural wonders that are equally interesting to visit in summer and winter as well as in autumn and spring. So even though there are considerable differences between seasons in Iceland, these three natural wonders are all accessible and exciting all year round, which is probably one of the reasons the route is so hot.

Strokkur geyser erupts every 10 to 15 minutes or so and reaches a hight of 25 to 35 meters

Strokkur geyser erupts every 10 to 15 minutes or so and reaches a hight of 25 to 35 meters

Is the Golden Circle a circle?

When you finish your drive at Gullfoss, you might wonder where you should go from there? What does it imply that it is a circle?  If you started around eight in the morning, you are probably done viewing the three natural wonders and finished with lunch around one at noon. One option is to drive the one and a half hour drive back to Reykjavík, but then it's not a “circle” but a trip back and forth. For the ride back through a different route, you have some options. Here we are going to recommend the most interesting one for you to get the most out of your day.   When you drive back from Gullfoss on Road 35 called Biskupstungnabraut, you take a left turn after 6 kilometers or approximately 4 miles on Road 30 called Skeiða- and Hrunamannavegur. After driving another 6 kilometers, you come to a bridge over the river Hvítá or White River. This is the same river that you saw falling in Gullfoss a few kilometers north.  By the bridge is an interesting stop calls Brúárhlöð. It is worthed to stop at the parking lot on the east side and admire the how the river has formed the canyon at this spot for hundreds of thousands of years. After Brúárhlöð we recommend that you continue on Road 30 to the small hamlet of Flúðir. This is a 20 kilometers or approximately 13 miles drive to the south of Brúárhlöð. At Flúðir you have an opportunity to visit the old pool, Gamla laugin, and dip into a geothermal pool. It is also a good place to stop for snacks,  refreshments, and restrooms. 

Gullfoss is one of the best known landmarks and attractions in Iceland

Gullfoss is one of the best known landmarks and attractions in Iceland

Drive to Seljalandsfoss waterfall

From Flúðir hamlet you continue south on Road 30 Skeiða- and Hrunamannavegur and drive 30 kilometers or 19 miles to Road 1 the Ring Road in Iceland. The drive is quite scenic, and if the day is bright, you will have a good view of both Hekla volcano and the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano on the east side of the road. When you reach the intersection at Road 1, you take a left turn to the east and drive the 54 kilometers or 34 miles to the intersection of Road 1 to Road 249 Þórsmerkurvegur.  Here you drive less than one kilometer to reach the parking lot for Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The waterfall is one of the most visited natural wonders and attractions in Iceland and for a reason.  It is not only a beautiful waterfall but also a waterfall that you can walk behind.  It is indeed a spectacular experience and a relatively easy walk.  In winter though you need to remember that the path behind the waterfall is quite slippery.  If you are not in a great hurry to go back to Reykjavík, another spectacular waterfall Gljúfrabúi is within walking distance of Seljalandsfoss.  It is a waterfall inside a gorge or a cave. 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectacular and wonderful place to visit

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectacular and wonderful place to visit

The drive back to Reykjavík

Heading back after an eventful day you take the Ring Road Nr. 1 to the west to Reykjavík. You are most likely in the afternoon, and most people are a bit tired after all the stops and viewing of natural wonders and attractions. You should not underestimate the energy it takes for an average person. The drive back to Reykjavík is 130 kilometers or 80 miles. Along the way, you drive through four small towns and villages, Hvolsvöllur, Hella, Selfoss, and Hveragerði on the Ring Road Nr. 1. All of the towns have restaurants and convenient stores so you can easily stop for snacks and restrooms along the way.   If you drive straight back to Reykavík you will have the opportunity to dine at some of the spectacular restaurants that you find in Reykavík city center and hit the sack for a convenient good night sleep at some of the many great hotels in the city. 

Reykjavik is one of the most interesting places in Iceland

Reykjavik is one of the most exciting places in Iceland - a place of departure and arrival for the Golden Circle tour

The whole drive as we recommend here is 370 kilometers or 230 miles. In comparison, the drive back and forth from Reykjavík to Gullfoss waterfall is 240 kilometers or 150 miles. The whole trip shouldn't take more than 9 to 10 hours even at a slow pace. There are plenty of places and opportunities along the way for restroom stops and food, and if the skies are reasonably clear, it is also a beautiful scenic drive. 

The Golden Circle drive is a great way to view and experience some of the most interesting natural wonders Iceland can offer and is also available and relatively easy to drive all year round.  It is a great option to spend a day when visiting Iceland and staying in Ryekjavík for a few days or a stopover.  In the summer there is also the option of visiting the highland and join us on our spectacular Hit Iceland Landmannalaugar highland and Golden Circle tour

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Gullfoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

Map of Golden Circle drive in Iceland

There are probably few cities in the world that have a river running through its districts.  Let alone a river where people can go fishing and catch a salmon.  But in Reykjavík the capital of Iceland you will find a river running through a beautiful valley Elliðarárdalur. The river has its origin in the two square kilometer lake Elliðavatn.  The lake is quite shallow as most of it is only 1 meter in depth. The valley is a great place to take two to three hours to hike.

Kermóaafoss, the largest and most exciting waterfall in Elliðaárdalur

One of the best ways to enjoy a city is to take a walking tour.  It is by far the most enjoyable way to experience the atmosphere, the architecture, the city landscape and all the exciting things a city can offer.  Reykjavík is no exception despite the fact that it is much smaller than most cities.

The best and most interesting walking tour in Reykjavík

Increasing number of tourists in Iceland arrive on a ship or a cruise.  One of the largest ships sailing to Iceland is MSC Prezi¬osa.  The enormous ship has scheduled three tours to Iceland this summer, and it is hard to miss when in the harbor in the small city of Reykjavík.   Almost towering above all buildings in the city and bringing thousands of tourists for a few days stay in the city.  Sailing by the shore of Iceland is a fascinating way to visit and gives a rare view of the country from the Atlantic Ocean.

Cruising to Iceland
Reykjavík City Center

Why should Reykjavik be your center when exploring Iceland?

How do you get the most out of your stay in Iceland?  There are many ways to explore Iceland because there are many natural wonders and many places you can visit.  So what is the best way to get to know Iceland? Remember that Iceland is not a vast country and there are many attractions and many places to visit near Reykjavík the capital of Iceland.

It is impossible to cover the whole country in a few days, but you can cover a lot if you stay in Reykjavík for a few days and travel to places like the Southern Region and Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Reykjanes Peninsula, all locations that you can visit from Reykjavík in a day or two.  Reykjavík is also a perfect place to see the Northern Lights. That is the reason why we recommend a stay in Reykjavík to enjoy and visit the many natural wonders in Iceland and also to enjoy the fabulous small city. 

You can take day tours with a certified tour operator or rent a car and visit natural wonders and exotic places during the day.  In the afternoon you come back to the city and enjoy the many quality restaurants and the fascinating nightlife in the city

 

Booking.com

Accommodation in Reykjavík City Center

Harpa conference hall and the harbor area is great place for a short walk in the evening when staying in Reykjavík City Center

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík during New Years eve

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík during New Years eve

Reykjavík city center is a great place to stay when visiting Iceland

A walk by the pond and in Hljómskálagarður small park is a great way to enjoy Reykjavík

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis,  in Reykjavík Iceland

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis,  in Reykjavík Iceland

If you are planning a vacation, a trip or a tour in Iceland, accommodation is of course of great importance. In recent years Booking.com has built a good relationship with hundreds of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, farms and lodges around Iceland to search for and offer the largest selection and variety for you to find the most suitable accommodation for your plans. In the search engine above hiticeland.com has partnered with booking.com to find a good variety of accommodation and prices that will fit your schedule and budget. The search engine finds accommodation in Reykjavík and also near Reykjavík, if you prefer to stay in the countryside.

Reykjavík City Center Hotel and Accommodation

Make Reykjavik your center when exploring Iceland

Have an exciting time in Reykjavík at a great hotel and enjoy all the fabulous restaurants our small and beautiful city offers. During the day drive to some of the most spectacular natural wonders just hours away.  Take a tour through some of the most spectacular landscape in Iceland The Golden Circle, The Reykjanes Peninsula, and The Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  During winter take a drive just outside the city to enjoy the Northern Lights.  The selection of hotels and accommodation is one of the best in any city. We have a range that will help you find what you are looking for.

If you are coming to Iceland for the first time and spending a few days to discover landscape and natural wonders in our amazing country, it is impossible to cover the whole country in a few days. By staying in Reykjavík, you can cover a lot. Travel to places like Gullfoss, Geysir, Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Gunnuhver, Hraunfossar and Kleifarvatn during the day and enjoy Reykjavík in the evening. You can also take longer tours during the day to Landmannalaugar or Þórsmörk during summer.

That is the reason why we recommend a stay in Reykjavík to enjoy and visit the many natural wonders in Iceland. You can take day tours with a certified tour operator or rent a car and visit natural wonders and exotic places during the day.  In the afternoon you come back to the city and enjoy the many restaurants and nightlife in the city. 

The selection of hotels and accommodation is one of the best in any city. You can also take a day or two and enjoy Reykjavík City Center or walk around the city. The Sculpture Shorewalk is a great selection for a beautiful and relaxing walk in Reykjavík. 

We have a range of accommodation that will offer you what you are looking for both in quality and price. 

Booking.com

Accommodation and hotels in Reykjavík Iceland

A view from the pound towards Þingholt in the City Centre in Reykjavík

Reykjavík sculpture and shoreline

Reykjavík sculpture and shoreline is one of the more popular walking trails in Reykjavík 

At new years eve Reykjavik is the place to be

You will always have a great time in the energetic Reykjavík but New Years Eve is exceptionally crazy

If you are planning a vacation, a trip or a tour in Iceland, accommodation is of course of great importance. In recent years Booking.com has built a good relationship with hundreds of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, farms and lodges around Iceland to search for and offer the largest selection and variety for you to find the most suitable accommodation for your plans. In the search engine above hiticeland.com has partnered with booking.com to find a good variety of accommodation and prices that will fit your schedule and budget. The search engine finds accommodation in Reykjavík and also near Reykjavík, if you prefer to stay in the countryside.

Reykjavík Accommodation in Iceland

If you like to take a walk while visiting a city, we recommend the walking tour from the Reykjavík City Center to the enjoyable artwork Þúfa. Although built in 2013 the environmental art is fast becoming a landmark in the Reykjavík urban landscape.  To go to Þúfan you walk by the harbor west on to Grandi, where Reykjavík still has a lot of fishing and fish processing activity, and out to a point where the hill was built.

Þúfa in Icelandic actually means a very tiny knoll, but here it is a hill.  It is an 8 meter high hill and 26 meters in diameter.

In 2008 Iceland experienced a disastrous financial crash. What had looked like an endless path to growth, reaching back to the year 2000, came to a standstill taking a whole nation to an edge of a financial cliff. Among the significant symbols of growth and prosperity was a new conference and concert hall by the harbor. A symbol of success and wealth. A project that had started but a building that had barely surfaced.

Harpa Concert and Conference Hall in Reykjavík

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