#waterfall

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

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

 

If you are traveling the Ring Road in Iceland, you are probably interested in all the natural wonders and attractions worth seeing.  Since there are many waterfalls in Iceland along the way near the Ring Road, some get more attention than others.  Stjórnarfoss waterfall is one of the hidden and seldom visited although a beautiful place and sight not far from the main road.  The waterfall is quite beautiful, and consists of two approximately 15 meter fall on an upper and lower tier. The higher one lives in the shade of the lower one as it is only visible from quite a distance. The lower one is quite spectacular as it spreads out on the lower tier.  The fall is part of the river Stjórn that originates in the mountain Geirlandshraun near the road to Lakagígar craters and Laki mountain. It is one of the rivers you cross when driving to Laki.

A perfect place for picnic and camping

If you enjoy the sounds of nature like the sound of a stream or a sound of water falling down a slope, you should consider visiting Stjórnarfoss.  The area around the waterfall is quite scenic, pleasant and perfect for a picnic.  If you have your own food and snacks on your Ring Road tour, this is a nice stop.  It is also a good place to camp and usually less crowded than many other camping sites along the southern part of the Ring Road. If you have a tent it is a great place to overnight if you want the sound of the stream and waterfall to put you to sleep.

Easily accessible and near the Ring Road

When you are on the Ring Road by the small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, you take a turn north on the roundabout.  This turn takes you to Road Nr. 203, Geirland road.  You only need to drive about two kilometers to the camping site Kleifar. Here you have a good parking space, and it is only a short walk to the waterfall.  But once you arrive at the lower tier you can not see the upper one.

Nearby places

Fjaðrárgljúfur, Lakagígar craters, Foss á Síðu, Dverghamrar, Kirkjubæjarklaustur
 

Stjórnarfoss waterfall

The name Silfurfoss is almost unknown, both the waterfall and the name, as it is an unofficial name.  Silfurfoss or Silver waterfall is a reference to the mighty Gullfoss or Gold waterfall as many visitors have felt that there is a certain resemblance between the two.  Silfurfoss, of course, has few visitors when Gullfoss is one of the largest attractions in Iceland. Nevertheless, this waterfall, the surrounding area, and the relatively short hiking trail is a fantastic choice for those who seek to stay out of the main stream tourism and experience the wonders of nature quietly and peacefully.

Located near the camping site Hólaskjól

Silfurfoss is at the edge of the Icelandic Highland near Hólaskjól.  The camping site marks the beginning of one of the most popular Highland roads in Iceland, Nyrðri Fjallabaksleið.  It is one of the entrances to the highland.  The waterfall is part of the river Syðri Ófæra, a fascinating river that originates much higher in the Highland at Syrði Fjallabak and the Torfajökull glacier area.  By Silfurfoss the river runs through a small fissure which is also near the hiking trail.  It is a beautiful place to take an evening or morning hike when you plan to drive Nyrðir Fjallabaksleið and a wonderful place to take children although caution is recommended when near the waterfall.  There are also other cracks and fissures nearby with unusual basalt column formations. 

How to get to Silfurfoss waterfall and Hólaskjól

If you plan to visit Silfurfoss or Hólaskjól, you are probably planning to drive Nyrði Fjallabak. The best way to access the road to Hólaskjól is from the Ring Road some 23 kilometers west of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur.  Here you take a turn north on Road nr. 208 and drive approximately 16 kilometers until you take a left turn and enter the Mountain Road F208 Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri. On this road, you need to drive about 20 kilometers to reach Hólaskjól camping site and Silfurfoss waterfall. And remember, Hólaskjól is a great place to camp overnight at the camping site has excellent facilities and magnificent landscape and surroundings.

Below is the location of Silfurfoss on the map of Iceland

Silfurfoss or Silver waterfall is a reference to the mighty Gullfoss or Gold waterfall as many visitors have felt that there is a certain resemblance between the two.

 

In some unexpected places in Iceland, you can find a small spot that sticks out, even a small oasis.  One of these locations is Fossabrekkur near the turn to Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri and Dómadalsleið Highland road where two small rivers meet by the source of the river Rangá.  It is located at the root of the volcano Hekla not far from the waterfalls Tröllkonuhlaup.  The area is a vast spread of sand and volcanic ash with some creeks and rivers.  In the middle of nowhere as it seems, you will find this refreshing oasis, Fossabrekkur.  What makes it interesting is the beauty of this small spot.   At a small slope by the river, a collection of vegetation has found roots around a few small waterfalls leaking down the slope. Like many waterfalls in a horizontal position, not like Klifbrekkufossar in the East and Dynjandi at the Westfjords where the many waterfalls are in a vertical position.  And this is what makes it so interesting, the vegetation and the clear water.  On a good day, the blue sky only enhances the beauty and calmness of this spectacular place.

It is a good idea to stop at Fossabrekkur in summer

Although someone put a sign on the road pointing to this interesting place doesn’t mean that it is always interesting.  We can only recommend that you visit this place from the beginning of June until the end of August.  It is not a place you want to visit during winter even though some of the nearby places like Þjófafoss can be interesting during winter.  This is also a great place to stop for a picnic if you are driving to Landmannalaugar or starting your journey through the North Fjallabak road.

How to drive to Fossabrekkur

The road is more or less the same from Reykjavík as driving to the start of Landmannaleið or Nyrðri Fjallabak. When you drive from Reykjavík you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26 after you pass the bridge on the mighty river Þjórsá on the Ring Road Nr. 1.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north, and by the mountain Búrfell, you will find the sign to Fossabrekkur.   When you have made your stop it is recommended to go on F225 and continue on Landmannaleið and along the way you can stop at some fascinating places like Rauðifoss, Ljótipollur and of course Landmannalaugar.  But remember that for this road we recommend a good 4X4 vehicle. 

 

In the middle of nowhere as it seems, you will find this refreshing oasis, Fossabrekkur.

Every river and every creek have some beginning, a source.  Often the source is hidden under a glacier, in a lake or a ground spread over vast moorland.  But sometimes you can actually see the source floating from a slope of a mountain or running from under a lava field.  It is always a fascinating sight. But occasionally you can find a place where clear, clean, beautiful water is flowing from below as a spring and feeding a creek or a river.  This is the case in Rauðufossafjöll and the small river Rauðufossakvísl. 

The beautiful spring at Rauðufossafjöll

At Rauðufossafjöll you will find one of these sources, one of those rare springs, forming this beautiful pound.  And even when you look through the surface it looks even more mystical and strange, as the hole in the spring gives you this creepy feeling that someone is livening in the hole. Possibly a Gollum like creature that will crawl to the surface, only adding to the magic of nature.  It is a stunning sight. Adding to the sight and mystical nature of the spring is the red bottom of the floating water, the river Rauðufossakvísl that runs from the source.  The bottom is orange and almost or red at the first three to four hundred meters, which is very unusual.  This is truly one of a fascinating phenomenon in the Icelandic landscape.

Take great care and caution in this sensitive area

But there is a warning if you intend to find and visit Rauðufossafjöll.  It is a natural phenomenon, and a treasure only intended for viewing. And it is only possible to visit this place from the end of June until the middle of September.  At other times the surrounding area is more or less covered with snow and extremely difficult to visit.  The river leading to Rauðfoss (Which also has a red background) has a highly sensitive surrounding and vegetation, so walking by the river is a bad idea.  There is enough room on the banks and the land a bit higher, and from there the river is a joy to view with its odd color and the noon green dýjamosi Moss all the way from the waterfall to the source.  So be careful and enjoy from a distance. 

Below is the location of Rauðufossafjöll on the map of Iceland

At Rauðufossafjöll you will find one of these sources, one of those rare springs, forming this beautiful pound.

Although Rjúkandi is one of only a few waterfalls you can see from the Ring Road in Iceland (Road nr. 1), many visitors do not stop by Rjúkandi or tend to stop by that waterfall.  One reason is the fact that along the way at Lower Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region between Egilsstaðir and Akureyri there are many “road side” waterfalls running down the slopes.  Rjúkandi just seems like one of many if you don’t take the time to walk the short path to view this beautiful attraction.  The waterfall Rjúkandi is a lovely waterfall and most defiantly a place to stop by.

Take the short path to the Rjúkandi Waterfall

Rjúkandi is part of a stunning landscape at Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region; some attractions that are yet to be discovered.  Attractions like Stuðlafoss and Stuðlagil are places you should also consider. Through the valley lies the magnificent river Jökulsá á Brú that used to be a large glacial river running through the many small gorges hidden in the old Jökusá á Brú long canyon. Ysta Rjúkandi river is a spring fed river, one of many that today feed the beautiful river in the canyon after the glacial river was moved to Fljótsdalur valley in a massive dam project at Kárahnúkar.

On the Ring Road in Iceland just before you hit Skjödólfsstaðir

The waterfall Rjúkandi in the Eastern Region in only less than hour away from Egilsstaðir on the Ring Road nr. 1 in Iceland.  You can stop by the parking lot, and the walk up to the waterfall takes a few minutes. The parking lot is located by the road just before you reach the farm, restaurant, and accommodation at Skjöldólfsstaðir.  You also get a great view at the viewing panel in front of the waterfall, to the Jökuldalur valley.   If you want to get a view of the upper and lower waterfall you can climb a bit up the slopes. 

Rjúkandi is part of a stunning landscape at Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region

 

A combination of a short hike and a waterfall is always a delightful and enlightening experience.  You get your bloodstream moving as you walk along a river upstream and you get to see a stunning waterfall.  Fardagafoss is the perfect example of this kind of outdoor activity and as such a good option for families and children traveling in Iceland.  It is an outdoor activity with an adventure and takes about one to one and a half hour.  Great option if you are traveling the ring road in the Eastern Region and need to release some energy before continuing in the car. Even along the way up the gully, you can see another beautiful waterfall, Gufufoss. And the path by the waterfall seems harder than it actually is.

Fardagafoss and the stories

In addition to the natural phenomenon, the waterfall also has a remarkable story and a mysterious cave behind the falling water.  For centuries a troll lived in the cave behind the waterfall and guarded Fardagafoss until the cave collapsed.  Although you can still walk behind the waterfall and still see what remains of the cave, in the past the cave was much bigger and deeper.  It was even thought to have a tunnel going through the mountain all the way to the fjord Seyðisfjörður.  The story of the troll makes the waterfall even a better option for families and people traveling with children.  It is not only a waterfall but also part of a mystical folklore. 

Fardagar refers to old laws and regulations

The name refers to the period from May to end of June when, in the past people bound by law to live in one place particularly one farm, had the permission to change their home address and place of residence.  It may seem strange today, but it was part of an agrarian society in need of labor stability.  But at Fardagar you had a short window to move to another farm, and the waterfall is named after that time.  And Fardagafoss and Gufufoss are located just five kilometers from the town Egillsstaðir in the Eastern Region and one of the places you should visit if you are in the area, or at least if you are planning on visiting the beautiful fjord and town Seyðisfjörður

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

Fardagafoss is the perfect example of this kind of outdoor activity and as such a good option for families and children traveling in Iceland

Iceland is a paradise for photographers.  The motives and natural wonders all around the country are almost infinitive. But apart from the motives, there are also other important factors involved.

Capturing Hjálparfoss waterfall

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