Guide to the Golden Circle, Iceland

If you’re researching a trip to Iceland, the chances are you’ve spotted excursions to the Golden Circle. The easy access from Reykjavik and Keflavik airport means this proves an ever popular trip, so we’ve taken the time to give you a quick guide to the popular sightseeing tour.

The Golden Circle is located in southwest Iceland, all within a two hour’s drive from Reykjavik, making it easy to visit all three within one day. The Golden Circle encompasses Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss waterfall, all renowned for their unique and spectacular sights.

Thingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park is steeped in folklore and history. The area became a National Park in 1930, and became a World Heritage Site in 2004. The park is only 45 minutes away from Reyjkjavik, normally making it the first stop on the Golden Circle.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge can be seen above sea level here, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates move apart at 2cm a year to reveal the Thingvellir Rift Valley. Many volcanoes surround the park, but after being dormant for 2000 years, the lava fields are now covered with moss and young trees making for a fantastic landscape.

The site was chosen as the world’s oldest parliament setting in the 800s, due to the natural amphitheater created by the unique geology, hence the World Heritage Site stamp. To this day, confirmations of presidents and independence ceremonies take place here, making it a heartfelt value to the Golden Circle.

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Geysir Geothermal Area

The next spot on the Golden Circle is 50 minutes away from Thingvellir, and truly showcases the natural wonders of Iceland. Dotted with clay pots, fumaroles and hot pools, the geothermal activity is a site to behold even without the two famous geysers.

The Great Geysir is the earliest documented geyser in European literature, but erupts rarely. Neighbouring Strokkur throws water 20-40 metres into the air every 10 minutes, attracting a large crowd, and when Geysir does erupt it throws water up to 170 metres high. Strokkur is the most accessible, reliable geyser in the world, making it a rare but phenomenal site.

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Gullfoss Waterfall

Less than 10 minutes away lies one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland; Gullfoss. Powerfall water flows down two drops down a height of 32 metres, at an incredible rate. The best time to visit Gullfoss is in summer, where a walkway can take you right to the edge of the falls for a great photo opportunity, often filled with rainbows from the water spray.

Average temperatures at the Golden Circle range from -3°C to 13°C depending on the time of year. If you’re heading to Iceland in summer, we’d recommend layers with comfortable cotton tees such as the Filson One Pocket T-shirt and thinner jackets or fleeces such as the Rab Escape Quest Pull On Fleece. If you’re heading over in winter, layers are a necessity, and we’d recommend the Fjallraven Greenland Jacket and Finisterre Westray Sweater for premium warmth. Pack your gear in for easy transportation to the isle.

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