320km, 4.5hrs driving
Photos and writing by Sam Arnold, owner of Resagrafik
Rent a car and complete the stunning Golden Circle drive at your own pace.
The Golden Circle drive includes some of the most popular and touristy destinations to visit in Iceland, but this is for good reason, these destinations are stunning and are far better visited by car than the many buses that circle each day. Each destination has a number of different hidden spots to explore that will take your breath away, but it is still easily accomplished in a day trip from the capital.
▐ Reykjavik to the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon return
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Reykjavik to the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon return
▐ Reykjavik to the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon return (~320km, ~4.5hrs)
This drive is easy all along the way as the roads are very well looked after and traversed by many everyday. Still, always make sure that you get a good quality car with the right tyres as the roads can of course get snowed under.
On setting out from Reykjavik after breakfast, first head to þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park . This is the largest stop on the famed Golden Circle, so it is best visited first to insure that you see it all. This is the historical site of the world’s oldest parliament, however the main attraction is the setting of the UNESCO World Heritage National Park. The park’s main entrance and car park start an easy-to-walk path through the park. This path takes you through some incredible geological sites and finishes with a scenic lookout over the whole park which is not to be missed.
After about an hour driving from the national park, you will arrive at Geysir . This is a 10,000 year old erupting hot spring and the site is the origin of the English word geyser. The great geysir erupts relatively infrequently, only a couple of times a day, however the Strokkur geyser, in the same park, will erupt every few minutes, meaning you will be bound to get some greats snaps. The park is spacious, and you can climb to the top of a nearby hill to get a great view of the park and surrounding area.
The last main stop on the Golden Circle, and only just up the road from Geysir, is Gullfoss Waterfall . This again, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland as it is one of the best waterfalls the country has to offer. The park offers views from many different angles including the option to get up close to the base of the waterfall, and views from along the cliff face at the top.
Also included in this trip is the famous Blue Lagoon . This heavenly spa, an iconic bright blue colour, is situated not far from Keflavik Airport. This can be added on to the end of your Golden Circle trip if you get the time, however you can visit at anytime during your Iceland trip as it is not far from the capital. It is especially good to sooth that jetlag once arriving or to relax you before you head home.