After two days in Reykjavik, we picked up our lovely SADcar in the city center and hit the road. From Reykjavik it is only about 30-45 minutes to the first stop on the famous Golden Circle route. Because it is so close to Reykjavik the route is super touristy. It allows you to see a sampling of Iceland in a few hours, making it perfect for the European stopovers who only have a day or two. Despite it being crowded, we think it is still worth seeing (just keep moving because an entire beautiful island awaits…).
I could break down exact directions from the city, but this person already does a really good job of it. It is well marked, paved, and a great way to get your legs under you for navigating the rest of your road trip. We decided to work north around the circle because it fit better in our route, but you can easily do the other way around.
Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park, the location where Iceland formed its first Parliament in 930 AD. This is also where the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates meet and are slowly moving apart from each other. This creates some pretty cool rifts in the geography.
There are also some beautiful waterfalls if you hike a bit further into the park.
Next on the Golden Circle is Haukadalur, a geothermal area with two famous geysers – Geysir and Strokkur. The english word geyser actually originated from Geysir. Geysir is not longer regularly active but Stokkur explodes with HOT water (sometimes on tourists who crowd too close) 100 feet into the air every five to 10 minutes. For those who have seen a geyser, it is pretty much what you’d expect to see (and smell – the sulfur here is very noticeable). Gabi had never seen one erupt and thought it was pretty remarkable.
Our best attempt at a selfie stick eruption shot. Fail.
The last stop we made was to the mighty Gullfoss waterfall. Out of the countless waterfalls we saw, this one is probably the most famous. It is located on the Hvita river which is fed by the country’s second largest glacier, Langjökull. It plunges over 100 feet into a huge canyon. The weather was a bit rough so I don’t think we saw the full beauty of Gullfoss but Gabi does his best to give you a tour below.
Note: There is a forth stop. Kerid Crater Lake, but we skipped it. It’s the only sight you have to pay entrance to. It is under $5 but we were on our way to a secret hot spring hike (teaser) so we decided to move on.