Golden Circle (Triangle) in Iceland

For first time visitors in Iceland, The Golden Circle is the perfect day trip. It includes waterfalls, hot springs and the rural landscape of the Þingvellir National Park. The minimal length of the drive around Golden Triangle is 4-5 hours, and you can easily add more stops to to fill up your day.

route of Golden Circle

Golden Circle

Thingvellir National Park

From Reykjavik, we recommend driving towards Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir lies in a rift valley, part of the Great Atlantic Rift which has been forming over the last 10000 years. It is a part of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The park includes several hiking routes, all of them pretty short and easy.
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The park is often called “walk of death” because of its dark history, and there is a lot of toponymy in Þingvellir commemorating death. Men were beheaded in Höggstokkseyri (Execution Block Spit). Kagaholmi (Scourge Islet) is probably where offenders were flogged, while Brennugja (Fire Gorge) derives its name from the burning of alleged wizards and witches in the witch-hunts of the late 17th century. Galgaklettur (Gallows Rock) is believed to be the site of the hangings for those who had committed theft.
Gallows Rock

The canyon of Langistigur opens great views.
canyon of Langistigur

After reaching the canyon, go back by the upper road to see Öxarárfoss waterfall.
Öxarárfoss waterfall

Drekkingarhylir (Drowning Pool) is known to be the place for punishing women: they were drowned here, tied up in a sack. Drowning was widely used as a means of execution. People were drowned in marshes, in fresh waters and the sea, at least until the 16th century.
Drowning Pool

You can see much more if you continue to the top.
Drowning Pool

On the way to the next attraction, Kerið, you can still enjoy a lot of views.

You may stop by the exhibition of Ljósafoss Hydro Power Station, which we liked a lot, but it is optional depending on your interests. This and other sights related to natural Icelandic energy require a special blog post!
Ljósafoss Power Station

The next stop is Kerið, a volcanic crater which was formed about 6500 years ago. For centuries, a rise in water level here has been accompanied by a corresponding fall in the pond Búrfell in Grimsnes, and vice versa. It will take you only 20-30 minutes and 400 Icelandic kronas to enjoy it. This is one of the very few sights in Iceland you have to pay for.
Kerið crater


Your visit to Geysir, a famous geothermal area, will become one of the major impressions of this day. First you will see small geysers producing lots of steam.

More exciting, however, is Great Geysir, shooting every 5-10 minutes.

Continue to see more thermal waters, all very dangerous to approach.
Geyser valey

Geyser valey

Geyser valey

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall next to Geysir is really impressive. The trail around the waterfall is dedicated to the memory of Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of a farmer who fought to save the waterfall when they wanted to build the dam on it; she even promised to commit suicide in this case. Better keep the Gullfoss for the evening to catch the rainbow.
Gullfoss Waterfall

There is a story from the 17th century, said to be true, about the farmer’s son who guarded the sheep on the pastures upstream the waterfall. On the other side of the river, a girl watched over sheep too. They kept a keen eye on each other, with the river between them. Finally, however, the girl asked the boy to wade across the river to her. He waded into the stream and its shallows and managed to cross the river! Little is known about how the girl responded, except that they married and had many well-respected descendants.
Gullfoss Waterfall

Finish your day with a cherry on a pie – Secret Lagoon thermal bath. You may not only soak here, but also enjoy the walk around another geothermal area.
hot springs

Secret Lagoon

Not on purpose, we visited the Lagoon for free. We enjoyed it a lot, admiring the facilities (shower, etc.) in it, thinking that although Iceland is said to be expensive, but it is not so bad, since the attractions are mostly free and even such places as the Lagoon are free. After having a very nice bath, at the exit, suddenly, we saw the cashier desk with the prices – about 25 euros per person!
This night we stayed at Flúðir camping ground, not the very best, but also not the worst camping in Iceland.
Would you like to see more in the Golden Triangle area? Head to Hveragerði offering all kinds of activities for at least one full day! Or head further to the south to see Seljalandfoss, Gljufrabui, Skogafoss, Skogar museum, Dyrholaey, Reynisfjara, and Vik.

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