SELF DRIVE GOLDEN CIRCLE – 5 MUST DO THINGS
The Golden Circle is a scenic route between the beautiful natural
attractions in Iceland. The main Golden Circle attractions include
- Thingvellir national park
- Geysir geothermal area
- Gullfoss waterfall
- The Secret Lagoon
- Kerid Crater
The Benefit of driving the Golden Circle yourself is that you can choose when to begin and how long you will stay at each attraction.
Driving, the 140 miles(230 km) of the Golden Circle can take as little as three hours. If you take the shortest route so you could do the whole circle in about 7 to 8 hours with a stop, but most people prefer at least two days to self-drive the Golden Circle. Perhaps you can visit these attractions like the locals and spend a night in that area.
How to avoid the crowds in Golden Circle?
The busiest time at the Golden Circle, and major attractions are between 9 AM and 7 PM. If you leave early in summer (or spend the night in the area), you can see the attractions in broad daylight before 9 AM or after 7 PM.
These are perfect times to capture sunrise and sunset photos in the spring or fall or admire the northern lights during wintertime.
1.Thingvellir National Park
The Thingvellir National Park is located in southwest Iceland around 45 minutes (51km) from Reykjavik city. It’s the first stop for travelers on the Golden Circle and is located on the Ring Road. This is known as the birthplace of Iceland as a nation, and home to the oldest ongoing Parliament in the world. Thingvellir national park is a natural wonder of the world.
Thingvellir national park area is part of the Atlantic Ocean ridge that runs through Iceland. There you can see the consequences of the erosion of the earth‘s crust in the gorges and cracks in the area.
You can walk in the seismic rift Valley, that marks the border between the two continents
Opening timings: 9 AM to 6 PM (daily)
The Oxarafoss Waterfall is situated within Thingvellir national park in southwest Iceland, undeniably the most scenic natural attraction of the place.
Wooden broad walks and a few bridges lead to the other side of the river where there is a photogenic Thingvellir church. Diving and Snorkeling are possible at Silfra all year round!
Please do not miss to read 12 Things To Do In Thingvellir National
Geyser is a special type of hot spring where hot water streams intermittently. Essentially, it’s the water version of a volcano. Geysers need very specific conditions to exist, that’s why there are only a few places in the world that offers visitors.
How often does a geyser erupt?
In 1910, Geysers would have eruptions almost every 30 minutes. Today, although the geyser is still officially active, its eruptions are very infrequent. Many visitors visit the great geyser as an origin story and
even visit all geysers out there. Then pop around to its sister geyser, Stokkur, to capture some live eruption action. Stokkur is just a hundred meters from the geyser and erupts roughly every 5 to 10
Eruptions at Geysers can hurl boiling water up to 70 m (230 feet) into the air.
However, eruptions, are nowadays infrequent.
History of Geyser
Research on the deposits of sinter, formed from the dissolved minerals in hot water, shows that Geyser has been active for approximately 10,000 years. The place name Geyser is first mentioned in the written sources in the 18th century: unusual natural phenomena were of great interest during the Age of Enlightenment. Geyser was erupting 45 to 54 m (148-177ft) high.
The records of recent centuries show that earthquakes have tended to revive the activity of Geysers. Haukadalur Valli and The Great Geyser were mentioned in historical writings as far back as 1294. That year, a powerful earthquake occurred in Iceland’s southern lowlands, creating many of the hot Springs in the area. If you were ever wondering what a geyser is, the answer lies in Iceland’s volcanic forces. The
great Geyser takes its name from the geyser, meaning to gush. It was the first geyser known to the Europeans and the first such phenomenon, described in print. Therefore, the Icelandic Geyser gave its name to the English word Geyser. Geyser is known to burst up to 70 m (230 ft ) into the air. About 20 m (3.2ft) down, the geyser feeder channel, the water reaches the boiling point
and can be as hot as 125°C.
The nearby Geyser Strokkur erupts much more frequently than Geyser, erupting to heights of up to 30 m(98 feet) every few minutes. Strokkur activity has been affected by earthquakes, although to a lesser extent than the Great Geyser.
The temperature of water 20 m down the Geyser feeder channel is about 125°C. It has risen from a depth of 1 to 2 km. Geyser discharge is 1.5 l/s, whereas the entire area discharges 14l/s. During the dreaded
earthquakes that regularly ripple across Southern Iceland, no damage to the property has been seen.
Strokkur is currently the most energetic spouting spring in Iceland. It spouts every few minutes, sometimes to a height of 40 m, it is generally less than 10 to 20 m. This was set off during an earthquake in 1789, having then been quiescent for some time. In all probability, though, it had been active before, the year after Strokkur started to Spout It was extremely powerful and ejected water, gas, and steam with tremendous force. Towards the beginning of the following century, it spouted with less frequency, in comparison. At the time, Geyser jets reached a height of 30 m, whereas Strokkur would spout 40m.
To the west of Geysir and above it, we find Blesi. It used to spout 1 m but is currently quiescent. This blue spring, which is 1 m deep, does not have its source, so its water is fairly cold, 40°C.
Fata is not very copious, but quite hot. A few hours before Fata is meant to spout, water is made to flow into either from Blesi. when it reaches the boiling point, Soap is poured in and usually, you will not have to wait long before you see the majestic results. Finally, the boiling becomes explosive and the spouting starts. The spouting goes on for extraordinary length and the jets slant in the direction of Strokkur.
This is slight to the Northwest and above Blesi, the lower, and the footpath to the panorama disc. It is the northernmost spring in the Geyser field.
Seidir huddles close to Litli Geysir. It is believed to have once been one of the area’s principal Springs but has now cooled. Ownership of the area Until 1894, the geyser area was owned by a local farmer and then was acquired by the prime minister of Northern Ireland.
How to get to Geyser?
The Hot Spring area is approximately 44 minutes (55 km)
from Thingvellir National Park.
Geyser is located in the geothermally active Haukadalur Valley in
the southwest of Iceland. The geyser Hotspring area is easily
accessible, and visitors are welcome all year round.
How much does it cost to visit Geyser?
You do not have to pay an entrance fee when visiting Geyser. You need
to stay within a marked area and stand back when Geyser erupts, for the
extremely hot water can burn.
- Gullfoss waterfalls
Gullfoss is a waterfall located in the canyon of the HvitaRiver in southwest Iceland.
Gullfoss means Golden waterfall. One of the theories, proving this is that, one legend goes and dumped his treasure into the pool at the base of the waterfall so that nobody could enjoy his riches after he had passed away, another says that it was named after the rainbows that form in the water mist on sunny days, there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Of course, it may just be that on a sunny day, the water pouring over the rocks takes on a golden brown color as it carries with it sediment from the glacial Valley.
In 1909, Gullfoss court and an English businessman thought the raw power of the waterfall could be harnessed to fuel a hydroelectric PowerPoint. Around 5000 years ago Gullfoss was formed. The farmers’ daughter Sigridur Tomasdottir saved her money for a lawyer and battled with the Englishman over the decades to prevent his plan from going forward. Gullfoss was given back to the Icelandic people and the lease ended in 1929. Sigridur is considered Iceland’s first environmentalist.
How to get to Gullfoss?
Gullfoss Waterfalls is 9 minutes (9.4 km) from Geyser.
You cannot spot the waterfalls from far away, and it’s only when you get close to the edge that you can see the waterfalls, so it looks like they disappear into the Earth. From the parking area, it takes only five
minutes of walking to reach Gullfoss Waterfall.
The Hvita River flows Southward, about a kilometer above the falls, it turns sharply to the west and flows down into a wide code, 3-step staircase and then abruptly plunges in two stages, the first, shorter,
Cascade is 11 m tall (36 feet), while the second drop is 21m(69 feet). The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70 m(230 feet). Thanks to the amount of mist kicked up by Gullfoss,
rainbows frequently appear at the falls.
Is Gullfoss waterfall open all round year?
Yes, Gullfoss waterfall is open year-round, but the path to the lower level and the observation area is closed in winter due to icy conditions. Gullfoss Waterfall is probably one of the first waterfalls, you will visit in Iceland. Once you arrive in Reykjavik, the next day usually will drive to
the Golden Circle.
Tips for photographing Gullfoss waterfall:
- First of all, sunrise or sunset will provide the best lighting.
- No matter what time of day you visit, the waterfall is stunning and a great photography location.
- You can take photos from an overlook by the Visitors Centre, which is a great overall view of the waterfall. If you walk down the nearby stairs you will see a lower version of the same view.
Do you get wet in Gullfoss waterfall?
In the summer, approximately 140 m³ (459 ft.³) of water reaches the waterfall, every second, while in winter that number drops to 109 m³(358ft.³) with such energy, usually, you may not be surprised to find
yourself, drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray, if you go close the waterfall. Gullfoss waterfall is one of the natural wonders of Iceland and it is unique because you view the falls from above and it appears that
the Iceland waterfall is going underground!
Can you walk around Gullfoss waterfall?
Yes, there are several walking paths and viewing platforms around Gullfoss that offer stunning views of the waterfall and canyon. Visitors should stay on designated paths otherwise it is slippery.
How much does it cost to go to Gullfoss Waterfall?
Visiting Gullfoss waterfall is completely free, similar to most Iceland attractions. As the fall is free of charge and you do not need to pay for parking either.
Some of the great dining options in Gullfoss include:
- Frioheimar greenhouse for tomato soup with homemade bread and cucumber salsa. All the tomatoes and cucumbers are grown on the premises.
- The Ethiopian restaurant Minilik in Fludir is also fun in the middle of the
- Icelandic countryside. It’s an excellent example of how international kissing has reached more remote areas of Iceland.
- Graena Kannan Cafe: here, you get homemade cakes and delicious coffee.
- The Secret Lagoon
The Secret Lagoon, known locally as Gamla Laugin, (an old pool) is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland.
This geothermal area near Fludir was constructed in 1981.
There are several hot Springs around the secret Lagoon.
The walking path is built around the pool so that you can safely watch the boiling, gushing, and springing of water from it. The secret lagoon is a man-made pool with naturally occurring hot Springs, the water at a temperature of 38 to 40°C (100° Fahrenheit) all year round. The area all around the Hot spring consists of mossy lava fields, and geothermal hotspots, including a small geyser that erupts every five minutes or so, which can be seen from the pool. Spending some time relaxing in the
lagoon is the perfect addition to your Golden Circle tour.
The area around the pool has also been left very natural, you can enjoy the scenery and nature that this part of Iceland has to offer. In Summer, it is lovely to alternate between sun and bathing, in the
winter sitting in the water for a brief time can help you appreciate the warmth of the water!
Facilities at the Secret Lagoon
This hot Spring has inbuilt showers for women and men, changing rooms, and a bar and eating area. Hot and cold drinks, cakes, and snacks are available. The other facilities include free car parking, an
outdoor terrace area, next to the pool, charming poolside, pathways, and spacious secure lockers.
How to get to Secret Lagoon?
The secret lagoon is 28 minutes (32 km) from Gullfoss Waterfalls.
It is located on Hvammsvegur Road in a small village called Fludir.
Opening timings: 10 AM to 7 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Cost: 3000 ISK ($22)
- Admission to the Secret Lagoon Hot Spring
- Access to the geothermal swimming pool
- Indoor changing room with locals and showers
- You can stay as long as you want during opening hours. It’s the perfect way to relax after a hard day.
What is not included?
Towels and swimsuit (Can be rented at an extra cost)
- KERID CRATER
Kerid is a volcanic crater located in South Iceland, along the Golden Circle. it is one of several crater lakes in the area. It is approximately 55m (180ft ) deep, 170 m(560ft) wide, and 270 m (890 ft) in circumference.
The crater lake was formed about 3000 years ago.
How to get to Kerid Crater?
Kerid Crater is 32 minutes ( 39 km) from The Secret Lagoon
How long does Kerid Crater take?
Tourists spend around half an hour to 1 hour at Kerid, taking photos and walking around the edge of the crater.
Is Kerid Crater worth a visit?
If you are going on the Golden Circle route, a stop at Kerid Crater is an absolute must. You will be excited to find landscapes and a crater with stunning colors and surroundings. If you are setting off on a long road trip, the short hike here is an excellent place to stretch your legs without exhausting them.
Hiking, the Kerid crater
The steps start at the car park and descend sharply into the crater. Here, you’re surrounded by the dusty red terrain and right by the lake at the center of Kerid. Photos with an angle into the crater lake can be
When is the best time to visit the crater?
The best time is to visit during the summer months. However, it is worth visiting all year round, as the sight of the frozen and snow-covered crater is different and impressive.
How much does it cost?
Children under the age of 12 can enter for free
Adults: 400 ISK ($2.80)
Golden Circle takes a minimum of one day to enjoy the natural scenic beauty, but if you spend 2 days, you can enjoy it at leisure. Please do not miss out on 12 Things To Do In Thingvellir National Park Iceland.
You can follow our Complete Guide To Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls, Iceland. Seljalandsfoss is around 1 hour from Kerid Crater, not to be missed if you are exploring Golden Circle!