Your Guide to Driving the Golden Circle!
- Your Guide to Driving the Golden Circle!
The Golden Circle is a must-see for anyone visiting Iceland. With dramatic landscapes, hot springs, and a giant crater, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. If you’ve made the decision of self-driving the Golden Circle, I have you covered!
Driving the Golden Circle takes about 3 hours with no stops. With that being said, this trip will take a full day! Since the Golden Circle is extremely popular, make sure to get an early start to avoid the crowds.
Below is our Google map route of the best stops along the Golden Circle.
Now all you need to do is just type them into your GPS and you are off! You can also find a screenshot of our Google Map route for driving the Golden Circle at the bottom of this post.
We drove Iceland’s Golden Circle in Spring, however, you can drive the route during any season as long as you have extra precautions in Winter.
Tip: If you are starting in Reykjavik, remove Selfoss from your list. Also, be prepared to pay for parking at some locations.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, where I might receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Kerið Crater Lake
We stayed in Selfoss, so we made Kerið Crater our first stop, however, from Reykjavik, Kerið Crater might be your last stop on your Golden Circle route. This 3,000-year-old volcanic crater lake is quite impressive!
During your visit, you have the opportunity to walk fully around the crater, as well as, hike down to the pool of water (weather conditions permitting). We visited Iceland during the spring, therefore everything was open.
Next, we stopped to look at the Secret Lagoon. Thinking that the Secret lagoon would be similar to the Blue Lagoon, we only intended to be there a short time. However, the Secret Lagoon is a small hot spring minus the milky blue water.
If you plan on adding Secret Lagoon to your Golden Circle route, I would suggest getting here very early or making this a separate trip.
Secret Lagoon offers a nice seating area and a place to order food, however, we walked in for about 5 minutes and then continued to the next stop on the Golden Circle.
Geothermal Area, Geysir
We continued on to what I consider the show stopper of the Golden Circle, the Geysir! There is free parking, can you believe it?! From the parking lot, you will walk across the street to the entrance.
Just be warned the smell of rotten eggs permeates the air all around you! What you are actually smelling is the sulfur in the Earth’s water.
The main attraction, Strokkur (giant Geysir) shoots out water about every 10 minutes or so! We stood and watched in anticipation while the water boiled.
Each bubble anxiously had my heart skipping while waiting for the ground to reach its exploding point. One last big bubble and you can see the water turning turquoise as it shoots out, hitting our faces with steam and showering us with water droplets. We watched for about 3 bursts…. Yup about 30 minutes more or less.
Eating by the Geysers
Walking back across the street there is a gift shop, bathrooms, and food. One thing I learned is if you can find a free bathroom in Iceland, use it. Otherwise, you will probably have to pay to pee!
We went here to eat and believe it or not, the food was pretty reasonably priced for Iceland prices and being a major tourist attraction. You have your choice of fast food and/or soup or further down by the bathrooms, there is a nicer spot that has assorted sandwiches, beer, gelato, and other desserts.
Get Up Close With Icelandic Horses
Want to see the Icelandic horses up close? Then you will want to make sure to add this stop to your route! This is marked as Brú on the Google map above.
You will find a box full of “treats” for the horses with a cup to put money in. The box is not regulated, but the owner trusts people will pay.
The second we walked up the horses came right up to us reaching for our hands. Clearly, they were only interested in their treats, but that was fine with me! We stood there a while gently petting the horses.
Right as we got there a tour bus pulled in, so this is likely a popular stopping spot.
Gullfoss waterfalls are a must-stop when driving the Golden Circle! When we arrived, the wind almost knocked me off my feet. It was incredibly cold, but also incredibly beautiful.
There are several theories on how Gullfoss (translated Golden Falls) acquired its name. One theory is because of the golden evening hue that often colors the glacial water. Another is from the rainbow that appears when the sun hits the spray.
The last theory is really a legend of a farmer named Gygur who owned a ton of gold and because he didn’t want anyone else to possess it, he put it in a coffer and threw it into the river. Thus the name Golden Falls.
Þingvellir National Park
Lastly, head to Þingvellir National Park. Rich in history and breathtaking scenery made it another popular location. You will find tons of hiking trails, waterfalls, and the largest natural lake in Iceland.
One of the most popular activities to do in Þingvellir National Park is swimming at Silfra which is between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. I also believe this is the only place in the world you can experience this.
The Golden Circle Driving Guide Wrap-up
This summarizes my Iceland Golden Circle Drive. I hope you have the most amazing experience seeing all of Iceland’s beauty along the road and that you found this guide helpful! Find more guides including the Blue Lagoon, driving to Diamond Beach and Glacier Lagoon and Iceland tips here!