Our trip to Iceland was a surprise, probably the best birthday surprise I’ve ever received. But because of that, I wasn’t able to plan and instead my partner was in charge of our schedule. Luckily he did an amazing job putting together a fun and well-rounded schedule including the popular first-time tourist tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle.
In its simplest terms, the Golden Circle is a 300 km loop into central Iceland that includes three primary stops: Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss and the active geyser region. But of course it’s so much more than that. Instead of trying to find the words to piece together the three sites themselves, I decided that the best way to share them is through photography.
Just as interesting as the main sites themselves, the drive across the Icelandic terrain is stunning and dynamic, changing from green valleys dotted with horses to barren lava fields. The first stop is usually at Geysir, home of the geysers. The active geyser field is smoky and smelly, the hallmarks of geothermal activity. The real star of the show is watching one of the geysers erupt every five minutes. It may not be the largest in the world, but its consistency guarantees a show for every visitor.
Gullfoss, or the Golden Falls, are the next stop and rival any waterfall you’ve seen around the world. The massive falls are beautiful any time of year, but in winter there is a special stark elegance to it that’s hard to resist.
The final stop is Þingvellir or Thingvellir, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it marks the spot of the world’s first parliament in 930. The site is so much more than that though, it holds a special cultural spot in the hearts of all Icelanders and has been elevated to more than just a physical site, but one of intense emotional importance.
The Golden Circle tour lasts all day, but it is the perfect way to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Iceland for yourself.