Ready for a road trip in beautiful Iceland? The Golden Circle is a perfect day trip for those who may be short on time but still want to see the beauty and wonders of Icelandic nature.
Driving in Iceland
Iceland is a fairly easy country to get around in. Since there are more animals (like sheep) living on the island than there are people, the stress of traffic is not much of concern. For my fellow Americans, you should be cautioned to know that like most countries in Europe, Iceland has a ton of roundabouts so try not to speed past them. In addition, Icelandic weather and wind speeds can be quite unpredictable. Make sure to check the weather and wind speed before heading out. You can find weather conditions at http://en.vedur.is/. (Look under the Hveravellir region).
When renting a car, you want to find a reliable 4x4 car because some of the roads on this route are F4s (off roading) that require a 4x4 to drive on. For directions, I would suggest using data from your phone or printing out the google maps before heading out. Verizon Wireless offers $10 a day for using data internationally. Although some rental companies offer GPS devices, many of them are old, unreliable, and not user friendly.
1) Pingvellir National Park is the first stop on the Golden Circle tour. In addition to gaining the title of a UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) site, this national park has everything from tectonic plates to the site of Iceland's first parliament to a waterfall (Öxarárfoss).
2) Gullfoss Waterfall is the second stop on the tour. Although Iceland has a fair amount of waterfalls, none seem to compare to Gullfoss (Golden). Gullfoss waterfall is a quite massive waterfall reaching around 230 feet (70 meters) in height. During sunny days, it is possible to see a double rainbow!!
In addition to it's size, The Gullfoss waterfall also holds sentimental significance as it tells the amazing story of an environmentalist named Sigriður Tómasdóttir. In 1907, the waterfall was leased to an Englishman to become an electrical plant. Sigriður, the farmers daughter who owned it at the time, hired a lawyer to void the contract. Although unsuccessful in court, she was able to show the Icelandic people how precious the waterfall was and the importance in preserving Icelandic nature.
3) Geysir is the last official stop on the tour. It is located 5-10 mins away from the Gullfoss Waterfall. The Geysir field contains an area of hot springs. The most famous of these hot springs is the Strokkur geyser. The Strokkur geyser erupts every few minutes. Since the timing is frequent, don't fret about not receiving the perfect picture or video. Geysir Center has a huge gift shop, restaurant and a head of a Viking that you can take pictures with.
4) Excursions: Kerid Crater (seen in the first picture of this post) is a volcanic crater lake and was my favorite part of the tour. The crater is located on the way back to Reykjavik from Geysir. Driving to this crater, you will have to do a bit of off roading on to tiny dirt paths and cross a river via bridge. In addition, there is small entrance fee of 4 US Dollars (a little over 300 ISK) to enter. Once you enter, it doesn't take long to hike down.
For more excursions, feel free to check out this helpful website: Guide to Iceland