Magical Day Trip - Iceland's Golden Circle

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But now to the Magic...

The must do Golden Circle is on everyone's itinerary when arriving to Iceland. It's quite easy to get to as it's only 40 minutes to the first destination from Reykjavik. Reserve a full day for the circle in order to enjoy all of the sites, otherwise you may cut the circle short, which we had to do due to timing. You kind of get it all in the circle - the Tectonic Plates, Geysers, Waterfalls, & Craters! Even if you're doing a long layover this is a great way to see some natural beauty of Iceland in one day. 

Side story of our late day: We arrived at our AirBnB at 4 am the previous day so slept in just a bit and hit the road around 11am. Our car rental was delayed because the car we were supposed to have hit a sheep

OH NO!

At that point we didn't realize that sheep were like deer in the Midwest, or moose in Alaska - gotta be on sheep watch, or they will jump out on the road without warning! Baaa!

Reason we mention that is we would have done the circle in one day but actually completed the circle on Day 2. But we stand by our recommendation of finishing this in one full day.

Here's the route for those like us and need some visual:

A typical golden circle from reykjavik

A typical golden circle from reykjavik

Thingvellier National Park

This location is extremely valued for Iceland. The oldest existing parliament first assembled here in 930AD and is therefore is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our AirBnB host couldn't stop raving how important this park was! 

just a walk between two continental plates that are separating as we speak!

just a walk between two continental plates that are separating as we speak!

You could really spend quite some time at this park - there are tons of trails that you can take exploring various waterfalls and enormous cracks in the ground.

Quite fascinating the power of this earth!

To the right is a simplistic image of two plates separating at Thingvellir National Park. 

Secret - we get to snorkel in between the two plates on our next adventure, you can't do that anywhere else in the world (more on that to come)! 

There are two main entrances to the park, if we knew of the second one we would recommend it as it's right next to the waterfalls (above)! 

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So I'm a big planner and hand't realized that we would be snorkeling at this exact park the next day!

Oops!

We would probably have not spent as much time hiking and looking for waterfalls (save it for the next day). Lesson learned - know your parks and where your excursions are taking place!

Technically my biggest lesson learned is not bringing a lonely planet book on Iceland. 

If you're doing the Silfra diving/snorkeling here, skip this stop until your excursion day; kill two birds while you're there! 

The Great Geysir

Another 40 minute drive and you will arrive at Geysir, a park with various hot springs and Geysers. The main attraction is the "Great Geysir" which sprouts every 3-8 minutes. 

Geysir just seconds after an eruption

Geysir just seconds after an eruption

Crowds gather with their phones pointed at the geyser in anticipation of the next eruption which could get up to 100ft (30 meters). Sometimes you're extremely impressed and other times a bit disappointed.

So stand by, you might get a good one! 

This Geyser's vertical sprout is second in size to Yellowstone National Park. We don't suggest spending too much time here; grab a photo of an eruption, smell the sulfur, and maybe grab a quick road snack at the large cafe/gift shop.

Enjoying the view at a non-active Hot Spring 

Enjoying the view at a non-active Hot Spring 

Did we mention there are some empty roads in Iceland? It's not all waterfalls and Geysers so make sure you have some good company for the road! :) 

 

Gulfoss Falls

The Gulfoss falls are the most famous stop at the tip of the Golden Circle road.

I mean look at the little people near that fall - it's enormous!

The pure mass of the water falling creates an incredible thundering sound, and check out how far the water splashes up after it crashes down

It was cloudy during our stop but if Iceland smiles down on you with sunshine, you might get yourself a magical rainbow!

Making snaps of Gulfoss, Taken with iPhone & edited with VSCO. 

Making snaps of Gulfoss, Taken with iPhone & edited with VSCO. 

Kerid Crater

Usually on the tail end of your drive through the Golden Circle is the Kerid (Kerið) Crater.  We actually stopped here after our snorkeling adventure at Silfra in Thingvellir National Park (above).

There are various theories on how this was formed but they all lead to the conclusion of a volcano that erupted and emptied it's magma reserve, once weight of magma was depleted, the cone emptied and the crater lake was formed. 
 

Up close and personal at the crater lake, it's actually not filled by rain but is at water level

Up close and personal at the crater lake, it's actually not filled by rain but is at water level

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...that was close. Now you can keep reading. 

so big!

so big!

Initially, we weren't planning on being too impressed but it's pure mass was quite impressive. You can actually walk all the way around the outside perimeter of the crater, just be careful taking selfies - there isn't much protection from falling! 

taking a LEISURELY stretch atop the crater, yes it was scary!

taking a LEISURELY stretch atop the crater, yes it was scary!

Well that concludes the Golden Circle of Iceland, One adventure of many!!

you never know, you might just meet up with friends in between two tectonic plates!

you never know, you might just meet up with friends in between two tectonic plates!

QUICK TIPS:

  • Iceland Air flights from US to Europe stop over in Reykjavik and you can extend your layover at no cost! How cool is that? You can stay in Iceland for up to 7 days on your "layover".
  • Rent a car and enjoy Iceland at your own pace, driving is VERY easy and the roads are great. They also drive on the right side of the road! 
  • Iceland is expensive, so plan your budget wisely!
  • Bring a book such as a Lonelyplanet - Iceland. Don't rely on your phone like we did! 
  • Get a hotel/hostel/AirBnb that includes breakfast so you can save money on one meal.
neat formations of moss cover so much of icelandic landscape

neat formations of moss cover so much of icelandic landscape


Can you believe how much we saw in less than 12 hours? And you know we have so much more to share... stay tuned for more incredible Iceland images and tips! See more here in the mean time.

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