A Classic: Golden Circle

Posted by Kublai on 08 Nov 2014

Strolling along the Seine during a Paris spring. Experiencing the 24-hour frenzy of Manhattan. Glimpsing the Pyramids for the first time.

There are some things in life that are such quintessential experiences they can’t be considered a cliché.

If you’ve heard about one sightseeing tour in Iceland, it would probably be the Golden Circle tour. Stretching roughly 200 kilometres out from Reykjavik, the Golden Circle route showcases the amazing diversity of Iceland's landscape and encapsulates what is unique about this island nation in terms of nature and history.

You’ll see spouting geysers, geology in action, majestic waterfalls, and sites of cultural and historical importance, all in a half- or full-day trip from the capital.

Main highlights of the Golden Circle tour are:

Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The rocky outcrops and shrub covered slopes overlooking Lake Þingvallavatn were the site of Iceland’s first parliament, the Alþingi, which began meeting in 930 AD, making it the oldest running parliament in the world.

This park also lies on the fault line between the North American and European tectonic plates, so it’s a perfect place to witness the effects of the geology in action: The land here is separating at a rate of about 2 centimetres per year.

Geysir hot springs and geothermal area
Strokkur is the reliable little brother to Geysir, the erupting geyser that lent its name to all the others. Strokkur lies in the Haukadalur geothermal fields, diligently spouting hot water — often close to the height of 30 meters — every ten minutes or so.

Gullfoss waterfall                                                                                                           In the Hvítá River the „Golden Waterfall“, cascades in two steps into 2,5 km long canyon as this glacial torrent barrels towards the sea.

In addition to these three stops, some tours also take in other highlights along this route including the church and ancient seat of power at Skálholt, and the geothermal greenhouses of Hveragerði town, where - no joke - many of Europe’s bananas are grown.

Gray Line Iceland offers numerous Golden Circle tours daily throughout the year.

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