Golden Circle Iceland: Best Self Guided Tour

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Looking to explore the mesmerizing Golden Circle of Iceland for a self-guided tour of some of the country’s most amazing sights and attractions? Then keep reading!

Iceland is one of the most otherwordly places on earth. It is known for its amazing landscapes, natural wonders, and outdoor adventures. Iceland is one of the few places in the world with the majority of its attractions being natural and not man-made. This only adds to its magic! If you are planning a visit to Iceland then you must be considering driving the golden circle to see the best of the best.

Keep reading to learn more about the Golden Circle in Iceland!

Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.

What is the Golden Circle in Iceland?

Golden Cricle waterfall

The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most popular tourist route that brings you to some of the best attractions in the country. The entire route is about 300 kilometers and takes anywhere from 4 hours or more, depending on how long you stop at each attraction and the route you take.

For first-time visitors of Iceland, heading on the Golden Circle Tour is the best thing to do in order to see the highlights of Iceland in the most convenient way. This tour will show you the three most popular natural attractions in Iceland, being Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.

There are some additional places you can stop at that are not a part of the official tour, but also well worth it. Find these additional stops within the post.


Golden Circle Iceland Driving Tour Map


Best Time to Drive the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is open year-round and can visitors can enjoy the sites and attractions in all seasons. All seasons offer something different when touring the Golden Circle and depending on your desires you can pick the season that is best for you.

  • Summer has the most tourists
  • Summer has the most daylight
  • The most popular months are spring and fall: fewer people, mild temperatures.
  • Winter has the most snow and cold days
  • Winter offers lower cost accommodations (which is welcome in expensive Iceland)

Overall: The best time to dive the Golden Circle is in spring or fall.

Iceland map

What to See in the Golden Circle

Thingvellir National Park

The first stop on the Golden Circle tour is Þingvellir National ParkThis infamous national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that holds both historical and geographic significance and is unlike any other national park in the world.

It is a great place for hiking, exploring, scuba diving, and learning about Iceland’s unique history. and geography.

Iceland

Since 930 AD, Þingvellir has historically been a meeting place for Icelandic disputes and is the longest-running and operating parliament in the world

Even more compelling, Þingvellir is where you can walk on two different continents within a few meters of one another. This is due to the fact that Iceland is split by the Mid-Atlantic Rift, with some of Iceland’s land on the North American tectonic plate, and the other half on the Eurasian. Þingvellir is the best place to view the edges of the two plates.


The Geysir Geothermal Area

The next stop on the Golden Circle Tour is The Geysir Geothermal Area. This natural wonder is a landmine of geysers, boiling water pits, geysers and the highly active and very famous Stokkur Geysir.

The entire area feels like a different planet with hot water pools and shooting water all around. However, Strokkur Geysir is the real star of the show, shooting spouts of boiling water 30 meters into the air every couple of minutes!

Strokkur Geysir
Strokkur Geysir

In addition to admiring the Geysris many people find themself roaming the grounds exploring the other natural wonders. Here the land is formed and shaped in unique ways in a variety of unique hues. This is because of the different land elements like copper, sulfur, and iron.


Gullfoss Waterfall

The last stop on the Golden Circle Tour is Gullfoss Waterfall. This is a huge waterfall located in Iceland’s Hvítá river and is breathtaking. Glacier Langjökull feeds the roaring waterfall that falls 35 meters down in a moment’s time.

It is a very powerful waterfall and one of the most magical natural occurrences in Iceland. It is beautiful in all seasons, but during the spring as the ice is melting the water is at its most powerful and ferocious.

Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss Waterfall

You will find two observation decks at Gullfoss Waterfall, one closer to the falls and one further away. This allows visitors to view this powerful giant water flow from different vantage points. Here at Gullfoss, you can also admire the majestic rainbows that arch above the waterfall, only adding to its splendour. This is one of the best Golden Circle Iceland stops.


Additional Stops To Make

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is a 60-meter high waterfall located off the main Golden Circle Tour route, but on the way to many of the other amazing stops to make in South Iceland if you are seeking more adventures.

The water is sourced from the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano and comes in huge volumes resulting in an amazing waterfall experience. This waterfall is located on rocky moss-covered cliffs and really looks like a scene out of a movie.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss is beautiful to admire from a distance, but even better to admire from the path behind the waterfall. The path behind the falls provides a 360-degree view of the curtain of water and is a mesmerizing experience. Just note, that the path is rocky and slippery, so be careful while walking here.


Abandoned plane Iceland

The stunning black sands of Sólheimasandur are home to one of the most famous plane wreaks in Iceland. This plane wreck has been here since 1973 after the plane ran out of fuel and luckily everyone survived. This is one of the most popular places to visit due to the eerie sight of the plane shell and the otherworldly landscape surrounding it.

Abandoned plane Iceland

To get here, you should head to these coordinates 63°29’28.4″N 19°21’48.2″W, which will bring you to a parking lot. From the parking lot, you won’t be able to see the plane but you will walk for around 45 minutes to arrive at the shell of the plane.


Vik Black Sand Beach

The final stop along the south Icelandic coast if you wish to venture off the Golden Circle is the Black Sand Beaches. These beaches are a stunning natural phenomenon with the sand at the beach being completely black, and a huge mountain with large basalt column caves.

Black Sand Beaches
Black Sand Beaches

This is not your regular beach and is definitely not for swimming. The signs all around will remind you to keep away from the water due to the strong waves and tides of the Ocean. It is important to stay away from the away no matter how tempting it may be.


Self Driving the Golden Circle Tips

  • Pack snacks and drinks: there are places to get food along the way but they are majorly overpriced so packing your own for the day is a must. The cost of your trip to Iceland will vary but can be influenced by your decisions.
  • You don’t need a 4×4: the roads in Iceland are super new and easy to drive on, and you don’t need to rent a huge car or SUV to get around.
  • Dress accordingly: Look at the forecast when you plan on visiting. It is always a good idea to pack a waterproof jacket as the waterfalls give off plenty of mist.

Where to Stay in Iceland

Booking.com

The Golden Circle Tour in Iceland is nothing short of amazing. Within one day you will get to see and experience some of the best Iceland has to offer.

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Golden Circle Iceland pin
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