Is The Golden Circle Worth It?

Written by
Is The Golden Circle Worth It?

When one thinks of Iceland, it’s hard not to conjure images of breathtaking landscapes, pristine natural wonders, and a land that seems almost alien in its beauty.

The Golden Circle, a popular tourist route that starts and ends in Reykjavik, is often hailed as the quintessential Icelandic experience.

But is it truly worth the hype?

Join me as we delve into the heart of the matter, dissecting the merits and demerits of embarking on this iconic journey.

6 Reasons Why The Golden Circle Is Worth It

The Ultimate Guide To The Golden Circle In Iceland

The Golden Circle is a journey that captures the essence of Reykjavik, celebrating the mystique of Iceland’s unique natural wonders.

It is an adventure that enriches the senses, piques intellectual curiosity, and immerses you in the beauty of Iceland’s geological and cultural tapestry.

While the Golden Circle may be bustling with travelers, its iconic attractions are undeniably worth the visit, offering an unforgettable glimpse into Iceland’s enigmatic allure.

Let’s have a look at the 6 reasons why the Golden Circle is worth a visit.

1. Spectacular Natural Beauty: Without a doubt, the Golden Circle showcases some of Iceland’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

From the serene vistas of Þingvellir to the awe-inspiring power of Strokkur and the majesty of Gullfoss, the beauty of these sites is undeniable.

2. Convenience: The Golden Circle is conveniently accessible from Reykjavik, making it an ideal day trip for those with limited time in Iceland. Its proximity to the capital city allows you to experience these wonders without a long journey.

3. Historical Significance: Þingvellir National Park isn’t just a geological marvel; it’s also a place of historical importance.

It was here that Iceland’s first parliament, Alþingi, convened in 930 AD, making it the world’s oldest legislative assembly.

4. Geothermal Exploration: The Geysir geothermal area provides a unique opportunity to witness the Earth’s inner workings in action.

Strokkur’s regular eruptions are a captivating reminder of the planet’s geological activity.

5. Awe-Inspiring Waterfalls: Gullfoss is a thunderous spectacle that leaves a lasting impression.

The force of the falls and the rainbows that dance in the spray are nothing short of mesmerizing.

6. Photographic Paradise: For photography enthusiasts, the Golden Circle offers a treasure trove of opportunities.

The ever-changing landscapes and dramatic natural features make it a haven for capturing stunning images.

A Geological Marvel

Golden Circle - Gullfoss

The Golden Circle is not a circle in the literal sense; it’s a loop that spans roughly 300 kilometers encompassing three key destinations: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.

Each site offers a distinct and mesmerizing facet of Iceland’s geological wonders.

Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a geological wonder where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

The Almannagja gorge is an impressive testament to Earth’s geological upheaval, while Silfra Fissure invites you to snorkel or dive in crystalline waters between the plates.

Geysir geothermal area, as the name suggests, is a hotbed of geothermal activity.

Strokkur, its star attraction, spouts boiling water into the air at regular intervals, a testament to the power brewing beneath the Earth’s surface. The bubbling mud pots and fumaroles evoke an otherworldly landscape.

Gullfoss, or the Golden Falls, is a two-tiered waterfall on the Hvíta River.

Its thunderous cascades are a sight to behold, with the upper falls plummeting into a crevice, shrouded in mist, and the lower falls vanishing from view as they roar into the abyss.

The Hidden Treasures of the Golden Circle

While the iconic stops along the Golden Circle are undeniably spectacular, there are hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered by the more adventurous traveler.

These lesser-known gems provide a glimpse into the quieter, more intimate side of this famous route.

1. Kerid: This stunning volcanic crater lake is an artist’s palette of vivid colors. The azure waters contrast beautifully with the crimson slopes, creating a visual feast for those who make the effort to explore its depths.

2. Secret Lagoon: As Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, the Secret Lagoon invites travelers to relax in its warm geothermal waters amidst stunning natural surroundings.

It’s an opportunity to connect with Iceland’s ancient traditions while soaking in serene warmth.

The Cons of the Golden Circle

The popularity of the Golden Circle comes with a caveat though.

1. Crowds: The Golden Circle’s accessibility and fame come at a cost. It is a popular route, often inundated with tourists, especially during the summer months.

This can detract from the serenity of the natural sites.

2. Tourist Traps: Some of the facilities along the Golden Circle have evolved into tourist-oriented enterprises, offering souvenirs, restaurants, and guided tours.

While this can be convenient, it can also feel somewhat commercialized.

3. Weather Variability: Iceland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable. Sudden changes in weather can impact the visibility and experience at these natural sites.

It’s essential to be prepared for changing conditions, especially if you’re visiting outside of the summer season.

4. Time Constraints: While the Golden Circle is manageable as a day trip from Reykjavik, it can be a somewhat rushed experience.

To truly savor the sites, you may need to dedicate more time, which might not be feasible for all travelers.

5. Distance: Despite being a day trip from Reykjavik, the Golden Circle covers a significant distance.

Travelers who are not fond of long drives may find this aspect a drawback.


The answer to whether the Golden Circle is worth it depends on your preferences and expectations.

For those seeking a convenient and accessible way to witness some of Iceland’s most iconic natural wonders, the Golden Circle undoubtedly delivers.

The geological marvels, historical significance, and photographic opportunities make it a compelling choice.

However, if you’re a traveler who prefers solitude and is willing to explore lesser-known destinations, Iceland has a wealth of alternatives that can provide a more intimate and unique experience.

These hidden gems may lack the fame of the Golden Circle, but they compensate with their own brand of charm.

In the end, the worth of the Golden Circle is a matter of personal perspective. It’s a journey that can be immensely rewarding for those who appreciate its merits, but it may leave some travelers longing for a quieter and less crowded connection with Iceland’s natural beauty.

Whether it’s worth it or overrated depends on the traveler’s individual preferences and the experience they seek.

So, as you contemplate your Icelandic adventure, consider what truly matters to you, and choose the path that aligns with your desires and expectations.

Whether it’s the Golden Circle or one of Iceland’s hidden treasures, the country’s beauty remains a constant, waiting to be discovered by those who seek it.