What Is Included In The Golden Circle Route? A Detailed Itinerary

Written by
Golden Circle - What Is Included

Reykjavik, Iceland – a place that seems to defy the laws of nature, where the extraordinary meets the ethereal. Among its myriad wonders, the Golden Circle route shines as a captivating gem in the Icelandic diadem.

Comprising a trifecta of natural marvels – Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall – the Golden Circle route offers a sensory overload, a collision of earth, fire, and water.

Join me as we take a look at a typical itinerary and discover what is included in the Golden Circle route.


A crescendo of water and grandeur. Gullfoss, or the Golden Falls, is a tumultuous testament to the raw power of Iceland’s glacial rivers.

Here, the Hvita River plunges into a two-tiered cascade that echoes with the distant thunder of titanic forces.

As you approach Gullfoss, the mist in the air becomes a shroud of mystery, obscuring the abyss. The falls seem to vanish, a serendipitous optical illusion that heightens the anticipation.

Your heart races as the mist clears, revealing the majestic falls in all their glory. The deafening roar vibrates your very soul, a thunderous symphony that drowns out all other sounds.

Gullfoss is not a single waterfall, but a double cascade. The upper fall drops into a seemingly bottomless crevice, where the water rushes forward in a chaotic maelstrom.

Rainbows dance in the spray, casting ethereal arcs over the tumultuous waters. The lower falls disappear from view, swallowed by the earth’s gaping maw.

It’s as if the falls descend into the very heart of the Earth, an offering to the subterranean deities.


This geothermal wonderland serves up a vivid display of Iceland’s volcanic potency.

Strokkur, the star of the show, hurls scalding water skyward in a dramatic spectacle, a symphony of steam and splendor. It’s nature’s alarm clock, awakening your primal senses.

Adjacent to Strokkur, the stoic Geysir itself rests, a dormant giant that gifted its name to all geysers worldwide. Although Geysir now slumbers, it endures as a venerable elder of the geothermal world, awaiting its reawakening.

A landscape of bubbling mud pots and fumaroles evokes an alien world, a bubbling cauldron of geothermal power.

The Geysir geothermal area is not only about waterworks. An onsite museum delves into the history of geology, showcasing invaluable artifacts.

The native flora, including Arctic thyme and woolly fringe moss, weaves a tapestry of color amidst the geothermal terrain, celebrating the hardiness of Icelandic life. Here, the Earth’s subterranean dynamism fuels a surreal sensory symphony.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir, or Thingvellir in its anglicized form, welcomes you to its mystical embrace. This UNESCO World Heritage site cradles a unique confluence of geology, history, and culture.

Picture yourself standing astride the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, a geological schism bridged by the moss-covered, silken Almannagjá gorge. Here, the Earth’s inner workings lay bare, leaving you humbled by the forces shaping our planet.

But Þingvellir isn’t merely an open geological textbook. It is also the historical heart of Iceland, where Alþingi, the world’s oldest parliament, convened in 930 AD.

The site reverberates with tales of chieftains and legal assemblies, providing a living history lesson. The crystal-clear waters of Silfra Fissure beckon the intrepid to snorkel or dive, revealing astonishing underwater vistas in their icy embrace.

The paradox of submerging into frigid waters amidst the earth’s fiery core is an experience you’ll treasure.

Venturing further into Þingvellir, Oxararfoss waterfall cascades gently, whispering secrets of the land. The Logberg, or Law Rock, stands as an ancient pulpit from which proclamations were made, a podium hewn from the bedrock of democracy.

Time fades away as you wander the park’s paths, gazing upon the quaint church of Þingvallakirkja, a testament to Iceland’s enduring faith.

Exploring the Unseen


While the Golden Circle’s iconic triumvirate takes center stage, the periphery hides hidden gems. Kerid, a volcanic crater lake, astonishes with its sapphire waters embraced by crimson slopes, a palette of vibrant colors.

Secret Lagoon

Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, awaits for a soothing soak amidst geothermal splendor, an experience that connects you to Iceland’s ancient traditions.

Navigating the Golden Circle Route

Understanding the rhythm of the Golden Circle is key to unlocking its magic. The circle is not a literal circle; it’s more of a loop that begins and ends in Reykjavik, typically taking a full day to explore.

To make the most of your visit, consider these invaluable insights:

  • Early Bird or Twilight Explorer: Start your journey early to avoid the crowds, or embark on a late afternoon adventure to relish the ethereal twilight over the landscapes. Each has its unique charm.
  • Seasonal Sensations: Iceland’s seasons offer varying enchantments. Summer showcases lush greens and nearly 24 hours of daylight, while winter’s cloak of snow and the potential for the Northern Lights adds a different kind of allure.
  • Weather Watch: Icelandic weather can be unpredictable. Layered clothing, waterproof gear, and sturdy shoes are your best companions. Check the forecast and road conditions before setting out.
  • The Right Direction: Although most visitors choose the clockwise route from Reykjavik to Þingvellir, you can opt for the counter-clockwise direction to avoid crowds. Be flexible with your plans and adapt to the conditions.

Culinary Delights

No journey through Iceland is complete without savoring its culinary wonders, and the Golden Circle offers ample opportunities to delight your taste buds.

The region boasts an array of charming restaurants and cafés that harness the rich local resources to craft unforgettable dishes.

  • Frioheimar: Nestled within a greenhouse, Frioheimar invites you to dine amidst flourishing tomato vines. Savor tomato-themed dishes and sample their tomato schnapps, embracing the vibrant flavors of Iceland’s geothermal produce.
  • Gullfoss Kaffi: Overlooking the tumultuous Gullfoss, this café offers warmth and comfort along with traditional Icelandic cuisine. Tuck into a hearty bowl of lamb soup while gazing upon the falls in all their glory.
  • Efstidalur II: Delight in farm-fresh ice cream at Efstidalur II while savoring panoramic views of the Icelandic countryside. The flavors are as fresh as the surroundings, offering a unique taste of pastoral life.
  • Frost & Fire Hotel Restaurant: Located near the Geysir geothermal area, this restaurant blends gourmet dining with stunning natural vistas. Relish local ingredients in dishes inspired by Iceland’s rich culinary traditions.

The Unforgettable Souvenirs of the Golden Circle

No journey is complete without a tangible memento to commemorate your exploration of the Golden Circle.

The region’s gift shops offer a plethora of options, from traditional Icelandic woolens to handcrafted ceramics, and intricate Viking artifacts.

Whether you seek a token of your visit or a gift for loved ones, these keepsakes hold a piece of Iceland’s enchantment.

Þingvellir National Park’s visitor center boasts an impressive selection of books, maps, and geological specimens, providing an opportunity to delve deeper into the natural wonders you’ve witnessed.

Geysir’s museum shop offers a variety of geological and geothermal curiosities, including jewelry fashioned from volcanic rock and intricate Icelandic handicrafts.

Gullfoss, with its proximity to Reykjavik, offers a variety of stores where you can find postcards, clothing, and exclusive memorabilia.

Look for items that resonate with the spirit of Gullfoss, such as water-themed jewelry or artwork that captures the falls’ breathtaking beauty.

The Golden Circle After Dark: Chasing the Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights)

If your journey aligns with the dark hours of the Icelandic night, consider chasing the celestial phenomenon known as the Northern Lights.

The Golden Circle’s pristine natural settings, away from urban light pollution, create an ideal backdrop for aurora hunting. But success requires patience and favorable conditions.

Equip yourself with a sturdy tripod, a camera with manual settings, and warm clothing to endure the cold.

Consult local aurora forecasts and venture out to Þingvellir or Gullfoss, where the vast, open skies enhance your chances of witnessing the dazzling dance of the Northern Lights.

The Golden Circle’s Timeless Charm

Reykjavik’s Golden Circle, a geological enigma and a testament to nature’s artistry, weaves a tapestry of sights, sounds, and sensations that are etched into memory.

From the historic echoes of Þingvellir to the geothermal symphony of Geysir and the thunderous majesty of Gullfoss, this trifecta of wonders is a journey through the primordial forces that shape our world.

As you navigate the Golden Circle’s ever-shifting landscapes, you’ll discover that its allure extends far beyond its geological marvels.

It captures the essence of Iceland itself, where the ancient meets the contemporary, and the sublime meets the surreal.

Prepare for an odyssey that will leave you forever entranced by the essence of Reykjavik’s Golden Circle, a treasure trove of nature’s enigmatic elegance.


In closing, the Golden Circle serves as a poignant reminder of Iceland’s timeless charm, a land where the extraordinary becomes the ordinary, and the wonders of the Earth become an everyday spectacle.

So, embark on this odyssey, immerse yourself in the uncharted beauty, and embrace the mystique of Reykjavik’s Golden Circle route, for it is a journey that transcends time and space, a testament to the ever-evolving narrative of our planet that is truly worth your time.