Golden Circle

Geyser Strokkur

Golden Circle is a very popular tourist area for road-trips near Reykjavík, including several natural attractions. Thanks to the varied environment you will get to know a bit of all forms of Icelandic landscape. Due to its shape on the map, the Golden Circle is often also called the Golden Triangle.

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How long is the Golden Circle?

The Golden Circle is roughly 235 km long, and if you count detours to parking lots or other attractions, you'll drive around 300 km in total. As the Golden Circle is located in the southwestern part of Iceland near the capital Reykjavik, it is the most visited and best accessible destination on the island.

The Golden Circle can be travelled all year round, even during winter.

The circuit can be shortened to about 200 km by skipping the return route and returning to Reykjavík along the same route. For many travellers, the Golden Circuit is also popular because it can be completed in one day.

Top 3 places on the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle has 3 main highlights that you must not miss. You will experience a landscape of bare plains, heathland, volcanic canyons, mountains, waterfalls and geysers.

Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir)

The area of narrow basalt canyons with many rivers, streams and small waterfalls, wide valleys and plains, lakes and the main foreland between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates is valuable not only from a natural but also cultural point of view. It was here that the oldest parliament in the world was founded, thanks to its good accessibility.

Haukadalur Geothermal Area

A place of many geysers, thermal springs and other volcanic activities, it has gained worldwide fame thanks to two geysers in particular. One of them is the world's first geyser Geysir, which gave the phenomenon its common name. The other is the Strokkur geyser, one of the most active in Iceland.

Gullfoss Waterfall

One of the most massive waterfalls in Iceland, with 2 cascades falling into a 32 meter deep canyon. Due to the sediments in the water, the water has a golden colour when the sun is shining.

Other places of interest

Apart from the "top three" above, however, it would be a shame to leave out other lesser-known places on the Golden Circle. These include, for example:

Do you know of another beautiful place on the Golden Circle? Let us know in the comments below and share with other readers.

Map of the Golden Circle

By car or by bus?

The best and definitely recommended option is to travel by rented car, which will take you around the lesser-known, but perhaps all the more beautiful places. You can stop anywhere and, more importantly, for any length of time.

There are many car rental companies in Reykjavík, and you can compare their prices, for example, via

You can't get around the Golden Circle on regular public buses, but there are several tourist agencies in Reykjavík that offer organized bus tours.

They usually last between 7-9 hours and cost between 8 000 isk and 10 000 isk. Examples are Reykjavík Excursions or Gray Line.

Accommodation on the Golden Circle

As the circuit starts and ends in the capital city of Reykjavik and many travellers choose to just wander for a day, accommodation in Reykjavik will be a certainty. It also has the largest selection of hotels, as well as cheap hostels, at least by Icelandic standards.

However, if you want to enjoy your trip along the Golden Circle, we recommend staying somewhere in the middle of it. Ideal places to stay around the middle of the route are the towns of Laugarvatn or Reykholt.

If you're planning to continue on from the Golden Circle to the west of Iceland, choose accommodation in the town of Selfoss, just off Highway 1.

The alternative, of course, is the camping so popular in Iceland. You'll come across campsites at all the main tourist attractions, expect prices around 1 300 isk to 1 700 isk per person.

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