The Golden Circle Iceland is a classic to explore. Either jump in your car and drive around or start from Reykjavik on one of the many Golden Circle Tours. Either way, here is a Golden Circle Iceland map with an introduction to its highlights: Thingvellir, Haukadalur and Gullfoss as well as other lesser known stops.
Navigate back to the complete Travel Iceland Guide
This article contains affiliate Links (info on the Disclosure page). If you purchase using my link, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.
The Golden Circle Iceland Map
So the Golden Circle Iceland is actually not a circle... Look at the Golden Circle Iceland Map I have drawn for you below. The 3 main attractions 1,2 and 3 are what officially constitute the Golden Circle and they are not doing a loop...
However there are many roads that you can take around with other things to do on the Golden Circle Iceland thus creating a round itinerary. I will tell you more about each in the next sections.
All my Iceland maps with the best places to visit (and their GPS coordinates) in my eBook:
All theses locations, along with many other beautiful places, are included in my eBook: The Road Trip Guide - Iceland.
It is a practical tool to plan your trip with maps, photos, planning tips, GPS coordinates...
Getting around the Golden Circle Iceland
The Golden Circle Iceland Self Drive
- It is easy to drive yourself around the Iceland Golden Circle as the roads are well maintained. A great road trip in Iceland.
- Plan a day to visit the main attractions and a few of the other ones
- Or stay the night to admire sunset and sunrise at the Strokkur Geyser for example. See accommodation suggestions at the end of the article
- Check out my articles about how to rent a car in Iceland and Driving in Iceland
The Golden Circle Iceland Tour
- If you don't feel like driving or want to feel free to admire the scenery, you can join one of the many Golden Circle Iceland tours departing Reykjavik. Better to day full day ones because there is a lot of driving!
- Here is a selection of the Iceland Golden Circle Tours on Getyourguide - some big tour, small group tours and private tours
Main attractions on the Golden Circle Iceland
Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park (in Icelandic written Þingvallavegur) is a Unesco World Heritage site for its geological and historical importance. It is a series of huge fissures in the Earth's crust caused by the rifting of the North American and Eurasian plates.
The most famous one is the Silfra fissure where you can dive and snorkel - people rave about this experience, which sadly I have missed. Something about the surreal effect of the rock walls and the transparence of the water - Learn more and book
In one of them is the Oxararfoss waterfall with a 20 m high drop.
It is a 45min drive from Reykavik via Road 1 and Road 36.
For more photos and planning information, check out my article dedicated to Thingvellir National Park Iceland.
Haukadalur Geothermal Area
Haukadalur is a geothermal area, home of the famous Geysir. However the geyser that you will see erupt is Strokkur. It displays its power every 5 to 8 minutes, sending water 20m high (and sometimes up to 40 meters). You can also walk around and discover mud pools and fumaroles.
The Haukadalur Geysir geothermal area is located close to Road 35. It is a 50 minute drive from Thingvellir.
For more photos and planning information, check out my article dedicated to Haukadalur Geothermal area.
Gullfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. Located on the Hvita river, it rushes and falls 32m (105ft) in two stages. Its flow is impressive, reaching 140m3/s in the summer time.
You can reach Gullfoss on Road 35. It is a 10 minute drive from the Haukadalur Geothermal area. It will take you 1h30 to drive back to Reykjavik via the same road or 1hour to drive to the town of Selfoss.
For more photos and planning information, check out my article dedicated to the Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland.
The Golden Circle Video
Have a look at this short video introducing those 3 main things to do on the Golden Circle Iceland.
Other places to visit on the Iceland Golden Circle Tour
Below are other places to see if you loop around the Golden Circle Iceland. Sadly I was on a tour so I did not stop there but I found pictures for you to help you decide if you include them on your itinerary. They correspond to the places listed on the Golden Circle Iceland Map at the beginning of the article plus one detour.
Laugarvatn is a small lake not far from Thingvellir National park. The population is mainly on the west side. The lake as a geothermal spring. So it is a great swimming spot with warm water all year round. There is also a spa Laugarvatn Fontana taking advantage of the spring.
Bruarfoss is one of the most photogenic waterfall in Iceland. It has a delicate shape and intense blue water. The only problem is to find it...
The waterfall is located between Laugarvatn and Geysir.
Apavatn a 13km2 lake, a large flat area good for fishing.
It does not seem to be very photogenic. with little mountains around.
Near the town of Faxi is the waterfall Faxifoss. A gravel road will take you to this waterfall where you can admire and fish salmons. On its side is a salmon ladder to help them move upstream.
For those looking to escape the crowds of the Blue Lagoon, your can try the secret lagoon. The facilities are not as extensive but you could have more peace and quiet to enjoy the place.
Kerid crater is appreciated for its contrasting color. With the turquoise of the pond in the caldera, the red of the volcanic rock and the green in summer or white in Winter.
Further away - Hraunfossar
Golden Circle Iceland in Winter
For those visiting the Golden Circle Iceland in Winter, the roads to the 3 main attractions are normally well maintained. However this is still Iceland in Winter, so make sure you understand the basics of driving on snow and ice (no hard breaking, no turning sharp turns...). If you don't feel like driving in those conditions, pick one of the Golden Circle Tours.
Note that access to get closer to the top of Gullfoss would be very slippery and dangerous and can be closed. However the waterfall is stunning with those iced area mixed with flowing water. Because of the volume of water, this one does not freeze entirely.
Due to the heat from the geothermal activity, the access to the Strokkur geyser remains easy.
Photos from Pixabay
Accommodation on the Golden Circle Iceland
For your accommodation on the Golden Circle Iceland you can;
- Stay in Reykjavik on do a day trip of the Golden Circle
- Stay is near Haukadalur. This way you can go late evening and early evening to both Gullfoss and Haukadalur when all the big bus have left or not yet arrived. This way you can experience them almost by yourself.
- Complete the circle and stay in the town of Selfoss on your way to the South Coast of Iceland
I personally stayed at the Geysir Cottages right next to Haukadalur. The food was tasty in a room with atmosphere. The room was comfy and clean. It allowed me to go early to the geyser before all the tourists arrived. More information and my review on my Iceland Accommodations article.
Want to see more of ICELAND?
Discover more things to do & places to see in my Travel Iceland Destination Guide.
Is the Golden Circle Iceland on your itinerary?
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Love to pin? Here is one more pin for you...