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The Golden Circle: A Complete Guide to Iceland's Most Popular Tourist Route

Iceland's Golden Circle is one of the most popular tourist routes in the world, and for good reason. This stunning 300-kilometer loop takes you through some of Iceland's most incredible landscapes, including geysers, waterfalls, and hot springs. If you're planning a trip to Iceland, the Golden Circle is a must-see destination. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about this iconic route, including possible tours and stays.

What is the Golden Circle?

The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in Iceland that covers about 300 kilometers. The route is a loop that starts and ends in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city. The Golden Circle includes three primary destinations: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park is the first stop on the Golden Circle. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations. The park is home to the largest natural lake in Iceland, Thingvallavatn, and the location where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

Geysir Geothermal Area

The second stop on the Golden Circle is the Geysir geothermal area. This area is home to some of Iceland's most famous geysers, including Strokkur, which erupts every 5-10 minutes. There are also several hot springs in the area, including the colorful hot spring, Blesi.

Gullfoss Waterfall

The final stop on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss waterfall, one of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls. The waterfall is fed by the Hvítá river and drops into a canyon. The waterfall is incredibly powerful, and the mist creates rainbows on sunny days.

Other Stops on the Golden Circle

While Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall are the primary destinations on the Golden Circle, there are several other stops worth visiting. Some of the other stops include:

  • Kerid Crater: a volcanic crater lake with striking red soil and blue water

  • Faxi Waterfall: a smaller waterfall with a salmon ladder

  • Secret Lagoon: a natural hot spring that is less crowded than the Blue Lagoon

Tours and Stays

There are several ways to experience the Golden Circle, including guided tours and self-driving. Guided tours are a popular option for those who want to learn more about the history and geology of the area. There are several tour companies that offer Golden Circle tours, including Gray Line, Reykjavik Excursions, and GeoIceland.

If you prefer to explore on your own, you can rent a car and drive the route yourself. Most car rental companies offer cars with GPS and WiFi, making it easy to navigate.

There are also several places to stay along the Golden Circle, including hotels, guesthouses, and Airbnbs. Some of the most popular options include the Ion Adventure Hotel, the Frost and Fire Hotel, and the Golden Circle Apartments.


The Golden Circle is an iconic tourist route that should be on every traveler's bucket list. With stunning landscapes, powerful waterfalls, and bubbling geysers, the Golden Circle is an experience that you won't forget. Whether you choose to take a guided tour or explore on your own, the Golden Circle is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Iceland.

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