Bruarfoss waterfall

The Golden Circle is Iceland’s top sightseeing trail and can be combined with various activities. The route is a popular tourist route in Iceland and it is an easy and efficient way to see three of Iceland’s top attractions in a day.

How long is the drive around the Golden Circle in Iceland?

The Golden Circle in Iceland is approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) long and can be completed in a day trip from Reykjavik. The drive itself takes around 3-4 hours, depending on the stops you make along the way, and the road is well-maintained and easy to navigate. However, it’s important to note that the driving conditions can vary depending on the weather, and it’s recommended to check the road conditions before starting your journey.

Þingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park in the Golden Circle

What are the Golden Circle routes in Iceland?

The classic Golden Circle tour consists of Iceland’s three most popular tourist attractions: Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. It usually takes about 6-8 hours to complete this route, including stops for sightseeing and lunch.
There are two other common variations that visitors can take along with the classic Golden Circle route.

The extended Golden Circle route: This route includes the three main attractions of the classic Golden Circle, as well as several additional stops, such as the Kerið crater, Skálholt church, and the Fontana geothermal baths. It can take up to 10 hours to complete this route, depending on how much time you spend at each stop.

The Secret Circle route: This route takes you off the beaten path and includes lesser-known attractions such as the Faxi waterfall, the Brúarfoss waterfall, and the Langjökull glacier. It’s a great option for those who want to avoid the crowds and experience a more secluded side of Iceland. This route can take anywhere from 8-12 hours, depending on how many stops you make.

Öxararfoss in Thingvellir
Öxarárfoss in Thingvellir

What do you see on the golden circle tour in Iceland?

Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the location of Iceland’s first parliament, the Althingi, which was founded in 930 AD. This National Park is one of the most important in Iceland, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also home to the Silfra fissure, a deep crack between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, where visitors can snorkel or dive in crystal clear water.
The Geysir geothermal area is known for its geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots and is located in the geothermal valley of Haukadalur. The most famous geyser, after which all others are named, is the Great Geysir, which can shoot boiling water up to 70 meters high. Although the original geysir is dormant, Strokkur, its little brother, erupts every five minutes, shooting up a plume of water around 20-30 metres high. A great view of the entire area can be seen from the top of the hill.
Gullfoss waterfall, also known as the Golden waterfalls, is one of the most popular attractions on the Golden Circle route in Iceland. The waterfall is a breathtaking sight with two cascading tiers that drop a total of 32 meters into a narrow canyon. There are also several viewing platforms that offer panoramic views of the waterfall from different angles. The waterfall is fed by Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull.
Visitors can also make stops along the way to explore smaller attractions such as the Kerið crater, Friðheimar greenhouse, and the Secret Lagoon hot spring.

What is the best time to drive the Golden Circle Iceland?

The best time to drive the Golden Circle in Iceland is during the summer months, from late May to early September. During this time, the weather is generally mild and pleasant, with long daylight hours that allow for more time to explore the attractions. If you leave early in summer and best to spend the night in the area, preferable at Stekkar Lodge, you can see the attractions in broad daylight and the perfect time to capture sunrise and sunset in the spring or fall or admire the northern lights during wintertime.
The peak tourist season in Iceland is from June to August, so expect larger crowds and higher prices during this time. However, the shoulder months of May and September can also be a great time to visit, as the weather is still relatively mild, and there are fewer tourists.
It’s important to note that the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, even during the summer months. In the winter months, the Golden Circle can be more challenging to navigate due to snow and ice, and some roads may be closed.

Stekkar Lodge in the Golden Circle route

Is Iceland Golden Circle tour worth it?

Yes, the Iceland Golden Circle is definitely worth it. The Golden Circle is one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions. It offers visitors a chance to see some of Iceland’s most stunning natural wonders, including geysers, waterfalls, and hot springs, all in one day.
The Golden Circle route is well-maintained and easy to drive, making it accessible to almost anyone. It’s also a great way to experience Iceland’s unique geothermal activity and learn about its geological history.

The ultimate self-drive guide to Iceland’s Golden Circle