Picture yourself driving leisurely through breathtaking scenery, taking in the sights of spurting geysers, towering multi-leveled waterfalls, and majestic cliff formations. If this captivates you then embark on a remarkable journey with an Icelandic and Golden Circle adventure road trip! You'll be able to explore at your own speed while appreciating Iceland's natural beauty.

iceland, island, golden circle

Embark on one of the most renowned day tours in Iceland - a journey with captivating history, folklore and picturesque destinations waiting to be discovered. From majestic Lutheran churches to Icelandic horse farms and restaurants serving delectable local dishes, you can uncover plenty of reasons along this iconic route to pause your exploration and savor all it has to offer!

Are you ready to explore the open road? Then make sure to bookmark this comprehensive guide, filled with insider recommendations of must-see attractions and nearby eateries that will maximize your journey.

If you want to avoid the hassle of planning your own route and driving, there are numerous guided tours available in both group and private settings. The most commonly preferred Golden Circle tours generally last for 8-10 hours, starting from Reykjavik and covering all the top attractions, including Kerid Crater and possibly the Secret Lagoon.

You can check the details here on GOLDEN CIRCLE DAY TOURS. Visit Iceland's Golden circle in the south coast of Iceland and books your today.

What is the Golden Circle?

Iceland's illustrious Golden Circle is a world-renowned route between some of the nation's most stunning attractions. Setting out from Reykjavik, its capital city, you'll take a journey through southern uplands to :

  • Þingvellir National Park,
  • Geysir geothermal area,
  • Gullfoss waterfall.

However, many tours include other destinations as well - perhaps a geothermal greenhouse or natural hotwater spa on one venture! With so much beauty readily accessible in this small Scandinavian country it would be foolish not to explore further along the way.

Golden Circle Itinerary and Map

Iceland is a destination that captivates visitors with its natural splendor and intriguing landscapes. Among the country's most popular attractions is the Golden Circle, a scenic route that takes travelers through some of Iceland's most awe-inspiring sights. A Golden Circle Iceland itinerary is a must for anyone planning a trip to this remarkable country, as it offers an immersive experience of Iceland's fascinating geology and history. The route is highlighted by iconic landmarks such as Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, and the Geysir hot springs. With a map in hand, visitors can take in the majesty of the route and all its stunning views. Whatever you do in Iceland, make sure to include a day or two to explore the mesmerizing beauty of the Golden Circle.

Golden Circle Route Iceland

The Golden Circle Route in Iceland is a journey that will leave you breathless. The 300 km route encompasses some of Iceland's most spectacular natural wonders with Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall being the crown jewels. Thingvellir National Park boasts of crystal clear waters that showcase the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia. Geysir Geothermal Area is an impressive display of hot springs, mud pools, and geysers. It is hard to resist the urge to pet the fumaroles but be warned, they are extremely serious hot springs. Gullfoss waterfall is a magnificent sight to behold with its powerful cascading waterfalls. Pack your bags and be prepared to witness nature at its finest on the Golden Circle Route.


Regardless of the fact that you'll find roads throughout the Golden Circle in top-notch condition, weather conditions can abruptly change without warning while touring Iceland. To be safe no matter if it’s summer hot spring, or winter on your golden circle journey, make sure to have a reliable way of keeping an eye on what Mother Nature has planned for us as well as being able to talk with other travelers and call for help when needed.

The people of Iceland are accustomed to sudden changes in temperature and driving conditions. Therefore, it is wise to download several apps when taking a trip around the Golden Circle or any other part of the country. Doing so will not only provide you with assurance during your journey, but also keep you secure if inclement weather arises.

Can you drive it in one day? How many miles is it?

The Golden Circle's total distance is roughly the equivalent of 140 miles, so it can be completed in a single full day trip if you are thinking about Golden Circle road trip. You could even drive the path within 3 hours if you are pressed for time, yet don't forget to make room to experience every landmark and restock energy levels!

Guided coach tours often last a full business day to visit the sights. But if you're feeling independent, self-guided touring allows for much more freedom in terms of timing and length of stay at each destination. You also have the chance to take advantage of earlier or later hours for a more serene sightseeing experience!

How to drive the Golden Circle in Iceland

Exploring the Golden Circle at your leisure and in your own pace and style with a self-drive is an option that many visitors determine to do. To take this route, you'll require renting either just a car or even better yet, if you're planning on exploring further into the Icelandic Highlands then we recommend hiring out a 4x4.

Having control of when and where you go can be incredibly advantageous - especially during summer time when larger coach tours tend to draw in crowds! With early starts (or late) becoming easier due to long daylight hours available throughout summertime, having full reign over where and when will allow for more peaceful explorations across Iceland's scenic landscape.

Do you want to experience the Golden Circle in Iceland through a more personal approach? Check out our small, group tour and minibus tours. On the other hand, if you prefer exploring on your own terms, then opt for self-drive – it's totally up to you!


Embark on the iconic 186-mile journey of Iceland's Golden Circle route from Reykjavik, driving for approximately four hours without taking into account any sightseeing breaks. Uncover picturesque views and immerse yourselves in a land unlike anything you've seen before!

The Golden Circle can usually be explored in 6-10 hours if visitors dedicate an entire day to the journey, but for those who want to take their time and explore the area's hidden gems, it can easily span over multiple days. By doing so one will not only get a chance to savor this breathtaking landscape but also discover other major attractions, that could be missed during a quick visit.

Planning your journey along the Golden Circle route affords you with a plethora of options. You can easily establish a "base camp" in one of the many nearby towns, granting yourself time and versatility to enjoy all the highlights that the area has to offer - from horse-riding to exquisite eateries. With so much variety available, it's easy for travelers like you create an itinerary that suits their individual needs!

Exploring and driving the Golden Circle is an excellent way to experience Iceland's natural beauty. The highways of the Ring Road that encircle it are well-maintained and make it simple for drivers from abroad to take their own vehicle on a journey around Iceland. With such flexibility, travelers can tailor their schedule according to their needs and desires.

If you decide to take the highland roads popular scenic routes as a detour off of the main highway, be sure that your vehicle is suitable for these road types. Otherwise, it might be best to stick with the primary route.

If you don't feel like navigating your own route and driving around, then worry not. There are plenty of private and group guided tours that can accommodate any itinerary length preferences! The most sought-after Golden Circle tour is an 8 to 10 hour journey from Reykjavik with stops at the iconic Kerid Crater plus the Secret Lagoon. Such a trip will ensure you get to experience all of Iceland's essential attractions in one one day trip!

What to see in the Golden Circle

iceland, hills, mountains

The Golden Circle is well-known for its plethora of attractions, but it's the most popular scenic routes are widely recognized as the route that bridges:

  • Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park
  • The Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir
  • Gullfoss Waterfall.

Each of these destinations has its own unique allure, as highlighted below.


Unveil a captivating blend of Icelandic past and its natural wonders of grandeur when you visit Þingvellir (pronounced ‘Thingvellir’). Located as the first stop on the Golden Circle clockwise from Reykjavik, this destination is not only iconic in Iceland but also spotlights as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at its unique beauty while relishing in its noteworthy history!

þingvellir, continental drifting, continental drift

Established in the 9th century CE, Þingvellir acted as the cornerstone of Icelandic cultural history. To foster justice and harmony amongst its citizens, settlers made a bold decision to assemble at this unique site located between South Iceland's most populated areas. In 930 it came to be known as not only Iceland's first parliament but also the world’s very first! As time has passed by, shared Icelandic cultural heritage continues to flourish there even today.

If you are a geology enthusiast, Þingvellir National Park is calling your name! This park holds an incredible view of the depths of its rift valley and serves as the only place in the world where you can witness both North American Plate and Eurasian tectonic plate on land. The sheer cliff face also showcases part of North America’s continent as it is situated on the mid Atlantic ridge - it's simply breathtaking!

Indeed, Iceland was created by the volcanic magma generated from two plates shifting away from each other. This is why you can still witness active volcanoes and dynamic landscapes throughout the country. For this reason, Þingvellir National Park serves as an optimal starting point for your Icelandic expedition!

Immerse yourself in the majestic beauty of Iceland's Þingvellir National Park by taking part in these remarkable activities:

  • Gaze upon the magnificence of Þingvallavatn,
  • Iceland’s largest natural lake; Explore Langjökull glacier;
  • Go for a snorkel between two tectonic plates at Silfra- one of the world's best dive sites;
  • Embark on an adventurous hike along Almannagjá gorge through Game of Thrones scenery and terrain; Witness to power
  • And grandeur as you watch Öxarárfoss waterfall thunder!


Fulfill your journey clockwise, and you will arrive at Geysir geothermal area in the Haukadalur Valley. You'll drive by an array of breathtaking volcanic landscapes with steamy vents and chimneys scattered about. As you come closer to this alluring Geysir place, be prepared for a dramatic experience!

Located in a breathtaking landscape, Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir are two remarkable geysers that have captivated onlookers for centuries. The earliest documented geyser in European literature is the awe-inspiring Great Geysir (or simply 'Geysir'), which has been erupting for around 10,000 years! Unfortunately, due to seismic activity over the years only short bursts of activity from this geological marvel can be experienced at present.

If you're looking for a memorable experience, Strokkur is the place to go! This geyser will send hot water shooting up as high as 40 meters (131 ft) into the air and it erupts every 6 – 10 minutes. Be sure to waterproof yourself (and your camera!) before venturing out in this area. You'll also get to appreciate an array of other hot water, hot springs, smaller geysers, and mud pots while walking through Haukadalur Valley - making this vibrant region well worth exploring!


Take a quick drive to Gullfoss - one of Iceland's most renowned waterfalls and marvel at the two drops that thunder 32 metres (105ft) down in an awe-inspiring spectacle. As you stand on the viewpoint, you will be mesmerised by the rainbow hues radiating from its spray while admiring Langjökull ice sheet in all its glory.

For those visiting during summertime, take advantage of this once-in-a lifetime opportunity to make your way up to Gullfoss' edge and bask in its energizing mist!

gullfoss, waterfall, flow

During your stay, why not raft the Hvita river and get a thrilling close-up look at the magnificence of Gullfoss? Additionally, you can learn about Sigridur Tómasdóttir - nicknamed 'Iceland's first environmentalist' - who fought to preserve this natural wonder from potential real estate development. Thanks to her efforts, today it is proudly protected as a national conservation area for all!


þingvellir, continental drifting, continental drift

Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall are the most celebrated attractions of Iceland's Golden Circle. But there is also a trove of hidden gems awaiting discovery!

Fontana Geothermal Baths.

geyser, spring, strokkur

Make a journey to Laugarvatn, between Þingvellir and the Geysirs, where you'll find Fontana Geothermal Baths -- an ideal spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. At Fontana Spa, visitors can enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer through three steam rooms, a traditional Finnish sauna, as well as shallow kid-friendly pools!

Kerið Crater.

iceland, crater, volcano

The stunning Kerið Crater envelops a mesmerizing lake, the azure hue of which adds to its already vivid palette. With fiery reds and oranges complemented by vibrant greens and blacks, it's no surprise that photographers around the world flock here in droves—for one thousand photographs may never do this site justice.

Langjökull Glacier.

hd wallpaper, nature wallpaper, iceland

For a remarkable adventure that you won't soon forget, journey to Langjökull Glacier via snowmobile. You can explore this incredible landscape at any time of the year since it's perpetually blanketed in glistening white snow. If you're driving yourself, pickup and dropoff from Gullfoss waterfall is available for your convenience.


house, black, white

On your voyage from Þingvellir to the Geysir Geothermal Area, make sure you pay a visit to the ecovillage of Solheimar. Here, you can observe how this community utilizes every resident's potential regardless of age or disability and offers them aid in their causes. Exploring this settlement will be an educational experience that is both inspiring and humbling.

Þjórsárdalur (Thjorsardalur) Valley.

iceland, landscape, mountains

If you're looking to explore away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, Thjorsardalur is a must-see spot not officially part of the Golden Circle. Here, you can witness spectacular waterfalls like Hjalparfoss, Haifoss, Glanni and Pjofafoss cascading into the riverbed in all their glory.


iceland, village, church

Immerse yourself in a historical journey as you meander round Skalholt, Iceland's oldest village. Take the time to admire its charming cathedral or extend your stay by bathing at the nearby Secret Lagoon - an experience like no other!

Not only was this little town home to Iceland’s first bishop and school but it is also considered one of the most beautiful places on Earth.


food, dishes, restaurant

Driving the Golden Circle offers stunning views and an abundance of photographic opportunities. Self-proclaimed foodies may even have a field day taking pictures of Iceland's classic dishes, like Skyr yoghurt and freshly caught seafood such as lobster tails, along with locally grown farm produce for a true feast that appeals to all five senses!

When should you visit the Golden Circle?

iceland, tectonic plates, nature

Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice, is a fantastic destination for any time of year--it's only up to you! Touring in the summer months will give you the advantage of more daylight hours; during this season there are times when the sun barely sets at all. So no need to rush through your adventures: explore it all while basking in long days.

Top tip: Exploring Iceland in your own car opens up a plethora of attractions and experiences as you can tailor-make your itinerary to avoid any coach tour crowds. On the other hand, taking a winter journey will reward you with beautiful views such as majestic icy cliff walls created by freezing spray at Gullfoss or an unforgettable experience viewing the Northern Lights. So, choose wisely whether it's summer or winter before booking that Icelandic escape!

When to Start the Golden Circle

The three main Golden Circle attractions are open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. However, it's recommended to visit these three major attractions only during the daytime hours, from dawn to dusk, for the best experience.

We suggest arriving at your first Golden Circle attraction at around 8:30 AM as visitor centers and food service at the attractions typically do not open until 9 AM.

If you arrive about 30 minutes before the opening time, you can get ahead of the crowd and have some alone time at first. Plus, you'll be able to take advantage of amenities like food and visitor information at your first stop.

If you're planning to go to Thingvellir first, you can join a free walking tour that starts at Thingvellir Church at 10 AM. To have enough time to explore the area and walk from the parking lot to the church, it's recommended to arrive at 8:30.

10 Tips for a Self-Drive Golden Circle Tour

We hope you are making good progress with your Golden Circle guided tour plans. We would like to provide you with our top 10 tips for a self-drive tour of the Golden Circle. Although some of these were briefly mentioned in our previous post, we have compiled them all in one place for your convenience.

  1. Save your map and directions in advance. There will be no wifi on the entire Golden Circle route and the cell signal may not be reliable. To avoid any inconvenience, you can either download the region in Google Maps beforehand and make it available offline by following this guide or take screenshots of the route ahead of time.
  2. Vegetarians, pick up lunch at Thingvellir. For a perfect picnic lunch while watching Strokkur erupt, pick up the vegan kebab wrap beforehand from Thingvellir and bring it with you to Geysir.
  3. Omnivores eat at Geysir & Gullfoss. If you're looking for a variety of food options and a spacious seating area, we suggest visiting Geysir. For lunch, we suggest sticking to something light, but don't forget to try the lamb stew available at the cafe in Gullfoss.
  4. Visit in the summer … or winter. Visiting during the summer provides the most daylight, comfortable temperatures for outdoor activities, and greater chances of everything being open at the attractions. Nevertheless, it's important to note that all three attractions are accessible year-round, and the roads are usually cleared, so a winter trip to the Golden Circle should not be disregarded.
  5. Bring waterproof gear. It is recommended to carry a light rain jacket and a waterproof cover for your backpack (if you are carrying one) whenever you are in Iceland.
  6. Bring layers. My recommendation is to wear a light, long sleeve base layer and bring along a cozy sweater and thicker jacket in case you need them. If you have a car, you can keep the extra layers there.
  7. Get coffee at Geysir. We recommend getting an iced coffee at Geysir Hot Spring Area on a warm summer day as they serve the best coffee on the Golden Circle.
  8. Buy snacks at Bónus before you leave Reykjavik. To have a complete road trip experience, snacks are a must-have. You can find a wide variety of snacks at a good price by visiting Bónus, located in the main shopping district at Laugavegur.
  9. Go to the bathroom by the waterfall at Thingvellir. The bathroom located near Öxarárfoss waterfall at Thingvellir does not have a fee, while the one near the visitor center may require a payment of $2 USD per person.
  10. Take your time. While there are plenty of sights and activities to enjoy along the Golden Circle, it can be covered in one day. It is advisable not to hurry through the attractions to make more time for later activities.


Is Iceland Golden Circle worth it?

The Golden Circle tour was incredibly enjoyable. You can watch massive frozen fall and a traditional Nordic church with southwestern settlements.

How long does it take to drive the circle in Iceland?

Keeping mainly to the Ring Road should allow for a trip around Iceland in just under four hours or approximately 17 hours if the weather permits.

How long does it take to get to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik?

If you visit Iceland for a day or a month, chances are you're going to follow Golden Circle routes. Starting in Reykjavik, the golden circle and return journey should take around 8h00 hrs. The driving time for this golden circle trip depends on the duration of your stay in the above mentioned attractions.

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

If you depart early in the summer or stay overnight in that area, you can enjoy the attractions in daylight before 9am or after 7pm. This time of the year is perfect for sunrise and sunset pictures in winter or spring or for viewing northern light in winter.

Is Iceland Golden Circle worth it?

It is mostly attributed to the easy access of the route to the city and to Iceland's top attractions. It's absolutely recommended for anyone who wants to visit Iceland.

How long does it take to get to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik?

8 hours.

What is special about the Golden Circle in Iceland?

This famous scenic route has many attractions to offer in Iceland, including dazzling landmarks as well as historic sites on circular tours.

How long does the Golden Circle take from Reykjavik?

Golden Circle is a 185 mile long route with a length of 280 miles that should take less than 4 hours to travel from Reykjavik.