Amazing Places to Visit in the Golden Circle, Iceland

Golden Circle Iceland

The Gold­en Cir­cle, Ice­land was our des­ti­na­tion on our first full day in Ice­land. After hav­ing our first Ice­landic break­fast at the farm in Self­oss where we had stayed for the night, we received per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tions from our host on attrac­tions around the area that are wor­thy of a vis­it. And then off to the Gold­en Cir­cle we went!

Like most of the days we spent in Ice­land, it was wet and windy. It was also a lit­tle chilly, but we’re Cana­di­an. Any­thing above zero degree is not worth com­plain­ing about. ;-) I think the aver­age tem­per­a­ture dur­ing our stay was around 6° Cel­sius.

After stop­ping only once to take a look at the view from a look­out area, we arrived at Ker­ið crater lake/caldera. It is inter­est­ing­ly com­posed of red vol­canic rock (instead of black). One side of the caldera was a lit­tle less steep than the rest and we saw a bench down there so we decid­ed to walk down to the edge of the water to check out the view. (Actu­al­ly, I just want­ed to sit on a bench I saw down there. Heh.) It was free to vis­it in 2013 but now you have to pay an entry fee of 400 ISK per per­son.

kerith

Our next des­ti­na­tion was Thingvel­lir Nation­al Park. It is a site of nat­ur­al and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. It’s a place where the North Amer­i­can tec­ton­ic plate meets the Euro­pean plate and also the place where the Ice­landic par­lia­ment began in 930. It was free to park and vis­it in 2013. Now the park is still free to vis­it but there is a park­ing fee start­ing at 500 ISK for a sedan.

This is the Drown­ing Pool in Thingvel­lir. Here, they used to drown women who com­mit­ted such crimes as get­ting preg­nant out of wed­lock, and behead crim­i­nals in gen­er­al in the old­en days.

drowning_pool

This is the beau­ti­ful Thingvel­lir church and farm­house on the oth­er side of the park. We could’ve walked there but it was rainy and we got lazy so we drove to the park­ing lot on the oth­er side. We still end­ed up hav­ing to walk a fair dis­tance, so our lazi­ness didn’t real­ly pay off. It was still a nice walk, though.

thingvellir

On our way out of Thingvel­lir, we stopped at a small restau­rant at the vis­i­tor cen­tre where we had a light lunch and bought some post­cards. I had a soup. Not sure what kind of soup (corn, maybe) but I was starv­ing and it tast­ed good. We also stopped to take a pic­ture of this cute lit­tle hut.

hut

Our next stop was Geysir. It’s an inter­est­ing area with many hot springs and a cou­ple of gey­sers, only one of which still erupts reg­u­lar­ly. The most active one is called Strokkur. We saw it erupt­ed at least 3 times while we were there.

strokkur

The Geysir geyser (the Eng­lish word “geyser” is actu­al­ly orig­i­nat­ed from the Ice­landic word “geyser”) has been dor­mant for decades but still looks rather intim­i­dat­ing.

geysir

Once we’d seen enough of Geysir, we took a short dri­ve to the beau­ti­ful Gull­foss, which is one of the largest water­falls in Ice­land. It looks pret­ty impres­sive and pow­er­ful.

gullfoss

We stopped at a cou­ple of oth­er places after: Faxi, a small­ish water­fall, and Skál­holt, a church of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Then we just drove until we found a place to have din­ner in Reykholt (FYI, there are sev­er­al places called Reykholt in Ice­land) where I had my very first bowl of lob­ster soup. I was so hun­gry I for­got to take a pic­ture of it but it was deli­cious! I didn’t real­ly take too many food pho­tos dur­ing this trip. I’ll try to do bet­ter next time.

Our tour for the day end­ed in Hel­la, where we stayed for the night. Our des­ti­na­tion the next day was the West­man Islands, but that belongs to anoth­er post that I still have yet to write. :-)

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