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The Ultimate Guide To Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Nichole Barker



Located in the southwestern part of Iceland, the Golden Circle is one of the country’s most popular tourist routes. This stunning circular route covers approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) and takes you through some of Iceland’s most awe-inspiring natural landscapes. From cascading waterfalls to bubbling hot springs and vast volcanic landscapes, driving the Golden Circle is an adventure that will leave you captivated at every turn.


One of the biggest draws of the Golden Circle is its accessibility. Starting and ending in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, the route can be comfortably completed in a day trip, making it a perfect option for those with limited time or those who prefer a shorter self-drive excursion. The Golden Circle offers a taste of Iceland’s diverse natural beauty, allowing you to experience an array of mesmerizing attractions in a relatively short period of time.


Not only is the Golden Circle home to incredible natural wonders, but it is also steeped in Iceland’s unique history and culture. Along the route, you’ll find historical sites, national parks, and geothermal areas that offer insights into Iceland’s geological and cultural heritage. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or a history buff, the Golden Circle has something to offer everyone.


It’s important to note that driving the Golden Circle is a popular activity, especially during the peak tourist season. While this means that you’ll be sharing the roads with other travelers, it also means that the route is well-maintained and easily navigable. With proper planning and preparation, your journey along the Golden Circle will be a memorable and enjoyable experience.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know before embarking on your Golden Circle adventure. From the best time to visit to the must-see attractions and practical tips for a safe and smooth journey, we’ve got you covered. So buckle up and get ready to explore the spectacular wonders of Iceland’s Golden Circle!


What is the Golden Circle?

The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in Iceland that covers approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) and forms a loop beginning and ending in Reykjavik, the country’s capital city. It is named the Golden Circle due to the route’s immense natural beauty and the abundance of breathtaking attractions along the way.


The Golden Circle encompasses some of Iceland’s most iconic and picturesque landmarks, including stunning waterfalls, geothermal areas, and historical sites. It offers a unique opportunity to witness the country’s diverse landscapes in a relatively short span of time, making it an ideal option for travelers who want to experience Iceland’s natural wonders without venturing too far from the capital.


One of the major highlights of the Golden Circle is the opportunity to see firsthand the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates at Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds both historical and geological significance and is a must-visit attraction for any traveler exploring the Golden Circle.


Another prominent stop along the Golden Circle route is the Geysir Geothermal Area, where you can witness the powerful eruptions of the Strokkur geyser. This geothermal wonderland is a true spectacle, with Strokkur shooting boiling water high into the air every few minutes.


No trip along the Golden Circle would be complete without a visit to Gullfoss Waterfall. This majestic two-tiered waterfall is a sight to behold as its powerful waters cascade into a deep gorge. The sheer force and beauty of Gullfoss make it one of the most photogenic and popular attractions in Iceland.


While these are the main highlights of the Golden Circle, there are also other attractions worth exploring along the way. These include the Kerid Crater, a stunning volcanic crater lake, Faxi Waterfall, a hidden gem known for its peaceful and serene atmosphere, and the Secret Lagoon, a natural hot spring where you can relax and unwind after a day of exploring.


Overall, the Golden Circle offers a captivating blend of natural wonders, historical sites, and geological marvels. It showcases the unique beauty and charm of Iceland, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking an unforgettable adventure.


Things to Know Before Driving the Golden Circle

Before embarking on your journey along the Golden Circle, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with some key information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some important things to know before driving the Golden Circle:

  • Weather Conditions: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on the forecast before setting off. Be prepared for changes in weather, including rain, wind, and even snow, especially if you’re traveling during the colder months. Check road conditions regularly, as some parts of the route may be temporarily closed due to weather or maintenance.
  • Driving Conditions: While the Golden Circle is a well-traveled route, it’s essential to be aware of the driving conditions. Some parts of the road may be gravel or unpaved, requiring extra caution. Stay within the speed limits and drive defensively, especially on narrow sections. Keep an eye out for grazing sheep and other animals that may wander onto the road.
  • Fuel and Services: Fill up your gas tank before starting the Golden Circle, as there are limited gas stations along the route. Plan your stops accordingly to ensure you have enough fuel for the journey. Additionally, bring snacks, water, and any necessary supplies, as there may not be many opportunities to purchase food or other essentials along the way.
  • Navigation: Having a reliable GPS or navigation system is highly recommended for driving the Golden Circle. It will help you navigate the route and find your way to the various attractions and stops. Alternatively, you can download offline maps or use a detailed road map to ensure you stay on track.
  • Timing: The Golden Circle can get busy, especially during the peak tourist season (June to August). To avoid crowds, consider starting your journey early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This will not only give you a chance to enjoy the attractions without large crowds but also provide ample time to explore each stop at a leisurely pace.
  • Respect the Environment: Iceland’s natural landscapes are fragile, and it’s important to respect and preserve them. Stick to designated paths and trails to avoid damaging vegetation and sensitive areas. Do not litter and leave no trace of your visit. Remember, preserving these natural wonders ensures that future generations can enjoy them as well.

By keeping these essential tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared for your Golden Circle adventure. With careful planning, a sense of adventure, and a spirit of respect for the environment, your journey along this spectacular Icelandic route is bound to be an unforgettable experience.


Best Time to Drive the Golden Circle

The best time to drive the Golden Circle in Iceland largely depends on your preferences and the experience you are seeking. Here are some factors to consider when deciding the best time for your journey:

  • Weather: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, and conditions can vary greatly throughout the year. The summer months of June to August offer milder temperatures and longer daylight hours, providing more comfortable driving conditions. However, this is also the peak tourist season, which means more crowds at popular attractions. If you don’t mind colder temperatures but want to avoid the large crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) or fall (September to October).
  • Aurora Borealis: If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights, consider visiting Iceland during the winter months between November and February. This time of year offers the best chance to see the auroras dancing across the night sky. Keep in mind that winter driving conditions can be challenging, so it’s important to be prepared and check the weather and road conditions regularly.
  • Landscape: Iceland’s landscapes change throughout the seasons, each offering its own unique charm. Spring brings lush green fields and blooming wildflowers, while autumn showcases vibrant colors as the foliage turns to shades of red, orange, and gold. Winter offers a snowy wonderland, contrasting with the volcanic landscapes, while summer unveils breathtaking landscapes bathed in the midnight sun. Consider the type of scenery you’d like to witness and plan your visit accordingly.
  • Daylight Hours: Daylight hours vary greatly throughout the year in Iceland. In winter, the days are much shorter, with only a few hours of daylight, while summer brings the phenomenon of the midnight sun, where the sun doesn’t set fully. If you prefer longer daylight hours to explore the attractions and enjoy the scenery, visit during the summer months. However, keep in mind that the midnight sun can affect your sleep patterns, so be prepared with an eye mask.
  • Wildlife: Iceland is home to various bird species, including puffins, which can be spotted along the coast during the summer months. If you’re interested in birdwatching or seeing other wildlife, plan your visit accordingly. Keep in mind that some areas may have restricted access during nesting seasons to protect the wildlife.

Ultimately, the best time to drive the Golden Circle depends on your interests and priorities. Consider the weather, the activities you want to engage in, and your preference for crowd levels and daylight hours. No matter the time of year, the Golden Circle offers stunning scenery and memorable experiences, so you’re bound to have an incredible journey no matter when you go.


How to Get to the Golden Circle

Getting to the Golden Circle in Iceland is relatively easy, as it starts and ends in Reykjavik, the country’s capital city. Here are the main transportation options to consider:

  • Rental Car: Renting a car is the most popular and convenient option for exploring the Golden Circle. Reykjavik has several car rental companies located at the airport and in the city center. Having a car gives you flexibility and allows you to explore the attractions at your own pace. It’s recommended to book your rental car in advance, especially during high season, to secure the best rates and availability.
  • Guided Tours: If you prefer not to drive or want a more guided experience, joining a guided tour is a great option. Numerous tour companies in Reykjavik offer guided tours to the Golden Circle, providing transportation and a knowledgeable guide who will share insights and stories about the attractions. This option is ideal for those who want to sit back, relax, and let someone else handle the logistics.
  • Public Bus: Public buses are available for those who prefer to use public transportation. The main bus station in Reykjavik, called Mjódd, serves as a hub for various bus routes that go to the Golden Circle. The bus service operates throughout the year, although schedules may vary based on the season. It’s advisable to check the timetable in advance and plan your trip accordingly.
  • Private Transfer: For a more luxurious and hassle-free option, you can arrange for a private transfer to the Golden Circle. There are several companies that offer private transfer services from Reykjavik to the Golden Circle, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable and personalized experience. This option is ideal for those who value convenience and privacy.

Whichever mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to plan your journey in advance. Familiarize yourself with the route, including the stops and attractions you’d like to visit, and allocate enough time for each. Keep in mind that the Golden Circle is a popular tourist destination, so it’s advisable to start your journey early in the day to avoid crowds and make the most of your time.


Remember to check the weather and road conditions regularly and obey all traffic rules and regulations. Consider downloading offline maps or using a GPS navigation system to ensure that you stay on the designated route. With proper planning and preparation, getting to the Golden Circle will be a seamless and enjoyable part of your Icelandic adventure.


Route and Stops on the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle takes you on a scenic route through some of Iceland’s most captivating landscapes. While the route can be flexible, there are several key stops along the way that are considered must-visit attractions. Here are the main stops on the Golden Circle:

  • Thingvellir National Park: Start your Golden Circle journey with a visit to Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is of great cultural and geological significance. Walk between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates in the dramatic Almannagjá gorge, and explore the historic site of the world’s oldest parliament, the Alþingi. Thingvellir National Park offers stunning vistas, tranquil lakes, and captivating hiking trails.
  • Geysir Geothermal Area: Head to the Geysir Geothermal Area, where you can witness the impressive eruptions of the Strokkur geyser. Watch as hot water shoots up to 30 meters (98 feet) in the air, creating a spectacular show every few minutes. Explore the geothermal landscape, marvel at the colorful hot springs and mud pots, and learn about the geology and geothermal energy of Iceland.
  • Gullfoss Waterfall: The journey continues to Gullfoss, a powerful two-tiered waterfall that cascades into a rugged canyon. Prepare to be awestruck by the sheer beauty and force of this natural wonder, as the water plummets 32 meters (105 feet) into the depths of the Hvítá River gorge. Take in the stunning views from the various viewing platforms and feel the mist on your face as you witness one of Iceland’s most famous and photogenic waterfalls.
  • Kerid Crater: A short detour from the main route will take you to the unique Kerid Crater. This volcanic crater is filled with a striking turquoise-colored lake, making it a sight to behold. Take a leisurely walk around the crater’s rim and soak in the panoramic views of the surrounding volcanic landscape. Kerid Crater is a hidden gem along the Golden Circle that offers a quieter and more serene atmosphere.
  • Faxi Waterfall: A lesser-known stop on the Golden Circle, Faxi Waterfall is a hidden gem that offers a peaceful and picturesque experience. The waterfall is smaller than Gullfoss but is no less impressive, with its wide cascade flowing gracefully down the Tungufljot River. Enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings, snap some beautiful photos, and perhaps even spot salmon jumping upstream during the summer months.
  • Secret Lagoon: End your Golden Circle journey with a relaxing dip in the Secret Lagoon. This enchanting natural hot spring is located near the village of Flúðir and provides a perfect opportunity to unwind after a day of exploring. Soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by steam rising from geothermal hot spots. The Secret Lagoon offers a more authentic, less crowded alternative to the well-known Blue Lagoon.

These are the main stops on the Golden Circle, but there are also other attractions and natural wonders to discover along the way. Keep an eye out for fascinating geological formations, charming Icelandic farms, and breathtaking viewpoints that showcase Iceland’s unique beauty. Enjoy the journey as much as the destinations, as the drive itself offers incredible vistas and a chance to immerse yourself in the stunning Icelandic landscapes.


Thingvellir National Park

One of the most remarkable stops on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park, a site of immense cultural, historical, and geological significance. Located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Reykjavik, Thingvellir, which means “Parliament Plains,” was the meeting place of Iceland’s first parliament, the Alþingi, established in 930 AD.


Stepping into Thingvellir National Park is like walking through a living history book. It was here, in the stunning rift valley, that early Icelandic settlers gathered to discuss laws, make decisions, and resolve disputes. The Alþingi’s annual assembly was held in the open-air, surrounded by the awe-inspiring natural surroundings of Thingvellir.


However, the significance of Thingvellir goes beyond its historical importance. The national park is also home to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a unique geological feature where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. As you visit the park, you can witness the rift valley, the Almannagjá gorge, and the majestic rock formations that were shaped by the forces of these colliding tectonic plates.


Walking between the two continents is an unforgettable experience. You can literally stand with one foot on the Eurasian plate and one foot on the North American plate, symbolically bridging the gap between two continents. The Almannagjá gorge, which runs through the park, offers a stunning view of this geological marvel.


There are several marked trails and paths throughout the park, allowing visitors to explore its natural beauty. You can hike along the rift valley, follow the shoreline of the picturesque Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake, or venture into tranquil forests and glacial rivers. Nature enthusiasts will be captivated by the diverse flora and fauna, including native plants, birds, and occasionally, even Icelandic horses grazing peacefully in the surrounding meadows.


Thingvellir National Park is not only a historical and geological treasure but also a fantastic place for outdoor activities. Scuba diving or snorkeling in the Silfra fissure, which runs between the tectonic plates, offers a unique and utterly extraordinary opportunity to explore the crystal-clear, glacial meltwater that filters through underground lava fields.


In addition to its natural and historical wonders, Thingvellir National Park holds a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. It represents the birthplace of their nation, where the roots of their cultural identity and democracy were established. Each year, on June 17th, Icelanders celebrate their independence and gather at Thingvellir to commemorate this significant date in their history.


Whether you visit Thingvellir National Park for its rich history, stunning geological features, outdoor adventures, or all of the above, it is a place that will leave a lasting impression. Its unique combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and geologic wonders make it an absolute must-visit destination on the Golden Circle.


Geysir Geothermal Area

One of the most fascinating and unique stops along the Golden Circle is the Geysir Geothermal Area. Located in southwestern Iceland, the Geysir Geothermal Area is renowned for its impressive geothermal activity and the powerful eruptions of its most famous geyser, Strokkur.


As you enter the Geysir Geothermal Area, you’ll be greeted by a surreal landscape of bubbling hot springs, steaming vents, and vibrant, multicolored mineral deposits. The area is characterized by its geothermal activity, which is caused by the proximity of volcanic systems and underground heat sources.


While the Great Geysir, for which the area is named after, is relatively dormant, its sibling geyser, Strokkur, steals the show with its regular eruptions. Strokkur erupts every few minutes, shooting scalding water high into the air. It’s an awe-inspiring sight to behold as you watch the tremendous force of nature in action. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the moment!


Exploring the Geysir Geothermal Area offers more than just observing Strokkur’s eruptions. You can stroll through the area and witness the bubbling mud pots, spouting steam vents, and hissing fumaroles. The colorful minerals abound in various shades, ranging from vivid reds and yellows to earthy greens and blues, creating a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.


It’s important to note that the ground in the Geysir Geothermal Area can be unstable due to the geothermal activity. It’s crucial to stick to the designated paths and platforms to ensure your safety and preserve the delicate environment. Also, take note of any safety signs and warnings, as the hot springs can reach scalding temperatures.


After experiencing the geothermal wonders, take some time to explore the surrounding area. There are several hiking trails nearby that allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning Icelandic nature. Be sure to observe the vegetation and birdlife in the area, as the hot springs and geothermal fields create unique habitats for various plant and animal species.


If you’re feeling hungry, there are dining options available in the Geysir area where you can enjoy a meal while taking in the beautiful surroundings. You may also find souvenir shops where you can purchase Icelandic crafts and keepsakes to remember your visit.


The Geysir Geothermal Area offers a mesmerizing and unforgettable experience, immersing you in the raw power of geothermal energy. It’s a remarkable display of nature’s forces and a testament to the geologic wonders that make Iceland so unique. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the impressive eruptions of Strokkur and explore the captivating landscape of the Geysir Geothermal Area when driving the Golden Circle.


Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall, also known as the “Golden Falls,” is a magnificent natural wonder and one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions. Located along the Hvítá River in the southwestern part of the country, Gullfoss is a breathtaking two-tiered waterfall that captivates visitors with its sheer beauty and raw power.


As you approach Gullfoss, you’ll hear the thundering sound of water crashing down into a deep canyon, creating a mesmerizing display of mist and spray that blankets the surrounding area. The waterfall’s name, Gullfoss, comes from the golden hues produced by the sunlight reflecting off the glacial sediment in the water, giving it a magical and golden appearance.


Standing at the observation platforms, you’ll witness the immense power and force of Gullfoss. The water cascades down two steps, dropping a total of 32 meters (105 feet) into the ravine below. The sheer volume and intensity of the water create a spectacle that leaves visitors in awe. On sunny days, rainbows often grace the mist, adding to the enchanting atmosphere.


What makes Gullfoss even more fascinating is the story behind its preservation. In the early 20th century, plans were made to harness the power of the waterfall for hydroelectric development. However, a determined local woman named Sigríður Tómasdóttir fought tirelessly to protect Gullfoss. Her efforts, along with the growing environmental movement in Iceland, led to the preservation of the waterfall, ensuring that its natural beauty could be enjoyed for generations to come.


Exploring Gullfoss is an immersive experience, as there are walking paths that allow you to get up close to the waterfall. Feel the mist on your face and marvel at the power of the rushing water as it plummets into the canyon below. The viewpoints provide spectacular angles for photographs, allowing you to capture the grandeur of Gullfoss from different perspectives.


Visiting Gullfoss is possible at any time of the year, each season offering its own unique charm. In the winter, the waterfall may be partially frozen, creating an ethereal and icy landscape. During the spring and summer months, the surrounding greenery is in full bloom, providing a vibrant backdrop to the cascading waters.


Gullfoss is not just a natural wonder, but also a symbol of the Icelandic people’s connection to their surroundings and their dedication to preserving their remarkable landscapes. It is a testament to the power and resilience of nature and a must-see destination for anyone driving the Golden Circle in Iceland.


Kerid Crater

Nestled along the Golden Circle route in Iceland is the captivating Kerid Crater, a volcanic crater that offers a unique and enchanting natural spectacle. With its striking turquoise-colored lake and stunning surrounding landscapes, Kerid Crater is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.


What sets Kerid Crater apart is its vivid colors and serene atmosphere. Formed over 6,500 years ago, the crater now holds a beautiful lake within its depths. The lake’s mesmerizing turquoise hue is a result of the minerals found in the water and the volcanic rock surrounding the crater.


As you approach the crater, you’ll be greeted by its magnificent size. Kerid Crater stretches approximately 270 meters (890 feet) in diameter and is approximately 55 meters (180 feet) deep. The steep slopes of the crater are adorned with vibrant green moss, making it a truly picturesque sight.


Visitors have the opportunity to walk along the rim of the crater and take in panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The contrast between the turquoise waters, the red and black volcanic rocks, and the verdant vegetation creates a stunning visual composition that is often the highlight of many photographs.


Descending into the crater, you can choose to follow a path that leads to the edge of the lake. This unique vantage point allows you to appreciate the pristine waters up close and truly experience the serenity of the natural surroundings. While swimming is not permitted in the lake, the tranquility and beauty of the area are enough to leave a lasting impression.


With its accessible location and relatively short hiking trails, Kerid Crater is a popular stop on the Golden Circle route. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a geology enthusiast, or simply someone seeking a peaceful and awe-inspiring experience, Kerid Crater undoubtedly delivers.


It’s worth noting that during the winter months, the crater may be covered with a blanket of snow, adding a magical touch to the already breathtaking landscape. Regardless of the season, Kerid Crater offers a unique opportunity to witness the power and beauty of Iceland’s volcanic history.


If you’re fortunate enough to visit during the summer months, you may encounter concerts and performances hosted within the crater. Being surrounded by the towering crater walls while enjoying live music creates an unforgettable experience that combines natural wonders with artistic expression.


When exploring Kerid Crater, it’s important to respect the designated paths and guidelines to ensure the preservation of this natural marvel. Remember to pack sturdy walking shoes and warm clothing, especially if visiting during the colder months, to fully embrace the experience of Kerid Crater.


With its incredible colors, unique geological features, and serene atmosphere, Kerid Crater is a hidden gem on the Golden Circle that should not be missed. Prepare to be captivated by the beauty and tranquility of this extraordinary volcanic landscape.


Faxi Waterfall

Tucked away along the serene Tungufljot River in southwestern Iceland, Faxi Waterfall is a hidden gem that offers a tranquil and picturesque experience for visitors on the Golden Circle route. Though it may be smaller in scale compared to other well-known Icelandic waterfalls, Faxi’s peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty make it a worthwhile stop.


Measuring approximately 80 meters (260 feet) wide, Faxi is a wide and gentle cascade that gracefully flows over a series of steps. The waterfall’s relatively low height, which reaches about 7 meters (23 feet), allows visitors to appreciate the intricate details and delicate beauty of the falling water.


What makes Faxi truly special is its secluded location, nestled amidst scenic landscapes and rolling farmland. An idyllic wooden footbridge spans the river just above the waterfall, providing a perfect vantage point to take in the breathtaking views.


Visiting Faxi offers a quieter and more serene experience compared to some of the larger and more popular waterfalls in Iceland. The peacefulness of the surroundings allows for a deeper connection with nature. You can take a leisurely stroll along the riverbank, immersing in the sounds of flowing water and bird songs, or simply find a spot to sit, relax, and absorb the tranquility of this enchanting place.


During the summer months, Faxi Waterfall becomes an excellent location for salmon-spawning. You may be lucky enough to witness these incredible fish as they make their way upstream. Keep an eye out for their powerful jumps and impressive displays of strength.


In addition to the peaceful ambiance and natural beauty, Faxi offers a few amenities for visitors. There is a small parking area nearby, making it easy to access the site. Additionally, picnic tables are available, providing the perfect opportunity to enjoy a packed lunch while surrounded by the serene Icelandic countryside.


Faxi Waterfall serves as a reminder of the countless hidden treasures that Iceland has to offer. Its secluded location, gentle cascades, and serene atmosphere create an unforgettable experience for those seeking tranquility and a deeper connection with nature.


When visiting Faxi, remember to respect the surroundings and follow any posted guidelines and regulations. Take time to fully appreciate the peacefulness of this hidden gem while marveling at the graceful flow of water and the beauty of the Icelandic landscape.


So, if you’re looking to escape the crowds and discover a quieter side of Iceland’s natural wonders, make sure to include Faxi Waterfall on your Golden Circle itinerary. It’s a true oasis of serenity and natural beauty that will leave an indelible mark on your Icelandic adventure.


Secret Lagoon

Tucked away in the quaint village of Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon is a hidden gem and a relaxing oasis for visitors exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle. While it may not have the international renown of the Blue Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon offers a more authentic and intimate geothermal bathing experience.


The Secret Lagoon, known locally as “Gamla Laugin,” has a rich history dating back to 1891. It is one of Iceland’s oldest natural swimming pools and has been a beloved local retreat for over a century. The warm geothermal waters, hovering around 38-40°C (100-104°F), are fed by a nearby hot spring, creating a soothing and rejuvenating experience.


What makes the Secret Lagoon so special is its unpretentious and natural ambiance. The pool itself is surrounded by beautiful geothermal landscapes, with steam rising from the nearby hot springs. The backdrop of the rugged Icelandic countryside adds to the allure, making it feel like a hidden paradise.


While the Secret Lagoon may not boast the modern amenities of some of the larger spas, it has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The pool’s natural pebble bottom and the occasional bubbling of the hot spring create a soothing and therapeutic vibe. Soak in the warm waters, feel your stress melt away, and connect with the peacefulness of the Icelandic countryside.


One of the unique features of the Secret Lagoon is the small geyser that erupts every few minutes, adding a touch of natural theater to the bathing experience. As the geyser shoots up, watch as the hot water splashes gracefully back into the pool, creating a moment of anticipation and excitement for those lucky enough to witness it.


Adjacent to the Secret Lagoon is a charming rustic dressing room, where you can change in and out of your swimwear. The facility also includes showers and restrooms for your convenience, ensuring a comfortable visit.


After enjoying a relaxing soak, you can take a leisurely stroll around the area or sit in one of the seating areas to savor the tranquil atmosphere. Be sure to take a moment to absorb the natural beauty surrounding the Secret Lagoon and appreciate the simplicity and authenticity of this hidden gem.


Overall, the Secret Lagoon provides a more serene and intimate geothermal bathing experience compared to the busier and more commercialized options. It offers a chance to connect with nature, unwind, and embrace the age-old tradition of Icelandic bathing in natural hot springs.


Remember to bring your swimwear, a towel, and any other necessary essentials. Additionally, be mindful of the rules and guidelines set by the Secret Lagoon staff to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors.


If you’re seeking a truly immersive and unique geothermal experience while exploring the Golden Circle, make sure to spend some time at the Secret Lagoon. It’s a hidden paradise where you can relax, rejuvenate, and create lasting memories in the heart of Iceland’s natural wonderland.


Additional Stops and Activities

While the main attractions of the Golden Circle route are undoubtedly captivating, there are additional stops and activities that can enhance your journey and provide even more incredible experiences. Here are some noteworthy options to consider:

  • Laugarvatn Fontana: Located near the town of Laugarvatn, this thermal bath complex offers a unique opportunity to relax in geothermal pools and steam baths. Enjoy the rejuvenating effects of natural hot springs while taking in the beautiful views of Lake Laugarvatn at this tranquil wellness retreat.
  • Hjálparfoss: Situated in the Þjórsárdalur Valley, Hjálparfoss is a picturesque twin waterfall surrounded by intricate rock formations. Take a short detour off the main Golden Circle route to admire its beauty and enjoy the peacefulness of this hidden gem.
  • Skálholt: Just a short drive from the Golden Circle, Skálholt was once the epicenter of religious and cultural life in Iceland. Visit the historic site to explore the ruins of the old bishop’s seat, admire the impressive cathedral, and learn more about Iceland’s religious history at the onsite museum.
  • Efstidalur Farm: This charming family-run dairy farm offers a delightful dining experience where you can enjoy farm-to-table meals, homemade ice cream, and even have a chance to meet the dairy cows. Taste the fresh and delicious flavors of Icelandic cuisine while immersing yourself in the cozy atmosphere of the countryside.
  • Horseback Riding: Experience the Icelandic countryside from a unique perspective by embarking on a horseback riding adventure. Several riding stables along the Golden Circle offer guided tours, allowing you to explore the scenic landscapes and interact with Iceland’s beloved Icelandic horses.
  • Exploring the Highlands: If you’re looking to venture off the beaten path and explore more remote areas, consider taking a detour into the Highlands. Here, you’ll find dramatic landscapes, rugged mountains, and hidden waterfalls. Keep in mind that driving in the Highlands requires a 4×4 vehicle, and it’s essential to have the appropriate equipment and knowledge of the road conditions.

These additional stops and activities provide opportunities to delve deeper into Iceland’s natural, cultural, and culinary offerings. Whether you choose to relax in thermal baths, explore historic sites, or embark on off-the-beaten-path adventures, they add an extra layer of richness to your Golden Circle experience.


When planning your itinerary, consider the time constraints and your personal interests. Some of these activities may require additional time, so it’s important to allocate sufficient hours to fully enjoy each experience. Regardless of the choices you make, these additional stops and activities will undoubtedly contribute to an unforgettable journey through the wonders of the Golden Circle.


Safety Tips for Driving the Golden Circle

Driving the Golden Circle in Iceland is a memorable adventure, but it’s important to prioritize safety during your journey. Here are some essential tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Check the Weather: Icelandic weather can change rapidly, so check the weather forecast and road conditions before setting out on your trip. Be prepared for varying conditions, including rain, wind, fog, or even snow, depending on the season. Adjust your driving speed and be cautious in adverse weather conditions.
  • Drive Defensively: While the Golden Circle is a popular route, it’s important to stay alert and drive defensively. Be aware of other drivers and share the road responsibly. Remember to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, especially on gravel or unpaved sections of the route.
  • Observe Speed Limits: Speed limits are in place for your safety and the safety of others. Stick to the posted speed limits, which can vary on different sections of the Golden Circle. Adjust your speed according to the road conditions and be mindful of any temporary speed limit signs or construction zones.
  • Be Mindful of Wildlife: Iceland is home to sheep, reindeer, and other wildlife that may roam freely near the road. Watch out for these animals, especially in rural and remote areas. Slow down and give them ample space to cross the road safely.
  • Stay on Designated Paths: When visiting attractions or natural sites along the Golden Circle, follow designated paths and trails. Straying off the paths can harm delicate vegetation and contribute to erosion. Respect any barriers or signs, and avoid venturing into restricted or unsafe areas.
  • Take Breaks: Driving the Golden Circle can be a long journey, so take regular breaks to rest and refresh. Use designated rest areas or pull-off spots to stretch your legs, hydrate, and recharge. Fatigue can impair your driving ability, so ensure you’re well-rested before embarking on the trip.
  • Use Caution on Gravel Roads: Some sections of the Golden Circle may be gravel or unpaved. Exercise caution when driving on these roads, as they can be slippery and uneven. Reduce your speed and maintain a steady and controlled pace to ensure stability and control of your vehicle.
  • Have Emergency Supplies: Be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances by packing emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, flashlight, warm clothing, extra food and water, and a mobile phone charger or power bank. Having these essentials can provide peace of mind and help in case of an emergency.

Remember, the Golden Circle is a popular tourist route, and roads can get crowded, especially during peak seasons. Patience and courtesy on the road go a long way in ensuring a safe and pleasant experience for everyone.


Lastly, if you encounter any difficulties or emergencies during your journey, contact the appropriate authorities or emergency services immediately. Iceland has a reliable emergency response system, and assistance is readily available.


By following these safety tips, you can navigate the Golden Circle with confidence and enjoy the stunning natural landscapes while prioritizing the safety and well-being of everyone on the road.


What to Pack for the Golden Circle

As you prepare for your adventure along the Golden Circle in Iceland, it’s important to pack accordingly to ensure comfort and preparedness for various conditions. Here are some essential items to include in your packing list:

  • Layered Clothing: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so packing layers is essential. Be sure to pack warm base layers, a thermal mid-layer, and a waterproof outer layer. This allows you to adjust your clothing based on fluctuating temperatures and weather conditions.
  • Sturdy Waterproof Shoes: Comfortable and sturdy footwear is crucial for exploring the Golden Circle’s natural attractions. Opt for waterproof shoes or boots with good traction to navigate various terrains, including muddy paths or slippery surfaces near waterfalls.
  • Rain Gear: Iceland is known for its rain, so pack a waterproof rain jacket and pants to stay dry during wet weather. A compact travel umbrella can also come in handy for added protection.
  • Swimwear and Towel: Don’t forget to pack your swimwear and a towel for a visit to the Secret Lagoon or other geothermal pools along the Golden Circle. Having a towel readily available allows you to fully enjoy and relax in Iceland’s rejuvenating hot springs.
  • Daypack: A small daypack is useful for carrying essentials during your adventures. Pack a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a camera to capture memorable moments along the Golden Circle.
  • Travel Adapter: Iceland uses Type C and F sockets, so make sure to pack a travel adapter to charge your electronic devices and keep them powered throughout your trip.
  • Reusable Water Bottle and Snacks: Staying hydrated and nourished while on the road is important. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up at various stops along the Golden Circle. Snacks, such as energy bars or dried fruits, can also provide a quick boost of energy during your journey.
  • Insect Repellent: Depending on the season, you may encounter biting insects, so pack insect repellent to protect yourself from their nuisance.
  • Personal Medications and First Aid Kit: If you have any personal medications, ensure you have an adequate supply for the duration of your trip. Additionally, bring a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and any other items you may require.

It’s worth noting that Iceland’s weather can change quickly, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast and be prepared for various conditions. Packing versatile and functional clothing items will allow you to adapt to any weather changes throughout your journey.


While it’s important to pack all the essentials, try to travel light and only bring what you truly need. Remember, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase any forgotten or necessary items in Iceland if needed.


By packing smart and being prepared, you can embark on your Golden Circle adventure with confidence, knowing you have everything you need to make the most of your journey through Iceland’s stunning landscapes.



The Golden Circle in Iceland offers a remarkable journey through some of the country’s most captivating natural landscapes and historical sites. From the breathtaking waterfalls and geothermal wonders to the rich cultural heritage, the Golden Circle is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable adventure.


Driving the Golden Circle allows you to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of Iceland’s diverse landscapes, from the dramatic rift valleys of Thingvellir National Park to the erupting geysers of the Geysir Geothermal Area. Each stop along the route showcases the country’s unique geological features, providing a true appreciation for Iceland’s volcanic history.


Beyond the natural wonders, the Golden Circle offers opportunities to learn about Iceland’s rich cultural heritage. Explore historical sites like Skálholt and learn about the early foundations of Icelandic democracy at Thingvellir National Park. Engage with the friendly locals, savor delicious Icelandic cuisine, or take part in traditional activities like horseback riding through the countryside.


As you embark on your Golden Circle adventure, prioritize safety by checking weather and road conditions, driving defensively, and respecting the surroundings. Pack appropriately for the ever-changing Icelandic weather and have the necessary supplies for a comfortable and enjoyable trip.


Whether you choose to drive yourself, join a guided tour, or use public transportation, the Golden Circle promises to be a memorable experience. Each season offers its own unique charm, from the vibrant colors of the autumn foliage to the serene snowy landscapes of winter.


Embrace the sense of wonder and adventure as you explore the hidden gems and iconic attractions along the Golden Circle. From the awe-inspiring waterfalls to the soothing geothermal baths, every moment spent in Iceland’s Golden Circle is an opportunity to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on an extraordinary journey through the wonders of Iceland’s Golden Circle. Prepare to be captivated by its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality—truly an adventure of a lifetime.