Iceland Golden Circle Map: Exploring the Route
The Golden Circle in Iceland is a popular route in South Iceland. This course covers a 300 km loop from Reykjavik, to central Iceland and back. This route takes you to many of Iceland’s best known destinations. Find the Iceland Golden Circle map below with markers on the key stops along the way.
From Reykjavik, the three main stops include: (1) Thingvellir National Park, (2) the geothermal valley of Haukadalur and (3) Gullfoss Waterfall. On the way back to Reykjavik, you might like to stop at other popular destinations like the Hveragerdi greenhouse village. You can do the entire route in one day by driving it yourself or joining a tour group.
Stop 1: Thingvellir National Park
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is close to the Reykjanes peninsula and the Hengill volcanic area. The park is a popular destination because of its historical, geological and cultural significance. Thingvellir National Park is set in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. You can find this park at the northern end of the largest natural lake in Iceland, Þingvallavatn.
Why it’s special Because of its tectonic and volcanic activity in a rift valley. You can also see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates in the region’s faults.
What to do there: You can go hiking, camping, angling or horseback riding . Or you might like to go scuba diving in Silfra Lake, where the continental drift between the tectonic plates is wide enough for divers!
How to get to Thingvellir National Park If you are coming from Reykjavik, take road no. 1 going north out of Reykjavik. Go through the town of Mosfellsbær and take the first exit to the right at the roundabout onto road no. 36 to Thingvellir. This will take you to the main road to Thingvellir. You can expect the road to be ploughed most days throughout the winter. This should take you about 40 minutes driving. See a map and detailed directions here.
Stop 2: Geothermally active valley of Haukadalur
This valley is located to the north of Laugarvantn in the south of Iceland. Here you can find geysers and other spectacular geothermal features. Most popular are two large geysers, Strokkur and Geysir. Strokkur is known to erupt every 5 to 10 minutes and Geysir erupts 4 to 5 times a day. You can also find smaller hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles in this area.
Why it’s special You can watch the geysers erupt!
How to get there From Thingvillir National Park, drive via Route 365 and Laugarvatnsvegur/Route 37. This should take you about 40 minutes. See a map and detailed directions here.
Geysir, Haukadalur, Iceland from the guilsteron Vimeo
Stop 3: Gullfoss Waterfall
The next stop on the Iceland Golden Circle map route is Gullfoss Waterfall (meaning “golden falls”). It can be found in the canyon on Hvítá river in south-west Iceland. Prepare to be impressed by the dramatic landscape and force of the plunging falls.
Why it’s special Because of the dramatic falls, deep crevasse and tumbling water!
How to get there From Geysir, head south on Haukadalsvegur toward Route 35. Take a sharp left onto Route 35 and then a slight right onto Gullfoss Parking. This should take you 11 minutes. See a map and detailed directions here.
Find out more Gullfoss Waterfall
Image: Trey Ratcliff on Flickr
Gullfoss – Iceland from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo
Other stops on the road back to Reykjavik
You might also like to stop off at the following locations on your way back to Reykjavik:
- Kerid volcanic crater
- Hveragerdi greenhouse village, showing how natural energy is harnessed
- Faxi waterfall
- Nesjavellir geothermal power plant
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