One of the counties that tourists tend to overlook when it comes to travelling is the Nordic country of Iceland. It is one of the country’s that is not only rich in history and culture but also offers tourists one of the most diverse ecosystems in the planet.
If you go to one part of the country, you would see snow-capped mountains and glaciers while on another corner the country is the lava trails that have become a part of Iceland’s allure.
However, the ultimate travel destination that vacationers MUST experience is the country’s famed Gullni hringurinn or the Golden Circle.
What is the Golden Circle?
So, what is exactly this much talked about area in Iceland?
Is it a place or road made of gold?
Well, actually no. the Gullni hringurinn is a route with a span of 300 kilometres from the southern part of the country. It starts from the capital of Reykjavik and travels around to the southern uplands of Iceland such as Haukadalur as it loops back to Hveragerði.
The Golden Circle route was coined as a moniker for tourists that are visiting the country. It is derived from one of the prominent falls in the area which is Gullfoss, which means “golden falls” in Icelandic.
The popular tourists’ spots found in this area are a combination of both natural and man-made scenery. There are group tours available but a self-drive tour is more favourable?
Why? Because you have a flexible schedule to explore the area and experience what this southern corner of Iceland has to offer.
What is the Best Time to Travel the Golden Circle?
Now, what is the best time to go to the Golden Circle?
Most travellers prefer going all year round, but winter would be one of a kind experiences in the Golden Circle. Now, you still need to keep in mind that safety is your utmost priority when it comes to self-driving to the Golden Circle.
Reminders for your Winter Trip
- As it is that time of the year where the weathers are extreme, its best to pack up warmly. It is best to bring an extra set of clothes. Bring a container that can hold hot drinks to warm you up.
- Another thing, familiarize yourself with Iceland’s roadwork and traffic regulation. You can research online regarding Iceland’s traffic rules and signages. It would be best to be ready once you hit the road at this Nordic country
- Get all your gear ready and packed. That includes your GPS (if your rented car has one) camping gear (if you would be sleeping outdoors) chargers, power bank, first-aid kit and all other items that you would be needing on the trip.
Be travel-organized during your trip. Plan your itinerary such as the tourist spots that you will be visiting. When you plan your trip to The Golden Circle, just have fun and have a great time.
Where to Go?
Now that you have made the initial steps in planning your trip, it is now time for you to decide on which tourists’ attraction you can visit on your way to the Golden Circle. Here are natural wonders and even man-made ones that are worth including in your travel plans.
- Þingvellir National Park – One of the first tourist spots to visit in the Golden Circle is this national park. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, it combines both the history and natural scenery of Iceland. Being the country’s first National Park, this place was also where the first spot where the country’s first general assembly took place. Its name Þingvellir (which is pronounced as Thingvellir) means Parliament Plains. If you find yourself here, you can go and admire Iceland’s natural lake, Þingvallavatn. You can also take a hike at some of the park’s paths were some of the scenes from Game of Thrones where shot.
- Geysir– Another spot in the Golden Circle that visitors trek is the Geysir (also known as The Great Geysir). This is where the English word “geyser” originated from. This location is one of the many places in the country where its geothermal resources are plenty. It may inactive nowadays but you can view spectacular landscape caused by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. There is a nearby restaurant if you need to get a quick bite before heading on your way.
Gulfoss Falls – Another treasured tourist attraction in The Golden Circle is the Gulfoss waterfalls. It is only 5 miles away from Geysir and the waterfalls are truly a sight to behold. There are two falls, one with a height of 11 metres and the other one, a 21-metre drop. It may not be the tallest waterfall in Iceland but it is just as breathtaking for guests who have visited the place. The country’s government is in charge of protecting and preserving the Gulfoss waterfalls.
What to do When Driving the Golden Circle
The Golden Circle in Iceland is not focused on sight-seeing the great outdoors.
Sure, it would be a mind-boggling experience to see the Northern Lights in Winter while at The Golden Circle but there are other activities that you can also do while you are here.
- Hit the different geothermal baths – While it’s an incredible experience being outdoors in the Golden Circle route, visiting the many geothermal baths in the area is also a MUST. One of these is the Fontana Geothermal bath located in the town of Laugarvatn. You can have a dip from the spa’s natural waters to relax and unwind before setting off to your next stop.
- Horseback Riding in the Golden Circle – Normally, this activity is available all year round as long as the permits, but horseback riding in the can be an out of the ordinary experience on your trip. You would have a few hours off the road and just admiring the lava fields in the Golden Circle.
- Enjoy the local cuisine – What is a trip without experiencing the local fare? While are on a trip to the Golden Circle, there are many local dishes for you to try. You sample some yoghurt a the Skyrgerðin or have to savour some chocolates in Lindin, a charming village located in Laugarvatn.
Travellers should experience a trip to Iceland during winter at least once. Going on a self-drive during this time can be exciting but caution should also be observed.
The best place to experience a winter trip in Iceland is the Golden Circle where travellers can see both the beautiful outdoors and other Nordic activities.
Hi, I’m Stephen Schreck (pronounced like Shrek; but don’t worry, I’m not green.)
At 21 I fell in love with travel. Since then my adventures have taken me to over 80 countries in 8 years.
Now my biggest passion is helping people just like you, reach their travel dreams!