You can read about our entire Iceland journey here.
Top Things to do on The Golden Circle Route
Kerið is the site of a small lake that has formed at the bottom of a volcanic crater about 3,000 years ago. The plants and vegetation are really neat around the crater, and you can access the bottom of the crater by foot.
We stopped in Skálholt on our drive through The Golden Circle and visited the historical site of Skálholt Cathedral. Adjacent to the church is an archaeological site, dating back to the 11th century, when Skálholt was a main political and cultural center for eight centuries.
This tomato greenhouse-restaurant was such a pleasant surprise! The concept of growing tomatoes in the middle of Iceland in a giant greenhouse with renewable geothermal energy is somewhat mind-boggling. Not to mention they serve fresh tomato soup, tomato-infused drinks, and other tomato-based dishes inside the greenhouse, making for a very unique experience. We thoroughly enjoyed having lunch at Friðheimar, and recommend booking a table in advance. We opted for the tomato soup, which is served with garnishes like sour cream and fresh basil, and includes endless fresh homemade bread as an accompaniment.
Tips: After lunch at Friðheimar, you can go for a quick dip in a hot spring; head to Hrunalaug or Secret Lagoon Hot Spring in Gamla Laugin, located near Reykholt.
Gullfoss is one of those places that gets thousands and thousands of visitors each year, but is just so magnificent that it just doesn’t matter how many people are there. It is a must-see! We were blown away by the scale of the waterfall, and the beautiful and winding canyon the Hvítá river has formed over the centuries.
Tips: For more photo opportunities, take the stairs up for panoramic views (or down for close-up views) depending on which parking lot you chose.
Geysir is sometimes referred to as the first documented geysir in Europe. It periodically spouts hot water, sometimes up to 70m high, making it fun to watch and anticipate the next burst. It has also gone dormant for years at a time, making it somewhat unpredictable! The entire area near Geysir contains numerous “baby” geysirs to visit as well. After Geysir, hike out to Bruarfoss Waterfall if time allows (about 30 minute walk one-way from the designated parking lot). Do not follow Google maps, follow the signs along the road to the official parking lot and trailhead to the waterfall.
Tips: Geysir has restrooms in the visitor center, as well as food/snacks.
Bru’s Farm, Horsepetting at Margeiri
Located on Route 35 between Gulfoss and Geysir, there is a farm with Icelandic horses where you can buy “horse candy” and feed the horses. It was a really fun experience, and definitely worth the quick stop! A great photo-op, too, with the unique breed.
Laugarvatn is a small town and lake on your way between Geysir and Þhingvellir National Park. You can rent kayaks and head out on the lake or visit the thermal spa and wellness center at Laugarvatn Fontana, built on natural hot springs right on the lake’s edge offering beautiful views.
Tips: Head across the street to Lindin cafe and try the rhubarb skyr cake (if they have it that day!).
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park
This National Park and historic site is a must-see when visiting The Golden Circle. Here you can see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, visit Þingvallakirkja (Þingvellir church, a super cute little church), walk along Lögberg to take in the views including Peningagjá, and walk to Öxarárfoss waterfall. The park is also the site of Alþing (Althing), which is where Iceland's parliament was located from the 10th to 18th centuries.
Tips: If you are a diver, check out Silfra and Davíðsgjá, known to be some of the best diving spots in Iceland.