Iceland's Golden Circle

This self drive itinerary of Iceland’s Golden Circle is a great option for those with less than a week but keen to explore Iceland’s most popular landmarks and attractions which are conveniently located in the southern part of the country. It works well for those taking advantage of Icelandair’s free stopover option when heading to the USA or even as a long break avoiding weekend travel.

The itinerary covers many star attractions including the impressive Gullfoss waterfall, where legend has it that there is a pot of gold at the bottom; Thingvellir National Park, site of the world’s oldest parliament established by the Vikings in the tenth century; the stunning black beaches at Reynisfjora where you should never turn your back to the Atlantic rollers; and the Geysir Geathermal Area including the lively Strokkur which erupts every few minutes sending water 30 meters into the air.

 

 

At a glance

  • A fantastic snapshot of some of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks
  • Take a dip into the Blue Lagoon, the world’s most recognisable hot water pool
  • Snorkel at Silfra where the water is so clear some feel they are floating in mid air
  • Visit three of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi and Skógafoss
  • Enjoy a night out in Reykjavik described by Lonely Planet as a ‘small city with a big soul’
  • Visit the world’s most famous volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, a volcano completely covered by an ice cap
  • Enjoy numerous legends and stories from gold buried under a waterfall to trolls turned to stone
  • Visit Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring, and used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes
  • Prices from £875 per person including accommodation and car hire

Gallery

Location

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival

Arrival

Approximate distance: ca100km / 62miles

Geothermal Lagoon – Flower Village – Geothermal GreenhousesPick up the car at the airport and start your Iceland experience.

From Keflavik International Airport, we recommend driving the southern coast of the Reykjanes peninsula towards your first overnight stay in the charming village of Hveragerdi. This village is one of the few sites in the world located directly on top of a geothermal area and, because of its many greenhouses heated by hot water from nearby springs, it is often called the “flower village.”

Depending on your arrival time in Iceland, it may be ideal to stop and visit the renowned Blue Lagoon where you can relax in its geothermal waters.

Important:  admission to the Blue Lagoon needs to be booked in advance.

Overnight stay in Hveragerdi area.

Day 2 - South Coast

South Coast

Approximate distance: ca190km / 118miles

Thundering Waterfalls – Cliffs & Stone Arches – Black Sand Beaches of the South Shore

Visit the majestic Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, the infamous Eyjafjallajokull glacier and the surrounding area affected by the volcanic eruption of 2010. Seljalandsfoss is over 65 meters high and oustide of the winter months it is possible to walk behind the waterfall (raincoats required!). Skogafoss is unique because the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull.

Dyrholaey is a rocky headland characterised by a black lava arch. Every year thousands of sea birds and puffins nest here during the summer.

Important: Please note that Dyrholaey is closed during nesting season, from about the middle of May until late June.

Overnight in the Vik area.

Day 3 - Thjorsardalur Valley - Gullfoss - Geysir

Thjorsardalur Valley - Gullfoss - Geysir

Approximate distance: ca300km / 186miles

Colorful Valley – Hekla Volcano – The Famous Golden Falls – Exploding Geysers

Explore Thjorsardalur valley and its contrasting landscapes of birch woods, sandy lava fields, rivers and waterfalls. The impressive Hekla volcano towers over the region. This valley is also where you can visit the excavated site of a Viking age farm that had been destroyed one of Hekla´s eruptions.

Continue to the amazing sites of Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring area.

Overnight in the Golden Circle area.

Day 4 - Thingvellir - Borgarfjordur Area

Thingvellir - Borgarfjordur Area

Approximate distance: ca300km / 186miles

National Park with Geological Wonders (UNESCO) – Picturesque Fjords – Waterfalls

Visit Thingvellir National Park, site of the ancient Icelandic parliament and a jewel of nature. Here you can see the Mid Atlantic Rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You can even snorkel or dive at the Silfra where the water is so clear with visibility exceeding 100 meters that some suffer from vertigo since they feel they are literally floating in mid air!

Then via either Hvalfjordur fjord or the Kaldidalur highland track (Open June-August, 4WD needed), your journey continues to the beautiful Borgarfjordur region and Reykholt, home of the 13th-century scholar Saga author Snorri Sturluson.

Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord),only 50 km from Reykjavik, gives an excellent opportunity to enjoy the unique beauty of Icelandic fjords,with its sloops, shores, canyons and waterfalls and its somewhat controversial history of whaling. The area is especially quiet and tranquil with few people around. Glymur, the highest waterfall of Iceland (198 m) is in Hvalfjordur

Return to Reykjavik in the afternoon for your last night in Iceland.

Day 5 - Departure day

Departure day

Approximate distance: ca52km / 32miles

Drive back to Keflavik International Airport and even stop at Blue Lagoon as it is on your way to the airport, if you did not have time to do it on your arrival day. *

*Please note that the package price is based on 4 x 24-hour rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 5 an additional supplement will be necessary unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 4 day rental is up and use the Flybus departure transfer.

Iceland by Eva Sturm