Golden circle of Iceland
En-Route Golden Circle | Photo by: Unkown
The Nordic country known for its craters and waterfalls is a mythic destination where wonders seem ordinary.
Iceland, the Nordic country known for its craters, waterfalls and vast majority of natural wonders. In Iceland it’s mostly cold and windy during the year but its still one of the traveler hot spots. Not only in terms of popularity, also in the geographical sense: it’s a literal hotspot, as it’s rich in so many active volcanoes. This makes Iceland a wondrous experience, perfect for the adventurous.
Scenery Iceland | Photo by: Jonathan Au
The Golden Circle consists of Iceland’s most beautiful sites and is a good route to take if you want to see what Iceland is all about. These are some sights you should have on your to-do list:
Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and includes lakes, waterfalls, natural formations and the Silfra Fissure, which is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continental plates. It’s the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel between two continental plates, which obviously makes this an experience you won’t want to miss.
The Strokkur Geyser is one of the two large geysers in the area, with plumes of steam and steaming hot water spraying high in the air every eight to ten minutes.
We continued our journey to the Kerid crater lake which is a stunning crater of red rocks and green streaks. The lake has a deep blue color, almost like a mix between ice and marble. With a short hike to the coast you can see the remains of the collapsed volcano, which provides you with a breathtaking view.
From here we decided to visit the dramatic Gullfoss waterfall on the Hvita river. This waterfall is truly one of the most impressive waterfalls we’ve ever seen. Be sure to stand at the right angle, as from some spots you can’t see more than just the plumes of waterspray rising into the air.
Gullfoss Waterfall | Photo by: Theodor Vasile
As small as Iceland is, you would be surprised by the many options for accommodation. You have to make sure that in the more popular seasons, such as in summer, it’s advised to book well in advance. The same goes for a rental car, which is very helpful if you want to see a lot of different spots during your trip. We stayed in the following hotels:
Hotel Gullfoss: this highland hotel has a very good restaurant with traditional Icelandic lamb and fish dishes. Within 10 minutes you’re at the big active Geysir and Thingvellir is only 35 minutes away, which makes this hotel very practial to visit these sites.
Ion Adventure Hotel: this gem not only has breathtaking surroundings and an appealing nordic cuisine, it also has a natural spa with sauna and an outdoor hot pool. On top of that, they organize adventure tours – hence the name – with numerous sensational activities, for example driving a snowmobile, spotting the Northern lights and hiking inside a volcano!
Frost and Fire Hotel: this hotel has an amazing outside pool and two hot tubs with water from the geothermal sources of Hveragerdi. The perfect end of the day after a long cold hike.
The ION hotel | Photo by: Maybe you Like
Hungry? Around the Golden Circle you have many restaurants, but we have three favorites. The first one is Fridheimer, where you can eat in a beautiful greenhouse. A unique experience, with four different kinds of tomatoes cultivated in the greenhouses and used as a theme in their cuisine. With tomato soup, tomato ice cream, bloody mary’s and even a tomato espresso tonic, they’ve invented many ways to implement their fresh tomatoes into their dishes and drinks. We love their creativity and it tastes good too!
Another Golden Circle favorite is Fontana Spa, where they have the best rye bread in the world. The bread is geothermal, which means it is baked in the ground at least overnight. This makes the bread extra moist and tasty. At Fontana Spa you can get “The Rye Bread Experience”, where you can visit the geothermal area where they bake the bread, observe while they take the bread out and taste it while it’s still warm.
Our last favorite is the Efstidalur farm. This is a boutique hotel right in the middle of the Golden Circle. What’s so special about this place is that you can buy products straight from the farm. Our favorite: the ice-cream they sell from the ice cream barn. It’s self-made too and really good. We promise you won’t regret it!
Black Sands Triptych | Photo by: Capy Vara