The Golden Circle - Our Guide to Iceland's Most Popular Drive

The Golden circle

Iceland’s most popular drive

The Golden circle, Iceland’s most popular self drive tour starts and ends in Reykjavík.  It’s 229km (142miles). The full length of the circle is paved and takes around 3 hours to drive.

Kerið

Kerið Crater - The Golden CircleIf you choose to start driving south, you will be driving on the Ring road until you arrive to road 35 on your left. That’s 55km (31miles) from Reykjavik and it takes you around 45 minutes before you have to turn left. After you have driven on road 35 for 10 minutes (12.8km/8miles), you will reach, on your left, the beautiful crater Kerið. Kerið is one of the bigger primary stops on the Golden circle.

Gullfoss & Faxafoss

Gullfoss - The Golden Circle69km (43miles) further on you will reach the majestic waterfall Gullfoss in all it’s splendor. There are two parking spots there. Choose which ever you want. During off season, there might be warning signs, even signs forbidding people to walk down to the waterfall due to dangerous conditions as extremely icy roads for example. Please obey the warnings and/or stop signs.

Faxafoss - The Golden circleYou should also take the opportunity to stop at Faxafoss, another waterfall along the way. You will have it on your right side, 21km (13miles) before you arrive to Gullfoss.

Around Gullfoss & Faxafoss you have benches where you can have lunch. If you chose to rent a camper, you have a fridge and cooking gear in the van so you can really enjoy your time around the waterfalls. Faxafoss usually has more privacy than Gullfoss so maybe it’s a good idea to have your lunch there before continuing to Gullfoss.

 

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Geysir – Strokkur

Geysir - The Golden circleThe next big stop, equally popular as Gullfoss, is the geothermal area where you find the big hot spring known as Geysir. It’s a 9.7km (6miles) from Gullfoss to the Geysir area which lies in Haukardal.

It is a rare occasion Geysir erupts nowadays but it’s smaller sister Strokkur erupts every 6 to 10 minutes. When it erupts, make sure you are standing upwind so you will not be showered with scolding hot water.

At Geysir, they have a huge tourist center where you can buy souvenirs and refreshments.

When you are finished with Gullfoss and heading west, in the direction of Reykjavik, you will arrive in the little village of Laugarvatn. That’s a 29.5km (18miles) drive from Gullfoss. There you can stretch your legs, have a bath in the hot spring and pool they have there. They also have a campsite right on your right side just before the village, on your right side, where you can camp out for the night if you so wish to.

Þingvellir national park

Silfra - The Golden CircleIf you choose to continue driving west on road 365 (turns to road 36) you will arrive in Þingvellir national park. It’s a 31.7km (20miles) from Laugarvatn. If you want to camp at Þingvellir, you have a wonderful campsite there with all the facilities you need. You will also have the chance to enjoy many of the beautiful hikes in and around the national park.

Peningagjáinn and Silfra are two of the big attractions there with Silfra being classified as one of the world’s top ten diving sites. The water there is surreal due to it’s clarity and it literally feels like flying while on the surface.

The lake itself is an excellent spot for fishing. There are a few different species of Arctic char and you also have massive trout there. Inquire at the service facilities for a fishing license and to get the latest fishing reports.

The scenic route back to Reykjavik

The scenic route - The Golden CircleIf you have time, the weather is good (not recommended when there is snow), we suggest you take the scenic route back to Reykjavik. (click on the map) You continue to drive west on road 36 for 7.5km (4.6miles) until you come to road 360 where you take the road on your left.where you drive (slowly and enjoy the scenery) another 11.2km (7miles) until you come to a crossroad, there you take a right turn on to road 435. Soon you will be driving in very epic nature. A stunning ride, up and down, taking you past some really wonderful places.

You keep on road 435 at all times. At one point, you will be driving along the main warm water pipe serving Reykjavik. When you reach the end of 435, you have reached the Ring road again where you take a right turn and soon you will be back in Reykjavik. It is 27.2km (16.1miles) from the crossroad to road nr:1, the Ring road.

 

Read more: Camping rules in Iceland

 

Tips for the Golden Circle

• Plan your trip so you early, especially if you are doing the whole circle in one day. The earlier you leave Reykjavik, the bigger the chance to miss the big crowds at the popular places.

• If you plan to camp, make your grocery shopping in either Krónan or Bónus. Eating along the way gets expensive really fast so stock up your cooler and use the cooking gear that comes with the camper rental.

• There is a gas station at Geysir so you should not run on empty if you start off the trip with a full tank.

• The area south of Laugarvatn is another area full of wonderful places to see like Flúðir, Sólheimar, The secret lagoon, Reykholt and Skálholt. So do your research and find out which route suits your travels.

• You will drive by quite a few photogenic places. When you do and you want to take pictures, makes sure you park your camper in a safe place. Stopping in the middle of the road is not good enough.

Whatever route you choose to drive the Golden circle, take your time, enjoy the ride and do drive carefully.

 

Happy Camping!  #WohoCamper

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