The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle area is located in South West of Iceland, and when driving from Reykjavik and back the total distance covered is about 220 km. The best way to enjoy the Golden Circle is by going on a tour with a local guide what can show you all the best places and tell you many fascinating facts and stories along the way. If you have your own car it is also possible to drive it by yourself, but be aware that the road conditions can be unreliable, especially during the winter. This is another good reason to leave the driving to a professional driver who is trained for driving safely in difficult conditions.
The first stop on the Golden Circle is usually the UNESCO heritage site of Thingvellir National Park. You can read more about Thingvellir here (insert link). After you spent some time enjoying the tectonic plate valley of Thingvellir, visited the site of the first democratic parliament in the world, or maybe snorkelled through the Silfra fissure, it is time to drive towards your next stop Geysir.
On the road in the Golden Circle area
About 60 km from Thingvellir you will find the geothermal area of Haukadalur. It is home to the famous spouting hot spring called Geysir. As you might have guessed already, the famous Geysir has given name to the English word geyser. It is the first recorded Geyser in Europe and it has been active for hundreds of years. Through the history Geysir has been very active with several eruptions a day. A few years ago it became much less active, and it has only erupted once or twice a year during recent times.
Luckily Strokkur is located just next to Geysir. Strokkur is an extremely active hot spring, erupting every 5-10 minutes all year round. Some eruptions are reaching an impressive height of 30 meters. Strokkur is nowadays the star of Haukadalur, and it´s eruptions one of the absolute highlights on the Golden Circle.
Strokkur in full action
Once you have enjoyed the wonders of Haukadalur and had a nice lunch in one of the local restaurants around Geysir, it is time to continue to the next stop – The mighty Gullfoss waterfall, or the Golden falls in English. This waterfall is one of the most powerful in Europe, and is also the reason behind the name “Golden Circle”.
The history of this waterfall is a very interesting one, as it was not always certain that it would remain a natural beauty available for the public to visit. At the end of the 19th century foreign investors were interested in exploiting Gullfoss for energy production. The owner´s daughter named Sigriður Tómasdóttir threaten to through herself in the river if the exploitation would take place. The waterfall remained untouched and Sigriður Tómasdóttir is knows as Iceland´s first environmentalist.