The Golden Circle is one of the most famous tourist hotspots in Iceland. It forms a unique and diverse landscape, which can be easily accessed from Reykjavik. It encompasses Icelandic geology and history, as Iceland’s natural beauty, all at once. The Golden Circle has three main attractions. They include the Gull Foss waterfall, The Geysir and the Þingvellir National Park. Here are the highlights of these unique tourist attractions.
Þingvellir National Park
This national park is ranked as the most important historical site in Iceland. The first democratic parliament in the world was set up here in AD 930 and continued to be housed here, until 1798. Parliamentary meetings were mainly conducted outdoors and the stone foundations are still visible today.
The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The prime minister of Iceland usually has a cottage in this historical site, as a national and cultural identity. Apart from the historical perspective, the park has interesting geographical features, which you can observe. The continental drift is another interesting feature about the Þingvellir National Park.
It is strategically located between North American and European tectonic plates. The rift is clearly visible as a vertical canyon known locally as Almannagjá. Scuba certified divers can head to the Silfra fissure, where you can be able to touch North America and Europe at the same time. Every year, these plates drift approximately 2 cm apart.
Gullfoss is the most famous waterfall in Iceland, and a popular tourist destination. This spectacular double cascade drops around 32 m down a rocky ravine. The most epic thing about this waterfall is that you can get very close to it, especially during summer. However, during winter, you will just have to view it from a distance, for safety purposes.
When the sun is shining, the waterfall creates beautiful rainbows while it glitters with ice during winter. Due to the origins of the waterfall, the water appears brown to blue-gray. It is one of the most photographed places on earth. It is loud, big and definitely worth checking out. The editors over at the Iceland Travel Guide Iceland Buddy have put together a detailed list of things you need to bring and what to do once you visit Gullsfoss that is very helpfull as you need to prepare carefully before going.
Another major tourist attraction at the Golden Circle is the Geysir. This is the original hot-water spout. All other geysers in the world are named after it, thus the name. visitors get the opportunity of seeing the geyser shoot hot springs of water for up to 30 m high, every 5 to 10 minutes.
It is believed that this geyser has been active for more than 800 meters. Initially, it could shoot water up to heights of 80 m, when the natural environment was still undisturbed. Currently, the active one is the Strokkur geyser. The Great Geysir has not been active for a few years. Every year, tourists visit the place to observe this natural phenomenon.
The Golden Circle has three main popular locations, all within a radius of 100km from the capital. This tourist circuit provides a great opportunity to see the point where continental plates meet, the roaring waterfall, the spouting hot spring and the ancient Icelandic Parliament. All three spots can be done within a single-day loop.