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The only Golden Circle, Iceland – Map & Self-Drive Guide You Will Need.

Considering visiting The Golden Circle in Iceland?

Have you thought about taking a Golden Circle self-drive trip? If so, you should use this Golden Circle Iceland Map to help you plot your route and explore Iceland’s star attraction!

The Golden Circle is home to some of Iceland’s most iconic beautiful attractions and it’s easily achievable on a solo road trip if you happen to have a hie car. Just make sure you don’t leave your hotel without a Golden circle map!

In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about the attractions you’ll see along the way (both iconic and less well-known,) how to visit in winter, what to pack, where to stay, why you need a GoldenCircle Iceland map, how to organise a day tour as well as answering some frequently asked questions …

** Pssst, this article may contain affiliate links. If you have no idea what this means, click here and everything will be explained!**

What is the Golden Circle?

The Golden Circle in Iceland is an area of great beauty in Iceland within an easy driving distance of Reykjavik. It’s an extremely popular destination for tourists in Iceland, especially those visiting for a short time or a layover as it allows them to experience a lot of what Iceland has to offer in a short space of time!

Not everyone has enough time to drive the whole ring road but this day trip visiting The Golden Circle will give you a flavour of Iceland and no doubt, leave you wanting more!

The golden circle in iceland in winter

A great way to see The Golden Circle is to take a self-drive trip. In this article – The Golden Circle Iceland map and self-drive guide – I will give you an outline of the best route, the best places to see when visiting The Golden Circle and show you how to get there (with the help of this handy Iceland Golden circle map) to help you plan a Golden Circle self-drive trip in Iceland.

How to see the Golden Circle

One option is to take a Golden Circle Tour. You’ll get delivered to all the best spots without having to worry about driving the golden circle route in the snow or getting lost.

But another popular way of visiting The Golden Circle is to drive it yourself – using my handy Iceland’s Golden circle map of course!

You can easily hire a car to explore yourself and usually, the hire company will pick you up at the airport. I hired a car with AutoEurope for just £17.50 per day.

I saved heaps of money by using an annual Europe car hire insurance policy with icarhireinsurance which cost me just £40. I also saved money by skipping the GPS and downloading and downloading the Iceland map which I can use offline to get about!

Doing a self-drive trip around the golden circle can be a cost effective way of seeing some of Iceland’s highlights.

Map of The Golden Circle, Iceland, With Stops Along The Way

The Golden Circle Iceland Map with the top places on the golden circle highlighted

If you do decide to do a self-drive tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle, you will need a map to follow! Here I have highlighted all the major attractions and some of the smaller stops on this map of the Golden Circle, Iceland.

The larger stars are the main attractions which you absolutely cannot miss. They have also been highlighted in bold text below. The smaller stars are additional attractions along the Golden Circle route, which you should visit if you have time.

  • Thingvellir National Park 
  • Kerid Crater Lake
  • Gulfoss waterfall
  • Haukadalur Geothermal Area
  • Braurfoss waterfall
  • Laugarvatn spa

Driving The Golden Circle in Winter

Many people worry about driving the golden circle route in winter due to the arctic snowy conditions. It’s true, Iceland is covered in a layer of snow for about 6 months of the year. However, the roads in Iceland in winter are in good condition and a steady stream of tourists driving on them ensures they are kept snow free. Visiting The Golden Circle in Winter is a magical winter wonderland!

Good advice to follow is to drive with caution and make sure the hire car has snow tyres. Do not suddenly brake or swerve when driving the golden circle in Iceland in winter.

You do need to be aware of slippy conditions in the Golden Circle in winter, especially in the snow or rain. The rocks can get very slippy especially when covered in a layer of moss.

Speaking of moss, you’ll find a lot of it in Iceland, often covering harsh lava fields with a softer layer of green. It’s very delicate and takes a long time to recover so please help protect Iceland’s environment and avoid stepping on it where you can. Stick to the paths – they are there for a reason!

The golden circle iceland in winter

The Highlights of The Golden Circle, Iceland.

These three places are absolute must-sees when visiting The Golden Circle route. These stops are marked with the larger stars on the Iceland Golden Circle map pictured above. No trip to The Golden Circle would be complete without taking in these sights. I recommend starting early so you can squeeze in a few of the popular extra stops listed below.

Stop 1 Gullfoss Waterfall

the golden circle iceland map showing gulfoss waterfall

Gullfoss is possibly Iceland’s most famous waterfall and probably the one most visitors see as it’s so convenient on The Golden Circle.

It is located on the Hvita river (White river) and is fed by Iceland’s 2nd largest glacier, Langjokull. (See tours of Langjokull HERE.)

It plummets 32m over 2 stages and the volume of water reaches 140m3/s in Summer.

It is just a 10 minutes drive from the Haukadular Geothermal region. There glacier, a cafe and facilities at the upper car park.

The below photo view point was reached by hoping over a little fence and following the canyon to a little clearing.  Just take care as the ground is slippy with wet mud, don’t walk too close to the edge!

gulfoss waterfall the golden circle

Stop 2 Haukadalur Geothermal Area / Geysir

The golden circle iceland map showing geysir

Geysir, also known as The Great Geysir, is a geyser in the Haukadalur valley which periodically erupts spurting boiling hot water up to 70metres in the air every few minutes.

It has been active for 10 000 years and is a popular tourist attraction when visiting The Golden Circle. It usually draws a significant crowd of tourists patiently waiting, poised with their cameras, to catch the impressive natural spectacle.

The photo below shows it bubbling up a split second before it erupted.

There are toilets, a cafe and a shop here on the opposite side of the road from the geysers.

Haukadalur Geyser erupting golden circle iceland

Stop 3 Thingvellir National Park

The golden circle iceland map showing thingvellier national park

Thingvellir National Park is a site of historical, cultural and geographical significance. It surrounds Iceland’s largest natural lake Thingvallavatn.

Firstly, it is a rift valley where the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge can be found. This is where the North America and Eurasion tectonic plates meet.

For that reason, it offers the rare possibility to snorkel (or dive) between two tectonic plates at the Silfra Fissure. The water is incredibly clear with a visibility of 70-80metres and you will see beautiful rock formations beneath the water (but not a  lot of fish!)

Click here to see prices for snorkelling and diving at the Silfra Fissure.

Diving in the silfra fissure the golden circle iceland

In 930 AD, Iceland’s first parliament, Althing, was formed in Thingvellir National Park at Law Rock. For years the parliament met here and laws were passed on by word of mouth. There were regular meetings here until 1798 making this a place of great historical significance.

There are several car parks but I think the one nearest Thingvellir church is the most convenient. You can walk between tectonic plates, reach a viewpoint overlooking Thingvellir National park, walk around part of Thingvallavatn lake and visit Thingvellir church. There are toilets and a cafe at the upper car park which you can visit.

Other Points of Interest Along The Golden Circle

These additional points of interest along the Golden Circle are shown on the Golden Circle Iceland Map with the smaller stars. These are great stops if you have allowed yourself enough time to see The Golden Circle.

Braurfoss Waterfall

The golden circle iceland map showing Braurfoss waterfall

I am totally gutted that I personally missed this waterfall and it is most definitely on my must-see list for when I return (hopefully next year.) It reminds me of Hraunfossar waterfall which is further north, an included stop on my Iceland ring road itinerary. A series of smaller waterfalls tumbling over the volcanic rock into a fast flowing bright aqua river. Stunning.

*Update* I have just heard the Braurfoss has been closed to the public recently. I will look be looking into this and I’ll update you soon…

braurfoss waterfall, golden circle icleand

Laugarvatn spa

If you want to experience bathing in an Icelandic hot spring, then consider visiting Laugarvatn Fontana spa. It’s not as big or as fancy as The Blue Lagoon but it does cost considerably less at around £25 per person.

Kerid Crater Lake

The golden circle iceland map showing kerid crater lake

By adding in the Kerid crater lake to your Golden Circle route, you create a circular route on your Golden circle map instead of a linear route avoiding seeing the same scenery twice. Many people skip Kerid lake which I think is a great shame as it’s such striking scenery.

This colourful crater lake is a sharp contrast of deep red volcanic rock and the bright aqua water within it. It costs 300ISK to enter (Only about £2) and will take you about 30 minutes to visit. Enough time to walk around the perimeter and take a few photos of this unusual lake.

Be aware, there are no toilets or cafe facilities here.

Kerid crater lake, golden circle, iceland

Where to stay when visiting the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is within easy reach of Reykjavik so you may decide to stay in the city. I stayed at Kex Hostel which was brilliant. You can read about it in my Ring Road Iceland Hostel Guide.

If you decide to stay close to The Golden Circle, you will have the option to visit the highlights like Gullfoss waterfall before or after the masses of tourists descend. Haukadalur would be a great base. You can check out accommodation options HERE.

The golden circle iceland map showing Haukadalur

Another option would be to continue on South after The Golden Circle so that you can carry on exploring the South Of Iceland the next day starting with Seljalandsfoss at sunrise! I stayed at Nice hostel which was a 2-minute drive from the stunning Seljalandsfoss. It certainly lived up to its name and was one of my favourite places to stay along the ring road!

Things to Pack for a Trip to The Golden Circle

Even in the summer, it can get pretty chilly at the golden circle! You will need warm clothes and wet weather gear. I’d also advise you to pack waterproof protection for your camera.

Frequently Asked Questions about visiting The Golden Circle in Iceland

How long does it take to drive?

If you were driving without stops, it would take around 2 hours 40 minutes. However, there are so many awesome places to stop so its best if you can wangle a whole day to explore.

How long should I allocate for driving this Golden Circle Iceland Map route?

I would aim to spend at least 6-8 hours diving around the Golden Circle to properly see all the sights.

Is the Blue Lagoon in the Golden Circle?

No, it’s not. It’s actually close to the airport Keflavik. You can combine the two into one day trip if you like, such as this one. Either that or get up super early to squeeze in both on the same day!


So I hope you’re really excited to get visiting The Golden Circle in Iceland now?! It really is a beautiful snapshot of Iceland’s landscape. Make sure to visit as many highlights as you can from the Iceland Golden Circle map in this article. I hope you’ll have a brilliant day!

You many now enjoy the following articles to help you continue to plan your trip to Iceland;

As always, I love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you have any questions about visiting The Golden Circle in Iceland?

You may also wish to join my Iceland facebook group – Iceland Tips & Advice. Here you can have all your Iceland questions answered directly! Join by clicking HERE

As always, I love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you have any questions about visiting The Golden Circle in Iceland?

Are you feeling super generous? I’d LOVE some social shares and for you to save these Pinterest images below! Your help is really appreciated!

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Bryan

    Hi Leanne, thanks for including the Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle in your post on Things to Pack for a Trip to The Golden Circle. I enjoyed reading your article and am inspired to revisit Iceland. ? Keep up the great work!

  2. I loved driving the Golden Circle! It was one of my favorite days in Iceland. I really wanted to see Braurfoss too, but I had read that you had to hike through private property to get there and the owners were getting angry at people going through their land, so I decided not to go.

    1. theglobetrottergp

      Oh really? I’ll have to look into that and if it is the case , replace it. That’s such a shame, it’s such a pretty waterfall.

  3. Jessie

    Ah, I could have totally used this map when I visited last year! Such a great resource.

  4. Dani Louise

    Wow this is very nice blog, I got some help full tips from this blog, Iceland is a wonderland and one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

  5. Bonnie

    This was so helpful as I plan for our trip this October – thank you! Do you think it would be too much to do the Golden Circle from Reykjavik (leaving around 11am) and then drive to Vik at the end of the day? My husband and I want to get out into nature as soon as we can, and arrive into Reykjavik just the night before at 530pm, but there’s so much to see on the Golden Circle I don’t want us to miss that!! Love to hear what you think 🙂

    1. theglobetrottergp

      I think you might struggle to do that in one day in October as there are not as many hours of daylight. In the summer it would be fine. If you could leave Reykjavik earlier (as soon as it gets light) and you drive straight to Vik without stopping mid afternoon, it might be ok. Would you be planning on working your way back to Reykjavik slowly? As there is so much to see on the way to Vik but you wouldnt have time to do all of that in one day. Have you seen my 8 day Iceland itinerary? It might outline times and distances a bit better for you!

  6. Tresa

    Thank you for your information. I have limited time in Iceland and driving the national park and seeing the golden circle is my only option.

    1. theglobetrottergp

      You’ll have a fab time. If you prefer to take tours and only have limited time, you can also book ahead of time – I think there’s a few links in the article too. But I personally love driving myself!

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