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 explore Iceland’s star attraction!
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What you can expect from this article...
- 1 What is the Golden Circle?
- 2 How to see the Golden Circle
- 3 Map of The Golden Circle, Iceland
- 4 Driving The Golden Circle in Winter
- 5 The Highlights of The Golden Circle, Iceland.
- 6 Other Points of Interest Along The Golden Circle
- 7 Where to stay when visiting the Golden Circle
- 8 Things to Pack for a Trip to The Golden Circle
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!
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 places to see when visiting The Golden Circle and show you how to get there (with the help of this handy 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 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 maps.me and downloading the Iceland map which I can use offline to get about!
Map of The Golden Circle, Iceland
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 attractions 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, 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 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 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.
You do need to be aware of slippy conditions in the Golden Circle 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 Highlights of The Golden Circle, Iceland.
These three places are absolute must-sees when visiting The Golden Circle. They 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.
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!
Haukadalur Geothermal Area / 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.
Thingvellir 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!)
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.
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 volcanic rock into a fast flowing bright aqua river. Stunning.
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
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.
Where to stay when visiting the Golden Circle
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.
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.
- Snow boots or hiking boots (I absolutely love these hiking boots – the comfiest I’ve ever worn, especially with the in-built orthotics.)
- Waterproof phone case
- Rainproof DSLR cover
- A warm but light down jacket
- Fleece lined patterned leggings
- Thermal base layers
- Waterproof trousers
- Collapsible water bottle
So I hope you’re really excited to get visiting The Golden Circle now?! It really is a beautiful snapshot of Iceland’s landscape. Make sure to visit as many highlights as you can from the map of Iceland’s ring road 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;
- Hostels in Iceland
- Iceland Budget Guide
- 8 Day Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
- Top Day Trips from Reykjavik to Experience Iceland
- How to Find Super Cheap Flights
- How to Take Instagram Worthy Landscape Photos
As always, I love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you have any questions about visiting The Golden Circle in Iceland?
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