Ready to dive into the awesomeness of Iceland’s Golden Circle? It’s like the ultimate road trip with epic geysers, massive waterfalls, and you’re literally walking between continents.

The Golden Circle? That’s like the must-see trail in Iceland. There’s a bunch of cool stuff you can tack on, so definitely check out the top Golden Circle tours before you head out.

Driving there from Reykjavik is a breeze but here is a pro tip: Do one of these guided golden circle tours with local guides. It is so much worth it as they know all the extra details and stories.

Keep reading for the insider scoop on the best routes, can’t-miss stops, and all the highlights. And don’t forget to download some Golden Circle maps and itineraries to your travel plans. Trust me, you’ll want to remember every bit of this trip!

What Makes Visiting the Golden Circle Worthwhile?

The Golden Circle route is your ticket to checking out three of Iceland’s top sights in just one day. Super convenient, right? Whether you’re in a tour group or rolling solo in a rental, each stop is a mini lesson in Iceland’s geologic past – plus, they’re killer for photos.

What's the Golden Circle all about?

It’s these three amazing spots in Southwest Iceland:

Thingvellir National Park – where history and geology meet.
The Geysir Geothermal Area – home to some mind-blowing geysers.
Gullfoss Waterfall – this waterfall is seriously impressive.

Apart from Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon, these places are like the A-listers of Iceland’s attractions. And there are tons of reasons why the Golden Circle is so famous.

Stick around in this article, and I’ll walk you through all three of these must-see spots.

Exploring the Wonders of Thingvellir National Park


Thingvellir National Park is a real gem in Iceland. It’s not just a stunning natural spot; it’s packed with history too.

This place was the first to be named one of Iceland’s national parks. Plus, it’s got the cool title of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Talk about impressive!

It’s usually the first pit stop on the Golden Circle, sitting just about 29 miles (47 kilometers) from Reykjavik – super close, right?

Thingvellir is where you get this amazing mix of wild geology and a thousand years of history. When you’re wandering around, you’re literally walking through the story of how Iceland was formed and how its unique, leaderless society came to be. Definitely a must-visit!

Thingvellir National Park’s got this unique geology because it’s sitting right between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This creates the rift valley that cuts right through Iceland.

Iceland is the only place where you can see this valley, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, above sea level. And Thingvellir? It’s got the best view.

Driving in from Reykjavik, you’ll come face-to-face with a massive cliff that’s actually part of North America. Then, on the other side of the park, several miles away, you’ll find the edge of the Eurasian continent – just as impressive.

The whole island was born from a magma pocket between these plates millions of years ago. As they drift apart, Iceland keeps getting shaped by volcanic activity. It’s like the island’s still being made, which makes the whole place feel super alive and dynamic.

At Thingvellir, you’ll see firsthand how Iceland’s still shaping up. The park’s landscape is all about stretches of lava rock, with volcanoes looming over Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s biggest natural lake.

It’s been a while since the last eruption – over 2,000 years – so now the place has this lush, green vibe. There’s this delicate moss that’s kinda taken over the lava fields, and parts of the area are dotted with native birch trees and imported pines.

thingvellilr plates

Visiting Thingvellir in autumn is something else – the colors are unreal. Even though it looks peaceful, don’t be fooled; there are still regular earthquakes. Each little shake nudges the tectonic plates further apart, about an inch (2.5 centimeters) every year. It’s like watching the Earth change right under your feet!

The earthquakes at Thingvellir have opened up some pretty incredible ravines, all filled with fresh water from the Langjokull glacier. This water seeps underground through the lava rock before it gets to Thingvallavatn lake, getting super filtered on the way.

So, when this water bubbles up in the ravines, it’s insanely clear – like, you can see more than 330 feet (100 meters) ahead. It turns a simple walk into a scenic adventure and offers some unreal diving and snorkeling spots.
You might think, “Snorkeling in Iceland? Really?” But with today’s dry-suit tech, even the chilly 36 F (2 C) water is totally doable, even in winter.

If you’re up for it, there are guides who take groups through the coolest ravine, the Silfra fissure, multiple times a day. It’s getting more and more popular, and once you see it, you’ll totally get why.

Snorkeling in Silfra at Thingvellir? It’s a total go for almost anyone over 16 who can swim. The dry suits they give you are pretty buoyant, kinda like a life jacket, and there’s this gentle current in Silfra that makes it easy to glide through the fissure.

But if diving’s more your thing, you gotta be a bit more prepped. You need to be a qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Diver and have some experience with dry suit diving.

The underwater views are out of this world. And get this – the dive tours actually take you between the tectonic plates. Talk about an adrenaline rush!

No wonder Silfra’s ranked among the top ten dive sites globally. It’s not just a dive; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

While the Silfra area is super cool, it’s not without its risks. Diving in those cold waters is for the pros – you gotta be qualified and sure of your skills. Snorkeling, though? Most people in good health can give it a try. Just a heads up, it’s gonna be chilly!

If diving or snorkeling isn’t your thing but you still want to see where the earth is literally splitting apart, check out the Almannagja gorge. It’s a stunning walk that shows off the area’s geology and leads you to this beautiful, kind of secret waterfall called Öxarárfoss.

For all you Game of Thrones fans, walking through this gorge might feel a bit like déjà vu. It’s where they filmed the path up to the Eyrie and where Arya Stark and ‘The Hound’ journeyed through the Riverlands. Pretty cool to walk the same path as your favorite characters, right?

Thingvellir’s not just about its epic location or wild geology. The real reason it’s a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is its incredible history, which is pretty much the history of Iceland itself.

So, back in the late 800s, Iceland’s first settlers were these clans who didn’t want to bow down to Norway’s first king, Harald Fairhair. Fast forward to 930 AD, and they’re thinking, “Hey, maybe a collective government could help sort things out here.” So, around thirty groups each send a rep to this meeting.

They called their meeting spot ‘the fields of assembly,’ or Thingvellir in Old Norse. This first get-together was such a hit that it turned into an annual thing, then a decades-long thing, and finally, a centuries-long tradition, morphing into a full-on parliament.

This system stuck around even after Norway and then Denmark took over Iceland. The parliament only hit pause from 1799 to 1844. Then it was back up and running in Reykjavik, but the spirit and purpose stayed the same. That’s Thingvellir for you – not just a pretty place, but a cornerstone of Icelandic identity.

The Icelandic Althingi, or parliament, holds a unique place in history—it’s the world’s oldest functioning representative assembly. While much of Europe was steeped in feudalism with no inkling of democracy, the folks in Iceland were ahead of the curve. They crafted a system that would inspire many to come.

In recognition of this remarkable heritage, Iceland designated Thingvellir as a National Park in 1930, exactly a millennium after it all began. Fast forward to 2004, and UNESCO bestowed the title of World Heritage Site upon it. This wasn’t just for its breathtaking natural beauty, but also because it played a pivotal role in Icelandic history, witnessing the nation’s evolution through countless transformative moments.

Iceland’s history is like a thrilling saga in itself. Back in 1000 AD, they made the switch to Christianity, thanks to some nudging from Norway’s devout King Olaf I, who wasn’t taking no for an answer. And let’s not forget the witch trials and other juicy dramas that played out here, chronicled in the Icelandic sagas.

Even when the parliament packed up and moved to Reykjavik, Thingvellir didn’t fade into obscurity. It had its shining moments, like being the backdrop for Iceland’s declaration of independence in 1944 and the place where they crowned their very first president, Sveinn Bjornsson.

Thingvellir’s got it all – history, jaw-dropping beauty, and some epic geology to boot. No wonder it’s a hotspot for visitors. But here’s the twist: it’s just one stop on the classic Golden Circle route, with two more iconic spots waiting to blow your mind.

Unveiling the Marvels of the Geysir Geothermal Area

Geyser geothermal area

Now, let’s roll on to the second gem on the Golden Circle route: the Geysir Geothermal Area, nestled snugly within the Haukadalur valley. It’s a smooth 37-mile (60-kilometer) cruise from Thingvellir, and along the way, you’ll notice those steamy vents and chimneys doing their thing. Keep an eye out for the village of Laugarvatn, smack dab in the middle of Thingvellir and Geysir, where you’ll find some seriously heated relaxation.

Laugarvatn has a spa that’s dialed into the Earth’s natural warmth, with steam rooms sitting right on top of hot pots that can reach a toasty 140°F (60°C). Talk about luxury!

But the real showstopper is Haukadalur valley. Here, the geothermal action cranks up to eleven, and you can spot the steam show from miles away. The landscape is like something out of a sci-fi flick, with hot pools, clay pots, and fumaroles dotting the scene, all painted in vibrant minerals that give the hills and soil a surreal palette.

And if you thought that was cool, just wait until you meet the two rockstars of the show: the geysers themselves.

Now, let me introduce you to the star of the show, the one that inspired the name for all geysers worldwide: the Great Geysir. It’s a living legend, with roots that trace back to the earliest European writings. The name itself comes from the Old Norse word for ‘to gush,’ and trust me, it lives up to its name.

Here’s the kicker, though: the Great Geysir isn’t the most reliable performer these days. Blame it on tectonic shenanigans and a bit of meddling by us humans. It’s been around for a cool 10,000 years or so, and it tends to follow a cycle. Usually, an earthquake gives it a nudge, and it starts doing its thing, but it’s like the moodiest artist you’ve ever met. Timing? Consistency? Nope, not its style.

But don’t fret! Right next door, we have the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Strokkur geyser. It’s the life of the party, erupting like clockwork every ten minutes, sending water shooting up into the sky, reaching heights anywhere from 66 to 132 feet (20 to 40 meters). The Great Geysir might be a bit of a diva, but Strokkur is the dependable friend who’s always up for a good time.

Icelanders weren’t about to let their most famous landmark, the Great Geysir, be a fickle friend. In 1935, they took matters into their own hands and dug a channel around its silica rim to mess with the water table and coax it into erupting again. It worked for a bit, but then Mother Nature decided to be stubborn, and the channel got clogged. Back to square one.

Fast forward to 1981, and they cleared the channel, discovering a soap trick to make Geysir blow its top occasionally. But there was a catch – environmentalists weren’t thrilled about this soapy spectacle, and by the ’90s, they shut it down.

Since then, the Great Geysir has been mostly chill, but it still surprises folks now and then. And when it decides to put on a show, it outshines Strokkur in the grandeur department.
In the year 2000, it shot water a staggering 400 feet (122 meters) into the sky. The only time it went higher was back in 1845, when it unleashed an estimated 558-foot (170-meter) spectacle. Now, that’s what you call a legendary performance!

Strokkur’s dependable eruptions right in the heart of the Golden Circle are a big part of what makes this route so darn awesome. Geysers are like the unicorns of natural wonders, super rare because they demand some seriously specific conditions.

First up, you need a red-hot heat source. We’re talking magma getting cozy with the Earth’s surface, heating up rocks enough to make water boil.

Next, you gotta have water in the mix. Not just any water, though—there needs to be an underground supply on the move. In this case, it’s runoff from the Langjokull glacier, doing a fancy dance through porous lava rocks until it reaches the scene.

Lastly, you need a sort of secret plumbing system down there. Think of it like an underground reservoir where the water hangs out, and a vent with a silica lining that keeps the water from sneaking out before it decides to burst onto the stage.

But trust me, the Geysir Geothermal Area isn’t just about these explosive hot springs. It’s got a whole bag of tricks up its sleeve that’ll keep you hooked!

Right next to the geysers, you’ll find the Geysir Center, and it’s a treasure trove of Icelandic goodies. They’ve got a big boutique shop stocked with all sorts of handcrafted and locally made stuff that’ll make your inner shopper jump for joy. Plus, if your stomach starts growling, they’ve got your back with several restaurants dishing out traditional Icelandic grub, all whipped up from local ingredients.

Now, as for the Haukadalur valley, it’s like stepping into a natural wonderland. But, and this is a big “but,” let’s show some love and respect for Mother Nature. No throwing things into those hot springs or geysers, okay? Let’s leave it as pristine as we found it.

Encountering the Majesty of Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss waterfall

Welcome to the grand finale of the Golden Circle, folks – Gullfoss, the magnificent “Golden Falls.” This waterfall isn’t just a showstopper; it’s the reason this whole circuit got its catchy name.

Gullfoss is a jaw-dropping spectacle, nestled just a short drive from Geysir. Picture this: a roaring waterfall, a plunging ancient valley, and not one, but two cascading drops from a whopping height of 105 feet (32 meters). During the peak of summer, it unleashes a torrent of around 4,944 cubic feet (140 cubic meters) of water every second. That’s some serious power!

But it’s not just the raw might that makes Gullfoss special. On sunny days, you’ll be treated to nature’s own light show – rainbows! They arch over the falls, like a multicolored crown on this majestic beauty.

And as if that weren’t enough, the backdrop is a real treat too. You’ll be gazing over rolling fields that stretch all the way to the Langjokull glacier, giving you a picture-perfect finale to your Golden Circle adventure.

Just like the springs in Thingvellir and the waterworks at the Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss gets its flow from the Langjokull glacier. The river that takes this epic plunge is called Hvita, and once upon a time, it was the go-to spot for river rafting thrill-seekers in Iceland.

Now, if you’re planning a visit, summer’s the golden ticket. When there’s no ice underfoot, there’s a walkway that’ll lead you right to the edge of the falls. You’ll be so close, you can practically taste the mist on your face. Trust me, the photo ops here are out of this world, and you could easily lose yourself for hours, just soaking in the sheer power of the water.

But don’t count winter out! Even when things freeze up a bit, Gullfoss doesn’t lose an ounce of its magic. It might be a tad chilly, and you won’t get as up close and personal, but watching the falls partially frozen, with chunks of ice plunging into the abyss, is absolutely mesmerizing. Just remember to bundle up in plenty of layers – those glacier winds can be pretty sharp, and the mist from the falls? Ice-cold!

Gullfoss is a superstar, no doubt about it. It’s the kind of place that draws folks from all over the globe, and it’s safe to say that Iceland’s tourism scene owes a lot to this natural wonder.

Thankfully, Gullfoss has been lucky. It’s been left untouched, unspoiled, and undisturbed.

That’s not always been the case, though. Back in the early 20th century, some foreign investors had their eyes on this beauty, thinking it could be transformed into a hydroelectric plant with a fancy dam.

The owner of the land right next to the falls, Tomas Tomasson, initially let British investors explore these dam-building dreams. But things got real tricky when Tomas’s daughter stepped into the scene. Let’s just say she wasn’t having any of it, and her involvement put a big ol’ roadblock in those plans. Whew, close call!

Meet Sigridur Tomasdottir, the environmental hero of Gullfoss. She wasn’t about to let her beloved natural wonder go down without a fight. In fact, she was ready to go to great lengths to protect it, even threatening to take a dive into those powerful falls!

Sigridur’s passion didn’t stop there. She hiked the grueling 134 miles (200 kilometers) of unpaved road to Reykjavik and back, multiple times, all in the name of building a solid legal case to defend Gullfoss. Talk about dedication!

While her efforts didn’t directly save the waterfall, they sure got the attention it deserved. People all over the country started raising their eyebrows at those dam-building plans. The awareness she generated led to national criticism, putting the brakes on the whole operation.

But the real turning point came when Sigridur got a lawyer named Sveinn Bjornsson involved in the battle. Together, they convinced those investors (who were pretty short on cash) to scrap the whole idea. And guess what? Sveinn Bjornsson later became Iceland’s very first president in 1944. Talk about a power duo!

Today, Sigridur’s memory lives on with a stone memorial perched on the cliff overlooking Gullfoss. Icelanders remember her as the champion who raised awareness about the importance of preserving their natural treasures and not giving in to foreign investments. Thanks to her courage, Gullfoss continues to dazzle us all with its timeless beauty.

What's the Ideal Time to Experience the Golden Circle?

gullfoss waterfall

You know, the Golden Circle is a go anytime you fancy. Spring, summer, and fall? That’s when the weather’s mild, and there’s no snow in sight. But here’s the kicker: if you decide to shack up nearby during summer, you’re in for a real treat. Picture this – the midnight sun turning the whole place into a pink and orange wonderland.

Now, let’s talk about winter – it’s a whole different ballgame. The region gets all dressed up in a snow-white coat, giving you a completely unique experience. Gullfoss doesn’t back down; its waters keep on flowing.

But here’s the kicker: some parts of that waterfall freeze up, turning it into a sparkling sheet of glass. And guess what? It’s prime time to hunt for those elusive northern lights. Just remember to tread carefully; that waterfall platform can turn into a proper ice rink.

They do a pretty good job keeping the roads snow-free, but, as life would have it, surprise storms can throw a wrench in your plans. So, it’s crucial to keep an eye on those road conditions for a smooth and safe ride.

In the grand scheme of things, deciding when to hit up the Golden Circle really boils down to what tickles your fancy. Enjoy the journey, my friend!

Guide to the Classic Route of the Golden Circle

When it comes to exploring the Golden Circle, you’ve got some options. This map here lays out the quickest and easiest route, but there’s more to discover along the way.

What's the Distance Between Reykjavik and the Golden Circle?

Now, let’s talk distance. The Golden Circle isn’t a world away from Reykjavik; it’s a quick 25-mile (47-kilometer) jaunt east. That’ll get you to the first stop, Thingvellir National Park.

The last on the list is Gullfoss waterfall, a bit further out at 72 miles (116 kilometers) east of Reykjavik. But take a peek at that Golden Circle map, and you’ll see it’s totally doable in a single day. You’ll be back in Reykjavik by evening, no sweat. If you’re up for the adventure, check out the article on driving the Golden Circle for all the deets.

Getting to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik is a breeze, just a quick 25-mile (47-kilometer) hop to the nearest gem, Thingvellir National Park. Now, if you’re aiming for the farthest stop, Gullfoss waterfall, it’s a bit further, about 72 miles (116 kilometers) east of Reykjavik.

But here’s the cool part: the whole Golden Circle tour can be done in a single day, and you’ll be back in Reykjavik by evening.

Accommodation Options in Proximity to the Golden Circle

But hold on, where do you crash for the night near the Golden Circle? Well, if you want to get a head start and avoid the Reykjavik day-trippers, an overnight stay nearby is a solid plan.

The Golden Circle offers a smorgasbord of hotels and accommodations to choose from. And for those who dig camping, you’ve got campgrounds at Thingvellir National Park and Geysir to pitch your tent.

Some of the top-notch hotels on the Golden Circle roster include gems like Torfhus Retreat, Hotel Grimsborgir, Hotel Geysir, Efstidalur Farm Hotel, and the cozy Sel Guesthouse. The Bubble Hotel is also a cozy and unique option letting you stay in an entirely transparent igloo for the perfect view of the Iceland wilderness all day long. Whatever your desire might be, you’re free to take your pick!

The Optimal Approach to Explore the Golden Circle

Driving to Kirkjufell in Iceland

The Golden Circle is the hotshot of Iceland’s tourist scene, and guess what? There’s a boatload of ways to experience it.

Picture this: a vast menu of tours, each offering its own twist on the classic route. We’re talking hundreds of options, thanks to dozens of tour providers who know how to jazz up the Golden Circle experience. It’s like choosing toppings for your favorite ice cream.

Some tours? Well, they turn it up a notch. Imagine soaring over the Golden Circle in a helicopter, or embarking on an enchanting evening adventure beneath the midnight sun. It’s not just sightseeing; it’s creating lasting memories.

But wait, there’s more. For the free spirits among us, renting a car and crafting your own Golden Circle adventure is the way to go. No set schedules, no rush, just you and the road. Want to veer off course to discover those lesser-known gems? You’ve got the green light.

If the idea of taking the wheel in Iceland doesn’t float your boat, you’re in luck. There’s a plethora of guided tours to pick from.

Now, some of these tours keep it as simple as a Sunday stroll, hitting up the Golden Circle’s trio of attractions before gently bringing you back to your cozy spot for the night.

But if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there are options that turn your day into a full-fledged Icelandic escapade. Picture this: you start your day with a visit to the enchanting crater lake Kerid, and then, you soak your worries away in the world-famous Blue Lagoon. It’s like a dream come true, isn’t it?

And here’s a little secret – you can actually conquer both the Golden Circle and the mystical Blue Lagoon in just one day. Now that’s what I call making the most of your time in Iceland!

These days, you’ve got some pretty sweet combo tours cropping up, mainly ’cause folks can wrap up the whole Golden Circle deal in just six hours, including the trek to and from Reykjavik.

Take, for instance, the Golden Circle and Snowmobiling Tour. This one’s a real kicker – it whisks you away to all three killer spots. After you’ve gawked at Gullfoss, they rev up the engines and zip you up to Langjokull glacier for an exhilarating ice dash.

You can up the ante even more! Imagine mixing the Golden Circle with some Silfra snorkeling or spelunking through lava caves on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It’s a whole different level of adventure!

And hold onto your hat ’cause there’s more! You can also blend this epic day with a splash of Icelandic culture. Picture this: a day packed with jaw-dropping sights, and as the sun goes down, you treat your taste buds to some lip-smacking traditional Icelandic grub. It’s the perfect recipe for an unforgettable day!

You know what’s really cool? There’s a whole bunch of multi-day tours out there, some with guides, some where you get to drive yourself, and they all revolve around or include stops at the awesome Golden Circle spots.

Now, if you’re kinda pressed for time, there’s this super sweet three-day South Coast guided tour you might wanna consider. It kicks off with the Golden Circle, then whisks you away down the South Coast to that mind-blowing Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. And the grand finale? You actually get to explore an ice cave inside a glacier! I kid you not, it’ll leave you absolutely gobsmacked!

But hold on to your hats, my friends who’ve got loads of time to play with. There’s this epic 14-day self-drive package that takes you all around the Ring Road, and guess what? It even throws in the jaw-dropping Westfjords for some extra spice. Trust me, it’s a journey you won’t soon forget!

9 Must-Visit Side Stops Along the Golden Circle Route

No matter how long you’re in Iceland, your budget, or your travel plans, you can almost always squeeze in a trip around the Golden Circle.

I mean, the variety of landscapes you get in such a short drive is mind-blowing, and it’s a must-do for anyone visiting Iceland. So, renting a car here is a pretty smart move, and you can really get to know the area around the Golden Circle.

Now, if you’re up for driving it yourself, there are tons of detours you can take to discover some hidden gems along the way. These spots are often not on the typical tourist radar, so you can blend the classic Golden Circle route with visits to these off-the-beaten-path treasures.

Check it out, here are the top nine lesser-known Golden Circle highlights that should totally be on your radar.

9. Skalholt: Historical Gem on the Golden Circle

Skalholt church

Skalholt is like this amazing historical gem in Iceland. It held the bishop’s seat from way back in 1056, and it didn’t let go until the 19th century. To put it in perspective, being the bishop of Iceland was like being the big cheese in a time when Iceland was under the rule of Scandinavian kingdoms. The bishop wasn’t just about religion; it was a position of immense power. So, Skalholt was basically the power hub for centuries in Iceland.

By 1200, it was rocking the title of Iceland’s first town, with around 120 folks calling it home. Plus, it’s where Iceland’s very first school popped up back in the 12th century. Fast forward to today, it still has its own bishop and hosts all sorts of cool cultural events, like those famous Skalholt Summer Concerts.

If you’re cruising through Iceland and happen to find yourself near Skalholt, you gotta make a pit stop, especially for the cathedral. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!

8. Thjorsardalur Valley: A Natural Marvel Along the Golden Circle


If you’re up for a bit more adventure and don’t mind extending your drive, taking a detour to Thjorsardalur valley is a fantastic idea, and it’ll only add a couple of hours to your journey.

Now, Thjorsardalur valley is like this hidden gem tucked away in the southern Highlands of Iceland, and it’s absolutely teeming with natural wonders.

First off, there’s a bunch of stunning waterfalls here that most folks never even get to see. We’re talking about beauties like Haifoss, Granni, and Hjalparfoss.

And check this out, there’s the Burfell woods, which is kinda unique for Iceland, ’cause it’s a pretty sizable forest.

But wait, there’s more! If you’re into plants and all that nature stuff, Thjorsardalur is like a botanist’s dream. You’ll find loads of wildflowers, grass, and moss thriving in the area.

To get there, just head south on Route 30 from Gullfoss, and then make a left onto Route 32. Trust me, it’s worth the extra drive time!

7. Solheimar Eco-Village: Sustainability Oasis Amidst the Golden Circle


Solheimar eco-village is a hidden gem with around 100 folks living there. What’s cool is that it all started back in 1930 when Sesselja Sigmundsdottir set it up as a haven for orphans and kids with learning disabilities. It’s always been this special place with a mission to unlock everyone’s potential, no matter their age or abilities.

Lately, more and more people have caught on to its charm and offbeat vibe. Would you believe it? Over 30,000 curious souls swing by each year to check it out.

Now, this village, nestled harmoniously in nature, has got you covered. They’ve got a bakery, cafe, guesthouse, and even an art gallery, all run by the locals.

And don’t miss the gift shop – it’s loaded with handmade souvenirs crafted right in the town’s art workshop. Residents there are into all sorts of cool stuff like candle-making, weaving, and ceramics.

But the crown jewel? The Sesselja House, an educational spot all about ecology and sustainable living.

Solheimar sits just 13 miles (21 kilometers) south of Laugarvatn, making it a perfect pit stop if you’re on an extended Golden Circle road trip. It’s a whole different kind of attraction, with an atmosphere that’s all about positivity and freedom. Truly one-of-a-kind!

6. Helgufoss and Thorufoss Waterfalls: Serene Gems near the Golden Circle

Helgufoss waterfall

Did you know that some of Iceland’s most mind-blowing waterfalls are super close to the Golden Circle?

Of course, you’ve got the iconic Gulfoss waterfall on the classic route, but there are these hidden gems nearby that are seriously worth checking out.

First up, we’ve got the Helgufoss waterfall and the Thorufoss waterfall, and guess what? They’re both named after Icelandic ladies, Helga and Thora, which is pretty cool!

So, Helgufoss is a quick detour just off Route 36 on your way to Thingvellir from Reykjavik.

Now, Thorufoss is part of the Laxa i Kjos river, and you can find it by following Route 48 after Helgufoss, right before you hit Thingvellir National Park. They’ve got signs pointing the way, and there’s a nifty little spot on the side of the road where you can park your ride.

Keep in mind, you’ll need a car to get to both of these waterfalls since they’re not usually part of the Golden Circle tour package. So, it’s a bit of an adventure, but totally worth it for these hidden waterfall treasures!

5. Fridheimar Tomato and Horse Farm: A Unique Stop on the Golden Circle


Let me spill the beans about Fridheimar – it’s not just your regular farm, it’s a tomato, cucumber, and horse haven, chilling right there on Route 35, close to Reykholt.

If you’re rolling through between noon and 4 PM, it’s the perfect pit stop for lunch. And oh boy, you’ve got to try their mouthwatering tomato soup with some home-baked bread – it’s seriously delish!

Now, here’s the deal – you could sometimes drop by if you’re in a small group, but it’s usually smarter to give them a buzz and make a reservation, ’cause it can get pretty packed.

And if you’re up for it, you can book ahead for a cool farm tour or catch a horse show. Fridheimar is like one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets, seriously underrated, and absolutely worth a visit. Trust me on this one!

4. Langjokull Glacier Snowmobiling: A Thrilling Experience on the Golden Circle


Here’s the inside scoop, my friend – the hottest combo in town right now is mixing up your Golden Circle adventure with some wild snowmobiling up on Langjokull glacier. I’m telling you, it’s a game-changer!

But guess what? You’ve got options! If you’re all about that snowmobiling thrill, you can book a direct trip to Langjokull glacier. Or, if you’re feeling a bit fancy, go all out with a tour that even throws in an ice cave visit for that extra wow factor.

Now, Langjokull is practically neighbors with the epic Gullfoss waterfall, and that’s where your tour crew will scoop you up for the snowmobiling shindig. And when the weather’s on your side, you’re in for some breathtaking views from up there on the glacier.

Oh, and let me spill the beans – the ride up in a beastly custom super-jeep? That’s an adventure all by itself!

3. Secret Lagoon in Fludir: Hidden Gem on the Golden Circle

The Secret Lagoon, also known as Gamla Laugin, over in Fludir is just the spot you need to wind down and recharge after a jam-packed day of exploring.

Fun fact – it’s the oldest swimming pool in all of Iceland, dating back to 1891. The water here stays toasty, a cozy 100-104°F (38-40°C) all year round, thanks to the natural hot springs that feed into it.

They’ve even got a scenic walkway that goes all the way around the pool, so you can soak in the geothermal beauty while you soak yourself!
Now, here’s a bit of history for you – this pool used to host swimming classes from 1909 to 1947.

But as new, fancy pools popped up around the country, it kinda fell by the wayside. That is, until 2014 when it got a fresh lease on life. They spruced it up with modern changing facilities and even added a cafe. So, it’s better than ever!

Quick tip – if you’re planning to visit, it’s wise to book ahead, ’cause this place is getting pretty popular.

Fludir, where the Secret Lagoon is tucked away, is right on Route 30. You can easily get there by car or as part of a guided Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon tour. So, don’t miss out on this slice of geothermal paradise!

2. Kerid Crater: Nature's Spectacle on the Golden Circle

Hey, if you’re taking on the Golden Circle, don’t skip the Kerid crater – it’s a natural wonder that’s totally worth your time. And guess what? Many full-day Golden Circle tours make a pit stop here, but even if you’re driving yourself, make sure to swing by.

This crater has some serious history – it popped up about 6,500 years ago and it’s got this cool oval shape with a lake chilling at the bottom.
But here’s where it gets even cooler – the rocks around the crater are like fiery reds, oranges, with streaks of black and green. It’s like a masterpiece of colors, especially against the crystal-clear blue waters.

And you won’t believe this – because of its unique shape, Kerid has some killer acoustics. Artists sometimes put on concerts there, floating on a boat right in the middle of the lake. Talk about an unforgettable setting!

So, here’s the deal – you’ll find Kerid on Route 5, not far from the town of Selfoss. They’ve even got a small parking lot right there, so it’s super convenient.

One thing to keep in mind – there’s a little fee to get in, but trust me, it’s totally worth it for the experience.

1. Fontana Geothermal Baths: Relaxation Oasis on the Golden Circle


Listen up, folks! If you’re cruising from Thingvellir National Park to Geysir, you’ve got to hit up the Fontana Geothermal Baths in the charming town of Laugarvatn.

Laugarvatn itself is perched by this massive lake famous for its geothermal vibes, and locals have been soaking it all in since 1929. But the real spa action started in 2011 when Fontana opened its doors.

Now, let me tell you about this place – it’s got three steam rooms, and the cherry on top is a classic Finnish sauna made of wood, with killer views of the lake and the stunning nature all around. Plus, there are these awesome shallow pools with different temperatures, so the kids can splash around while the grown-ups get their chill on.

And guess what? Fontana Geothermal Baths literally open up to the lake, so you can actually feel the warm earthy water bubbling up between your toes. It’s like Mother Nature’s foot spa!

Here’s the insider tip – don’t leave without trying the rye bread. They bake it for a full 24 hours in the hot sand, and when you pair it with some butter, it’s like an Icelandic tradition you can eat – and trust me, it’s delicious!

Oh, and if you’re down for the ultimate experience, there’s a day tour that hooks you up with the Golden Circle and Fontana Geothermal Baths. You get the best of both worlds!

Robert Robertsson

Hey, I'm the founder of Airmango. My love affair with travel and entrepreneurship kicked off in 1994 in Iceland. Fast forward through two decades, and I've been lucky enough to weave my career through five different countries. Each place has left its mark on me, not just in my personal life, but in how I approach business too. With Airmango, I'm bringing all those global insights and experiences to the table – it's like seeing the world through a business lens.