For this post, I will outline the trip I took, provide some tips, and lastly discuss a few stops I wish I had taken but limited myself on time.
Day 1 – Driving Around the Golden Circle 05.08.2017
Leaving from Reykjavik we he headed for Thingvellir National Park. This is a great park; you can see the continental divide, plenty of hiking trails, a nice big waterfall, and a beautiful lake. Plenty of parking and tables to sit at, and best of all it’s free like most of the places along the Golden Circle.
After leaving the Thingvellir National Park, we made our way to up to Haukadalur and had hoped to see a small waterfall along the way. This was the realization of where I screwed up on this trip, so take note. We lost cell phone service after leaving the national park and did not pre-download any maps. We were looking for Bruarfoss Waterfall and couldn’t find it, so we gave up. Be sure to pre-download all your golden circle stops on to your phone before leaving Reykjavik.
Haukadalur is a great place to stop fuel up and eat lunch. There is lodging available as well. There are two main geysers, the Stokkur, which goes off about every 10 minutes, and Geysir, which is dormant.
Here is a video on my YouTube Channel of the Geyser going off. Since it was cloudy out it is very difficult to tell how high the geyser goes.
After this, we made our way to Gullfoss, which is the whole reason we went on the Golden Circle. Making our way up to Gullfoss from Haukadalur, we saw plenty of the famous Icelandic horses. A lot of people were out petting and feeding them, we passed on this, and I regret that as well.
There is a parking lot right next to the falls, and within 100 feet of walking, you can take fantastic pictures. They have a hill that you walk down to get close to the falls or stairs to go up to the hill take pictures from above. They claim not to allow drones even though I saw several people using them.
I have also uploaded a video to my YouTube Channel, that shows this first drop of this waterfall in slow motion.
The last stop for us was Kerid Crater Lake. This is a beautiful stop and only worth about 10 minutes, note it does cost 500 krona to visit per person. The crater was a cone-shaped volcano that collapsed into an empty magma chamber. The bottom is filled with dark blue water that helps set off the green and red color of the crater — finishing our trip in Selfoss for a pit stop to eat and fuel up and making our way back to Reykjavik.
Tips & Notes
Rent a car, you shouldn’t need an SUV but might be worth it depending on how many people are traveling with. Fuel is relatively expensive and to buy fuel you have to go into the station and purchase a pre-paid card and then use that at the pump.
Best place to check for car rentals is Discover Car Hire. They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. Be sure to record your rental car on your phone and pay attention to detail. Regardless of the rental company, they will look for damage extensively after the car return. They will accuse you of damage that was already on the vehicle if you don’t list it. This happened to me, and two separate group of friends that have also taken trips to Iceland.
Make sure you note the website Vegagerdin, which is a live time road conditions website.
Before you even leave the airport stock up on food, water, and alcohol (if you prefer). Everything in Iceland is very expensive and honestly doing this trip; you should just extend it down to the south coast and camp when you can. Lodging is also expensive in Iceland. Also note that Cabs are extremely expensive and ride sharing programs do not exist there.
Be sure to pre-download all your maps; I have one present that I will show below for a recommended trip if interested send me a message on Instagram or by email and I will send it to you.
Driving the whole golden circle back to Reykjavik takes about 5 hours. Plan for 8 – 10 with limited stops but this could go up to 16 if you use the stops I recommend.
The whole drive is beautiful, enjoy the scenery. Plenty of people stopped throughout the route to get out and take photos; there are plenty of rest areas to do so.
Recommended Golden Circle
One additional stop that can be taken is heading northeast after the secret lagoon to
Haifoss, which is about an hour drive one-way.
Enjoy your trip, cheers!