THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (south.is)
BEING SO CONVENIENTLY close to Reykjavík this popular area does get very busy at times during the peak season. However, it is still worth visiting because there is so much to see and do.
The Golden Circle route is – like the name expresses – a circle, and we of course have a preferred starting point. For the option to continue our road trip further South after the Golden Circle we will start off with Thingvellir.
is about a 30-minute drive from Reykjavík. Take R1 as if you were going north and turn off onto R36 at Mossfelsbær. At the north end of the lake you will find Lögberg and the site of the ancient parliament, the water features Öxarárfoss and Drekkingarhylur and of course the Þingvellir church. When the weather is good a drive around the great lake Þingvallavatn is highly recommended. You can fish in the lake for the famous monster brown trout that grow to over 20 lb and the resident Arctic char. The Veiðikort 2018 is available at most petrol stations throughout the country for 7,900 ISK and gives one access to this and many other waters throughout Iceland.
From Thingvellir we’ll head east towards Geysir, which is right off the road 35 next to the main road. The Great Geysir (Stori) used to spout every 3 hours but has
lain dormant since 1919, bar a brief flurry of activity in 1935. Nowadays all the action takes place at Strokkur, which puts on a show around every ten minutes or so. The water can spout as high as 30 metres. On site there is a restaurant and The Geysir Centre, where you can satisfy your curiosity about the bubbling mysteries that lie beneath your feet.
The gargantuan cascade that is Gulfoss sits on the Olfúsá river, which flows from a lake at the foot of the Langjökull glacier, hence the milky-grey coloured water. The foss is made up of two falls that have a combined drop of 32 metres into the rumbling cauldron below.
Three kilometres further downstream is a gorge area called Brúarhlöð. This part of the river is popular for white water rafting and jet boat trips. The rock pillars and other formations found there provide some good photo opportunities.
There are more attractions worth a visit on the fringes of the Golden Circle area. On the way back from Gulfoss take one of the bridges over the Olfusá river that lead to R359 for a scenic drive to the village of Fluðir. There is a campsite, a comfortable hotel and home to The Secret Lagoon – a more intimate and natural version of its famous big brother.
If you skip Fludir and carry on with R35 you will reach a junction. If you turn onto R37 it will lead you to Laugarvatn, a spa resort where you can soak away to your heart´s content in the restorative waters.
A short drive from Selfoss towards the coast on R34 will take you to Eyarbakki, where there is a bird sanctuary, maritime museum, the Arnesinga Folk Museum and a seafood restaurant. You´d better behave though, because there is also Iceland´s high security prison!
The Finish line
From Fludir, wheather you’re headed back to Reykjavik or further south, you’ll drive south on R30 and when you reach the R1 you head west in the direction of Selfoss, continuing to Reykjavik to close the circle, or go east in to drive further down the south coast.