Reykjavik, Iceland: Driving the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle tour is one of the most popular routes out of Reykjavik, Iceland. It can cost you up to 12,000kr, which is approximately $95USD. You can save some cash by driving there yourself.

Car Rental:

We rented a car with Thrifty for about 9,000kr a day for an automatic transmission vehicle with GPS. When renting a vehicle, make sure you have a credit card available. Debit cards and cash will not be accepted. It is very important to get insurance due to the change in weather and the gravel roads that is all over Iceland. (Post to come: driving rules in Iceland). You can find the route to the Golden Circle here.

Our little mini red car.


Make sure you pack accordingly. Stop by a local grocery store to stock up on water, sandwiches, and toilet paper. There will be little civilization once you leave Reykjavik which means no food or washroom. There are information desk along the route if you wish to hold off til than.


Stop #1: Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park (also spelled Thingvellir because the Þ is pronounced as a TH) is a UNESCO site where you can see evidence of this tectonic activity in canyons, rift valleys and a rift lake. The National Park is only a 45 minutes drive out of Reykjavik. If driving from Reykjavík, take route 1 via Mosfellsbaer. From there take route 36 which runs through Þingvellir. There are limited signs but Þingvellir has its own street sign. Entrance to the National Park is free.

Couldn't find a map that tells us where we are at.

Trying to see what's below when I'm afraid of heights.

My friend Mike walking through the ridge

View from the top of the ridge.

Stop #2: Geysir

Þingvellir to the Geysir is about another 45 minute drive. There are several Geysir in this location however, only 1 Geysir, the Strokkur, is active and sprouts ever 8-10 minutes. The other geysir only erupts during circumstances such as an earthquake. We watched the Strokkur shoot up about 15-20 meters above us. After a few eruption, my partner in crime and I walked up the red mountain to see the view from above. It was a neat experience.

The symbol on the top left indicates point of interest. Stop over when you see them.

Explains Geysirs

Geysirs can go up to as high as 100C.

You can see the Little Geysir bubbling but no eruptions.


Stop #3: Gullfoss (Golden Falls)

After the Geysir, we took a 15 minute drive to Gullfoss, our last main stop of the day. Gullfoss, which translate to the Golden Falls, is listed as a natural wonder of the world and it’s the largest waterfall I’ve ever witnessed. The fall is very aggressive. Geologists believe that the fall was formed from a flood from a glacier outburst during the end of the Ice Age. Before stopping at the main Gullfoss, make a pit stop at the outlook and you can see incredible views without the crowds.



Beautiful fall.


The complete tour took us a full day. We left Reykjavik around 11:30am and arrived back into the city around 8pm. We made several pit stops to admire all the free roaming animals (sheep, goats, horses), and to admire all the beautiful scenic views. The drive back to Reykjavik was quite scary. The roads were dark, wet, and we had to drive between two cones. Visibility was limited and found ourselves driving extremely slow. Be careful and keep your eyes on the road. Other than that, have fun! Iceland is full of places to see and explore!