Iceland is a country like no other, filled with dramatic, wild, and rugged scenery, fascinating attractions, and busy cities. Called the Land of Fire and Ice, because of its numerous active volcanoes and its typically cold climate, Iceland is a wonderful place for offering that something a bit different.
Iceland’s Golden Circle is a popular place to explore, and visitors can take in many interesting sights easily and within a short period of time. It is great for a romantic long weekend, a mini break for friends, and solo travellers will also love the many wonders hidden away in this jewel of a country.
Some of the main things to do in Iceland’s Golden Circle include the following:
Explore Iceland’s Capital City of Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a fairly small city, and thus is incredibly easy to explore by foot and under your own steam. Vibrantly coloured houses are scattered along the streets, and Perlan is an interesting hill top building that provides spectacular views out over the city. As well as the cathedral you should make sure you stop by the unusual Hallgrimskirkja, a striking and unique church that featured in a Sophie Ellis Bexter music video! Museums can be found across the city, and the City Hall is a major city landmark. A small lake provides a peaceful spot for a rest. There is a variety of restaurants and bars, and whilst Reykjavik is not known for its lively night life there are some spots that provide fun after dark.
Visit Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
Set in a lunar-like environment, the world class Blue Lagoon is an absolute must when travelling around Iceland’s Golden Circle. Naturally heated water near to an underground lava flow is pumped into the Svartsengi geothermal power plant to provide electricity to the city. It is then used to create a communal system of hot water, serving homes and businesses. The then cooled, but still warm, water is fed into the Blue Lagoon.
At a temperature of between 37 and 39 degrees Celcius, it is a great place to bathe in the milky waters. The water is replaced frequently, and so is always clean. The mineral rich geothermal waters are good for the skin, and one can literally feel all tensions and stresses literally melting away. Even if the wind is blowing and there is an icy chill in the air, a dip in the Blue Lagoon quickly warms the body.
There are pots of silica mud around the edges for visitors to slap on for their own facial. Floating in the lagoon, one can see the moonscape-esque surroundings, lava fields, and the power plant pumping steam into the air. It is a truly unique experience. Spa treatments and massages are available, and there is a gift shop where one can purchase silica mud and other beauty products.
Take a ride on an Icelandic Horse
This smaller breed of horse is often erroneously believed to be a pony. Despite its small size, the Icelandic horse is incredibly hardy and robust, and riding on the back of one of these beautiful creatures through the incredible surroundings is a once in a lifetime experience.
Marvel at the Gullfoss Waterfall
A truly spectacular sight, the large and gushing Gullfoss Waterfall provides excellent views. The water rushes over the cliff’s edge before plunging 30 metres over two levels to reach a canyon below. The spray creates almost eerie mists.
Gape at the Gap in Thingvellir National Park
In Thingvellir National Park you can see the enormous fissure created by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates gradually ripping away from each other. As well as this natural wonder, you can also enjoy some scenic walking trails and some lovely waterfalls.
Get Steamy watching a Geysir!
The area lends its name to all bubbling and shooting natural hot water, and it certainly does not disappoint. Erupting hot springs and hot pools of water create a magical sight. Visitors can watch the mighty Strokkur, the area’s most active geyser, fire its powerful jets of water up to 25 metres in the air.
In a place packed with volcanoes, it is not difficult to see one of these natural beasts. You may like to hire a driver to take you across the bumpy lave fields to have a look at the awesome Mount Eyjafjallajökull, the notorious volcano that brought the world’s air transport systems to a halt with its ash cloud back in 2010.
See a Vanishing Lake
Kleifarvatn Lake is gradually draining and disappearing due to an underground crack caused by a ferocious earthquake. The shrinking lake may well be non-existent in years to come.
Iceland’s Golden Circle provides many chances to marvel at nature at her very best.