The Golden Circle trail is the ultimate way to see the very best of Iceland, including its exceptional waterfalls, national parks, and impressive landscapes. A trip around Iceland is ideal for any visitors to this vibrant island nation, including first-time travelers, and it’s totally possible to drive it yourself! By renting a car in Reykjavik you have the freedom to enjoy your own Golden Circle Tour Iceland, and stop whenever and wherever you want. Not only this, but the roads on the Golden Circle are extremely well maintained and there will usually be some other tourists on the trail if you do get lost.
To help you on this exciting Iceland self-drive tour, here’s our guide to Golden Circle Iceland Self-Drive Tours. You can drive this route as fast as you like, or as slowly as you like, but we suggest doing it in around three to four days:
Click destinations on map for further location information
Thingvellir National Park
The first stop is also one of the most striking. The original location of Iceland’s first parliament, the national park today is primarily for sightseeing, particularly at the deep fissures in the ground. These are caused by the separation of North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. One of the fissures is called Silfra, and is filled with glacial water, you can even snorkel or scuba dive in it!
Enjoy the spa and natural outdoor hot springs at Laugarvatn Fontana. The baths and steam rooms here vary in size and temperature, and have been in existence in some way in this area since 1929! Enjoy a relaxing and revitalizing experience with wonderful views of the Laugarvatn Lake that surrounds the spa.
Visit the geothermal region of Haukadalur and its famous geysers, known as Geysir and Strokkur. These geysers are hot springs that send lots of steam and water into the air, although be aware of the smell! Strokkur blows water up into the air of up to 100 feet at intervals, and is a spectacular sight. The area also has a restaurant and gift shop if you need some warm tea or soup.
The 100-foot-high Gullfoss Waterfall is a must-see sight on the Golden Circle trail. The water rushes from the Hvita River and falls into a crevice in the earth. Visitors are able to walk down to the waterfall on a concrete pathway, just remember to use caution. Expect to see plenty of rainbows and mist in this wonderful sight.
Faxi Waterfall is a smaller version of Gullfoss Waterfall, but if you have time to stop here it is a beautiful site. The waterfall is wide and surrounded by beautiful natural Icelandic landscape. You can enjoy great views from both the parking lot and from the base of the waterfalls, which can be reached by taking a short path.
One of Iceland’s most historic places, and one of the only manmade stops on the Golden Circle is Skalholt Cathedral. Founded in 1056, the cathedral was the center of Christianity in Iceland, and has been re-built ten times due to bad weather. Today, the cathedral is much more sturdy and has a copy of the first Icelandic bible on display, as well as many other interesting artifacts.
Kerid Crater Lake
This vast crater lake is the leftovers of a volcano that collapsed and is now filled with water instead of magma! The colors of the water are striking, particularly when mixed with the earthy tones of the crater. Visitors can hike down to see the crater close up to really get an idea of its scale. The hike takes just five minutes and is well worth the walk.
Reykjadalur is another region in Iceland that is known for its geothermal activity, but it’s also known for its hiking! Hiking will take around three hours there and back, and you will need to be prepared for any weather, also it’s important to remember your swimming clothes for some bathing in the geothermal river. There is a handy wooden pathway along the river you can can find your perfect spot, which gets hotter and hotter the further up the river you go! This spot is not accessible by tourist buses so it’s an ideal stop on a self-drive journey.
Reykjadalur is just a 40 minute drive from Reykjavik, so it’s a great thing to see at the end of your adventure across Iceland!
Iceland Self-Drive Tours with Auto Europe
With so many incredible places to see during your Iceland Self-Drive Tours, it can be difficult to know where to explore in this incredible country. But thanks to our helpful Golden Circle Tour Iceland itinerary, all you need to do is reserve your Iceland car rental, book a hotel room, and find international airfare. Auto Europe guarantees the best rates on all car rentals, and will work with you throughout the rental process, from pick-up to drop-off to ensure your vacation is everything you’d imagined and more.