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Welcome to Iceland's Golden Circle!

Unlike Iceland whale watching or tours that are limited to warmer seasons (or Iceland northern lights tours that require the long dark nights of winter) most tour companies in Iceland run the Golden Circle excursion throughout the year.

The tour usually consists of stops at the Kerið crater, the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir hot springs and Thingvellir national park. All of these are famous attractions that should be included in a trip to Iceland. They are all close to Reykjavik and can easily be enjoyed in one day, making for the ideal day tour.

Kerid Crater - The first tourist attraction on the tour is Kerið, the mouth of an extinct volcanic. The water-filled crater is 55m deep and some 3000 years old. The water is an odd greenish color during the warmer months and a reflective sheet of ice during the winter. Like the Grand Canyon in the USA, the majesty of the view is difficult to capture in pictures.

Like the US Grand Canyon, the immensity of the Kerid crater is difficult to capture in pictures.

The rocky slopes rise at a steep angle from the crater resulting in an eerie panorama that should be on your itinerary if you plan a visit to Iceland.

Kerið is a natural amphitheatre with excellent acoustics. Iceland's famous Bjork decided it was the ideal location for an outdoor concert. The performers floated on the water while entertaining crowds gathered on the sides and above the basin!

Gullfoss waterfall
Iceland's Gullfoss waterfall is Europe's most powerful.

Gullfoss - The name Gullfoss or Gullfass translates to the Golden Waterfall. Visitors who watch the sun play on the water as it cascades 32m down in two stages fully understand the meaning of the name. The massive falls are located on the Hvitá river. Under the right conditions, colorful rainbows dance on the spraying water filling the air above the canyon.

In winter, ice formations form uncanny sculptures. The cascading water and spray are captured by the cold and frozen into amazing shapes. Small wonder that the people of Iceland express such a love for their waterfalls. The beauty of this place is a sight that will not soon be forgotten.

Geysir Hot Springs Geothermal Area - The geothermal field in Haukadalur is a natural wonder of hot springs and boiling mud pools. The “Great Geyser” even gave its name to this spectacular phenomenon. Today, the Geysir itself is no longer erupting, but nearby Strokkur sends up a column of water and steam up to 30 meters high every few minutes to the delight of onlookers, who strive to catch the moment on film.

Walk along the edge of the North American continent in Thingviller National Park
Walk along the edge of the North American continent in Iceland's Thingviller National Park. This is
one of only two places on the
planet where the rift is able
to be seen above ground.

At the Geysir center visitors can enjoy a multimedia exhibition and learn more about the geology and history of the area. Also on site is a restaurant and accommodation for those wishing to stay overnight. In summertime, the highland route of Lyngdalsheiði provides a convenient shortcut to Thíngvellir for those traveling on four wheel drive.

Thingvellir National Park - A UNESCO World Heritage site, Thingviller national park is of immense historic and symbolic importance to Icelanders.

It was long the site of the original Alþing, or national parliament of the settlers, and the setting for many of the most important events in the history of the island.

Thingviller is also renown for its geological significance. The area is located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the continents of Europe and America drift apart, causing Iceland's legendary volcanic activity.

Standing in the Almannagjá fissure, (see photo) the visitor is literally situated between the continental plates. Thíngvellir is also known for its exquisite beauty. The birch-covered lava fields and the clear blue waters of Lake Thingvallavatn produce a harmonious, almost serene landscape.

Skálholt Church - One of the extra stops on our tour was to visit this historical site. The new church is set in beautiful surroundings and the stained glass windows provide a riot of color in the simplicity of the interior.


More about Iceland Golden Circle tour around the Web:

Frommers - Things to Do in Iceland's Golden Circle

Golden Circle Tour - the best of Iceland in one day


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