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Iceland: The Golden Circle Road Trip

Updated: Feb 17

Summary: On day 2 of our time in Iceland, we drove the Golden Circle, stopping first at Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall that you can walk behind. From there, we drove to see Gullfoss, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Thingvellir National Park. We ended the day at Sólheimajökull Glacier near our AirBnB but were cut short by some intensely cold rain or maybe even sleet. In total, this was a quintessential "best of Iceland," kind of day.

[This blog is part of a our 4-days in Iceland itinerary, which is part of our 15-days in Northern Europe trip].

The Drive. The Golden Circle itself is 189 miles of driving. It's a lot, but with several stops along the way, it wasn't so bad. It reminded us of our time driving the Yellowstone loops. Coming from our AirBnB also added another 90 minutes to the total drive time though we snuck in another great stop on our way: Seljalandsfoss.

One really cool feature of this particular waterfall is the trail that allows you to walk behind the waterfall. The overspray from the waterfall will get you wet so we recommend wearing ponchos, especially on a cool day like the one we had.

Gullfoss. Our next stop was at Gullfoss. Here, we encountered our first unpredictable weather event. It was fairly nice out and then just as we pulled into the parking lot, the storm clouds came in. Apart from interrupting our day of perfect photo conditions, the rain wasn't so bad. With ponchos on, we walked the trail to enjoy this impressively large waterfall.

There are two trails to take to view the waterfalls, both are short and accessible to most. The trail below takes you up and to the water. The trail above is flat and also leads to a gift and coffee shop.

Geysir Geothermal Area. Another reminder of Yellowstone was our next, fun stop at Geysir Geothermal Area. From the parking lot, we geared up again because of the rain, then headed on the short trail to the geothermal area.

These Geothermal pools are not for swimming - they run 100 C or 212 F!

Stick around because you'll get to witness an exploding Geyser hot spring. Eruptions are every 4-10 minutes.

Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO site was our last stop on what is technically part of the Golden Circle. Trails here took us between two continents and across lands thought to have been inhabited for the last 1000 years.

Sólheimajökull. Our last stop of the day was outside of the Golden Circle and close to our AirBnB. This Glacier is easy to access from a nearby parking lot (with restrooms). By this point in the day, though, the rain had turned into what had to be considered sleet. We decided to brave the hike out to the Glacier, laugh at the ridiculous weather, catch a glimpse at the Glacier, and the hightail it back to the car.

Warming up with a local meal. After our deep freeze at the Glacier we warmed up at Gamla fjosid and enjoyed some local Iceland cuisine. This restaurant is part of an old beef ranch with lots of burger options. This writer, though, enjoyed some wild caught Icelandic cod instead. It was the perfect, authentic meal to follow up this "best of Iceland," day.


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