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5 Things to know about the Golden Circle

By Agnes Valdimarsdóttir

  • Þingvellir National Park Where Iceland's parliament was established. Photos/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

  • Get away from the city lights Þingvellir National Park is a fantastic place to go to for hunting for Aurora Borealis.

  • Gullfoss waterfall In the winter costume.

  • Gullfoss waterfall In the summer dress.

  • Geysir geothermal area Old Geysir is not erupting anymore, put his nearby brother is alive and kicking.

The Golden Circle is a ‘stable’ in every tourists visit to Iceland. I think it’s safe to say that every Icelandic person has visited the sites and there’s a reason they continue to be such popular destinations to visit.

  1. Parliament
    Þingvellir National Park is special for a variety of reasons. One of which is that in 930, Parliament was established at Þingvellir and it remained there until 1798. The founding of Parliament was the founding of the nation of Iceland as the first meeting in 930 laid ground for common cultural heritage and national identity. It then is perhaps not too surprising that the Prime Minister of Iceland as a cottage at Thingvellir for one must remember the past to help design the future.

    Almannagjá_Þingvellir.jpgAlmannagjá canyon This is rift between the European and N. American tectonic plates at Þingvellir National Park. Photo/GVA
  2. Continental Drift
    Another interesting tid-bit about Þingvellir National Park is that its location is between the European and N. American tectonic plates. You can even see the rift in a vertical canyon at Þingvellir, called Almannagjá. And for the scuba-certified, you can scuba at Silfra fissure – perhaps your only chance to be able to touch Europe and N.America at the same time. Keep in mind that every year, the plates drift about 2cm apart.

  3. Gullfoss
    Gullfoss Waterfall is a very popular tourist attraction and perhaps the most magnificent thing about the fall is how close you can get to it – especially in the summer. During the winter months, looking at it from a distance may be your only choice, but it’s for your safety. When you first approach Gullfoss the crevice is obscured from view, so it is as if the waterfall falls into the Earth, and not into Hvítá river. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s worth checking-out.


    Strokkur The bursting geyser erupts every few minutes. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson
  4. Geysir
    Geysir, as the name suggests, is a geyser. The name ‘geyser’ in English, actually derives from the Icelandic word Geysir. The geyser you will see erupt into the sky is, however, not the famous Geysir, but one called Strokkur. It erupts every few minutes to heights of up to 30 meters. 

  5. Kerið
    A number of years ago, the State held an auction and a group of friends can now proudly tell whomever will listen that they own a volcano! Kerið is a volcanic crater and more often than not it’s included as a stop on the Golden Circle Tour. As it is privately owned, a small cover-charge to visit Kerið is collected.  

Öxarárfoss waterfall is in Almannagjá canyon, between the European and N. American tectonic plates. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson


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