Must-see Attractions and Hidden Gems along Iceland’s Golden Circle

If you have a short stay in Iceland, take a day of your vacation to travel Iceland’s Golden Circle. The Golden Circle can easily be driven in one day and the three main attractions (driving counterclockwise) include the Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area and Þingvellir National Park (pronounced ‘Thingvellir’).

However, if you truly want to make the most of your trip, I have a few stops to add to your Golden Circle drive. These stops feature a lake-filled volcanic crater, a farm-to-table restaurant where every item on the menu features tomatoes and a dairy farm where you can get ice cream straight from the source.

Follow along below for our Golden Circle trip in Iceland.

Kerið Crater

Kerið Crater is a 3,000-year-old volcanic crater. It is filled with a lake of aqua-green water that stands out against the red volcanic rocks that streak down the crater’s edge. My husband and I stretched our legs by walking around Kerið Crater’s upper rim and we then walked down a path to hike beside the actual lake.

The landscape in Iceland seems out of this world. Kerið Crater was one of my favorite spots that highlighted this during our Iceland vacation.

Friðheimar Greenhouse Restaurant

At Friðheimar, a greenhouse/restaurant along Iceland’s Golden Circle, diners can pour over a menu that features tomatoes in every dish. Yes, every dish.

While there is so much to choose from, including tomato-infused dessert, coffee, drinks, pasta and more, we took advantage of the all-you-can-eat tomato soup and olive bread. Our already-delicious lunch was elevated by the optional add-ins placed on our table, including fresh butter, sour cream, cucumber salad and herbs. After filling up on multiple bowls of soup, we were ready to take on our next stop.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall is the first official stop on the Golden Circle in this list and is quite a show. There are two levels to this fall – one dropping approximately 40 feet and the other approximately 70 feet. It is a powerful and beautiful display of nature. The light blue water that pours over its edge stands out against Iceland’s beautiful and formidable landscape.

Geysir Geothermal Area

Though there are multiple geysirs here, Strokkur is the one that everyone comes to see. We spent about an hour trying to time the perfect photo or video of Strokkur as the water shot out of the ground. The anticipation of seeing the geysir each time was quite fun, as were our attempts to hurriedly turn our back to avoid being hit in the face from its spray.

Ice Cream from Efstidalur

The Efstidalur farm was the perfect spot for a recharge during a day of adventuring in Iceland! Here, I grabbed some homemade ice cream and sat by a window to watch the cows who provided the goods. The ice cream was delicious and the experience was unique!

Þingvellir National Park (pronounced ‘Thingvellir’)

Our last stop was at Þingvellir National Park, the meeting grounds of two tectonic plates. You can actually scuba dive between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which was an activity I wish we would have planned! However, it was still cool to say we were able to hike at Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I have to thank Jeannie from Iceland with a View for these hidden spots on our Golden Circle adventure. She is an expat with an authority on all things Iceland and she knows all the hidden gems to make your Iceland adventure truly unique.

And as of writing this in late March 2021, I’m excited to say that Iceland has reopened to vaccinated travelers from the United States and UK. So, start planning your trip to the land of ice and fire today!


Published by

Kristen Wilson

Ambitioner. Avid for adventure and for broadening my horizons. Love hearing about others' ideologies and passions.

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