Golden Circle, Iceland

Sunday, May 21, 2017

East, Northeast of Reykjavík is the famous trio of sights known as The Golden Circle. Within 60 miles of the capital city you can see the rift between two continental plates, a tremendous waterfall, and the original spouting hot spring.

We headed out early. Iceland is two hours behind Germany and it gets light so early that our kids were up and raring to go by 4:30am local time. We didn't actually leave the apartment until 8am or so, but even still, I don't think we saw more than two other cars on the road out to our first stop.
Driving through Thingvellier National Park along Thingvallavatn Lake.

Such a crazy place. So rugged and harsh, but beautiful.
Cute hotel in a little town we passed through.
We decided to start at the farthest sight: Gullfoss. This is Iceland's most famous waterfall and is a spectacular double cascade. The water drops over 100 feet before rushing away down a narrow ravine.
Pictures just can't capture how massive these falls actually are!
Looking away from the falls out towards the plain. Also, it was suuuuuuuuper windy! The trail leading down closer to the waterfall was blocked off, for good reason, we were literally picked up off our feet a few times as we were running around.
If you're looking for relaxed nature walks and peaceful meditation, Icelandic tourism isn't really geared towards you, as evidenced by these crazy machines companies have to explore the island!
After the falls we drove the short distance back to stop #2: Geysir.
This area is known as the Haukadalur geothermal region and is home to several geysers.
The hissing, bubbling, steaming area is free to enter and explore.
The geyser Strokkur is a very reliable spout and goes off every 5 to 10 minutes.
The impressive plume shoots over 50 feet into the air.
Other pools surround the spouts and reminded us of our trip to Yellowstone in Wyoming.
So pretty!
And here she is, the geyser after which all other geysers are named: Geysir! We didn't get to see it go off, however. It goes through periods of increased or decreased activity, and lately it has been a little sleepy. Still, it was fun to see the OG: original geyser.
Our family in front of the Great Geysir.
A visitors center is located across the street with a couple cafes and shops so we grabbed a few snacks. Also, I don't think I've mentioned yet how incredibly expensive Iceland is. A simple small magnet costs $15. Yes, you read that right, $15. The food? Holy cow. Bring your own EVERYTHING!
Then we drove to stop #3 on the Golden Circle Loop: Thingvellier.
The park plain is situated on a tectonic plate boundary where North America and Europe are tearing away from each other at a rate of up to 18mm a year. As a result, the area is scarred with fissures, rifts, and rivers.
The great rift between the plates is called Almannagja and a path runs along and through it.
The area is also an important historical site since it was where the ancient Icelandic parliament would meet and hash out issues for the island. 
It was a fun and incredibly interesting day dipping our toes into the vast natural wonders that Iceland has to offer.
Back to the airbnb for the rest of the day to relax!
Highlights from the Golden Circle:
Our family at the Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland on Tuesday May 2nd 2017.
The next day we explored Reykjavík!


  1. How gorgeous!!! I was thinking you were in Canada at first, due to those falls look a lot like Niagara!! And I was thinking the geyser's looked a lot like Wyoming! And $15 for a magnet?!?!? That's CRAZY!!!! Wow ... that is expensive there!

  2. Seems crazy to me that they let people walk in and around the geysers and hot springs. In Yellowstone many of the guides told us that they couldn't trust the thickness of the ever changing ground in a geothermal place like that. Many bison AND even humans who left the established walkways had fallen in- breaking through the surface crust to the boiling surface underneath. :/ However, what GORGEOUS landscape - it truly does look like another world there!

    Paige, I thing your family would REALLY enjoy Peter Menzel's photo book "Material World: A Global Family Portrait". He goes to 40 countries around the world, finds a "typical" family, and photographs them and the possessions in their homes. Fascinating look for adults and kids into the real lives of other cultures/countries.


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