Here’s Your 1 Day Itinerary: Iceland’s Golden Circle

Reykjavik, Great Geysir and Gullfoss are among the top sites in Iceland’s Golden Circle. 

Þingvellir. Photo by Alex He on Unsplash

When visiting Iceland’s Golden Circle – an approximately 190-mile route to several of the nation’s most noteworthy attractions – there are many stops one must visit. In particular, Reykjavik, which is home to Hallgrímskirkja and Harpa, Þingvellir, or Thingvellir, Great Geysir, Strokkur Geysir and Gullfoss are must-see locations worthy of travelers’ time.

Hallgrímskirkja. Photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash

As the starting point for the Golden Circle, Reykjavik offers several sites that will help one’s trip begin with a bang. Hallgrímskirkja, a parish church and national monument, is one of those spots. Consecrated in 1986, Hallgrímskirkja has been serving parishioners for decades, and now is the home church to approximately 7,000 followers.

The architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, began work on the church in 1937 and was influenced by Icelandic traditions and materials. Hallgrímskirkja demonstrates this, as its design features hexagonal columnar basalt, symbolizing rising mountains and glaciers. At 244 feet, the church is the tallest in the country and can be seen from anywhere in Reykjavik.

Harpa, Iceland. Golden Circle. Photo by Tomas Eidsvold on Unsplash
Harpa. Photo by Tomas Eidsvold on Unsplash

Located less than a mile away from Hallgrímskirkja is Harpa, a concert hall and conference center. Since it opened in 2011, Harpa has been the home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Opera and Reykjavik Big Band, and has hosted world-famous bands, soloists, dance groups and theater companies.

Harpa’s architecture features an LED artwork and has helped the hall win several awards and honors, including: the Mies van der Rohe-European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Award in 2013, the honor of being the best conference center in Europe by Business Destination Magazine in 2016 and the USITT Architecture Award for acoustic in 2018.

Silfra. Photo by Gunnar Sigurðarson on Unsplash

Afterwards, travel to Þingvellir, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. One can see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge here, which is the only place in the world where the rift valley can be seen above sea level. Additionally, one can snorkel in Silfra, a ravine formed by earthquakes in the area filled with fresh water from the Langjökull glacier’s melting.

Additionally, walk through the Almannagjá gorge, it’s a valley which marks the edge of the North American tectonic plate and leads to Öxarárfoss waterfall.

Strokkur Geysir
Strokkur Geysir. Photo by Stefan Roks on Unsplash

After visiting Þingvellir, travelers can drive approximately 50 minutes to Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir. Located in the Geysir Hot Spring area, one can take in the boiling mud pits, exploding geysers and the Geysir Center, which offers exhibits and presentations.

Although Great Geysir used to reach heights of approximately 560 feet, it is now mostly dormant. On the other hand, Strokkur Geysir erupts every 5 to 10 minutes to approximately 50 to 65 feet. It is the main feature of Haukadalur valley and Iceland’s most visited active geyser.

Gullfoss. Photo by Joey Clover on Unsplash

Finish the day trip on the Golden Circle at Gullfoss – a waterfall located in the Hvítá river canyon, visitors can witness the Langjökull glacier’s meltwater travel down Gullfoss’ two cascades for a total of 105 feet. On average, the water’s flow rate is approximately 3,885 ft3/s, although it can reach speeds of approximately 4,945 ft3/s in the summer. Gullfoss’ striking beauty makes it one of the top sites in the Golden Circle.

Ray Lewis

Content Editor Associate

Originally from New Jersey, Ray developed a passion for traveling through his adventures in Europe. He created unforgettable memories in Greece and Italy, but is looking to explore more countries in different parts of the world as well.

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