Iceland's Golden Ring is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland, and for good reason. This route includes Gullfoss Waterfall, hot springs and Geyser, Tingvedlir National Park, as well as a number of smaller attractions such as the Kerid crater, the hot river in Hveragerdi and many others. All these attractions of the Golden Ring are known by themselves, but they can be easily enjoyed in one day by taking the perfect one-day tour, which is what travel agencies offer.

Strokkur geyser erupts every 7-15 minutes

Also, tour operators and private guides suggest combining a trip along the Golden Ring with a trip to the Blue Lagoon, tasting Icelandic beer or something else.

A large selection of tours is offered by the Iceland tour aggregator GuideToIceland - the cost of one-day tours starts from $ 40 for the whole day, well, there is no upper limit, because the Golden Ring can also be visited as part of a tour for a couple of weeks.

If you read Wikipedia, you will find out that the three main stops on the route are Tingvellir Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Heikadalur geyser Valley with Strokkur and Geyser geysers (Haukadalur Island).  It is visiting these three places that travel companies offer and it will still be quite fast. But it is worth allocating a little more time for a Golden Ring, at least 2-3 days. To be able not only to run from the bus to the observation deck and back, but also to enjoy the extraordinary Icelandic nature.


Valley with geysers Haukadalur

Kerid Crater

The first thing you will encounter on your way from Reykjavik is the Kerid crater, in which a blue lake is comfortably located. Probably the strangest thing about this place is that they charge for passage to the crater. In 2023, the cost was 500 Icelandic crowns, about 2.5 euros. This is the first and only place in Iceland where we were charged for viewing a natural attraction. However, they offered hot chocolate and a donut for free, which was very useful, since the Icelandic weather was frowning as usual.

The crater is very small and it takes no more than 30 minutes to see, take a photo, go around it and go down to the lake.

There is a beautiful blue lake in the crater, birds are running and flying around, and it's just beautiful. But you shouldn't stay too long.

crater with lake Kerid

birds of Iceland

Geothermal field Haukadalyur and geyser Geyser and Strokkur

After the Kerid crater, you will meet the Haukadalur Valley on the Golden Ring. The geothermal field in Haukadalur is a natural wonder of hot springs and boiling mud pools. "The Great Geyser", Geysir even gave the name to this spectacular phenomenon around the world. True, today the Geyser itself rarely erupts, but next to it the Strokkur geyser throws out a water table reaching 30 meters in height every few minutes, which delights viewers who seek to take photos and take video of this unique phenomenon. 

bubbling wells in the Haukadalur valley

The geothermal field with geysers is one of the most popular stops on the Golden Ring route, so there are few tourists here. But even here you may not be lucky and 5 more tourist buses will arrive with you.

There are paths along the Haukadalyur valley, the areas around the geysers are fenced and for good reason, because no one wants to be doused with a fountain of hot water. The most popular places in the Haukadalyur valley are the sites around the Strokkur geyser - after all, it is this geyser, not a Geyser, that erupts very regularly - every 7-15 minutes. Sometimes the Strokkur geyser takes very small breaks of 3-7 minutes, but then the height of the ejected water is less. The maximum Strokkur erupts to a height of 30 meters. but most often about 15-20 meters, although even such a "fountain" is very impressive.

Strokkur geyser eruption, Golden Circle, Iceland

Geysir Geyser is located 50 meters from Strokkur Geyser. The geyser, which gave the name to this phenomenon all over the world, erupts very irregularly, sometimes it can take six months between eruptions, so it's not worth waiting.

There are also several smaller geysers in the valley, a hot stream flows, there are sulfur outlets and bubbling mud baths

small geyser

How to get there, when it is better to go and much more can be read in a separate article about the Geyser:

Iceland's main geyser, which gave the name to all geysers, Geysir

Iceland's main geyser, which gave the name to all geysers, Geysir

The geyser is a famous hot spring in the geothermal zone of the Haukadalur Valley, discovered in southwestern Iceland.

The geyser is one of the attractions of ...

Gullfoss Waterfall Gullfoss

The next interesting place on the Golden Ring is Gullfoss. Gullfoss, Gullfoss, or "Golden Waterfall", as the name implies, is located in the Hvita River. The total height of the water drop is more than 30 meters, with two cascades: 21 and 11 meters. You can often enjoy the colorful rainbows created by the sun on the water dust from the waterfall. In winter, massive ice formations adorn the waterfall.

two steps of Gulfos waterfall

There is a large parking lot not far from the waterfall, so there should be no problems with parking the car. There are several trails from the parking lot: to each of the steps of the waterfall, as well as to the upper observation deck, which offers a breathtaking view of the entire waterfall. If you are lucky and there is sun, then you will be able to see a rainbow in the water dust from the waterfall. Although it was gloomy, but still the sun came out for a while and we saw a rainbow!

The paved road ends right behind the Gullfoss waterfall, and then the mountain roads with the F marking begin. This means that only four-wheel drive cars can drive on them.

Gullfoss waterfall with rainbow, Golden Circle, Iceland

How to get to the Gullfoss waterfall and what else is interesting in the area read:

Gullfoss Waterfall or Golden Waterfall, Gullfoss

Gullfoss Waterfall or Golden Waterfall, Gullfoss

Iceland is not only an island of volcanoes, geysers and glaciers. Besides them, there are many more waterfalls here, and all of them are amazing in some way. For examp...

Tingvedlir National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tingvellir National Park has great historical and symbolic significance for Icelanders. For a long time it was the meeting place of the Althing, or national parliament of settlers, and the site for many of the most important events in the island's history. The park is also known for its geological significance, because the fault between the American and Eurasian lithospheric plates runs through its territory.

geothermal station with lake in the background, Thingvellir

There are many hiking trails in the Tingvedlir National Park, from 10-20 minutes to routes that will take a whole day, or even several days. If you have only half a day and the Golden Ring is waiting, then just walk to the most famous sights of the park:

- the rift between the European and North American plates, which, according to scientists, increases by several centimeters every year.

- The Althing, the oldest parliament in Europe, met here

- Ehsaraurfoss Waterfall (island of Öxarárfoss)

- the church in Tingvedlir

- Silfra is a rift located in Lake Tinguallavatn. The main thing that attracts tourists here is that the depth of the fault is about 40 meters and in fact the dive takes place between two continents

Silfra fault in the earth's crust going 40 meters deep, Thingvelir, Golden Circle, Iceland

Thingvelir National Park, Golden Circle, Iceland

It is worth staying at Tingvedlir Park for the night, especially since there are all the conditions for this: hotels and campsites, which are located in the most picturesque parts of the park. One of the campsites is located right on the shore of the lake Thingvallvvatn. And from the tent sites there is a great view of the lake and the steaming hot springs in the distance.

There are many birds nesting in the park, so you should not leave the marked paths so as not to interfere with wildlife.

the rift between America and Europe in Thingvellir Park, Golden Circle, Iceland

waterfall in Thingvellir National Park, Golden Circle, Iceland

When is the best time to visit Tingvedlir Park and where to stay in the vicinity of the park:

Tingvellir National Park or Tingvedlir, Thingvellir, ÞIngvellir

Tingvellir National Park or Tingvedlir, Thingvellir, ÞIngvellir

Thingvellir National Park is a favorite stop among travelers on the Golden Ring route....

Hot river in Hveragerdi

And now you have finished visiting the main attractions of the Golden Ring and are going to Reykjavik? Wait, there is still, though not the most popular, but a very beautiful and unusual route from the village of Hveragerdi.

There are many thermal baths in the village itself, and at the end of the village a trekking route to the upper reaches of the thermal river begins.

There is a parking lot at the bottom near the beginning of the route, although not very large, but most likely there is enough space for everyone, because buses with tourists do not carry here. You will have to go up for about 40-50 minutes, with a fairly large climb. In the second half of the way to the meeting, we began to come across people in bath towels who were steaming. And that made me want to go even faster.

baths on the hot river Hveragerdi

And so the thermal fields were shown on the right, although the river was still not visible. The trail already passes over wooden bridges and goes out to the natural baths in the riverbed, which are crowded with a lot of people. 

There are some kind of locker rooms near the entrances to the river, you don't have to be very shy, because there are no doors in the locker rooms :) By the way, the entire infrastructure at the hot river is free!

After you have rested in the hot springs, head further down the river. After all, not far away, a whole smoking wall hides around the bend, and a little further there is a waterfall.

Hot river Hveragerdi on the Golden Circle of Iceland

Going down, after bathing in the hot springs, is much easier, you don't even walk, but almost fly, and now other tourists are looking at you and speeding up their steps to get to the hot springs faster.

This concludes our description of the attractions of the Golden Ring. You won't be able to see everything if you go on a bus tour. And even if you decide to go for just 1 day by car, you are also unlikely to be able to do everything. So take your time, and enjoy the Icelandic nature completely!

Smoking wall in the upper reaches of the hot river Hveragerdi