Iceland’s Golden Circle and a little bit more

In En-Route, Iceland, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Day two, we’re starting from Selfoss

A full day ahead of us, we’re on the road by 8:30 after a quick stop in the local bakers to grab some lunch for later.

As mentioned in our Day One post, we visited Iceland back in 2007, and from Reykjavik, we jumped in our hire car and toured the Golden Circle for a day.

Steam rising from the earth on the Golden Circle, Iceland

I understand that perhaps if you have done it once, you think why do it again, surely a Geysir and a waterfall can’t change that much. However, we were on the cusp of Winter, and it is incredible how the landscape evolves with the changing seasons.

Kerið volcanic crater

Now a confession, as we started from Selfoss, and our first port of call along route 35, should have been Kerið volcanic crater, but with the driving rain, we knew our photo from our previous trip was better, so we have sneaked in one of those.

Kerið volcanic crater, Iceland

The 3,000-year-old Kerið volcanic crater is an incredible sight and not something you will see every day; it is reasonably easy to get to, in comparison to one we climbed later in the trip. So, jump out and go take a look.

A useful guide to Iceland

If you're tempted to tour the Land of Fire and Ice and would love to discover the whole country, then take a look at this  DK Eyewitness book. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

You can now grab the revised copy.

DK Iceland Cover

Faxi Waterfall

Next stop along the 35 was to Faxi Waterfall, and on our arrival, we were the only ones there. Standing 80 metres wide and seven metres high. Not quite on the scale of its big sister Gullfoss up the road, but undoubtedly picturesque in its own right.

The faxi waterfall - 2018, Iceland

From the car park overlooking the waterfall there is a viewing platform, but additionally, you can head to the bottom of Faxi for another perspective.

Janis at the Faxi waterfall, Iceland
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Our Advice

It’s your adventure, include whatever takes your fancy. Stop as often as you like, but obviously use a layby or a car park. Don’t just stop on the side of the road, be considerate and be aware of your surroundings.

The roads around the Golden Circle are easy to drive, so, a 2-wheel drive vehicle is suitable for most conditions, unless in the depths of winter and a 4X4 would be more appropriate.

Haukadalur – Home of the Geysers

A hot pool at Haukadalur, Iceland

Still meandering along the 35 which is part of the Golden Circle, we arrive at Haukadalur and guess what it’s free of charge!!

Konungshver at Haukadalur on the Golden Circle, Iceland

Not only does Haukadalur have fascinating gurgling geothermal mud pools, but it is also home to Iceland’s famous Geysers.

Blesi, part of the Haukadalur geothermal area, Iceland

“Geysir” itself hasn’t erupted for a long while, and everyone’s anticipation is focused on Strokkur, which continually erupts every 5 to 10 minutes. It’s an incredible sight to watch and only gives milliseconds warning of when it is going to erupt. So, you need to be poised with your camera.

The start of Strokkur, Iceland
Strokkur erupting, Iceland
Strokkur - all over in a moment, Iceland

As it rests ready for the next explosion it bubbles away sucking in and out, and to everyone’s delight spouts high into the air, reaching up to around 20 metres.

On a need to know basis

If you are planning a road trip around Iceland particularly over the winter months you need to be very aware of the ever-changing road and weather conditions.

During winter, parts of the Ring Road may be impassable, and you may not get to areas of the country you intended to.

Regularly check the conditions by using these useful websites and apps, believe me, they will come in handy.

Icelandic Met Office
The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration – Vegagerdin also has an app.

Off to Gullfoss

Hopping back in the car we head a further 10km north still on the 35 and arrive at Gullfoss, the famous waterfall.
This is truly spectacular and once again free of charge.

Gullfoss with Ice and snow - 2018, Iceland

We head down to the lower level of Gullfoss and the wind had whipped up to whole new level, standing upright was a challenge let alone taking a video.

Gullfoss - the top of the falls, Iceland

Even though Gullfoss is partially covered in ice and snow, nothing will stop the power that it creates and just torrents over the edge of the canyon onto the Hvítá River below.

Gullfoss looking down the ravine, Iceland

We climb back up and wander to the far end of the waterfall to fully appreciate the aerial view; it is magnificent.

A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip

Here's a few things we picked up ahead of our trip to make things a little smoother for us.

From the low tech traditional foldout paper map, a cigarette USB charger, and a USB chargeable torch.  

All simple stuff that may be helpful on your travels.

  • Fold-out paper map

  • Mini Dual USB Car Adapter

  • USB rechargeable LED Flashlight

Þingvellir National Park

In 2007, we also visited Þingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

þingvellir National Park Valhallarvegur with the Thingvellir Church in the distance, Iceland

The area is associated with the National Parliament of Iceland which was established on this site in 930 AD. Sessions were still held until 1798.

Why not?

Start creating your own Icelandic adventure and discover the Northern Lights yourself, easyJet & British Airways are just a couple of options.

Our own detour

Our day out didn’t end here; we were on the hunt for more rugged scenery and waterfalls. So, a slight double back on ourselves then we headed along the 30.

We discovered Brúarhlöð on our route, Iceland

After a short drive, we came across a lovely area named Brúarhlöð, which had stunning blue water winding its way through rocks, that almost look like lava. This was indeed worth a stop.

Tempted to?

Discover Iceland’s enchanting Ring Road with its rugged landscape or the waterfalls and geysers around the Golden Circle for yourself.

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There’s more

Not content with Gullfoss, and Faxi waterfalls we are on the hunt for two others.
However, before that, we found one called Hjálparfoss, nestled within lava fields along the road 32, which wasn’t on our list.

The full scale of Hjálparfoss, Iceland

Only one other car was there, but it felt like you had discovered it for yourself, it was so peaceful.

Hjálparfoss up close, Iceland

It just so happened that when we reached the area of the original two waterfalls, (Gjáin and Haifoss), which we were searching for, the roads were actually impassable. So, we couldn’t get to them anyway.

The day is not over yet

We continued along the 32 and came across Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng (that’s easy for you to say), which is a Viking-era farmstead.

The main house at Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng, Iceland

Now reconstructed as it was believed to have been buried under volcanic ash in 1104 by the volcano Hekla. It is incredible to see how they would have lived, with the roofs entirely covered in turf and grass and with very little light shining in.

Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng, Iceland

You can only access the building from June through August. However, you can wander around free of charge any other time of the year.

One last stop

Heading back to Selfoss along the 32 we spot a viewing point, we turned off along the gravel road, and not to be deterred, climbed the steep hill to admire the view across the river and the beautiful landscape beyond.

The view from on high, Iceland
Looking across route 32, Iceland
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Gullfoss Waterfall is free of charge to visit, along with the Geysers and the other waterfalls we stopped at.

Kerið volcanic crater has an entrance fee of ISK 400 (as of March 2018), and Þingvellir National Park is free, although there is a charge for parking.

Our route

The round trip that we took on this occasion did not include Þingvellir National Park, so our journey time was cut down a bit. However, we did take a few detours to admire the scenery, so in total, our round trip was about 250km and with stops took us about 8 hours.

So, all in all, a good day out.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Where we stayed

For the two nights, we were based in Selfoss, we stayed at the Bella Apartments and Rooms. Very comfortable accommodation, good parking, free Wi-Fi and walking distance to cafes & restaurants. Pleasant little bakers very close by as well.

Mmm dinner time

As we have a second night in Selfoss, we headed back into town and decided on a less subdued dinner this evening in Kaffi Krús.

Kaffi Krús had a bustling atmosphere, and although it was a café/restaurant, it specialised in burgers, pizzas and cakes. Gary and I both decided on a burger and tasty they were too.

Highlight of the Day

Every trip Gary and I go on, whether it’s a mini-break near or far or a road trip we chose a ‘Highlight of the Day’, here they are for day 2.

Janis; I’m a bit indecisive here between the Geysers & Gullfoss, but I’m going with the Geysers, as it is incredible to watch.

Gary; Gullfoss all day long, but 'discovering' the new was also brilliant.

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Inspired to visit the Golden Circle?

Reykjavik is the ideal base for a mini-break but if you are taking in the Ring Road then consider Selfoss.

Why not checkout the latest deals on Booking.Com?
Iceland’s Golden Circle and a little bit more

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  1. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo of Iceland! It’s absolutely stunning and I would really love to drive the Golden Circle (or do a tour!) one day! #FarawayFiles

    1. We would highly recommend driving it yourself, that way you can take it at your own pace and jump in and out of your car and take photos whenever you please. Happy Travels

  2. What a fun trip, and I can hear your voice in your words, which I love! I hope to get to Iceland someday, but I think I might prefer a summer visit! #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks Hilary, it was great fun. In 2007, we visited in mid-May and that was a good time to visit (lots of daylight), although it was still cold when the wind was blowing, particularly if you head out to experience the whale watching.You must try and fit it in some day, we really recommend it.

  3. Great photos and very impressive use of Icelandic letter symbols! 😀 I am deeply impressed by how few other tourists there are in your photos and throughout your descriptions. I often hear that this region is perhaps now over-touristy, but your post shows that it can be enjoyed if you opt for independent and off-season travel. Thanks! #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks very much for your comments.I think Gary does a bit of crowd management when he takes the shots. Sure, some places can be a bit busy, but in general folks come and go, it can be the luck of the draw, but if you’re willing to wait 10 minutes or so people generally move on – or that’s what we found.We chose the mid-March slot to give us the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, and hopefully the worst of the weather was over by then, with more roads open. As we were planning a trip around the whole ring we deliberately avoided the Golden Circle over the weekend (As you probably know a lot of people base themselves in Reykjavik for the weekend and plan trips from there).

  4. The photographs are stunning. My Icelandic appetite has been well and truly wet. #FarawayFiles

    1. Thanks Angie, I have to give the credit for the photography to Gary, he does a fantastic job.

  5. Almost other worldly! How lucky you’ve been able to do the Golden Circle twice. I love the recreated house – very interesting that they would have lived that way! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    1. Thanks Corey, yes, the landscape is quite unbelievable in places, you do feel like you have stepped onto another planet. Iceland is a must to visit, and if you just want to tour the Golden Circle it’s ideal for a mini break.

  6. Those waterfalls are splendid!! What a lovely day out you had! #FarawayFiled

    1. The waterfalls really do need to be seen, to be believed, Gullfoss is incredible. It’s amazing how different they can look from Summer to Winter.Happy Travels

  7. Wow, the views are incredible! It looks surreal! I knew Iceland was beautiful, but this is a great reminder that I need to go there first chance I get! Sounds like a great roadtrip, I’ll definitely keep this in mind for when I finally go! Thanks so much for sharing. #FarawayFiles

    1. It was a fantastic road trip, we toured the whole Ring Road. I hoped the landscape would be stunning, but it surpassed all my expectations. You should definitely try and go.

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