One of the most popular attraction in Iceland is The Golden Circle and definitely one to tick off your bucket list when visiting. The Golden Circle features three of the most iconic and spectacular places in Iceland; Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir the famous erupting hot spring.
Thingvellir National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004. It’s situated in a rift valley created by the continuous friction of the two major tectonic plates, the North American and Eurasian. Thingvellir is historically important for hosting the Icelandic parliament from 930 AD shortly after the settlement, making it the oldest, still running, parliament in the world, although now gathering in Reykjavik.
Yearly Icelanders would gather in thingvellir to write new laws and settle disputes but also for entertainment as these gatherings often lasted two weeks. They set up camps and the ruins are still visible today. Almost like a prehistoric festival, but with a dark twist as landmark names tell the tale of punishment and torture. In Drekkingarhylur (Drowning Pool) women were drowned for adultery. Further up at Gálgi (Gallows Rock) men were hanged for the same doing, and in Brennugjá (Burning Gorge) people were burned for witchcraft.
Haukadalur is the home of Geysir; the mother of all erupting hot spring. Geysir is currently dormant besides a few weeks in 2000 when it started erupting again after sharp earthquakes in the area. The hot spring Strokkur on the other hand is fully active and erupts every 6-10 minutes, shooting boiling hot water up to 25 m / 82 ft high. This area is truly a geothermal fairytale landscape and sparks colourful hills and steamy hot springs.
The third attractions of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls, dropping down a few levels within the great canyon of Hvítá glacial river. Just a stone’s throw away from the carpark the view is breathtaking, but a path will lead you all the way towards the top of the waterfall so close you can feel the drizzle. The path is named after Sigridur Tomasdottir, often called Iceland’s first environmentalist. In the early 1900’s foreign investors saw an opportunity to harvest the waterfall to generate energy. Sigríður both threatened to jump into the waterfall and battled them legally. Finally she won the case with the aid of lawyer Sveinn Björnsson, who later would become Iceland’s first president.
All plans were abolished and Gullfoss is still here today for you to enjoy. If Sigríður was willing to risk her life to save Gullfoss, there must be worth checking out.
We offer a couple of different tours which bring you on this exciting route. Although the beauty of the Golden Circle is enough to experience in a day, it’s also a perfect opportunity to combine it with a visit to attractions and activities in the area such as The Secret Lagoon.
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