The colour ‘gold’ symbolizes quality and success. If you win a gold medal, you’ve outstripped the competition – you’re the winner! It’s therefore unsurprising to find that that’s exactly what Iceland’s famous Golden Circle entails: the best of the country’s natural wealth.
Whether taking a tour or renting a car, the Golden Circle is highly accessible from Reykjavik. Of course, when I visited in midwinter, it wasn’t so much gold as it was white.
So what is the Golden Circle?
First stop: a geologist’s paradise.
Welcome to Þingvellir National Park (pronounced ‘thingvellir’) where walking between two tectonic plates is as easy as putting one leg in front of the other. Here, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that marks the boundary between the Eurasian and North American plates breaks the surface, slowing pulling Iceland apart at a rate of 2 cm/year. To walk between an active fault line was both raw and humbling.
There is also some fantastic scenery to observe, and crystal clear waters that present unparalleled snorkeling opportunities. Don’t forget to throw a coin into one of the many pools and make a wish!
All aboard! We’re off to stop number two.
Say hello to Geysir, from which the English word ‘geyser’ derives from. Although Geysir is now largely inactive, its brother, Strokkur, exhibits an impressive display in which boiling water is forcefully projected in a dramatic eruption sequence. This is due to internal pressure within the geothermal cavity.
Although this spectacle usually occurs once every 5-7 minutes, for us, Strokkur erupted three times in an estimated 60 seconds! I even managed to capture one of these moments on camera (at 2.34)
Living in Southern Ontario, I’m no stranger to famous waterfalls; but what fascinated me about Gullfoss (or ‘The Golden Falls’) was the cascading effect. One smaller waterfall appeared to merge into another, and another, until it wasn’t many small waterfalls at all, but one large collective. In this regard, I suggest climbing to the upper overlook, where Gullfoss’ true grandeur can be appreciated.
Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss make up the Golden Circle.
With this, my tour with Iceland Travel had just begun. Although my journey continued, the Golden Circle provided a satisfactory sample of the many natural wonders that Iceland has to offer. As either an introduction or main event, the Golden Circle finishes first, every time.