EUROPE TRAVEL

Road Trip Iceland: Driving the Golden Circle Iceland

As part of our four-day visit to Iceland we hired a car from Geysir and decided to take the laid back approach to exploring Iceland. During our trip we jumped in the car and headed off on a road trip around The Golden Circle and here is my latest post all about what we got up to. 

We rented our car from Geysir, and we loved the process and would highly recommend going with these guys. We arrived at Keflavik airport at 2pm, jumped on a shuttle bus which took us 200m down the road, where we then checked in and picked up our keys. The pick up was easy and simple; we added an extra driver so we could take turns and opted for their Insurance Bundle to protect us against the always changing weather and wind. We were given our Toyota Yaris which was great, with more than enough room, and was super easy to drive. Read all my posts from Iceland here

A Travel Bloggers Guide to Iceland

WHERE TO STAY

When you think of Iceland, you think small towns, hot springs and beautiful scenery. This hotel was a perfect place to stay for all of this, just 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik is the Frost and Fire hotel situated in the small town of Hveragerdi. This place is perfect if you have rented a car and you’re in need of some rest & relaxation.

When we flew into Keflavik, we picked up our car and drove into Reykjavik for some exploring. We then drove the super easy drive to the hotel and took in the amazing views along the way. As we approached Hveragerdi, we commented on how great the town looked amongst the mountains and thought the town had lots to offer for its size. There are restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, a petrol station and endless mountains. We found the hotel was in a great location, and much better than staying in the city. It meant we had a really accessible base for our four days. It was easy to get back in to the city, we joined the south Iceland road trip easily, and you can also jump straight on to the Golden Circle route in only 15 minutes. The location was great, but it wasn’t the best thing about this place… Read my full review here.

 

Driving the Golden Circle Iceland

Car Rental Iceland: Geysir

 

Distance: 200km

Time: 4 1/2 hours including stops

 

Visit Kerið Crater

Kerið is a volcanic crater lake in Grímsnes, South Iceland, and makes for a fantastic, if not alternative stop along Iceland’s world-famous Golden Circle sightseeing route. Kerið is normally visited as an extra, alongside the major stops, Thingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Geothermal Valley and Gullfoss waterfall. Kerið is a striking volcanic crater lake filled with milky blue-green water amid stark black and deep red slopes. Once believed to be an explosion crater formed 3,000 years ago, geologists now believe it to be a collapsed magma chamber at the end of a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 6,000 years ago. Kerid is 55 meters (180 ft.) deep including the still water on the bottom. There is a path lining the rim for visitors to walk around and view the red and black slopes contrasting with the striking aquamarine water contributing to the otherworldly landscape. We visited here early morning around 9am and it was super quiet, only us and another couple here walking.

Visit Gullfoss

Gullfoss, another famous waterfall, is located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland with millions visiting this expansive waterfall each year. The wide Hvítá river rushes southward, and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step “staircase” and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 metres or 36 feet, and 21 metres or 69 feet) into a crevice 32 metres (105 ft) deep. Together with Þingvellir and the geysers of Haukadalur, Gullfoss forms part of the Golden Circle, a popular day excursion for tourists in Iceland.

Visit the Geysir Hot Spring Area

Don’t be fooled by the Instagram photos, the great Geysir is not the only geyser in the Geysir hot spring area. The most active geyser in the area is called Strokkur as it sprouts hot water as high as 30 meters into the air every few minutes or so, but the area as a whole is pretty cool, with small spring rivers running down the valley, smaller pools with bubbling brooks and an array of natural phenomena for you to see. I would try and miss the crowds by visiting early morning or late afternoon as it gets busy.

Visit Laugarvatn Fontana

An alternative version to The Blue Lagoon, if your not bothered or you’ve done it before, is Laugarvatn Fontana. Here you can soak in the warm geothermal pools and get energized in the natural steam rooms, with the hot spring bubbling right below you. Laugarvatn Fontana is located only one hour drive from Reykjavik, in the middle of the Golden Circle, on the black beach of beautiful Laugarvatn Lake. They’ve also got a Geothermal Bakery where you can taste delicious rye bread that grandmothers of the area have been baking in the hot springs of Laugarvatn for decades.

Visit Þingvellir National Park

Thingvellir is a favourite stop among travellers along the Golden Circle route. It has been a National Park in Iceland since 1930 and was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2004. When Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century it was the site they chose as the meeting place of Althing, the world’s oldest parliament. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological significance, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. The park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian. To its south lies Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. This is where tours for ‘Diving in Silfra’ take place. Diving is permitted in two submerged rifts in the National Park, Silfra and Davíðsgjá. Silfra is one of the best spots for diving in Iceland and many people find the rift unique on an international scale.

Driving the Golden Circle Iceland

Tips for car rental in Iceland in winter

  1. Check and then check again that you have the right insurance cover that you need
  2. Take a GPS navigation system or a phone which is good enough to guide you through Iceland
  3. Take a Marco Polo Travel Guide as a back up map just incase…
  4. Wind damage is not covered a lot of the time so be careful or add it on
  5. Check weather conditions in Iceland as they can change in seconds, so if you are not a confident driver then you may need to rethink hiring a car
  6. Going ‘off road’ or onto gravel is not covered a lot of the time either but there are car parks that are all gravel. Check you are covered in car parks or get better cover…
  7. The underneath and chassis are not covered by insurance if you damage the car
  8. You must always have your lights on!
  9. If you hit an animal and damage the car this is not covered either
  10. With our hire company, we got a card that gave us a discount at some stations

 

We loved driving around Iceland and I would recommend it to anyone! Read my top 15 places to visit in Iceland here. Driving the Golden Circle Iceland.

If you’re planning your own trip to Iceland, feel free to ask me any questions by tweeting me @sophiessuitcse or use the Google Map I created for our trip here

 

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Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it for me with all your friends and family!

Sophie X

  • Amita
    May 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    I’m loving all your pictures from Iceland. I’ll definitely refer to this post when I book a trip there – I’m dying to explore this country! It looks amazing xx

    • Sophie
      May 18, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Thank you lovely 🙂