Golden Circle Tour Iceland: Ultimate Travel Tips

Planning a new trip? The Golden Circle Tour Iceland is a must-visit. This guide provides you with all the essential travel tips to ensure a memorable experience. 

From timing your visit right to choosing the best spots to stop, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and start planning your adventure in Iceland’s stunning landscapes.

Golden Circle Tour Iceland: Ultimate Travel Tips
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About the Golden Circle Tour Iceland

The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in Southwest Iceland, covering about 300 kilometers and looping from Reykjavik into central Iceland and back. 

The route takes you to three stunning locations: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. You get a mix of natural beauty, geological wonders, and historical significance. 

It's doable in a day, but taking your time enhances the experience. This tour lets you witness Iceland’s raw, dramatic landscapes without venturing far from the capital.


There are a lot of things to do in Golden Circle Iceland:

  • Þingvellir National Park: Explore the area where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, one of the main Golden Circle Iceland's attractions.
  • Geysir Geothermal Area: Witness the Strokkur geyser's eruptions, happening every few minutes.
  • Gullfoss Waterfall: Experience the power of one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls.
  • Kerid Crater: Check out this volcanic crater with its unique red slopes and blue lake.
  • Efstidalur Farm: Visit a local farm, try their ice cream, and see the animals.
  • Faxi Waterfall: A smaller waterfall, but one of the best things to see in the Golden Circle Iceland for its beauty.
  • Secret Lagoon or Laugarvatn Fontana: Relax in a geothermal hot spring.
  • Skálholt Cathedral: Learn about Iceland’s history at this historical site.
  • Ride Icelandic Horses: Take a horse-riding tour to see the Golden Circle Iceland sights from a different perspective.

How to travel there?

For your Golden Circle trip, you typically have these options:

  • By Air: The main way to enter Iceland is by flying. Keflavik International Airport is the country's largest airport and is well-connected to North America and Europe. Check for direct flights from your nearest international airport.
  • Cruise Ship: Some people visit Iceland as a part of a cruise itinerary. This allows you to see different parts of the country without having to arrange internal transport.
  • Private Boat: If you have access to a private boat and are experienced in navigating the North Atlantic, this is an option. However, it’s not common due to challenging sea conditions.
  • By Car or Bus: If you're already in Europe, you can drive or take a bus to Iceland using a ferry service from Denmark. This is a less common and more time-consuming option.

For most travelers, flying is the most practical and time-efficient option. Once you’re in Iceland, you can rent a car or use local transportation to explore. 


You have a few options for your Golden Circle excursion:

  • Self-Drive: Rent a car and drive yourself. This gives you the flexibility to go at your own pace and explore off-the-beaten-path spots. Make sure you’re comfortable with Iceland’s driving conditions.
  • Guided Tours: There are many Golden Circle tours available. This is a hassle-free option as everything is arranged for you, and you also get insights from a local guide.
  • Public Transport: Not the most convenient option for the Golden Circle, but it’s possible. You’d need to plan meticulously and adhere to bus schedules.
  • Private Tour: Hire a private guide with a vehicle. This is a personalized form of driving the Golden Circle Iceland, but it’s also more expensive.

Choose based on your budget, comfort with driving in Iceland, and preference for flexibility or convenience.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Golden Circle Iceland depends on what you’re looking for:

  • Summer (June to August): This is peak tourist season. You’ll find warm temperatures, long daylight hours, and all attractions are accessible. However, it’s also the most crowded and expensive time.
  • Spring (April to May) and Fall (September to October): These shoulder seasons offer fewer crowds and slightly lower prices. Weather can be unpredictable, but you might catch the Northern Lights in early spring or late fall.
  • Winter (November to March): If you’re after a winter wonderland and the Northern Lights, this is your season. Be prepared for cold temperatures, short days, and potential road closures.

What to Pack

When visiting the Golden Circle Iceland, packing right is crucial:

  • Weather-Resistant Clothing: Weather can change quickly. Bring layers, a waterproof jacket, and pants.
  • Sturdy Footwear: You'll be walking on uneven surfaces. Wear comfortable, waterproof boots.
  • Camera and Accessories: To capture the stunning scenery, ensure your camera is ready, and bring extra batteries and memory cards.
  • Sun Protection: Even in cold weather, the sun can be strong. Pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat.
  • Snacks: Some areas might not have many food options.
  • Backpack: To carry your essentials during short hikes and explorations.
  • First Aid Kit: For minor injuries and ailments.
  • Maps and Guidebooks: Have a physical map or downloaded directions, as cell service can be spotty.

Packing right ensures a more comfortable and enjoyable Golden Circle experience.


Start by defining your priorities for the trip. Are you looking for luxury, or are you okay with basic accommodations? This impacts your budget significantly. 

Research the cost of flights, car rentals, and accommodations in advance to find the best deals. Consider staying in guesthouses or hostels if you’re on a tight budget. 

For meals, buying groceries and preparing your own food can save money compared to eating out for every meal. When planning activities, mix paid tours with free attractions like hiking and sightseeing. 

Keep track of your daily spending and make adjustments as needed.  


For a more luxurious stay, there are hotels and resorts offering a range of amenities and stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. 

Guesthouses and B&Bs provide a cozy, more personal experience, often with the opportunity to interact with locals. If you're on a tighter budget, hostels are available, offering basic amenities. 

For those seeking an adventure, camping is also an option during the warmer months, with multiple campsites located near the major attractions. 

Regardless of your choice, ensure your accommodation is centrally located to minimize travel time between sites and book in advance, especially during peak tourist season.


Visiting the Golden Circle Iceland is an incredible opportunity to experience the country’s unique geological features, breathtaking landscapes, and rich history. 

You’ve got different options for travel, from self-driving to guided tours, each with its own advantages. Timing your visit is key; each season offers a different experience.

Make sure to pack accordingly, keeping Iceland’s unpredictable weather in mind. Budgeting carefully will enhance your experience, allowing you to enjoy without financial stress.