When you talk about (or google) Iceland, it is impossible to avoid mention of the spectacular scenery. Photo overload ahead.
With limited time in the country, we optimized for time and chose a one-day roadtrip on the Golden Circle. The route promised a range of landscapes and destinations, but we never could have anticipated the beauty we found.
We began our day after a breakfast of seeded bread and meats at Kex. We may have packed a few extra sandwiches in our bag… it was delicious! Without a single wrong turn, we managed to make our way to the 36 in our newly rented car and head out of town. First stop: Þingvellir (‘Thingvellir’)!
We decided to head clockwise, which meant that Þingvellir was our first destination. Less than an hour out, this gorgeous national park has rock fields and gorgeous landscapes (something we learned to expect after only a few short days in Iceland… this country is not short on scenery).
Farther along in Þingvellir, we made a stop at Öxarárfoss, a semi hidden waterfall. It was a welcome excuse to get out of the car, and afterwards we played in a field. I tried to make friends with the sheep, but they weren’t having me.
So we moved along. En route to our next destination, we happened upon what I can only describe as a Wes Anderson coffee shop.
It was massive, and filled with the oddest antiques inside. So kitschy and wonderful.
Caffeinated and ready for our next adventure, we continued on. But before we could make it to the second major stop of the tour (the geysers), we had our first encounter with Icelandic horses.
If it wasn’t apparent, we were taking a pretty leisurely approach to this whole driving tour thing. We had started fairly late in the morning, too, so the temperatures had begun to chill a bit by the time we reached the geysers.
How chilled? Let’s just say the 100° C started to look tempting…
I had a light bomber jacket on (similar), which I loved but probably could have been a bit warmer…
After the geyser came the third major attraction, and probably my favorite stop of the entire route: Gullfoss!
Though it’s nearly impossible to get lost on the Golden Circle, we somehow took a wrong turn out of Gullfoss and ended up on the moon.
We figured out we were going the wrong way when we started to see signs indicating that only vehicles with 4×4 were allowed… and then the road ended. Oops.
Luckily, we weren’t too far out of the way, so we turned around and headed home towards Reykjavik, with a chance to admire a few more sheep on our way.
As the sun set, we continued to marvel at how beautiful of a place that Iceland was – how incredible that we had been able to see so many different landscapes in a single day.
I’m so glad we decided to drive the Golden Circle rather than to take a tour – I would absolutely recommend doing that so you have the ability to stop whenever you’d like. There’s just so much to see! We could have driven for days…. I only wish I had more time to explore this gorgeous country.