Golden Circle - Day Tour

Tour description:

- leave Reykjavík driving ring road no. 1 heading north (!), passing the small town Mosfellsbær

- just after Mosfellsbær turn right on to road no. 36 to Þingvellir


Þingvellir National Park

- most important place in Icelandic history, national park since 1928

- situated on the banks of lake Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland (84 km²)

- The historical Icelandic parliament (Alþingi) was founded here in the year 930. It was the biggest annual event for Icelandic farmers. They came together for two weeks every summer to meet each other and to follow the parliament sessions. At this site, Icelanders voted to become Christians in the year 1000.

- Þingvellir is a large lava field, situated right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the European and North American plates are moving apart.

- service station and tourist information during summer

- excellent multimedia-exhibition on geology, wild life and history near the view point above the gorge Almannagjá

- many hiking trails, information spots

- leave Þingvellir along the lake Þingvallavatn (road no. 361 or 36), turn left onto road no. 365, heading for Laugarvatn, very interesting landscape

- Be careful on gravel roads!


Laugarvatn

- lake with geothermal heat on the banks and the bottom

- When the Icelanders in the year 1000 voted to become Christians many of them were baptized in the warm water near the hot springs of Laugarvatn (Vígðalaug).

- village with a number of schools, a College of Physical Education, sport grounds, a natural steam bath and greenhouses

- drive road no. 37 and road no. 35 to reach the Geysir area

Geysir

- hot spring area in the valley Haukadalur, named after the famous hot spring Geysir

- eruptions of Geysir itself are unpredictable, but the hot spring Strokkur erupts every 5 to 10 minutes

- be careful,the water is up to 100ºC, stay on the footpathes

- restaurant, cafeteria and gas service station, souvenir shop etc.

- interesting multi-media exhibition on the geology of this area called Geysisstofa

- continue on road no. 35 to reach Gullfoss


Gullfoss

- famous and very impressive waterfall in the river Hvítá, the name means Golden Waterfall

- The water falls into a gorge, which is 70 m deep. The waterfall itself is 32 m high and 250 m wide, falling in two cascades.

- exhibition on the nature reserve of river Hvítá situated in an information center called Sigríðarstofa

- cafeteria, souvenir shop etc. just beside Sigríðarstofa

- parking recommended “upstairs” on the parking lot at the service center

- turn back on road no. 35, passing Geysir and heading south

- to visit Skálholt turn left onto road no. 31


Skálholt

- former most important religious and educational center, bishopric founded 1056

- 1784 it was destroyed by an earthquake and the bishopric was moved to Reykjavík

- Many historical events are connected to Skálholt, in 1550 the last catholic bishop of Iceland, Jón Arason, was beheaded here, today there is a memorial stone in memory of bishop Arason.

- interesting modern memorial church, built in the 1950’s with a remarkable tapestry-like mosaic by artist Nína Tryggvadóttir and fascinating stained-glass windows by artist Gerður Helgadóttir

- ongoing archeological excavations

- cafeteria in the nearby school, facilities

- turn back onto road no. 35, turn left, continue on road no. 35


Kerið

- volcanic crater not far from road no. 1 (left side)

- 55 m deep, lake in the bottom 14 m deep

- walking path around the crater

- information board

- no facilities

- continue on road no. 35 until you reach ring road no. 1, turn right

- continue on road no. 1, passing Hveragerði town

Hellisheiði

- highland plateau to the south of the mountain Hengill, separates the Greater Reykjavik area from the south coast of Iceland

- 374 m above sea level, often bad weather conditions

- covered by lava fields and typical Icelandic moss vegetation

- you will see many signs of a geothermal power plant

- it is really worth a visit to the power plant Hellisheiðarvirkjun (situated to the right of road no. 1, follow the signs)

Hellisheiðarvirkjun

- new geothermal power plant on Hellisheiði in the mountain ridge Hengill

- very interesting visitor centre with a lot of multi-media information, friendly staff and a small coffee bar

- for further information see here

- get back onto road no. 1, continue on road no. 1 to reach Reykjavík

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Highlights:

Þingvellir National Park, Geysir hot spring area, Gullfoss waterfall, Skálholt church and former bishopric, Kerið volcanic crater, Hellisheiðarvirkjun geothermal power plant

Total distance: approx. 240 km

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