A show-stoppingly scenic sightseeing route that incorporates geysers, geothermal lagoons, waterfalls and craters, the Golden Circle is Iceland at its otherworldly best.
In this circular sightseeing route, Mother Nature is in full-blown show-off mode, with every turn revealing yet another jaw-dropping landscape. There are three major sites located along the route, the first being the UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, the meeting place of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and the location of the world’s first democratic parliament, founded by – surprisingly enough given their reputation for marauding – the Vikings in A.D. 930. The second major sight is Geysir, the hot water spring after which all other hot water springs are named, while the third is the majestic Gullfoss waterfall and its iconic twin cascades.
Hike across the moss-carpeted lava fields of Thingvellir National Park
See the tiny, cabin-like Hofskirkja Church, whose turf roof sprouts grass in summer
Swim between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates at Silfra
Watch as the Strokkur geyser spits scalding water up as high as 98 feet into the air
Soak in the rock-edged, geothermal pools of the Secret Lagoon
The boutique Sandhotel occupies a series of art deco townhouses on the bar and shop-lined street of Laugavegur in Reykjavik’s city center. The stylish suites, decorated in a palette of cool blues and grays, exude understated Nordic style. Keep a nose out for the tempting scent of freshly-baked sourdough and scrumptious pastries; the smell wafts up from the beloved Sandholt bakery, which occupies a nearby ground-floor premise.
The tongue-twistingly named Grillmarkaðurinn (aka Grillmarket in English), specializes in locally sourced meats cooked over blistering hot coals. The menu includes the likes of minke whale, puffin and langoustine burgers, reindeer and horse steaks, as well as more familiar proteins like rib eye, lamb and salmon – all cooked to perfection.
Take off from Reykjavik for a breath-stealing airborne adventure over Iceland’s epic landscapes, stopping at an elevated summit to raise a glass of bubbly.