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8 Stops on the Golden Circle No One Tells You About

The Golden Circle is by far the most popular tourist route in Iceland. With its proximity to Reykjavik, it is an easy way to see some of the popular highlights in Iceland. If you are doing a quick stopover in Iceland or are short on time, the Golden Circle definitely offers some beautiful attractions.

The main attractions on the Circle route are Þingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss. BUT as long as you are driving all the way out there, there are plenty of hidden gems along the route that are definitely worth a stop!

Here is a list of places you should include if you are driving the Golden Circle. For convenience, I have listed these places in geographical “circle” order and included a map at the bottom.

Happy exploring!

Þórufoss

Sometimes there are places I come across that are just an absolute WIN. Þórufoss is one of those places. This will be a slight detour off the regular Golden Circle route, but it is definitely worth the time to stop. Not to mention you will likely be the ONLY person there!

Location: After about 15km on Route 36, turn left onto Route 48. Drive for about 5km and look for a small sign on the right for Þórufoss.
Hours: 24/7
Price: free!

 Thorufoss waterfall - 8 stops on the golden circle that no one tells you about! Explore the best off the beaten path sights that Iceland has to offer. | Life With a View

Laugarvatn Fontana

I know the Blue Lagoon gets all of the credit with the tourists, but Laugarvatn Fontana is a great alternative. What makes this spa experience unique is that it’s located next to a freezing cold lake, so really fun to go back and forth between hot and cold. Plus the scenic view from the pool is what makes this place worth a stop!

Location: Road 37 on the way to Geysir in the town of Laugarvatn
Hours: Open daily June-August 10:00 – 23:00 // 11:00 – 21:00 the rest of the year
Price: Adults 3800 ISK / $33 USD, free for children under 12
Websitehttp://www.fontana.is/en

Efsti-dalur

If you love the sound of ice cream straight from the farm, then this is the stop for you! This place is too adorable, a family run farm turned into an ice cream parlor and restaurant. The ice cream is just as delicious as it looks – I can highly recommend the salted caramel! I’ve also heard their burgers are amazing.There’s also a Bed & Breakfast on the property if you need a place to stay!

Location: 801 Bláskógabyggð // On Route 37, after the split from 365, drive about 12km (you will pass Route 366 on the right). You will see a sign for the farm on the left side of the road.
Hours: May 16th – September 14th 11:00 – 22:00 Daily // September 15th  – May 15th Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 – 20.00, Friday-Saturday: 11:30 – 21:00
Price: depends on how many scoops you get 🙂

Fresh ice cream straight from the farm + 7 MORE stops on the Golden Circle route that no one tells you about! | Life With a View
Brúarfoss Waterfall

This waterfall is out of control beautiful. The contrast of the bright blue water on the black lava is stunning! The only downside to this waterfall is trying to find it!

Location: As you are driving North on road 37 there is an area with summer houses on your left (just past the intersection for road 337). Turn left into the third driveway and drive straight ahead. Drive down the gravel driveway until you come to a split in the road, take the left fork.  Drive for a short distance until you come to a small area on your left to pull off. (When you get out of your vehicle you will be able to hear the falls in the distance.) There is a small walking path that brings you over a small wooden bridge. Walk for about 10 minutes until you arrive at this glorious blue falls.
Hours: 24/7
Price: free!

Faxi Waterfall

I don’t know about you, but I can never see too many waterfalls! Faxi is a little waterfall hidden gem that most people drive right by. We were literally the only ones there! And even though it was pouring down rain, it was still pretty to see!

Location: Road 35 between Geysir and the town of Reykholt (there is a small sign on the left when you are driving South pointing towards the falls)
Hours: 24/7
Price: free!

Friðheimar

Friðheimar is a huge greenhouse that grows tomatoes and cucumbers. Their growing methods are completely sustainable and eco-friendly. This is the ultimate farm-to-table experience, I love the concept of this place!

Do not miss their most popular dish – all you can eat tomato soup served with an assortment of homemade bread. This is not your average tomato soup, this is hands down the most delicious tomato soup I’ve ever tasted! Don’t forget to add fresh basil from the plant on the table. They also have a delicious sounding dessert menu, featuring – you guessed it – tomatoes! For drinks, the Bloody Mary is a classic, but I prefer the Happy Mary – made with gin and green tomatoes!

Location: Road 35 in Reykholt
Hours: 12-16 daily
Price: $1900 / $14.50 ISK for all you can eat amazingly delicious homemade soup and bread
Websitehttp://fridheimar.is/en

*Note: Reservations are REQUIRED! Call (354) 486 8894 or email fridheimar@fridheimar.is to reserve a table.

 

Gamla Laugin

If you’re looking for a natural geothermal pool in the raw Icelandic nature, then Gamla Laugin is for you! Also known as the Secret Lagoon, this pool is kept as natural as possible. The water temperature stays at a toasty 38 Celsius all year long. Changing facilities are available on site.

Location: Road 30 near the town of Flúðir
Hours: 12.00 – 20.00
Price: Adults 2800 ISK / $25 USD, free for children under 16 // towel rental 500 ISK / $4 USD
Websitehttp://www.secretlagoon.is/

Kerið Crater

I think Kerið is one of the most unique things I have seen in Iceland. It’s an old volcanic crater with crystal blue water! The best time to visit would be summer or fall to see the beautiful colors around the crater. (We recently stopped in the winter and it looks completely different.)

Location: Road 35 between the towns of Reykholt and Selfoss. Look for a sign on the left.
Hours: 24/7
Price: 400 ISK / $3 USD

 

To use this map interactively, click the bracket in the top right corner of the map.


Question: Have you been to the Golden Circle? What was your favorite part?

 

 Pin it for later! 8 Stops on the Golden Circle no one tells you about - Iceland - Life With a View (1)

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  • Kelley
    January 13, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    holy smokes I can’t wait to go to like ALL.OF.THESE! Put them on the list! Derek will especially love the tomato soup place, he was obsessed with making fresh tomato/cucumber soup with our harvest last summer! I love all the deets you give at the bottom of every one, but you know what would be helpful for us North Americaners? Conversion to USD for the costs and idk how easy this one is, but a simplified map of the circle to get an idea of where everything is–I had to google both things! Otherwise, all insanely useful! :-* :-*

  • Jeannie
    January 14, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Schamsy, thank you for your input! Because you are one of my favorite people ever I have updated the information that you asked for 😀 LOVE YOU see you soon 🙂 🙂

  • Go Icelaland Car Rental
    February 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    What an informative blog. Thank you very much Jeannie! Faxafoss is definitely off the beaten path, not many going there. We just put together a small piece on driving the regular Golden circle. Hope someone has use of it! Safe travels! http://www.goiceland.com/blog/drive-the-golden-circle-in-your-rental-car/3/

    • Jeannie
      February 11, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Agreed, Faxafoss is so pretty an unique! Thank you for sharing!

  • Elyse
    April 2, 2016 at 12:56 am

    I’m so obsessed with your blog! My fiancé and I are going on our honeymoon in August and this has been SO helpful! Thank you!!

    • Jeannie
      April 5, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Thank you so much, Elyse I am really happy to help! If you have any other questions about planning, just let me know! P.s. awesome choice for your honeymoon you are going to love Iceland 😉

  • Helen
    May 25, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Your blog is awesome! I’m going to be in Iceland in 2 weeks and can’t wait! I’m printing out as much of your information as possible so we get to see as much as we can! We are going to Siglufjörður, and Grundarfjörður ending our trip in Reykjavik.

    • Jeannie
      June 7, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Thank you Helen! What a great itinerary you have planned out, I love North Iceland, much less tourists up there! We just spent a few days up there but I haven’t written about it so let me know if you need any suggestions for things to do 😀

  • Marie
    June 8, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Good day from Quebec, Canada !
    My husband and I are going to be in Reykjavik soon for…only 3 days and we are preparing this Golden Circle tour ourselves and I am wondering if it’s possible to do everything on your list only in one day ? Can’t wait to be there…so looooooong 😉

    • Jeannie
      June 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Absolutely! I recommend starting early, and you have about 22 hours of sunlight right now so you’re good! It will be a long and packed day, but worth it!

  • LIndsay
    June 20, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Don’t forget about the Rye Bread underground bakery at Laugarvatn Fontana! The most delicious and moist rye bread. I’ve tried to recreate it back in Canada, with their recipe, and it is incomparable. Also, you can stay in the old boarding school down the street.

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Lindsay! I’ve never tried this rye bread, now I will have to make a trip out there! Héraðsskólinn hotel is a really cool place, but I have yet to stay there. Thanks for the tips!

  • Lisa
    June 23, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Great blog! We are so excited to come visit in July. Hoping to find Bruarfoss. I see there is a nominal fee to see Kerid crater. Do they take credit cards or do we need cash?

    • Jeannie
      June 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you Lisa! I’m not completely sure if Kerið takes cards, but I would assume so. I’ve never even seen a place in Iceland where only cash was needed. Have a great trip to Iceland!

      • EinarH
        July 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm

        Paid with card at Kerid two days ago, no problem. In fact, we’re now on our 5th day of our (fabolous!) Iceland trip, and has yet to use any cash, anywhere..

        • Jeannie
          August 5, 2016 at 10:41 am

          Ok excellent news. I personally have never had to use cash in Iceland, but it’s good to know for sure. Hope your trip was amazing!

  • Sharon Simonton
    July 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Jeannie!
    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I’ve rented a car so that we can see some of the places when we come to Iceland next week (Yikes!). Can a small non-4WD car be used safely on all of the roads that you mention in this post in mid-July? Love your blog and thrilled to be coming nest week!

    • Jeannie
      July 10, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Sharon! Yes, a non-4wd vehicle will get you to all of these places. Thats one of the best things about the Golden Circle route is that it’s super traveler friendly. Hope you have a great time in Iceland!

  • Caroline
    November 6, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Hi Jeannie!

    Everything on your blog has been SOOO helpful! Thank you so much for sharing!

    My Boyfriend & I will be visiting for the first time in mid January. Coming from NY/NJ area, we get our share of snow but I’ve read mixed things regarding whether to self drive golden circle/south coast vs. tour group. I’ve read about the tips for driving but would be very interested in any suggestions/recommendations you may have. I’m also concerned about the limited daylight hours, is it more time efficient to go on a tour so we don’t waste time potentially getting lost?

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      Hey Caroline, that is such a tough situation! Mid-January is the darkest time of the year, and yes the roads can be really sketchy. However, they can also be fine, it just depends on the day! Outside of Reykjavik the roads aren’t as well maintained so just keep that in mind. If you are nervous at all about driving then it might be worth joining a tour for the South/Golden Circle just for peace of mind. It’s up to you! I wish I could help you more but I don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction 😉

  • Caroline
    November 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I know, it’s a tough call! Thank you for your input (and site) tho!! I’ve found everything from here to the FB group still really valuable!

    • Jeannie
      November 10, 2016 at 7:38 am

      That’s awesome Caroline! Happy to be able to help 🙂

  • Lauren
    December 26, 2016 at 3:43 am

    Hi. I am taking my boyfriend at the end of March for his birthday and wondered what the roads are typically like. Is it usually still cold and icy then, I’m a bit concerned about hiring as car if there is a high possibility of this. Thanks

    • Jeannie
      January 3, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Hey Lauren! End of March can still be snowy/icy but it depends on where you are planning on going. The main routes (Golden Circle, South Iceland) will be maintained to take a rental car. If you are still nervous I would suggest a 4wd. Have a great time!

  • Laura Ross
    January 13, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this blog! My husband and I are going to Iceland for a week February/March…We have very little officially scheduled and your ideas are getting me SO EXCITED! I want to see it ALL! I already know that we are going to have to go back! 😀 We have rented a 4WD and hopefully will be able to get around ok… Thank you again!!

    • Jeannie
      January 20, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      YAY Laura, I’m happy to help! Sounds like an awesome trip you have planned, it will be great!

  • Ruth
    February 4, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Jeannie, I found your blog thru Pinterest and it has all the information I need to plan my trip to Iceland (hoorah for that!). I wonder if the places you highlighted in here can be visited using a regular car (not a 4 X 4). I am interested in stopping by Brúarfoss but not sure if I will be able to do it with a small rental. Thanks!

    • Jeannie
      February 6, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Hey Ruth! SO glad you found me and the blog is helpful for your planning! Yes, all of these places will be accessible with a 2wd vehicle. Bruarfoss is challenging to get to, just take your time! Have a great trip 🙂

  • TheGreenPick
    February 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Secret Lagoon is indeed a top spot and we definetely recommend it!

    • Jeannie
      February 23, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Yes, agreed! A great hot spring to relax in 🙂

  • Laura Ross
    February 12, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    TheGreenpick – is it worth more than one visit? It’s part of a tour we are taking on our last day, but out hotel is 2 minutes away so considering going another time…thoughts?

    • Jeannie
      February 23, 2017 at 9:48 am

      I know it’s best to go either when they first open or last thing in the evening since during they day the buses are bringing a lot of people!

  • Justine
    March 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I have just found this post & it’s perfect timing as we’ll be staying in the Golden Circle in a few days. Will definitely head to a few of these!!

  • Dad
    March 26, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve seen most of them and everyone is worth the stop.

    • Jeannie
      March 29, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Yes you have seen more of Iceland than most people! Especially all the WATERFALLS 😉

  • Gabriella Terrana
    April 7, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Hi Jeannie! Your posts are amazing and have been helping me so much plan my trip to Iceland! My boyfriend and I will be visiting at the end of the month for 7 days and I was wondering if its possible to do both the Ring Road and The Golden Circle? Is it doable or do you think its too much? Theres so much to see in so little time!

    • Jeannie
      April 24, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Thanks so much, glad the blog is so helpful for you! It is doable to do both, but you will have to travel fast 🙂