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Price & Hours

Free

Details

Natural Wonders, Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The Golden Circle is a very popular, 190-mile-long tourist route that runs by Thingvellir National Park; the 105-foot dual cascading waterfall Gullfoss (Golden Falls); and the geothermal Haukadalur valley's Strokkur, a geyser that gushes water 60 to 100 feet into the air every five minutes; among other attractions.

According to recent visitors, the Golden Circle, which sits in South Iceland about 25 miles away from Reykjavik, is a can't-miss part of Iceland, even on a rainy day. But public transportation does not travel to the region, so plan on hiring a car or joining an organized tour. Past travelers recommend companies like Gray Line Iceland and Reykjavik Excursions.

The Golden Circle is free to visit 24 hours a day, but select sights (like Kerid, a volcanic crater) charge an entrance fee. If you decide to sign up for a guided tour, expect to pay at least 8,516 Icelandic króna ($82) per person. Complimentary parking is provided at all attractions; most also have restrooms, gift shops and quick-service eateries. Check out Visit South Iceland's website to find out more about the Golden Circle's natural wonders.

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#1 Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

The aurora borealis (or northern lights) can be an almost eerie sight: Picture emerald green swirls coloring the otherwise darkened sky. But scientists have a boring explanation for this phenomenal natural light show – "collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth's atmosphere," according to the Northern Lights Centre. Still, it's a pretty breathtaking sight, and if you're visiting Reykjavik in winter, you might want to stake out some time for northern lights gazing.

Although you can see the lights from Reykjavik, you'll increase your chances of viewing them outside of the city. Previous travelers recommend taking a tour with local companies like BusTravel Iceland or Reykjavik Excursions. (But keep in mind that the aurora borealis requires a perfect cocktail of climate conditions in order to show – so you're not guaranteed to see the elusive display of lights even if you book a tour.) If you'd rather hunt for this natural phenomenon on your own, time your visit between September and mid-April.

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