Iceland is a nordic island nation that may seem like a world away, but in reality, a 4.5 hour flight (from Boston) is the only thing that stands between you and the land of fire and ice. There is something truly magical about this place. The sight of black volcanic rock covered by vegetation, waterfalls around every corner and constant geothermal activity, make Iceland one of the most unique countries in the world.
One of the most popular day trips from the capital city of Reykjavik is the Golden Circle. Unfortunately, the name Golden Circle is a marketing term that has no roots in Icelandic history. And, it’s not even a circle. Oh well! Although there isn’t actually anything “golden” about the golden circle, its attractions are right on point. Here are some of the main stops on the famous Golden Circle:
Gullfoss is a waterfall located in southwestern Iceland and is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. The wide river rushes southward, and about a 1/2 mile above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step “staircase” and then abruptly plunges in two stages into a crevice 105 ft deep. As one first approaches the falls, the edge is obscured from view, so that it appears that the river simply vanishes into the earth.
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance. It lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The rift runs through the country from southwest to northeast, where the plates are heading in different directions. So although Iceland is geographically and culturally part of Europe, half of it lies on the American plate, and is moving westwards at an estimated 1-2 cm a year.
Geysir Hot Spring Area of Haukadalur
Picture a field of bubbling holes with an occasional explosion. That’s what you get with a visit to the Geysir Hot Spring area. This is a geothermal hot zone. Strokker is the main event and is currently the most energetic spouting spring in Iceland. It spouts every few minutes, sometimes to a height of 130 ft, yet generally less than 32-65 ft.
Mind = Blown.