The Magic of Iceland: Touring the Golden Circle

This is the second story in our series on the Magic of Iceland.

strokkur geysir

Strokkur Geysir is a popular tourist destination on the Golden Circle

LUCK AND THE SUN was shining down upon us, I thought to myself, as Nora and I walked down a fence-lined path to get closer to majestic Gullfoss, the waterfall which is one of the main spectacles on Iceland’s famed Golden Circle.

We had arrived in Reykjavík the previous morning. Our plan was to spend the first two nights there before venturing off on an 8-day, self-driving tour of Iceland, much of it on the 800-mile long, two-laned Ring Road that circles the country.

It meant we had a free second day in Iceland to do whatever we wanted, and we treated ourselves to a relaxing and awe-inspiring day tour of one of Iceland’s most popular attractions on what turned out to be one of the most beautiful afternoons of our 11-day expedition.

As if we needed an added bonus, a spectacular rainbow had formed, stretching several hundred feet across the Hvita River which feeds into Gullfoss. The scene had a surreal nature as I snapped some photographs from in front of the falls, with the rainbow appearing to provide a path for some of the hundreds of visitors.



A rainbow hovering over Gullfoss, a stunning, two-tiered waterfall on Iceland’s Golden Circle


It was our “Welcome to Iceland” moment!

The Golden Circle had already lived up to its grand hype. The walking tour of Pingvellir National Park provided the revelation that we were walking INSIDE the volcanic seams where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates collide. Anywhere else on earth the seams that shove continents apart sit at the bottom of the sea and are called mid-ocean ridges. But at Pingvellir they sit at the surface and it is possible for someone to have one foot on the North American plate and their other foot on the Eurasian plate.

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The colliding tectonic plates at Pingvellir

Awesome stuff!

For the first time I started to realize how many different languages were being spoken within earshot. First I heard a man speaking German. Another family was speaking Spanish with what appeared to be a South American dialect. Then as Nora and I were trying to figure out how to take a picture of both of us with Gullfoss as the backdrop, we heard an English accent we had heard many times before. Yes, it was an American from Boston. Amazing! The kind woman took a great picture of us that will last a lifetime.

The day continued as we made our way to the site of the Strokkur Geysir, home of numerous pots of geothermal activities. Along the horizon interacting with a rock line was a long white streak which was identified as Langjokull glacier, which is where the Hvita River — which becomes Gullfoss — originates.

Although this was day 2 of our stay, in many ways our Icelandic journey was just beginning. We were getting a great preview of the many sights and sounds yet to come. As quaint and beautiful as Reykjavik was, the raw Iceland we were going to drive headlong into was a totally different ballgame.

The game was on!


Gullfoss translates as “Golden Falls”

Check out the entire Magic of Iceland series right here (Click on each link):

Part 1-Overview, Part 2-The Golden Circle, Part 3-LatrabjargPart 4-Midnight Sun DrivePart 5-Westfjords and IsafjordurPart 6-Fire and the MountainsPart 7-Date Night at HverfellPart 8-Surreal SaturdayPart 9-Beyond Fire and IcePart 10Taking the 939Part 11-Lost in SkaftafellPart 12-F208 DilemmaPart 13-Volcanic HighlandsPart 14-Homestretch to Remember

More Magic of Iceland:  1. Jokulsarlon – Glacier Lagoon,  2. Kirkjubaejarklaustur,


Langjokull glacier, as seen from Gullfoss




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