Golden Circle travel guide
Diving in Iceland is cold, very cold. You will need to squeeze yourself into a drysuit, but you don’t need to have any previous experience of this, and many operators offer introductory drysuit courses – these are not always necessary, but highly recommended for less experienced divers. The rewards of getting under the surface are some absolutely unforgettable underwater experiences. At the top of most divers’ list is Silfra, in Thingvellir Lake. Why? First of all, you get to dive between the North American and Eurasian continental plates – you can literally touch them both as you swim through the crack between them! Also, the water here is some of the clearest in the world: 100m+ visibility, and the water is clean enough to drink. Finally, the underwater scenery at Silfra is mesmerizingly beautiful. There is very little animal life here, but it hardly seems to matter. Snorkelling is also possible here, but keep in mind that you will still need to wear a drysuit.
A wide, but not so tall, waterfall which breaks off a grassland dotted with summer houses. There is a picnic area and a cafe right in front it, so it makes a nice stop on the Golden Circle on the way back.
Somewhat misleading, the main attraction at Geysir is not actually Geysir, but Strokkur. Both are of course geysers, derived from the Old Norse 'geysa', meaning 'to gush'. While Geysir is very irregular and much smaller than it once was, Strokkur erupts like somewhat unreliable clockwork (every 4-8 minutes or so) to an impressive height of almost 20 m. And there is no way to adequately describe how cool it is to see a geyser erupt from just a few metres away. It’s worth walking around the Geysir area for different views of the erupting Strokkur and bubbling, boiling water in various other holes and crevices. Geysir is one of the busiest tourist sites in Iceland, and part of the Golden Circle tourist route, so expect big crowds throughout summer. Visiting during the light summer nights is a great alternative for anyone wishing to experience this wonder of nature without the throngs of other visitors, although you would have to do without the souvenir shops and restaurants. Crowds or not, though, this is one attraction you simply cannot miss!
The beautiful Golden Falls are different from most other waterfalls in Iceland, consisting of a two-step plunge into a narrow crevice. From the distance it simply looks as though the water is swallowed up by the ground. However, a closer inspection will reveal that it "only" falls 32 meters into the crevice. The wateralls are a part of the Golden Circle - Iceland’s most popular tourist trail, which also include Geysir and Pingvellir - and can be very busy during high season. There are several viewing platforms, and to properly appreciate the majesty of Gullfoss it is worth going to all of them as well as following the path down to the water.
This volcanic crater is "just" about 3000 years old and made out of red volcanic rock (rather then black). It measures 270 m across and is about 55 m deep. It possible to walk all the way around the rim, as well as descend to the vivid blue lake at the bottom. The Kerið Volcanic Crater is an obvious stop on the Golden Circle.
Þingvellir National Park is an UNESCO Heritage Site. It was here in 930 AD the world's first democratic parliament was established. Maybe contrary to many's belief, the Icelandic Vikings society was fairly advanced - at least when it came to democracy and justice. They had written laws which stated what has to be done to whom, when such and such crime was committed. At the annual assembly at Þingvellir, when people from all over Iceland would gather, these laws were recited at the Law Rock, maybe new were passed by the cheifmen, and disputes were settled. Every issue affecting Iceland were discussed on this site. Today, there are of course nothing left from the Viking age, besides the spectacular natural setting right at the rift valley created by the separation of the Northamerican and Euroasien tectonic plates, but that will also do.