The Golden Circle is one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions. Easily accessible as a day trip from Reykjavik, it offers a taste of some of the truly incredible natural wonders the country has to offer. Encompassing three separate attractions, Þingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss, this well-trafficked area combines spectacular scenery, Icelandic history, and a chance to see geothermal action up close. Visiting the Golden Circle in winter not only helps avoid the crowds, but the snow-cover also lends an additional layer of beauty to already gorgeous landscapes.
Þingvellir National Park
When heading northeast from Reykjavik, Þingvellir National Park is the first place you’ll pass on your Golden Circle route. Steeped in both human and geologic history, this was my favorite stop. The broad rift valley central to the park is the result of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates separating. Ever so slowly, the two continental plates are pulling apart, widening this rift. Adventurous visitors can even scuba dive in the rift, though I didn’t get to try that on my visit.