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Iceland in 5 Days: The Golden Circle

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From Reykjavik, we headed out on the Golden Circle drive. I don’t know why it’s called the Golden Circle but it makes a perfect circle (more like a big oval loop) taking you out of Reykjavik to central Iceland and then back again. It’s one of the most popular trails in Iceland and pretty much everyone that visits will go. However, the cool thing about Iceland is that even though thousands of people do this circle, you will hardly be able to tell. There was not a single point where I was like, “man, there’s a lot of people.” It was all so desolate and sparse. Maybe it was the time of year we were there (early June) but in either case, it was an extremely scenic drive and we easily spent 6-7 hours on this trip. We couldn’t help but stop almost every mile on the journey. The scenery changes so fast. One minute you’ll be seeing mountains and the next you’ll be seeing flat lands or a huge lake.

Gas up before you leave Reykjavik so you have a full tank. We only used a quarter of tank the entire trip because the roads are so open and there’s no stopping and going. Just a road at high speed. It really saves on fuel!

Here was our plan on the Golden Circle drive:

  • Leave Reykjavik and drive to Þingvellir National Park.
  • From Þingvellir National Park continue onto Geysir, Gullfoss, and Kerið.
  • On our way to Kerið, we stopped at Friðheimar Farm for lunch. Want farm to table? This is it.
  • From Kerið drive back to Reykjavik off the beaten path via Nesjavallaleið. (This is an alternative route that you can skip if you are there in the winter time or if road conditions aren’t good. Just head back to Reykjavik after Kerið.)
    • You’ll see below why we chose to go off the beaten path and drive through Nesjavallaleið. It was like we were dropped on another planet and it was completely unworldly and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. To do this, though, from Kerið, you would keep going on road 35 until you see a sign for road 36. Turn onto that then drive it until you see road 360. Then 360 connects to 435 which turns into 431 which eventually turns into 1 and that will take you back into Reykjavik.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park is huge. We did miles and miles of walking so get your tennies on! You’re literally walking between a canyon that was formed between two tectonic plates, which is a visual representation of continental drift of Europe. There was so much to see and I’m telling ya guys…Iceland makes you appreciate the beauty of nature SO much. Everything here is for your eyes to feast on. It wasn’t a food trip for us this time, it was strictly a nature trip for us and food came second (!!).

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Geysir

After Þingvellir National Park we continued our drive up to Geysir to see well, the Geysir hot spring! We stopped along the way up to capture some of the views. Isn’t this just crazy what you see on just a drive up somewhere? Iceland is magical.

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Here is Geysir!

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⬇ (PRESS PLAY below!!! Or just click in the middle of the image) ⬇

A video posted by julie wampler || table for two (@tablefortwoblog) on

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Gullfoss Waterfall

Next up, we headed to Gullfoss Waterfall. It’s a pretty incredible sight. There’s a path that you can walk on that takes you RIGHT next/on top of it. It was freezing the day we went and super windy so we didn’t do that. We would’ve gotten so sick from being wet and cold. I still thought it was beautiful regardless of how close or far we got!

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Friðheimar Farm

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This is a family-owned farm and they harvest their own tomatoes and cucumbers. You can get a tour of the greenhouses and how they cultivate their tomatoes. You actually dine in the greenhouse and each table has a basil plant with shears on it so you can cut your own basil to put in your tomato soup! They have fresh bread that you slice yourself to dip with the tomato soup that you order. We got there RIGHT when they closed and they felt really bad that we couldn’t sit down to eat (kitchen closed) but they offered us tomato soup to go in a cup and as much bread as we wanted.

This was the freshest tomato soup I’ve ever had and it was so glorious to have because of how cold that day was in Iceland.

Kerið

After we filled up on tomato soup, next up was Kerið. It’s a volcanic crater lake. They recently started charging for this. I think it was 200ISK per person. It’s said that Kerið was likely a cone volcano that erupted and emptied out its magma. Once the magma was depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed and it created this crater.

When we were here, my legs felt like jello. It’s so high up and so deep down. And it was SUUUUPER windy. Oh my goodness. It was ridiculous. I felt like I was going to be blown right into this crater! On a clear sunny day, the blues of the water really pop. If we had come the day after, I would’ve been able to capture that. We, unfortunately, came on a cloudy day.

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Nesjavallaleið

Okay, this is where we drove back to Reykjavik off the beaten path, as mentioned above. All these photos are from the drive. We were the only ones on it and I definitely don’t recommend driving this in the winter. The roads aren’t well-maintained in the winter and we could totally see how you could literally just fall off the cliff. It’s really windy and tight in certain parts. I was getting SO nervous because it was windy and rainy but we were completely fine.

As I mentioned, this road is completely unworldly. One minute you’ll be seeing mountains, the next it’s like a barren field of moss and rocks.

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THIS photo below freaks me out. Doesn’t it look like you’re on another planet? It totally looks like something out of a movie. What you would see if your spaceship crashed.

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When we got back to Reykjavik, we walked from our studio to Ostabudin. This restaurant was recommended to me by a Snapchat friend who lives in Iceland. It was one of the best meals we had in Iceland and I highly recommend you going if you’re ever in downtown Reykjavik!! It’s a teeny tiny place so I would definitely make reservations. We showed up at 8pm on a Tuesday and they were packed, but we only had to wait 10 minutes for a table. I’m sure if it were closer to the weekend, it would’ve been far longer.

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We ordered fried camembert cheese (OMG THIS WAS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD), whale, salted cod, ocean catfish & pork belly, and we each ordered Skyr mousse. We didn’t have a bad bite at this place. The salted cod was the best cod I’ve ever tasted and the pork belly, we both agreed, was the best pork belly we’ve ever had. The Skyr mousse was so good too. I loved that it was dessert. It didn’t feel as heavy as typical American desserts.

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One thing I’m going to insist that you try in Iceland is their Skyr. Yes, you’ve probably had Siggi’s in the states and I’m going to say Siggi’s is NOTHING compared to the real Icelandic Skyr. I don’t care how they market it to be “authentic” Icelandic Skyr because it’s not. I had Siggi’s once in the states and couldn’t finish it because it tasted so bad. I was skeptical about trying Icelandic Skyr when we got to Iceland because of my bad impression from Siggi’s. They always say you have to try something where it’s originated so I gave it a shot. Um, best thing ever. We had Skyr every morning and it’s the creamiest and perfectly thick yogurt ever. I feel like Siggi’s is only popular because they’re good at marketing. #mytwocents

For more on the Iceland in 5 days series, click here!

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Posted on June 14, 2016

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  1. Beth
    06/14/2016 at 5:06 pm

    You ate whale??! I didn’t think people did that. Just making sure that wasn’t a typo….

    • Julie
      06/14/2016 at 9:40 pm

      Yup, whale! Iceland harvests a certain amount every year.

  2. helen-ann
    06/15/2016 at 1:18 pm

    so enjoyed your tour. we are going to iceland in late july. we are mostly doing southern part with a tour group, however, will have 2 days in Reykjavik by ourselves. will definitely make a reservation at the ostabudin restaurant and have skyr. can you recommend things to do and see in Reykjavik?

    thanks

  3. Lisa
    06/15/2016 at 4:02 pm

    I love reading about your vacations! Also, I am not sure if it is just me but there is a tool bar on the right side of the page that blocks the words on the page. It has a Pinterest, Yum, twitter, FB, google +, etc toggles. I have to scroll down and read from the bottle of the page to see anything! Just thought you may want to know!

    • Lisa
      06/15/2016 at 5:55 pm

      Wait, now its fixed now! its on the top

      • Julie
        06/15/2016 at 6:13 pm

        Haha I saw your comment and didn’t have the chance to respond before I changed it. Thank you for noticing and letting me know :) I’m glad you’re enjoying reading about our trips! <3

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