Skip to main content

Icelandic Highways & Byways (Part 2)

Continuing on our series on traveling in Iceland, we'll explore the Golden Circle, which is a popular tourist route in Iceland. The Golden Circle is easily accessible from Reykjavik and includes such must-see places like Thingvellir National Park (spelled as Þingvellir in the Icelandic language), Geysir, which yes, is a geyser, and the Gullfoss waterfall.So yes, the Golden Circle includes a little bit of everything that Iceland has to offer. For those of you playing at home, I drove the
Golden Circle in a clockwise fashion with an impromptu diversion towards the end of my loop, which meant that I missed the hydroponic tomato farm, but I discovered a few other neat things, so it all worked out in the end.

The Golden Circle is actually a hodgepodge of different routes and becomes scenic in a hurry. It would be best to have a map or GPS with you, since there aren't really any special signs that say Golden Circle. At least from what I noticed.
I wasn't joking. We haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet.
Getting closer to Thingvellir, or is it Þingvellir?
Let's go check out Þingvellir.
Thingvellir (Þingvellir) is actually situated within the rift valley that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, as the site where the Alþingi or Althing (in English), which is the Icelandic Parliament met between the years 930 and 1798. So as you can tell, there is a lot of history in Thingvellir, both of the geological and political varieties.

Lots of places to take a walk around in Thingvellir, as this Icelandic wayfinding sign indicates.
You can actually hike within the rift valley here. I did that for a while actually.
Or you can see a waterfall. This is Öxarárfoss, or Oxararfoss to the English speaker. It is supposedly a man-made waterfall from the Middle Ages (so Parliament could have good water), but it's neat nonetheless.
Then it becomes this nice little stream.
The scenery at Thingvellir can be quite intoxicating. That is Iceland's largest lake, Lake Thingvallavatn (Þingvallavatn) in the distance.
Rift valley action.
From what I can best tell, this is a distance marker of some sort. I'm not sure if it is meant to be for touring purposes, or if it is a replica of an older marker. This is pointing out that it is 49km to the small village of Skalholt, which we'll come across later in our travels.
Now that we have stretched our legs a bit, let's hop back on the road.
This is on Iceland Route 365, descending into the town of Laugarvatn.
Leaving Laugarvatn on Iceland Route 37. Laugarvatn has a petrol station and a couple of places to pick up food, so a few minutes earlier, that is where my friends and I stopped for lunch...
...and took this infamous picture of me during our lunch stop. Yes, in Iceland, and in Europe in general, Cool Ranch flavored Doritos are known as the Cool American flavoured Doritos. After all, wouldn't you say that the gent in the picture is a cool American? I think that the factory that makes and packages these Doritos is located somewhere in the United Kingdom. I also got to try paprika flavored Bugles during this trip.
Galivanting around the Icelandic countryside.
We're at Geysir! Time to stretch our legs again.
Strokkur, which is one of the most reliable geysers in Iceland. Think of it as the Old Faithful of Iceland.
Strokkur, again. Just wanted to give you an idea of how tall the water erupts from the geyser.
You have a bunch of smaller geysers that don't erupt as faithfully around Geysir.
Back on Iceland Route 35 now (we joined it before we got to Geysir), we're now heading to the Gullfoss waterfall. We also have mention of one of the F-Roads of Iceland, which are seasonal roads around the highlands of Iceland. In order to drive on the F-Roads, you'll need to have a 4x4 vehicle. One of the vehicle rental companies of Iceland, Sadcars, has a guide on how to drive on the F-Roads.
On Iceland Route 35. I just like this picture.
Not sure if this is supposed to be an Iceland Route 35 or Iceland Route F35. The parking lot for Gullfoss is on our right.
A gate for the beginning of Iceland Route F35. This F-Road was still open at the end of September, but the F-Roads are usually closed for the winter around this time.
I'm pretty sure that's a glacier.
Scenic view on the Iceland Route F35 near Gullfoss. The Icelandic Highlands are supposed to have some dramatic scenery, just like the rest of the country. Speaking of dramatic scenery...
Gullfoss is one of Iceland's largest and most powerful waterfalls. I believe that Dettifoss, located in the north of Iceland, is the most powerful waterfall in the country. For being a huge fan of waterfalls, Gullfoss is definitely worth the visit. As I was to find out, Gullfoss was preserved due to the efforts of a local woman who did not want investors to use the waterfall to produce electricity. So instead, we still have this waterfall for all to enjoy.
Some waterfall pictures...
Now back on the road to check out Skalholt and back to Reykjavik.
Iceland has a lot of one lane bridges. On a road that is well traveled, it can pretty clogged in a hurry.
I like country drives such as this scene on Iceland Route 35 going in a southerly direction.
I decided to take Iceland Route 31 on a whim instead of continue on Iceland Route 31 back to the Ring Road and Selfoss. I'm glad I did, because I found Skalholt, which is a neat place to check out and is one of the most historic places in Iceland. There's ruins of an old Icelandic village and a church with a lot of historical artifacts, but unfortunately, the church was closing up shop for the day.





That was our last touristy stop on the Golden Circle Tour. From there, we took an alternative way back to Reykjavik, taking Iceland Routes 31 and 30 back to Iceland Route 1 (the Ring Road!) to Selfoss and then back to Reykjavik. I'm sure going back to Iceland Route 35 would have also been very nice (as it was north of Skalholt), but the alternate route was still rather neat.
The suspension bridge at Laugaras over the Ölfusá. I wasn't able to find a specific name for the bridge other than Laugaras Bridge.
The suspension bridge at Laugaras.
Southeast of Laugaras on Iceland Route 31.
Icelandic horses.
Approaching the end of Iceland Route 31.

I'm not sure if I've ever gotten a smiley face for staying under the speed limit before.

END! Iceland Route 30, at Iceland Route 1. If I make a left, I'll head straight into a slang term. I'll have a Hella good time another day, but now to head back to Reykjavik via Selfoss.
Danish sign style, British Transport font.
Agricultural scenery on Iceland Route 1 approaching Selfoss.
The Selfoss Suspension Bridge on Iceland Route 1. The bridge opened in 1945.
In the United States, this would probably be a traffic light. But in Iceland, they prefer roundabouts.
Climbing the ridge between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and back towards Reykjavik from there.
Still climbing said ridge.
I'm not sure what the blank highway shield is for, maybe a route expansion of some sort. It's at a trumpet intersection between Iceland Route 1 and Iceland Route 39. I took the road that is signed from this exit later during the trip and it is a very surreal drive.
Not much sooner until we get back into Reykjavik and that is where we end for today.

I hope that you enjoyed the second installment of the roads of Iceland. For the third part of the series, we go a little bit north of Reykjavik, around a fjord, to a seaside town and through a tunnel.

Icelandic Highways and Byways Series
Icelandic Highways and Byways (Part 1) - Reykjavik
Icelandic Highways and Byways (Part 2) - Golden Circle

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

North Carolina Continues to Move Forward with Rail

2023 and the first half of 2024 have seen continued growth in North Carolina's passenger rail system.  From increased daily trains from Raleigh to Charlotte, federal funds for studying additional corridors, and receiving a historic grant to begin the construction of high-speed rail between Raleigh and Richmond, the last 18 months have been a flurry of activity at NCDOT's Rail Division.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg. As ridership and routes increase - the engine of North Carolina passenger rail trains will become a more common sight. (Adam Prince) Increased Passenger Train Service: On July 10, 2023, a fourth Piedmont round-trip rail service between Raleigh and Charlotte commenced.  The four Piedmont trains plus the daily Carolinian (to Washington, DC, and New York) bring the total of trains serving the two cities daily to five. The current daily Piedmont and Carolinian schedule between Charlotte and Raleigh (NCDOT) The result was over 641,000 passengers utilized pa

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact, the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine w

US Route 101 in Benbow, Garberville and Redway

The communities of Benbow, Garberville and Redway can all be found along US Route 101 within southern Humboldt County.  The former surface alignment of US Route 101 in Garberville and Redway once crossed the Garberville Bluffs along what is now Redwood Drive via a corridor constructed as part of the Redwood Highway during the 1910s.  US Route 101 through Benbow, Garberville and Redway was modernized by 1935.  US Route 101 would eventually be upgraded to freeway standards in Benbow, Garberville and Redway by extension of the Redwood Freeway during 1966-68.  As the cover photo the original grade of US Route 101 and the Redwood Highway can be seen at the Garberville Bluffs during 1934.  US Route 101 can be seen in the communities of Benbow, Garberville and Redway on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Humboldt County .   The history of US Route 101 in Benbow, Garberville and Redway Benbow, Garberville and Redway lie on the banks of the South Fork Eel River of southern Humboldt County.  D