4 amazing detours from the Golden Circle

Of course my dad and I visited the 3 classical highlights on the Golden Circle in Iceland: Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. Secretly, we liked the detours more than the classic stops. Don’t you want to bathe in a geothermal river, stroll around a colorful volcanic crater and enjoy picturesque waterfalls without the crowds?


1. Bruarfoss waterfall

Bruarfoss waterfall - Detour Golden Circle


We have seen many waterfalls in Iceland, but my dad and I agreed that Bruarfoss is one of our favorites. The shades of blue in the waterfall is really breathtaking. We decided to picnic here so we could view the gorgeous turquoise water cascades of Bruarfoss a little longer. The only disadvantage? The fall is quite difficult to find…

Drive 15 km in southern direction from Geysir on route 37. Turn right on the gravel road just before the intersection with road 337. Take the left side of the Y-fork. Follow this path for some minutes and then turn left again. You will now see a parking. Don’t expect much, there is only place for about 5 cars. At your left side, you will find a small hiking path that will bring you in 10 minutes to the fall.


2. Reykjadalur hot springs

Reykjadalur hot springs - Detour Golden Circle


Already from the parking, I saw steam escaping from the soil and I directly fell in love with the area and its stunning setting. Along the hike to the hot springs, we encountered a waterfall, more fumaroles which emitted steam and gases and many other beautiful photo stops. We used the basic dressing rooms to jump in our bathing suit and bathe for more than 30 minutes in the warm water. The hardest part is getting out of the ‘mini-Blue Lagoon’ as the wind made the air temperature of 5 degrees Celsius feel even colder. I literally run to the dressings rooms and rubbed my body warm as quickly as possible.



The Reykjadalur hot springs are about 17 km west from Selfoss and 40 km east of Reykjavik. Drive to the town of Hveragerði from where you can follow the signs ‘Reykjadalur’ and after a few kilometers driving in northern direction you will arrive at the parking. Take your time to explore the area. The springs are 3 km from the parking. The trail is not technically demanding but it is steep and will take you about an hour.


3. Kerið crater

Kerið crater - Detour Golden Circle


Do you want to see a marvelous lake with bright blue water and a rugged volcanic crater? Then the Kerið crater is definitely for you! From the information panel we learnt that the crater was formed approximately 6,500 years ago due to a collapse of the empty magma chamber after eruption. We took the time to walk around the rim and observed that the stunning steep red volcanic rocks are dotted with green mosses. A short path brought us to edge of the lake which offers a unique perspective of the crater.



The crater is located on route 35, about 15 km north from Selfoss. The entrance fee is 400 ISK (€1 = 110 ISK at the time of writing).


4. Faxi waterfall

Faxi waterfall on golden circle in Iceland


The Faxi waterfall, also referred to as Vatnsleysufoss on some maps, drops only 7 m down but is more than 90 m wide. I can imagine why this waterfall is ignored as Gullfoss, which is almost double as wide and which tallest drop is three times as high, is so nearby. But how close can you get with other falls on the Golden Circle? Make some time to cross the adjacent fish ladder to approach the waterfall and feel its spray. The time we visited, there were barely other tourists here. Surrounded by natural sounds only, I felt a personal connection with this fall.

Faxi waterfall - Golden circle in Iceland


You find the waterfall on route 35, about 35 km north from the Kerið crater. If coming from the other direction, Faxi waterfall is situated about 10 km south from Geysir geothermal area or 6 km south from the intersection of route 35 and 37.


Looking for an extra unusual activity on the Golden Circle? Why not snorkel in Þingvellir National Park?


What did you like the most on the Golden Circle?


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Iceland travel tips and road trips. Exploring the classical Golden Circle with 4 extra amazing detours.

13 Replies to “4 amazing detours from the Golden Circle”

  1. I really want to visit Iceland one day, it seems like such a beautiful country! Bruarfoss waterfall looks so amazing, I can totally understand that it is one of your favourites, great post! 🙂

  2. Iceland just looks so incredible! I have pinned this for future reference as I hope to go there one day and I much prefer quieter and less touristy spots!

  3. Love love love good writing. You made this fun, breathtaking, and exciting while still educating us about each detour. Now I’m all extra excited to add these to my travel list for Iceland. 🙂 And your photos kept making me think of Lord of the Rings. Or Game of Thrones.

    1. Siarra, I am happy you like my writing style. Good to know especially as I am sometimes worried about my English as I am not a native speaker…

    1. Hi Leigh, there are plenty of options to go camping in every town. Camping spots cost 1,600 ISK per person. Some campings are basic, others have all the comfort you need 😉

  4. Iceland looks gorgeous! Thanks a ton for these tips, I’ve heard of the Golden Circle before but these look like great side trips (especially Bruarfoss waterfall!!)

  5. I agree that sometimes the off the beaten path places are better than the “must see/do” things. Iceland has been a hotspot lately, and I’d love to explore some of these gems.

  6. I really want to go to Iceland and this post has made me want to go even more! Everything looks incredible – the bright blue waterfall, the crater. So much to see!

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