The Golden Circle is a classic tour to take if you’re coming to Iceland for the first time.
Accessible and beautiful.
However, you’re still in Iceland!
And in order to enjoy our little island to the fullest, you need to be prepared!
In this post, I’ll go over;
- What you’ll do in the Golden Circle
- What outdoor equipment you’ll need in the winter
- What outdoor equipment you’ll need in the summer
- Some other things to be aware of
So let’s jump into it!
What outdoor equipment do you need for the golden circle?
I’ve lived in Iceland my entire life and even I underestimate the weather at times.
But I’m not going to allow you to do the same!
Let’s start with a quick overview of the Golden Circle.
You’ll go to three places.
A gorgeous national park.
A very active geothermal area where you can find Strokkur, the geyser where the water spews out.
A large waterfall. You can get very close to it!
The Golden Circle is very accessible and close to the city of Reykjavík.
You can complete the entire circle in about 4-5 hours if you’re in no hurry.
However, it can get very cold and if you’re not prepared, you might end up spending too much time inside the car or bus instead of out exploring the beautiful nature!
So let’s get into what outdoor equipment you should wear to get the most out of the Golden circle!
What to wear for the Golden Circle in winter
Let’s start with the winter.
In winter it’s cold and windy (Duh!)
And your clothes should deflect the wind and protect you from rain.
You want thick socks for winter.
Preferably ones that dry quickly.
Merino wool socks.
or just regular thick socks
You don’t want to wear thin socks.
If you get wet or if it’s very cold outside, you don’t want to have cold feet. That is an easy way to have a bad time and spend less time outside!
Which is not what we want.
This leads me to…
Continuing on with the feet, a good pair of hiking boots is crucial.
Since the countryside will be either, wet, muddy, frozen, or covered in snow, you want water-resistant shoes with grip.
If you’re able to get close to Gullfoss then you’ll get absolutely soaked (and it’s worth it!)
But if you’re not wearing proper footwear then it might sour the rest of the day.
Good shoes and socks won’t save you if you don’t have any layers on.
In winter you should have a lot of layers available.
Even though you might not use all of them.
There is very little protection from the elements in Þingvellir (the first stop in the golden circle)
And you don’t want to hide away in the car!…do you?
I would recommend a thin layer at first.
Or go for the iconic Icelandic base layer, the wool sweater
Make sure to wear a t-shirt underneath, cause the wool will sting!
In the winter, there is only one outer layer you should be thinking of, and that is…
It’s got everything you need to tackle Icelandic weather.
Will keep you warm on the coldest days? Yes
Will some other thing work? Of course!
A raincoat can be a good choice, however, you’ll need a lot of layers to combat the cold.
A 3 layered jacket is also a good choice, but you’ll also need layers underneath.
This is why I always recommend a parka for Icelandic winter.
It does everything!
However, it is also the most expensive garment to buy!
And if you won’t need it where you’re coming from, then renting it is a good choice!
Other things to be aware of
Be aware of how slippery it can get in the winter.
You don’t want to end your trip early by falling on your ass!
Crampons can be quite handy when traveling the Golden Circle.
Now for the other part of the story…
Outdoor equipment for the Golden Circle in summer
The summertime is completely different obviously.
You won’t need the parka and the cold isn’t AS much of a factor as it is in the winter.
Even in the summertime, having a good pair of hiking boots is super important.
And for the same reasons as in the winter.
To protect against the rain and cold.
Layers are still very much necessary in the summer. However, you might not want to use as many.
In the winter, you might be wearing a merino wool base layer and then a thick sweater on top of that underneath the outer layer.
In the summertime, you’ll just need one layer and you can keep the others in the car!
If it’s a cold day, then wear thick layers.
If it’s a warm day, wear a t-shirt!
In the summer, my much-loved parka is simply too much.
Instead, opt for a raincoat
or a windbreaker.
Other things to be aware of in the summer
A lot of activities in the summer times will get you wet.
Going to the Golden Circle is no different. If you want to get up close to Gullfoss, you’re going to get wet.
It’s very important to be wearing water-resistant outdoor gear in order to have the best time!
To review, the outdoor equipment you’ll want is water and wind-resistant clothing and lots of layers underneath.
In the wintertime, wear more layers or a parka!
In the summer, choose fewer layers and a raincoat or a windbreaker!
If you follow my advice, you’ll know exactly what to wear to the Golden Circle in Iceland.