See the amazing sights on the Reykjanes Peninsula
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At Reykjanes Peninsula there are many things to see and do. You can hike through lava fields, check out volcanic craters, see seething hot springs and bubbling mud pools and experience the underground realms of the Reykjanes peninsula. You can also add a detour to the fabulous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa.
A tour to Reykjanes can either start or end at the Keflavik international airport which is situated at the northern part of the peninsula or you can start the trip in Reykjavik. It is popular to visit the town Grindavik, a typical Icelandic fishing village not far from the airport. The town has one unique characteristic that sets it apart from other similar villages and that is the mixture of farming community and actual town planning. In Grindavik you can visit the Icelandic Salted Cod Museum (Saltfisksetrid) which is dedicated to the history of salted cod or Baccala. It gives its visitors a good overview of how Icelanders worked in processing this valuable product for export through the last two hundred years.
From Grindavik to the west is Reykjanesviti lighthouse and the Reykjanes geothermal power plant. This is a magnificent area with rich bird life in the summer. Eldey Island, just off the point at "lands end", is the home to one of the largest breeding colonies of the magnificent Northern Gannet. Beautiful lava tubes can also be found in the lava fields near by but there lies also the magnificent Reykjanes geothermal power plant nested in the lava field.
Not far from the power plant we find “the Rift” where you can have a unique chance to cross the Eurasian and American continents in just minutes via a walking bridge. For a subtle amount you can get a certificate stating that you did cross the two continents for your proof.
Close to the tiny village of Hafnir, seals can be seen nesting ashore and in august when they shed their fur, they can be seen in great numbers there.
Passing through the photogenic coastal villages of Hafnir, Sandgerdi and Gardur before reaching Vikingworld, Vikingaheimar is the home of the Viking ship Islendingur (Icelander).
Built in 1996, Icelander is an exact replica of the famous Gokstad ship, a remarkable archaeological find of an almost completely intact Viking ship, excavated in Norway in 1882. Vikingaheimar is also a home to the exhibition The North Atlantic Viking Saga, originally shown at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Reykjanesbaer is the largest town of the Reykjanes peninsula and was formerly two municipalities known as Keflavik and Njardvik. Reykjanesbær's primary functions is service to the inhabitants of the town and to its neighboring villages as to the international airport located in the outskirts of the town. Reykjanesbaer also has a rich heritage in sports and is considered by most to be the Mecca of basketball in Iceland.
It is very popular to visit the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, to soak in the mineral rich waters of the lagoon. Others may want to head down to Krisuvik to take a look at the Ogmundarhraun lava field and the geothermal area there with its mud pools and hot springs.
The Reykjanes Peninsula (sometimes referred to as the Southern Peninsula) lies in southwest Iceland. This is where everyone lands when traveling to Iceland by international flights. The peninsula is the home to Keflavík International Airport as well as Iceland’s most famous tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon.
The Reykjanes Peninsula is one of the most undervalued locations in Iceland. Many visitors drive straight from the airport to Reykjavík without stopping to explore this incredibly interesting landscape.
After reading our short guide, you will soon understand why this is a big mistake. The Reykjanes Peninsula has some mesmerizing hidden gems to show you. They are no less astonishing than the most-visited highlights on the Golden Circle or the fabled south coast.
The scenery in Reykjanes is characterized by tremendous lava fields, stunning volcanoes, and strong geothermal activity. The landscape is totally otherworldly. There are no grassy meadows, but rather endless, rough, moss-covered lava fields. The coasts are wild with pitch black volcanic sea stacks and hair-raising cliffs besieged by the violent waves of the North Atlantic Ocean.
There are age-old volcanic craters and thrilling fissures in the ground. The steaming geothermal fields and boiling mud pots enchant the human mind. The peninsula lies on the same plate boundaries along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge as the famous Thingvellir National Park. This is the boundary between two continents, where the North American plate and the Eurasian plate drift slowly but steadily apart, allowing Iceland’s land area to grow 2 cm (0.8 in) per year.
The Reykjanes Peninsula has an active volcanic system under its surface. The last volcanic eruptions on Reykjanes began around 1000 AD, lasting for 250 years. No eruptions have been recorded over the last 500 years. While there are currently no erupting volcanoes in the area, the geothermal activity remains very intense. There are frequent earthquakes due to the movement of the tectonic plates but are commonly minor events that can hardly be felt by humans.
On the western end of the peninsula, there is a bridge over a fissure between the two tectonic plates. You can walk along the “Bridge Between Continents” and can even go down into the fissure to stand between the two tectonic plates.
One of the most awe-inspiring sites on Reykjanes is Gunnuhver. This site lies on restless ground, a large geothermal area where Iceland’s largest hot mud pool is found. The pool produces an enormous quantity of steam that is visible from many kilometers away as it rises high into the air. This highly-active geothermal areaconsists of countless hot springs, steam vents, and furious fumaroles surrounded by impressive, colorful rocks and mineral-painted ground.
Only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Gunnuhver stands Iceland’s oldest lighthouse. Reykjanesvíti is 31-meter (102 feet) tall. The lighthouse was built in 1878 but was severely damaged in a major earthquake in 1905. The Reykjanes Lighthouse was then rebuilt in 1929 at a safer location. According to a 2017 survey, the Reykjanes lighthouse is Icelanders’ favorite lighthouse.
A few hundred meters from the lighthouse lies a dramatic, rocky beach at the foot of a scenic mountain. Thrilling sea stacks and massive boulders lie everywhere. Cracks stretch in the ground as if it could open up under our feet any time. With the impressive Eldey Island in the distance, this stunning beach is the perfect location to watch the sunset.
Brímketill is an interesting naturally shaped lava rock formation. It resembles a lovely man-made swimming pool. It is not to be mistaken with the natural geothermal pools that is Iceland so famous for, though. Brímketil lies in the sea and therefore it is filled with dangerously cold seawater. Never attempt to swim here since giant ocean waves can fall upon it with huge force. If you happen to visit during high tide, you will experience the immense power of the ocean as it blasts onto the rocks.
Seltún is a beautiful colorful geothermal area. Many spectacular features coming from the high geothermal activity in the area. Bubbling mud pots in various sizes, intensely boiling hot springs, all kinds of colorful minerals, steaming fumaroles, and solfataras filling the air with smelly gases. There is a trail leading through the geothermal field. It continues up a hill to provide an amazing view over the whole area. Amazing scenery of picturesque crater lakes, scenic mountains, and rough lava fields make the climb worthwhile.
The largest lake on Reykjanes is beautiful Kleifarvatn. With its 97-meter (318 feet) depth, Kleifarvatn is also one of the deepest lakes in Iceland. The facts that no rivers run to or from it makes Kleifarvatn even more interesting. The water supposedly comes and leaves the lake underground. After two major earthquakes in the year 2000, a fissure opened up under the lake. It caused a large quantity of water to disappear. The fissure has since refilled and the lake has remained a unique place for divers as some geothermal activity is detected at the bottom.
As for the eyes, thanks to its violent geological history, a completely lunar landscape surrounds the lake. Steep mountains and red-brown volcanic rock formations make you feel as if you were on Mars.
The famous Blue Lagoon is also located on Reykjanes, in the middle of a vast lava field. This unique site has been listed among the 25 wonders of the world by the National Geographic. The Blue Lagoon is a world-class geothermal spa. The unique milky-blue color of the lagoon comes from the silica and rare types of algae that thrive in the water. The temperature of the water is around 37 to 39°C (98 to 102°F), making it perfect for bathing all year round. The water at the Blue Lagoon has been proven to be good for the skin and has other healing effects.
In the year 2015, Reykjanes was added to the list of the most remarkable geological sites on planet Earth. Currently, there are approximately 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries around the world. Two Icelandic geoparks have been included in the list: Katla Geopark and Reykjanes Geopark.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are unique geographical areas with great international geological significance. They are beautiful and valuable examples of the Earth’s amazing geodiversity. These geoparks together tell the whole 4,600 million year history of our planet and of the geological events that formed it. The fact that Reykjanes has a place on this list is an essential reason for visiting it!
Multi-Day Self-Drive Tours. If you have four to six days in Iceland, either the Five-Day Self-Drive Tour is for you. You will receive a detailed itinerary, map, and a self-drive handbook. This self-drive tour package is optimized for the best possible experience, visiting all the best highlights on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The package includes your accommodation for 4 or 5 nights with breakfast, a rental car with all basic insurances and a glacier hike.
If you have more time to spend in Iceland, you can travel around the whole country, including the Reykjanes peninsula. This organized Nine-Day Self-Drive Tour package includes your accommodation with breakfast, a rental car with all basic insurances, a glacier hike and a whale watching tour.
It is very easy to navigate around the Reykjanes Peninsula. Take the Route 41 from Reykjavík, the same road that leads you to Keflavik International Airport. Follow the road around the peninsula and stop whenever you see a natural attraction sign. You can also follow our map.
Multi-Day tours. If you opt for a guided multi-day tour, you just pick the preferred duration and sit back, we will take care of everything else. You won’t have to bother with navigating in unfamiliar places. Your focus can be on the beauty all around you rather than driving.
Guided Day Tours. This all day long tour will take you to traverse the rugged landscape of the Reykjanes UNESCO Geopark.
Airport Shuttle and Blue Lagoon Transfers. You can book your airport shuttle and Blue Lagoon transfer through our site. You are even offered the opportunity to combine your Blue Lagoon experience with lava caving.
Inside the Volcano. One of the most memorable experiences that you can have in Iceland is a descent into the chamber of a volcano. Iceland, in fact, is the only place on Earth where you can do so. Do not worry, this is perfectly safe since this volcano has been dormant for thousands of years. There are no words for the view that awaits you inside its chamber.
Lava Caving. Some impressive lava tunnels are located on the peninsula, close to Reykjavík. Explore the 900-meter (2950 feet) long underground volcanic wonderland!
The Northern Lights: The Reykjanes Peninsula is a perfect location for aurora hunting. The light pollution outside of the towns is around zero. You have the best chance to see the Northern Lights in this area.