Iceland for Photographers: 10 Hidden Locations

Hörður Kristleifsson @h0rdur

Iceland is arguably one of the most photographed countries in the world and rightly so. With its picturesque landscapes, untamed nature and everything from ice to fire it is no surprise that photographers worldwide flock to Iceland. 

Whether you are a landscape photographer, wildlife photographer, wedding photographer or a hobby photographer, these are some of Iceland’s best hidden locations for avid photographers. 

 

10 x hidden locations for photographers:

 

The West

1. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

Tucked away on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, this narrow canyon will have you in awe of its dramatic rock formations and even a hidden waterfall. This makes for a unique backdrop for editorial photoshoots or even a few one-of-a-kind wedding shots. In the summer, the canyon is quite easily accessible, but bear in mind that you need to be well-equipped and willing to get wet if you plan on getting closer to the waterfall. Rauðfeldsgjá Canyon is not accessible in the winter when the ground is icy.

2. Brynjudalur valley

In the Hvalfjörður fjord, you will find Brynjudalur valley. This paradise offers many opportunities for photographers. It has everything your landscape-photography heart desires, including various waterfalls, wide mountain scenery, rivers, and greenery. Take in the stunning landscape and create away.

 

Icy river in Iceland with a bridge crossing.
Photo: Signe. Barnafoss waterfall in the wintertime.

 

3. Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls 

In West Iceland, nestled in the Borgarfjörður region, you will find these bright blue waterfalls cascading through lava fields, creating a very unique and photogenic landscape. These waterfalls are very close together, and the drive from Reykjavík city takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes and is on route of the Silver Circle tour. The hike up to the waterfalls is very easy and only takes a few minutes from the parking space.

4. Hornstrandir nature reserve

For photographers, a trip to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West is definitely worth it. The total area covers 580 square kilometres (220 square miles) of tundra, cliffs, flowering fields, and ice and is especially interesting for wildlife photographers seeing this is the home to Iceland’s only native mammal: the arctic fox. With more than 260 different species of flora, the hike through the wilderness can be challenging but absolutely worth it when capturing a cheeky portrait of a little fox or while letting the greatness of the fjords inspire your creativity.

 

Borgarfjörður eystri – photo by Golli

The North

5. Hvítserkur rock formation

In North Iceland, on the Vatnsnes Peninsula, the Hvítserkur rock formation rises from the sea, looking like a dragon. This distinctive basalt sea stack offers a surreal background for landscape photography.

 

The East

6. Hengifoss Waterfall

Hengifoss waterfall is the third-highest waterfall in Iceland. It is located in the East of Iceland and takes about two hours to hike up to it. Therefore, this location requires some commitment and good preparation. The waterfall is framed by vibrant red and black basalt layers, making for a stunning backdrop whether the waterfall is your main subject or you are photographing models.

7. Borgarfjörður Eystri fjord

This remote fjord in the East of Iceland provides endless possibilities for photography. It is known for its stunning landscapes, including rugged mountains, colourful cliffs, picturesque fishing villages, and a beautiful beach. This would be the perfect place for an elopement photographer to take their wedding couple or for some versatile landscape photography.

 

Hornstrandir – photo by Golli

 

The South

8. Þjófafoss waterfall

This waterfall is one of three major waterfalls on Þjórsá river, the longest river in Iceland. This milky waterfall is located in the South of Iceland, east of Merkurhraun lava field. The wide, bright blue waterfall with a giant mountain in the background makes for a stunning subject for every type of photography.

9. Brúarfoss waterfall

This hidden gem is perfect for photographers seeking lesser-known landscapes in Iceland. With its turquoise waters and picturesque surroundings, every type of photographer will be in awe of both the colours and the landscape. Brúarfoss waterfall is located near the Golden Circle route, making it easily accessible from Reykjavík city.

10. Nauthúsagil ravine

This stunning ravine is located on the South coast of Iceland and is definitely a hidden gem for photographers. This mystical ravine can be found behind Stóra-Mörk farm, and within it, you will find an amazing hidden waterfall. The hike through the ravine to get to the waterfall is not too advanced, but it is advisable to have good shoes on and expect to get a little wet along the way. When you’ve reached the waterfall – it will all be worth it.

 

These 10 hidden locations offer photographers the chance to capture the raw beauty and unique landscapes of Iceland away from the crowds, providing unforgettable experiences and stunning images.

 

The Blue Lagoon: A Guide

blue lagoon Iceland

In the middle of rugged lava fields on the Reykjanes Peninsula, you will find the most famous geothermal spa in Iceland, maybe even the world. We are of course talking about the Blue Lagoon. With its mineral-rich waters and beneficial properties, the Blue Lagoon offers its visitors an opportunity to unwind and soak in the middle of Iceland´s beautiful and raw nature. In this guide we will provide you with all the information you might need to make the most of your visit to Iceland’s most iconic retreat. 

How to get there

The Blue Lagoon is very conveniently located as it is just 30 km [18 mi] from Keflavík international airport, and 50 km [31 mi] from Reykjavík city. The lagoon is easy to reach by car but there are also many options for guided tours and shuttle buses. As with many popular activities in Iceland, it is highly advisable to book your tickets or tours in advance, especially during peak season. 

Experiencing the Blue Lagoon

When booking a ticket to the Blue Lagoon, visitors are able to choose between a comfort ticket, premium or signature. With a standard comfort ticket of ISK 9,900 to the Blue Lagoon you will have access to the main lagoon and get a towel to use. Additionally you will be able to choose a complimentary drink at the lagoon´s in-water bar and make use of the silica mud mask at the mask-bar. When booking your ticket you can choose if you would like to add some extras like massages, float therapy or more. 

Upon arrival leave your worries at the door and immerse yourself in a world of relaxation and indulgence. Here are some highlights to enjoy:

Soaking in the Geothermal Waters
First and foremost, enjoy slipping into the milky blue waters of the lagoon and feel your cares float away as you soak in the soothing waters. The water in the Blue Lagoon is 70% ocean water and 30% freshwater, enriched with silica, algae, and minerals and therefore has therapeutic benefits and leaves your skin feeling soft and rejuvenated. The presence of silica in the water is also the reason for its distinctive blue color. This is due to the fact that the silica that permeates the water, only reflects blue and absorbs all other colors.

Exploring the Facilities
There is more to experience than just relaxing in the warm water. Other amenities include steam rooms, saunas and a relaxation area. Treat yourself to a selection of beneficial mud masks at the mask-bar in the lagoon and have a refreshing shoulder massage at the lagoon´s little but powerful waterfall. 

Indulging in Spa Treatments
When purchasing your ticket you are able to elevate your experience with a range of luxurious spa treatments designed to pamper your body and soul. From float therapy and massages to facials and body scrubs, the spa menu offers plenty of options for you to indulge in and make the absolute most of your relaxing experience at the lagoon. 


5 x Practical tips when visiting the Blue Lagoon

  1. Book everything in advance; tours, tickets, additional services and dinner reservations. This way you will secure your preferred options and avoid disappointment.

  2. You need to bring swimwear and a towel with you. Other things that might come in handy are slippers and maybe even a robe. You are able to rent towels and robes at the lagoon but bringing your own is always good.

  3. Do not go with your hair in the water of the Blue Lagoon. Due to the minerals your hair will most likely get very dry and it can be a hassle to clean it properly after. Protect your hair by applying conditioner at the shower before entering the lagoon and leave it in. It is also advisable for those with long hair to put it up to protect it.

  4. Remember to remove any jewelry before entering the lagoon as the minerals in the water might cause damage.

  5. It is obligatory to shower before entering the lagoon. The locker rooms are equipped with good showers and they have soap, shampoo and conditioner at the facilities. 

 

Despite being a natural beauty, the Blue Lagoon is partially man-made. The water is in fact wastewater from a nearby geothermal power plant and is therefore, contrary to popular belief, not a natural hot spring. Despite this, the water in the Blue Lagoon is perfectly safe. It is self-cleansing due to the continuous stream into the lagoon and even beneficial, as we have mentioned before, due to the natural minerals found in the water. 

Visiting the Blue Lagoon will be a rejuvenating experience that takes you from the hustle and bustle of life for a hot minute. Nourish your mind, body and soul while experiencing the healing embrace of Iceland’s geothermal oasis. 

 

The Icelandic Flag

icelandic football fans

The Icelandic flag as we know it today was officially taken to use in 1915. When Iceland officially became a republic on the 17th of June in 1944, The Law of the National Flag of Icelanders and the State Arms, became the second law to pass in the new republic of Iceland. In the law the flag is described as such “The civil national flag of Icelanders is blue as the sky with a snow-white cross, and a fiery-red cross inside the white cross”. 

The flag’s creator, Matthías Þórðarson, drew inspiration from Iceland’s stunning natural beauty in crafting a symbol that would resonate with generations to come. The original flag was blue with a white cross but the Danish king preferred the three coloured version in order to avoid confusion as the Greek had a similar blue and white flag. 


What do the colours of the Icelandic flag mean?

Even though the colours of the Icelandic flag have no official symbolism, it is a popular interpretation that they represent the three elements that created the island: fire, ice and water.

  1. Blue:
    The primary hue of the Icelandic flag is a deep shade of blue. The blue is said to represent the mountains, the ocean and the sky surrounding the island.
  2. White:
    The pure white stripe is meant to symbolise the glaciers and the snow-capped mountains that adorn Iceland´s rugged terrain.
  3. Red:
    The striking red cross represents the elements of fire. It serves as a tribute to the fiery volcanic activity that has shaped the island’s landscape over the centuries.

 

The evolution of the flag

Þorskafáninn – The Cod flag

þorskafáninn

In 1809 a Danish adventurer named Jørgen Jørgenssen sailed to Iceland, declared the country independent and pronounced himself its ruler. He then went on to design a flag for the Icelandic nation to use. The flag was blue with three cod in the upper left corner and has ever since been referred to as Þorskafáninn or The Cod flag. 

Fálkafáninn – The Falcon flag

In 1873 an Icelandic artist named Sigurður Guðmundsson designed a new flag that he thought would be a better representation of Iceland than the cod. He wanted to replace the cod with a falcon to be used both as the flag as well as the national code of arms. The flag was never officially recognized, but it was widely used amongst Icelanders, both in Iceland as well as amongst the many Icelanders who moved to Canada in the late 1800s. 

Hvítbláinn – The White-blue

hvítbláinn

In 1897 a known writer and scholar, Einar Benediktsson, suggested that the Icelandic nation should have a flag more representative of its Christian state and that it would be more like the flags of the other Nordic nations. He suggested a blue flag with a white cross. In the early 1900s the Icelandic people started using the Hvítblái flag more and more instead of the Danish one. This continued until 1913 when the Danish king decided that Iceland should have its own flag. However, he found the white and blue flag of Einar Benediktsson too similar to the Greek flag and therefore he chose a three-coloured flag that Matthías Þórðarson suggested in 1906. 

The current flag

A flag committee was formed in 1913 to oversee the design of a flag for Iceland. The committee received a total of 28 designs. Finally on 19th of June 1915 the Danish king declared the blue, red and white flag the official flag of Iceland and when Iceland finally became a republic on 17th of June 1944 the use and look of the flag was passed in the law. Ever since, Iceland has proudly been represented by a blue flag, with a red and white cross. 

 

Eyjafjallajökull – The Eruption, Pronunciation and More Facts

A lady looks on Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajökull glacier is a symbol of both natural beauty and raw power and is one of many glaciers on the South Coast of Iceland. This majestic glacier-capped volcano famously captivated the world’s attention in 2010, both for its tongue-twisting name and for its volatile eruption that wound up affecting over 20 countries and as many as 10 million air travellers. 

 

Eyjafjallajökull eruption

Eyjafjallajökull´s volcano is a product of countless eruptions over the course of time, shaping its distinct cone and glacier-covered summit. Throughout Iceland’s history, Eyjafjallajökull has been a source of both awe and fear with Icelandic folklore often mentioning the volcano, attributing its eruptions to the wrath of mythical beings. 

More recently the glacier gained international attention with its eruption in March 2010, which disrupted air travel across Europe with plumes of ash ascending high into the sky. While this event was a reminder of the volcano´s power, it also highlighted the interconnectedness of global transportation systems and the need for effective risk management.

How to pronounce “Eyjafjallajökull”

News anchors around the world had their work cut out for them during the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull as it is a very hard word to pronounce for those who aren’t native Icelandic speakers. The internet soon filled with compilations of different pronunciations and everyone wondered: How do you pronounce the name of that Icelandic volcano?

The name can be split in three words: Eyja – fjalla – jökull, literally meaning Island – Mountain – Glacier. The phonetic pronunciation of the word is [eiːjaˌfjatl̥aˌjœːkʏtl̥] or something like Eigh-ya-fja-tla-yuh-cou-tl. Many have tried – and many have failed – but if you manage to master the pronunciation, you will certainly be able to show off a surprising party-trick for the rest of your life. 

Eyjafjallajökull eruption
Photo by Bjarki Sigursveinsson

 

Location of Eyjafjallajökull and how to get there

It can be an awe inspiring experience to visit Eyjafjallajökull and see some of Iceland’s most remarkable geological wonders with your own eyes. The glacier is located in the South of Iceland, approximately 160 kilometres [100 mi] from Reykjavík city. 

You can choose to drive the South coast, past landmarks such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss waterfalls or you can take the route of the Golden Circle before reaching Eyjafjallajökull. Once you arrive you can visit the Eyjafjallajökull Visitor Centre, located near the volcano, to learn more about the geological history and impact of past eruptions. 

Always prioritise safety and respect any warning signs or closures in the area. Dress according to weather conditions and wear sturdy hiking shoes. Plan your trip according to your own interest and preferences and decide if you want to explore the area independently or join a guided tour

 

Scientific and cultural significance:

After the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, scientists intensified their study and monitoring. Advances in technology have provided invaluable information on the volcano´s behaviour which enables better prediction for future eruptions. Understanding the dynamics of the volcano both enhances safety and contributes to our understanding of volcanic activity worldwide. 

Beyond its geological and scientific significance, Eyjafjallajökull has also impacted Icelandic culture. Its beauty has inspired artists, writers and filmmakers who have sought to capture its essence in their works. The volcano also serves as a symbol of Iceland’s nation’s deep connection to the land and its natural forces. 

 

Snowmobilers in Iceland pose in front of the Northern Lights
Photo by Private South Coast with Snowmobiling on Eyjafjallajökull volcano

 

Eyjafjallajökull facts

 

How many times did Eyjafjallajökull erupt?

Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in the years 920, 1612 or 1613, and 1821 and 2010.

Where is Eyjafjallajökull located?

Eyjafjallajökull volcano is located in the Eyjafjöll mountains in the South of Iceland, between Skógafoss waterfall and Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Its highest point rises to 1.666 metres (5.466 ft) above sea level.

Was Eyjafjallajökull silent or explosive?

The 2010 eruption in Eyjafjallajökull was explosive. 

When meltwaters from the glacier mixed with hot magma, an explosive eruption sent unusually fine-grained ash into the jet stream. It then dispersed over Europe.

What type is Eyjafjallajökull?

Eyjafjallajökull is a stratovolcano, the most common type. It is a conical volcano built by many layers of hardened lava, volcanic ash, tephra and pumice.

What makes Eyjafjallajökull special?

It is an 800.000 year old volcano with an unpronounceable name that became known worldwide during its 2010. The eruption caused an ash cloud that grounded over 100.000 flights all over the world at a cost estimated at £3 billion. 

 

Exploring Iceland’s Glaciers – South Coast

glaciers iceland

Iceland is home to many breathtaking natural wonders, including the glaciers that carve their way through the raw lava fields, providing the magnificent contrast Iceland is known for; fire and ice. 

In this guide you will find everything you need to know about the glaciers on the south coast of Iceland. We will provide essential information and tips for making the most of your icy experience.

Eyjafjallajökull glacier

Famous for its eruption in 2010, that disrupted air travel all across Europe, Eyjafjallajökull is a glacier with a big and well documented past. Eyjafjallajökull is the first glacier you will come across when travelling from Reykjavík city to the South Coast. It is not advisable to hike on Eyjafjallajökull itself without an experienced guide, but you can easily admire it while driving along the South Coast. If intrigued you can pay a visit to Eyjafjallajökull Visitor Centre to learn about the volcano´s history and its impact on the local environment. 

At the root of Eyjafjöll mountain you can also enjoy a relaxing, warm bath in Seljavallalaug nature pool before moving on to the next pitstop. 

glaciers iceland
photo by Golli

 

Sólheimajökull glacier

Sólheimajökull is a popular destination for glacier hiking and ice climbing adventures. From Reykjavík city it takes approximately two and a half hours to drive to the glacier, making it an ideal day trip for those looking to experience Iceland’s glaciers without venturing too far from the capital. Sólheimajökull glacier lies between two volcanos; Katla and Eyjafjallajökull and is close to the town of Vík. Its relatively easy to access the glacier but never venture on the glacier without proper preparation and equipment. 

Mýrdalsjökull glacier

Mýrdalsjökull is another impressive glacier worth exploring. This glacier is an ice cap covering the volcano Katla, which usually erupts every 40-80 years. Guided tours offer the chance to venture onto the glacier’s surface, where you can marvel at its ice formations and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Between Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull you will find the popular Fimmvörðuháls pass. The 24 km [15 mi] hike of Fimmvörðuháls is very popular and takes you from Skógar to Þórsmörk national park through the highlands. 

 

photo by Golli

Vatnajökull glacier

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland and one of the largest glaciers in Europe. Covering an area of approximately 7,900 km2 (3,100 sq mi), it dominates the southeastern part of Iceland. Within Vatnajökull National Park, you’ll find many opportunities for glacier exploration, including guided ice cave tours, glacier hikes and even private tours through the famous Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

Nestled beneath the glacier is Skaftafell, an oasis of greenery where you will find a beautiful camping spot with a view of the glacier, an array of hiking trails and a visiting centre. 


Langjökull glacier

Even though Langjökull glacier is not really one of the south coast glaciers, it is well worth the extra journey. Langjökull glacier is located in the remote highlands of Iceland and is the second largest ice cap in the country, with ice that is up to 580 m thick. Under the ice are two or more volcanic systems and during an Ice Age some volcanoes of this system covered the plains with lava. The lava field in question is about 7,800 years old and is called Kjalhraun lava field.

The access to Langjökull glacier may be limited during the winter months due to rough conditions. That being said, no matter the conditions, it is always advisable to visit the glacier with a guided tour as an experienced guide will know all safety precautions and be able to provide the necessary equipment. 

Tips for glacier exploration

  • 1. Safety first
    Glaciers can be unpredictable and dangerous so the safest way to enjoy everything the glaciers have to offer is with an experienced guide. Always make sure you have the right equipment and follow rules and guidelines. 
  • 2. Dress appropriately
    The weather in Iceland is known for its unpredictability, even during the summer. Before heading out for any adventures make sure you dress accordingly. This means layers and being prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions. 
  • 3. Respect the environment
    This is a good rule to follow no matter what kind of adventure you embark on. Help preserve Iceland’s pristine landscapes by following the “Leave No Trace” principle. Read and follow signs, don´t leave trash, do not vandalise anything in nature you stumble upon and stay on designated paths and roads. 
  • 4. Book in advance
    Glacier tours and activities can fill up quickly, especially during the busiest tourist season. Make sure you book your tours, activities and accommodations in advance. 
  • 5. Stay informed
    When travelling to Iceland the best thing to do in order to keep safe is to stay informed. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and road conditions, especially if you’re planning to venture into more remote areas or plan on longer hikes.

It is certain that exploring Iceland’s glaciers will be an unforgettable experience. Whether you´re taking it slow while hiking across the ancient fields, venturing into ice caves or racing across the glaciers on a snowmobile, make sure to take it in and you´ll be left in awe of the wonders of nature. 

 

photo by Golli

 

 

Day Hike to Glymur Waterfall: A Guide

Glymur Waterfall Iceland

Iceland is a hiker’s paradise with its dramatic and otherworldly landscapes. Among many stunning destinations, Glymur waterfall stands out as one of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls. Nestled in Hvalfjörður fjord, this day hike offers adventurous souls an unforgettable trip through picturesque sceneries. In this guide we will explore everything you need to know before hiking up to Glymur waterfall. 

 

How to get to Glymur waterfall

The waterfall is located approximately 71,6 kilometres (444 mi) from Reykjavík city, making it an accessible day trip for those staying in the city. The trailhead is situated near the entrance to Hvalfjörður, and reaching it requires driving along Route 47. 

There are two options to get to the waterfall. You can either hike to the highest point, turn back around and follow the same trail back to the parking lot or you can cross the river above the highest point and hike in a circle. Either way the hike offers amazing views and both trails are fine for non experienced hikers. Just remember to be careful. 

 

Glymur hike

The hike is moderate-level with the round trip being around 7 kilometres (4,4 mi). The trail will take you through diverse landscapes, including moss-covered lava fields, rugged cliffs and tranquil riverside paths. It is advisable to budget a minimum of 4 hours to complete the hike, depending on the pace and time spent enjoying the scenery. 

Before embarking on your hike up to Glymur waterfall, make sure you check the weather forecast and trail conditions. Pack a backpack with a bottle of water, some snacks and a dry pair of socks. Always dress appropriately with layers and wear sturdy hiking boots. When reaching the top of the waterfall it is possible to cross the river and descend on the other side. To do so it might be advisable to bring waterproof sandals and a small towel to dry off your cold and wet feet after. 

Note: The hike is quite dangerous to do during the winter months and it is advised not to do the hike when ice and snow covers the ground. 

 

Highlights Along the Way:

As you venture on there are several noteworthy sights that await you. 

Hvalfell mountain
The hike begins with a gradual ascend through the picturesque valley, offering a stunning view of Hvalfell mountain. 

Botnsá river
Approximately within 30 minutes from setting out, you will encounter Botnsá river, which flows from Glymur´s cascading waters. The trail follows the riverbank, providing a peaceful backdrop of flowing waters. Soon you will reach a river crossing. When weather conditions permit (usually spring until autumn) a log is placed to assist hikers cross the river. 

The gorge views
One of the most beautiful sections of the hike is traversing a narrow gorge carved by Botnsá river. Bridges offer hikers a thrilling viewpoint from which you can admire the roaring waters below. 

Glymur waterfall
The absolute highlight of the hike is when Glymur waterfall comes into view as you near the end of the trail. Plunging 198 metres (650 ft) into the rugged canyon, Glymur captivates everyone with its raw power and beauty. When reaching the highest point you can now choose whether you turn around and follow the same trail back or you cross the river at the top. Here there are no cables or logs to assist but crossing it is easy enough as long as you´re careful. After crossing the river you can descend on the other side and admire the views from a different angle. 

 

A day hike to Glymur waterfall is a great adventure through Iceland´s mesmerising landscapes and is just one of the many options for day hikes close to Reykjavík city. From tranquil riverbanks and wide valleys to thundering waterfalls, every step of the way has something to behold. Whether you´re an experienced hiker or just a nature enthusiast, the hike to Glymur waterfall beckons with its unparalleled beauty and serenity.

So what are you waiting for? Lace up the hiking boots and prepare yourself to be awed by one of Iceland’s most magnificent natural wonders. 

 

A Guide to Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park in Iceland

One of the most extraordinary places in Iceland is Þingvellir National Park. Located within the Golden Circle route, Þingvellir park offers a unique geological and historical experience unlike any other. As the site of Europe’s first parliament, established in 930, Þingvellir played an important role in Iceland’s cultural heritage. Additionally its a place of very unique geological features as you can walk through a rift valley between two continents. In this Þingvellir guide, you will find information that will help you make the most of your visit to this historic Icelandic landmark. 


How to get to Þingvellir

The national park is located approximately 40 km [131 mi] northeast of Reykjavík city and is easily accessible by car via Route 36 and is usually either the first or last stop of the Golden Circle tour. Þingvellir is easily accessible by car and the journey will take about 1 hour, depending on traffic conditions.

Exploring Þingvellir area

When you visit Þingvellir National Park the first thing to keep in mind is to take your time. The area has so much to see and given its rich history there is a lot to learn and explore. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Þingvellir´s Visitor Centre

At the visitor centre you can learn about the history and significance of Þingvellir through exhibits and displays. This way you have introduced yourself to the captivating history of the sights you are about to see. 

 

Lögberg (Law Rock)

Is one of the ancient assembly sites in the park. This is where the lawspeaker read the law of the land during the annual assembly of Alþingi parliament. The laws were proclaimed and settled and anyone attending could make their argument there. The exact location of Lögberg is unknown due to the changing geography of the area but two possible locations have been identified, one of which is marked with a flag pole.


Almannagjá gorge

This is one of Iceland’s most magnificent geological wonders. The rift valley known as Almannagjá is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are slowly pulling apart. You are able to walk between the two tectonic plates through the gorge and admire the rugged cliffs and landscapes shaped by millennia of tectonic activity. Be sure to look up and try to see the troll-faces engraved in the cliffs.


Silfra fissure

While on the topic of two tectonic plates it is worth mentioning Silfra fissure. This fissure lies at the rim of Þingvallavatn Lake and is very large and deep. Here you can have a very unique experience of diving between two continents in the clear blue, glacial waters of Silfra. 


Öxarárfoss waterfall

This waterfall is just as beautiful in the summer as in the winter. During the cold months the waterfall can freeze which makes for an extremely unique and beautiful sight. The waterfall is located near the parking lot of Þingvellir National Park and falls around 12 metres [39 ft] from a beautiful, square lava cliff. 


Drekkingarhylur pool

This pool of water, originating from Öxará river, is one of the places in Þingvellir with the darkest history. The name of the pool literally translates to The Drowning Pool, and that is exactly what it was. Here women were drowned as punishment for either having a child out of wedlock or when committing the crime of incest. Records show that 18 women were drowned in the pool, with the last one being executed in 1739. 


Þingvallakirkja church

The Þingvallakirkja church within the national park was built in 1859 but according to the Icelandic saga´s a church has been standing there since 1017. The church is closed to the public unless staff is present but it is possible to look through the windows or participate in free guided tours with one of the rangers, usually starting around 10 AM. 

 

Practical tips when visiting Þingvellir National Park

  1. How much time do you need at Þingvellir
    Make sure to have enough time as it is quite easy to spend up to two hours exploring the area. The National Park is big and there is a lot to see and read about. Enjoy the walk and learn as much as you can about this remarkable, historical site.

  2. Safety first
    Always respect warning signs and closed off areas while walking through the park. Designated walking paths are always available and restricted area´s are marked off with ropes or signs. Þingvellir is a natural reserve and both flora and fauna get to stay in peace.

  3. Accessibility
    Even though Þingvellir National Park is easily accessible by car, exploring the area has to happen on foot. Therefore it is advisable to wear good and comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately.
  4. Picnic areas
    Pack a picnic, especially during the summer months. There are designated picnic areas and benches available throughout the park and it can be a great opportunity to have a little refreshment amongst the magnificent views of the valley.

 

A visit to Þingvellir National Park should be on the travel itinerary for every person visiting Iceland. Its rich history and natural beauty are unparalleled and it’s the perfect place to walk through some of Iceland’s most important historic sites with your own two feet. Whether you are tracing the footsteps of the Vikings or awestruck by the geological wonders, experiencing Þingvellir will leave you with a deep appreciation for Iceland’s cultural and natural heritage. 

 

A Guide to Gullfoss: Iceland’s Most Iconic Waterfall

Gullfoss Iceland, Golden Circle

One of the most popular tours in Iceland is the Golden Circle with attractions like Þingvellir National park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall. 

Gullfoss is a breathtaking waterfall cascading in two tiers down a big canyon. Its thunderous roar and the picturesque scenery is sure to leave you captivated by the power of nature. In this guide we will provide you with all the essential information so you can make the most of your visit to this iconic landmark. 

How to get to Gullfoss waterfall

Located approximately 120 km [74,5 mi] from Reykjavík city, Gullfoss waterfall is easily accessible by car through the scenic Ring Road (route 1) or via Route 35. It takes around 1,5 to 2 hours to drive from the city centre. If you prefer not to drive there are plenty of guided tours departing from Reykjavík city that offer transportation as well as all the benefits of having an experienced guide. 

The most popular way of visiting Gullfoss is taking the Golden Circle route, combining it with a visit to Geysir geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park. 

 

Exploring Gullfoss

When you arrive at Gullfoss waterfall you are greeted by the thundering sound of this powerful natural wonder. The walk from the parking lot to the waterfall lookout point takes about 5 minutes and from there you can walk up to the upper fall.

Gullfoss Visitor Centre
Upon your arrival it might be fun to start at the visitor centre. There you can read about the history of Gullfoss waterfall, learn about the geology and significance of the waterfall as well as getting familiar with the waterfall´s formation and cultural importance.


The upper and lower falls

Gullfoss waterfall is a two tiered waterfall; the upper falls, which drops 11 metres [36 ft], and the lower falls which plunge 21 metres [68 ft] into the impressive canyon below. You can take in the picturesque view from various vantage points along the walking paths, each offering a unique perspective. 


Hiking trails
If you have enough time and are seeking a closer encounter with the waterfall´s power, several hiking trails lead down to viewpoints near the edge of the canyon. If you decide to embark on this little adventure make sure you follow the designated paths and exercise great caution as it can be slippery and unstable. 

Photo by Golli

 

Practical Tips for visiting Gullfoss waterfalls

  1. Can anyone visit Gullfoss waterfall?
    Gullfoss waterfall is accessible for almost anyone. Even though some might not be able to hike up to the waterfall, the viewpoints close by the parking lot offer a great view of this majestic natural wonder.

  2. Where to park
    When arriving by car to Gullfoss waterfall you have a few different parking options that are free. You can either turn to the lower parking lot or continue on Route 35 to the upper parking lot. At the upper lot you will find some facilities, including bathrooms, a café and a souvenir shop.

  3. How to dress when visiting Gullfoss waterfalls
    Bring your waterproof jacket with you and wear sturdy footwear. The weather can be a bit chilly and the misty spray might get you a little bit wet, depending on how close you get. Keep an eye out for the stunning rainbows that often form over the canyon and be ready to snap an amazing photo as your souvenir!

  4. Best time to visit Gullfoss waterfalls
    If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting early in the morning. A great travel tip for the summer months is to visit the more popular attractions at night. The endless, bright summer nights make for a beautiful, golden hour experience – with less crowds.

  5. Safety first
    Always respect the environment and adhere to any safety warnings and guidelines. Often the only warning are signs or small ropes indicating where not to go – so be vigilant and stay informed. 

Without a doubt a visit to Gullfoss waterfall is worth your while. Even though it might be one of the most photographed and talked about attractions in Iceland it is with good reason. The experience of the thundering waterfall falling into the canyon below will leave you in awe of nature´s power. 

 

A Guide to Geysir: Iceland’s Most Famous Natural Phenomenon

The active geothermal area of Haukadalur valley is located in the southwest of Iceland and is one of the stops along the Golden Circle route. In this area you will find Geysir hot spring, a captivating natural wonder that draws visitors from all over the world. Even though Geysir is the name everyone associates with this natural wonder, it is actually Strokkur who does all the hard work and shows off spectacular eruptions of boiling water into the air. 

In this guide we will provide you with all the essential information needed to make the most of your visit to Iceland’s most famous geothermal sites. 


How to get to Geysir geothermal area

As mentioned above, Geysir is situated on the Golden Circle route, around 116 km [72 mi] from Reykjavík city. The journey takes roughly 1,5 hours from the city and is easily accessible with a private car. Alternatively there are enough guided tour options for those who just want to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. 

Exploring the area

Upon arrival you might already get a sneaky preview of the erupting hot spring while parking on the other side of the road. The landscape surrounding the many hot springs in the area is dominated by steam, bubbling mud pots and the iconic geysers.

Strokkur Geyser

The star of the show is Strokkur geyser with its powerful eruptions shooting boiling water up to 30 metres [98 ft] into the air. Strokkur erupts every 5-10 minutes so there are plenty of opportunities to watch, be in awe and get that one perfect picture to show everyone at home.

Geysir

The geothermal area is named after the famous Geysir, an old hot spring that has been dormant for decades. The surrounding area is very beautiful and even though only one of the geysers actively erupts, many bubbling ones are to be seen when strolling around the area. Additionally you can see fumaroles and marvel at the clayish brown surroundings merging with the surrounding greenery. Always stay on the designated paths as the ground can be unstable due to the geothermal activity beneath. 


Geysir Visitor Centre

Either before or after walking around the area and seeing Strokkur erupt once, twice or ten times, it can be a fun experience to visit the local visitor centre to learn more about the geology, history and significance of this natural phenomenon. 

Geysir Golden Circle in Iceland
Geysir area – photo by Golli

 

Practical tips and fun facts about the Geysir area

  1. How to dress when visiting Geysir
    Dress according to the weather and wear good shoes. The paths can get a little muddy.

  2. Safety first
    Always stay on designated paths and adhere to all signs and safety instructions. Even though only one of the hot springs is active the whole area is still an active geothermal area and the non-active geysers are still boiling hot.

  3. Why do geysers erupt?
    The reason why geysers erupt is water being heated by bubbling magma underneath earth’s surface. When the water reaches a certain pressure it is forced towards the surface where it erupts with magnificent results. 

  4. When did Geysir first erupt?
    The first mentioned eruption of Geysir hot spring dates back to 1647. The famous geyser was very active back then, shooting water up to 80 metres [262 ft] into the air. In the early 1900s the activity started to decline and it eventually became dormant. After a row of very big earthquakes in the year 2000, Geysir awoke and became active once more. However its last eruption was in 2016 and it has been dormant ever since.

  5. Where does the word geyser come from?
    The English word
    geyser is adapted from Geysir´s name and is now an internationally known word for spouting hot water springs. This is however not the Icelandic word for the phenomenon. In Iceland Geysir is, and always will be, the name of one of the geysers but the word used for this natural wonder is hver [ˈvɛːˀr].

 

 

Even though the Geysir area is probably one of the most hyped up attractions in Iceland it is a remarkable experience for everyone to witness the power of nature in this  explosive way. The geothermal activity is one of Iceland’s most unique attributes and where better to experience it than in the Geysir area? The trip is an easily accessible day-trip from Reykjavík city and well worth your while to witness Iceland’s most iconic natural phenomenon first hand. 

 

5 x Music Festivals in Reykjavík Worth Attenting

While Iceland´s breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders often are the reason people visit, the capital city of Reykjavík is a dynamic hub with vibrant cultural and artsy energy. Iceland´s music industry is one of the main cultural scenes, with numerous artists having achieved international acclaim, like Björk, Laufey, Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Rós and more.

With the music scene in Iceland undeniably flourishing, Reykjavík city hosts over a dozen music festivals annually with even more festivals taking place around the country. These festivals are a great place for both established and emerging artists, whether local or international, to showcase their art to enthusiastic audiences.

Here are 5 music festivals in Reykjavík city worth attending. 

 

1. Iceland Airwaves

This festival is without a doubt one of the most iconic festivals in Reykjavík. Iceland Airwaves was established in 1999 as a one-time event in an aeroplane hangar. Since then it has evolved into one of Iceland’s biggest and most established festivals. Held in November each year, Iceland Airwaves transforms the whole city into a musical haven with its immersive, multi-genre music festival. The performances spread across various venues, from intimate bars and stores to grand concert halls and showcases a range of unheard-of-up-and-comers to local rising stars and established (international) talent. 

 

2. Innipúkinn

In Iceland, the first Monday of August is celebrated as a national holiday known as the ´tradesman’s holiday´. The weekend before is the Verslunarmannahelgi weekend, which has become the biggest festival and travel weekend in Iceland, marked by numerous festivities across the country and leaving Reykjavík almost empty for an entire weekend. 

To inject some energy into the city during this bustling travel period, Innipúkinn festival was established in 2001. Translating to ´someone who prefers being inside´, Innipúkinn is an alternative celebration for those who opt to stay within the city confines rather than venture to outdoor concerts and camping sites.

This three-day music festival features performances by various musicians at venues scattered throughout the city. Single-night tickets are available, and attendees may even have the chance to snag a ticket at the door.

 

3. Secret Solstice festival

Embracing the spirit of the iconic lyrics of Led Zeppelin, “From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow….,” the Secret Solstice festival is perfect for those seeking a more distinctive experience. Held during the summer solstice, the Secret Solstice festival makes use of Iceland’s long and bright summer nights with performances under the beautiful glow of the midnight sun. 

The festival was established to create unique music experiences and to push boundaries. Whether they ́re hosting a rave in a glacier or orchestrating performances in 5000 year old lava tunnels, the organisers are dedicated to offer memorable and unconventional experiences to their attendees. Their main goal is to combine music with outdoor adventure as well as having stage events in the city. 

It’s truly an immersive experience that celebrates both the music and natural wonders of Iceland.

 

4. Reykjavík Jazz festival

Established in 1990, the Reykjavík Jazz Festival stands as one of Iceland’s oldest and most enduring music festivals. Held annually at the end of August, this event has garnered increasing prestige within the international jazz community.

For jazz-fans, the festival presents an unmissable opportunity to dive into a world of musical diversity, featuring performances from both Icelandic and international artists. From contemporary and avant-garde expressions to the rhythm of Latin jazz and the grandeur of big bands, the Reykjavík Jazz Festival offers a rich tapestry of genres to explore.

5. Músíktilraunir – The Icelandic Music Experiments

Músíktilraunir or The Icelandic Music Experiments, is an established musical event that was first held in 1982. It stands out as a unique event within Iceland´s music industry as it provides an invaluable opportunity for young, aspiring musicians. While its not a traditional music festival, music-lovers are sure to discover upcoming talents and enjoy great music. 

The festival takes place in Reykjavík city, usually at the beginning of the year. Over the course of five days, close to 50 musical acts compete to take one of the ten available places in the finals. Músíktilraunir serves as a crucial stepping stone, offering a platform for 13-25 year old musicians to showcase their skills and gain both national and international recognition. 

Notable past winners include Of Monsters and Men, Samaris, Mínus and Mammút, all of whom have since cemented their place within the music industry, both in Iceland and abroad. 

So if you are a music lover seeking fresh sounds and travelling to Iceland, Músíktilraunir might just be the festival for you.