Journey to the Centre of the Glacier: Into The Glacier Langjökull

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer

Visiting a glacier in Iceland is always a great idea, but have you ever been inside one? With ‘Into the Glacier,’ you can visit the longest man-made ice cave in the world all year round, drilled into Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull.

Here is everything you need to know about how to get there, what to wear, and what to expect from a man-made ice cave compared to a natural one!

All you need to know!

How to get there: Driving to Húsafell

The ice tunnel is located in Langjökull, Iceland’s second-largest glacier, in the western part of Iceland. Langjökull covers about 950 km² (10,225 sq ft) and is between 1,200 and 1,300 metres (about 4,000 ft) above sea level. You can easily get there by driving to Húsafell, a large holiday and campground area just a 2-hour drive away from Reykjavík.

If you are not renting a car, you can also just book the experience with transportation from Reykjavík. When we went “Into the Glacier”, we booked the experience from Húsafell and also decided to stay in a holiday hut for a few nights.

There are numerous options for accommodation in the area. You can stay at the Húsafell Hotel or the campground, or you can book one of the summer houses in the area—most come with a hot tub, which is very relaxing after a day in the glacier!

I have visited a few ice caves in Vatnajökull National Park before, and with most of them, you need to prepare for a small hike before reaching the glacier outlet. 

When visiting the man-made ice caves in Langjökull glacier, you are driven to the entrance of the tunnel system. This is a perfect option for people who have difficulty walking longer distances or families who want to take smaller kids on the experience. 

What should I wear?

When we visited in late March, it was pretty frosty, with temperatures reaching down to -15°C (5°F) on top of the glacier, with strong wind gusts making everything feel even colder. So it’s important that you dress warm and wear good waterproof boots (you can also get overshoes at the Húsafell Activity Camp), as it is around 0°C (32°F) in the tunnels.

You should definitely bring along:

  • Waterproof shoes and warm socks
  • Warm winter jacket
  • Hat & gloves
  • Sunglasses for the trip to the glacier
  • Base-/Mid-layer clothing
An adventurous superjeep ride to Langjökull

If you choose to visit the ice tunnel from Húsafell, you will meet up with your guide at the Húsafell Activity Center, where you can also buy snacks and get gas! 

Our little group was greeted by guide and operation manager for “Into the Glacier”, Óskar and his Superjeep Wrangler Rubicon. During the winter season, from October 16 to May 31, all groups meet up at Húsafell. During the summer months, visitors with a 4×4 vehicle can also drive up the F-road 550 to the Klaki Basecamp themselves, from where they will be picked up with a specifically modified glacier vehicle. 

Please note that the driving conditions heavily depend on the weather and that you should not drive an F-road unless you are prepared for it!

 

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer
Guide Óskar & his superjeep, photos: Alina Maurer
Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer
Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer

The bumpy ride from Húsafell onto Langjökull glacier takes about an hour, depending on the weather and the road. When we visited, a minor snowstorm surprised us once we ascended higher on the road to Langjökull. During some parts of the ride, Óskar needed to rely on his GPS due to poor visibility. At some point, everything behind the windshield turned completely white, and I lost feeling for whether the vehicle was moving or not – but Óskar had everything under control. What an adventure!

You are driven past an ancient road that, back in the days, chieftains from all over Iceland used to get to the parliament assemblies in Þingvellir. You also pass Ok, a former glacier that lost its status in 2014 after its ice mass became too thin to move by its own weight and was, therefore, declared dead. Sadly, the reality of melting glaciers and climate change caught up with us a few times more while travelling up to Langjökull in the form of memory cairns, which mark the former edges of Langjökull for each decade.

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer
The edge of the glacier in the year 2000, photo: Alina Maurer
Being inside a glacier: What to expect?

After arriving at Langjökull, we make our way through extreme wind gusts, slapping us in the face with ice-cold air and snow. The entrance of the tunnel system is unexpectedly narrow and inconspicuous, but finally, it’s windstill and nearly warm inside at around 0°C (32°F) after the harsh conditions outside. 

Óskar leads us to the “dressing room” past some (emergency) portable toilets so we can put on our crampons. The tunnel is unexpectedly grand, with the ceiling reaching as far up as more than 3 metres and 3.5 metres wide. The ground is quite slippery, but the crampons help find grip immensely.

Generally, the man-made ice cave is accessible to all. Children can get sledges to be pulled through the tunnels for an exciting adventure, and people relying on wheelchairs can also book special assistance so they are also able to visit Langjökull!

While Óskar leads us further inside the glacier, he explains the different stages of how a glacier forms, which can be easily seen at the beginning of the tunnel. The snow accumulates over time, and if it “survives” one melt season, it compresses through the weight of the snow on top of it and forms a denser layer called “firn”. After more compression, the layers slowly transform into a thick mass of ice.

 

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer

"The ice in here is about 150 years old. So when people are in the chapel, the ice slowly melts from their heat, and we breathe in that old air in small quantities that emerges from the air bubbles within the ice."

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer
Óskar explaining the age of the ice in the chapel, photo: Alina Maurer

We pass the picturesque blue wall, where the famous “Into the Glacier” logo is stationed and arrive at the chapel. In the past, people have gotten married here, and some celebrities have even rented the entire ice tunnel for an overnight stay! So if you are looking for a special place for a special celebration, you can contact the team and have a truly unique experience arranged.

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer
Shift manager Kiddi is enlarging the tunnel and cutting ice with a chainsaw, photo: Alina Maurer

The tunnels need to be maintained constantly, as otherwise, the whole cave system would disappear after approximately seven years due to the glacier’s movement. 

Inside the tunnel, you can truly see how the glacier moves and how it finds its own paths for water drainage through moulins and cracks that open up into big crevasses. Everything is constantly monitored and maintained, so the experience is very safe. Óskar showed us remnants of old crevasses that closed themselves again and also a current crevasse that has been in the tunnel for some time. You can also see the ash layer of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption from 2010 preserved in the ice layer, which is pretty cool!

The tunnel is 500 metres (1640 ft) long and runs in a circle, so you don’t walk the same path twice. During the visit, you have plenty of time to ask all sorts of questions and take pictures. The guides also explain different characteristics of glaciers during the tour, like the drainage system of moulins, the formation of crevasses and the construction process of the ice tunnel.

Natural Ice Caves VS Man-Made Ice Tunnel
Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson standing in the Sapphire Ice Cave.
Golli. Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson standing in the Sapphire Ice Cave

If you are unsure whether you want to visit the man-made ice cave in Langjökull or a natural ice cave, here are all the facts to make your decision easier!

I’ve been to three natural ice caves at Breiðamerkurjökull, a glacier outlet that is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and in my opinion, both kinds of ice caves have their own charm. I was truly astonished that one could witness the glaciers’ movement in the man-made tunnel firsthand and I did not expect that at all – I’ve also not had that experience during my visits in a natural ice cave, as you don’t go in that far. 

In the man-made ice tunnel in Langjökull, you are truly INSIDE a glacier with about 25 metres of thick ice above you and over 200 metres of ancient ice beneath you, way further in than you would be in a natural ice cave, which is pretty cool!

While the lighting responsible for the infamous blue hues in ice caves is undoubtedly better in a natural ice cave, as it is natural light and does not come from LEDs, natural ice caves are mostly only accessible during the winter months from mid-October to late March. 

Into the Glacier, Langjökull, photo by: Alina Maurer
Hidden waterfall on the way back to Húsafell, photo: Alina Maurer

Therefore, the man-made ice tunnel in Langjökull is a great option for people visiting Iceland in the summer, families with smaller children and people who have difficulties walking longer distances. In my opinion, both experiences have their own perks and are quite different from each other!

Not to forget, the journey up and down the glacier is an adventure by itself. Riding in a modified supertruck and witnessing the harsh elements while standing on ancient ice is truly mesmerising! Óskar even made an extra pit stop on the way back to show us a hidden waterfall. “Into the Glacier” does a great job of sharing important knowledge about glaciers, a natural phenomenon that will be lost in the near future due to climate change. Visiting the ice cave with Óskar was truly an experience that we will cherish for a long time to come!

You can book your “Into the Glacier” experience here via Iceland Review.

Lake Mývatn in North Iceland

What can you do around North Iceland’s stunning waterbody, Lake Mývatn? How big is the lake, and how long should you spend there? Read on to learn more about this famous nature site in Iceland’s north. 

Situated in a large geothermal area, the Lake Mývatn nature reserve has become one of the most popular natural attractions in Iceland’s northern region

Given thats its volcanic shores are laden with endless points of interest, the majority of travellers enjoy driving a complete circuit around the lake, stopping as and when they discover fascinating stops.

Mývatn is not a deep lake by any means. Its maximum depth is only 4.5 m (15 ft), but its surface area – 37 km2 (14 sq mi) – more than makes up for its shallow nature.

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Geothermal activity at Lake Mývatn 

Geothermal site near Mývatn
Photo: Private Lake Mývatn Tour

The Mývatn area formed approximately 2300 years ago in a violent fissure eruption. It is thought that basaltic lava flowed through Laxárdalur valley, all the way to the lowland plain of Aðaldalur, where it met the ocean. In its wake, a row of craters has since been named Þrengslaborgir. Signs of this geothermal activity can be found all around the lake. For example, nearby is Krafla caldera, within which sits Viti volcano.

Some particular spots are more noteworthy than others. One area worth checking out is Skútustaðir, a crater row on the lake’s southern side that is today considered a national monument. Craters such as these would have obstructed the steady flow of lava, forcing it to form pools that later drained, leaving large forests of basaltic pillars.

Dimmuborgir rock formations
Photo: Private Lake Mývatn Tour

One great example of this is Dimmuborgir, otherwise known as the Black Fortress or Black Castles. It is a dark, haunting, craggy stretch of gnarled rocks that serves as the setting for countless stories from Icelandic folklore. The best known is the tale of Grýla, a tough ogress who makes up a central part of Icelandic Christmas traditions. 

There are walkways throughout Dimmuborgir that let you appreciate the intense natural formations, as well as ponder on the trolls and elves that are said to live in the area. Kirkjuhringur (Church Circle) is one such hike, coming in at 2.2 km long. It is named after a beautiful arch formation that resembles a country church, hence the route’s name.  

The lake’s glittering blue waters are dotted with small islands. Some are ancient pseudocraters, while others are monolithic columns of basalt. 

Are there other geothermal attractions at Mývatn? 

Mývatn is known for its geothermal energy
Photo: Lake Mývatn Shore Excursion from Akureyri Port

On the slopes of Mount Námafjall, visitors can discover the otherworldly site known as Námaskarð Pass. 

With an abundance of geothermal activity happening just below the surface, there is no vegetation to speak of at Námaskarð. In its place are a wide array of fumaroles and hot springs, each spouting a column of white steam into the air. 

This geothermal activity creates a brilliant natural spectacle. For instance, the ground throughout the pass is caked in different colours, such as red, yellow, orange, green. 

The tranquil interior of Grjótagjá cave
Photo: Private Lake Mývatn Tour

Grjótagjá cave is another well-known site at Mývatn. In fact, many people have seen this cave without ever having visited it! The reason for that is HBO’s fantasy series, Game of Thrones, which used Grjótagjá as a shooting location. 

Remember the scene where Jon Snow and his wildling lover Ygrit, share an intimate moment in a subterranean pool? That, dear reader, would be the cave in question. 

Actually, because of the show’s global success, Grjótagjá can only be visited with a tour guide these days so as to ensure the cave remains undamaged and relatively empty of visitors. 

Mývatn Nature Baths 

Mývatn nature baths
Photo: Myvatn Nature Baths – Admission

One location where you can make the most of the lake’s geothermal activity is at the Mývatn Nature Baths, only 105 km (65 m) south of the Arctic Circle. Having first opened in 2004, this spa offers spectacular views over the lake, best enjoyed while luxuriating in pleasant, naturally-heated waters. 

Not only will you find milky-blue pools outside in the open air, but Mývatn Nature baths also offers a swim-up bar, steam rooms, and their own eatery, Café Kvika, which serves up tasty lunches and snacks. Its facilities are sophisticated in their design and blend in tastefully with the stunning panoramas that make up the lake.

Remember to bring your own towel, though one can be rented onsite should you forget. 

When is the best time to visit Lake Mývatn? 

An aerial view of Lake Mývatn
Photo: Mývatn and surroundings

Thankfully for you, Lake Mývatn can be visited in both the winter and summer.

Each season offers its draws, be it the golden glow of the Midnight Sun washing over the land between March and September, or the snow-laden lava fields that sum up the colder months. 

Be aware that driving to the north during the winter may pose challenges regarding road closures and weather conditions, so make sure to keep a close eye on Safe Travel to avoid any unnecessary disruptions while travelling. 

A note about Mývatn’s midges… 

 
Midges at Myvatn
Photo: Michael Clarke. Flickr. CC.

One drawback for summer travellers is the abundance of midges, a small and pesky species of fly. 

As proof of that fact, the lake literally translates to “Midge Lake,” offering some idea as to how prolific they are here. These tiny insects can be found here in such large numbers that they form visible colonies around the water’s edge, often resembling small, black tornadoes.

Midges can be a particular problem for hikers and campers, so make sure to bring along protective gear so as to avoid being overwhelmed by these tiny winged locals. 

The nature of Lake Mývatn 

The lush shores of Mývatn
Photo: Private Lake Mývatn Tour

It’s rare that visitors will pass through the Lake Mývatn area without stopping to appreciate the beauty of its nature. 

Animals and plantlife all add to the paradisiacal character of this place, making it a must-stop for travellers in the north.

Marimo at Mývatn 

A shrimp sits atop a marimo ball
Photo: RW Sinclair. Flickr. CC.

Anyone who watched David Attenborough’s documentary, The Private Life of Plants might remember a small section about a strange, spherical plant known as marimo

Marimo is otherwise called Cladophora balls or moss balls. Mývatn happens to be one of the only places on earth where marimo occurs naturally. 

It is a filamentous algae that rolls about the lake’s surface like loose tennis balls. It is often accidentally caught up in the nets of local fishermen. Recently, the marimo population at Mývatn dropped considerably due to a variety of environmental factors. Conservation efforts are slowly restoring it to natural levels. 

Birds at Lake Mývatn 

Mývatn attracts many bird species
Photo: Birdwatching private tour: Lake Mývatn Area

Lake Mývatn is well known for its wildlife, particularly the many birds that nest in the area. In point of fact, it is a recognised Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, with most species being migratory. Birds are drawn to the lake due to its nutrient-dense water, as well as the millions of aquatic insects that inhabit it, like Cladocera, or water-fleas. 

With such a buffet on offer, it is little wonder that fifteen species of duck call the lake home. In fact, there are more species of duck at Lake Mývatn than in any location in Europe. The most common are tufted ducks and harlequin ducks, followed closely by greater scaups. However, visitors may also find species like: Barrow goldeneyes, red-breasted mergansers, Eurasian wigeons, gadwalls, mallards, and common scoters. 

Birdwatching is a popular activity at Mývatn
Photo: Birdwatching private tour: Lake Mývatn Area

This is by no means a definitive list. Just know that if you’re on the lookout for ducks, Lake Mývatn has you covered. Actually, it is one of the best bird-watching sites in the entire country. No surprise then that many other species that can be spotted. 

What other bird species can you observe at the lake? 


There are also water birds like slavonian grebes, great northern divers, and whooper swans. In the rocks and moors surrounding the lake, lucky guests might also see rock ptarmigans and even Iceland’s national bird, the gyrfalcon. 

If you’re looking to learn more about the region’s birdlife, you can make a stop at the endlessly fascinating Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum. While it is only a tiny museum, it has an enormous collection of stuffed birds – in fact, they display a specimen of each and every species found in Iceland, minus one. 

Alternatively, you could choose to take part in a dedicated birdwatching tour, where a guide will provide plenty of information about the variety of species that call the lake home. 

What is the best way to explore Lake Mývatn? 

A Reykjavik Excursions coach
Photo: Golli. There are many coach tours in Iceland

There are a number of different ways to discover all that Lake Mývatn has to offer. Most people would rather opt to explore on their own, hiring a rental car. That way, they can take in each attraction as they come. After all, travelling on your own schedule allows you to prioritise what sites you want to see, and how long you spend at each.

Hiring a rental car does not make sense for some travellers, particularly those who are sticking to a budget. In such cases, it is preferable to book a spot on a guided tour. 

Thankfully, Lake Mývatn is part of the popular Diamond Circle tour – the northern alternative to the famed Golden Circle sightseeing route in the west. Other worthy attractions on the Diamond Circle include the likes of Dettifoss waterfall, Husavik town, and Ásbyrgi Canyon.

Ásbyrgi is particularly worthy of a mention. It is an enormous horse-shoe shaped canyon. It is said to have formed when Odin’s eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, thrust his hoof into the earth. You can learn more in our full article – Norse Mythology: The Gods of the Ancient Icelanders. Regardless of its ethereal origins, you are sure to be in awe of Ásbyrgi’s dense forest basin and dramatic cliffsides. 

Taking a coach tour rather than driving yourself has its own benefits. For one, a professional tour guide will be able to provide informative tidbits about each attraction. It also saves one from having to worry about driving. Not to mention planning when and how to explore the area. As mentioned, this can be a welcome relief in the winter when road conditions are less than favourable. 

The Sky Lagoon in Reykjavík

A couple at the Sky Lagoon in Iceland

What differentiates the Sky Lagoon from other luxury spas in the country? When is the best time to visit, and how long should you spend there? So, before you indulge in a spot of bathing, let’s learn more about what you can expect from this lovely spa! 

If one image showcases why people travel to Iceland, it would be people relaxing in the country’s hot spring spas

Can’t you picture such luxury for yourself? 

With gentle eddies of steam rising up around their naked torsos, Iceland’s geothermal waters provide visitors serenity, community, and well-being.

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A couple at the spa
 Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer

The Sky Lagoon is just one of Iceland’s many spas, but given that it is a new addition to the scene, it lacks the recognition enjoyed by the Blue Lagoon or Myvatn Nature Baths

Though it hasn’t been around for too long, the spa has rapidly become a favourite among locals and travellers alike. So, without further ado, why exactly has this spa made such a splash since first opening in 2021? 

Why should you visit this exciting new spa?

A woman at Sky Lagoon's sauna
 Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer

For one, the Sky Lagoon shares its major draws with all other spas in Iceland. Heated from geothermal energy below the ground, the lagoon’s warm waters invite its guests to soak for a few hours at a time. As has been tradition in Iceland for centuries, bathing is a premium opportunity to either socialise with others around you, or close your eyes, lean back, and let the soothing sensations douse you with bliss. 

The Ritual is one of the spa’s major selling points. Guests are offered a seven-step process to relaxation and rejuvenation.

 

First, you will spend some time in the lagoon itself, enjoying the peaceful ambience and beautiful surroundings. After a quick dip in the nearby glacial pool, you enter the sauna, followed by a steam shower. Shortly afterwards, you will lather your skin in nutrient-rich sea salt scrub, bringing it to life. To close off the experience, you will take a refreshing shower before returning to the lagoon.

Of course, it is not necessary to take part in the ritual if you would rather bob around in the lagoon. However, it certainly adds a great depth to your experience, maximising your limited time at this exciting new spa. 

Where is the Sky Lagoon?

Looking down on the Sky Lagoon
Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer

The Sky Lagoon is located within Reykjavík. This makes it something of an anomaly among spas in Iceland, and a must-stop for those restricting themselves to the Capital Region. It is only a short way from downtown – approximately ten minutes drive – so can be easily slotted in around any other points of interest you’re looking to explore.

What amenities are on offer? 

 

The Sky Lagoon offers a swim-up bar where you can purchase a variety of alcoholic and soft beverages, including cocktails. Nothing beats enjoying a cool refreshment while your body is hugged by the snugness of the lagoon’s water. Don’t worry about paying there and then – upon buying your admission, you will be provided with an electronic wristband that tracks your purchases. 

There is also an infinity pool, allowing you to feel like you are bathing right next to the coast line. Watching the waves, passing ships, and distant islands is the perfect fuel to remain hanging over the lip of the infinity pool throughout your stay. In fact, from this position, guests are provided a brilliant view of Bessastaðir, the official residence of the President of Iceland, offering a small dose of culture during your time at the lagoon. 

Those hoping to take a piece of the Sky Lagoon home will find plenty of fantastic souvenirs at their shop. Products include: the Ritual body scrub, shampoos and conditioners, relaxing pillow sprays, and even gift cards – perfect for friends and family visiting Iceland in the near future.

What attractions are near the Sky Lagoon?

A guest relaxes at the lagoon
Photo: Volcanic Wonders & the Sky Lagoon

Given that the Sky Lagoon is so close to the many cultural attractions, museums, shopping districts, restaurants, and bars that make up Reykjavík, the possibilities are endless.

There are a variety of tours that include admission to the Sky Lagoon as part of a package. For example, the Golden Circle & Sky Lagoon Bathing Experience offers you the opportunity to dip in geothermal water and discover the wonders of Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route. That’s correct – in the space of a single day, you can visit the UNESCO heritage site, Þingvellir National Park, the explosive Geysir geothermal valley, Gullfoss waterfall, and the Sky Lagoon!

Other tours, such as Golden Circle, Sky Lagoon Premium & Kerid Volcanic Crater | Small Group Day Tour, provide even further depth to your travels, as well as keeping the group size intimate and personal.

If you’re looking for something a little more extreme, but still nearby on the Golden Circle, you could try your hand at some underwater exploration with Cold & Hot: Silfra Snorkeling & Sky Lagoon. This excursion will see you don a protective dry suit, fins, a mask and a snorkel, all in preparation for entering the crystal-clear glacier fissure, Silfra.

These are only a handful of the activity options available to you. Before locking down your itinerary, be sure to check out the many Sky Lagoon combo tours HERE!

When can you visit the Sky Lagoon?

The lagoon has impressive ocean views
Photo: Sky Lagoon Pure Pass with Transfer


The Sky Lagoon is open every day from 9AM to 10PM. This is true both in the summer and winter, making it accessible the entire year around.  

Many people like to enjoy the lagoon in the afternoon so as to watch the sunset over the ocean, leaving them with enough time to dine-out downtown come the evening. Of course, if you are visiting in the summer, the Midnight Sun will remain high in the sky right up until closing. 

The winter offers an entirely different experience, but it is no less wonderful. For one thing, the biting outside climate makes the warmth of the lagoon even more comforting, especially on particularly snowy or windy days. You will likely find the surrounding scenery layered with snow, perfectly demonstrating the contrast in temperatures. 

The Secret Lagoon in South Iceland

A happy couple at the Secret Lagoon in Iceland

What can you expect from a visit to the Secret Lagoon in Iceland? How does it differ from other spas and hot springs around the country? Read on to learn more about the many joys that come with bathing at the Secret Lagoon in Iceland. 

In Icelandic, the Secret Lagoon is known as Gamla Laugin, meaning Old Pool

It is aptly named, being the first artificially-made outdoor swimming area in Iceland. The first incarnation of the pool was built in 1891, smack in the centre of a geothermal area known as Hverahólmi. It was quite the change given this space had historically been used for washing clothes. 

Since opening, it has become a tradition amongst local people to enjoy bathing in these gently simmering waters. Swimming lessons were held there from 1909 to 1947, at which point the original pool fell into disrepair. 

It was not until 2005 that the pool was given a second chance. On the 7th of June 2014, the Secret Lagoon officially opened its doors. Holiday-makers have been flocking to it ever since. 

When can you visit the Secret Lagoon?

Entering the Secret Lagoon
Photo: Secret Lagoon – Gamla Laugin

There really is no best time to visit the Secret Lagoon. Summer visitors can enjoy the lush beauty of the surrounding nature, as well as the omnipresent sunlight. Winter travellers can expect a welcome source of heat from its waters, helping to break up their day exploring the local area. Opening hours for the Secret Lagoon are as follows:

Winter season

*from 1st of October to 31st of May

Open daily from 10:00 to 19:00

Summer season

*from 1st of June to 30th of September

Open daily from 10:00 to 20:00

 

Where is the Secret Lagoon?

Gamla Laugin
Photo: Golden Circle — Platinum Tour | Small group

The Secret Lagoon is located in Flúðir village, in South Iceland. Home to little more than 800 people, the village is known for its abundance of greenhouses and gorgeous surrounding scenery. Travelling by car is a 1 hr 25 min drive (104.7 km) from the capital city, Reykjavík.  

Thanks to its proximity to many other notable attractions, Flúðir is often included as an extra stop on the Golden Circle sightseeing route. 

 

Why should you visit the Secret Lagoon?

Bathers at the Secret Lagoon
Photo: Private Northern Lights Tour – With Secret Lagoon and Dinner

Visiting the Secret Lagoon allows you to experience the soothing warmth of Iceland’s geothermally-heated water. Slipping under its twinkling surface, you’re sure to feel your troubles melt away. 

Thankfully, there are no seasonal restrictions, meaning you are free to visit during the winter or summer. Each has its benefits; the Northern Lights may very well decorate the night sky for those stopping by between September and March. The Midnight Sun offers eternal light for summer travellers, allowing you to stay out later and fit more into your day.  

A visit to the Secret Lagoon also provides a brilliant opportunity to observe the steaming fumaroles and hot pots that surround the pool itself. Some even have names, such as Vaðmálahver, Básahver, and Litli Geysir, the latter of which is known to erupt every few minutes, offering guests a small spectacle in its own right. 

A steamy fumarole
Photo: Secret Lagoon – Gamla Laugin

In between bathing sessions, step out and take an enjoyable stroll around these fascinating natural features – but don’t step too close! These miniature springs are incredibly hot. This brings us to our next point – not only do these hot springs offer interesting surroundings, but they have a practical purpose too, feeding into the Secret Lagoon, naturally filtering its water and keeping it at a pleasant 38-40 Celsius throughout the year.  

As mentioned, the Secret Lagoon also happens to be the oldest outdoor pool in the country. With that in mind, it is pleasing to know you are taking part in an activity – relaxing in nature – that many Icelandic have done throughout the years prior, adding a real sense of authenticity to your visit. 

 

What amenities does the Secret Lagoon offer? 

A guest at the Secret Lagoon
Photo: The Ultimate Golden Circle Tour with Lunch at the Tomato Farm & Bathing at Secret Lagoon

The Secret Lagoon is more simplistic in its aesthetic and its amenities than many other spas in Iceland. Towels and swimwear are not included in the basic admission, so must be rented separately at 1000 ISK each. Make sure to spend time packing the essentials before visiting to avoid any unnecessary expenses. 

We highly recommend booking your spot in advance, especially during the busiest times of the year. However, it is also possible to buy tickets at the front desk should you decide to stop by on impulse. The ticket prices are as follows:

Adults: 3600 ISK

Children (14 and under): Free 

Seniors (and disabled): 2500 ISK

 

 

There are showers and changing facilities on-site, kept much the same as they always have been. Note that showering before entering the lagoon is mandatory, as it is with all pools in the country. Chastisement can be expected if one tries to skip this step, as a pre-entry shower is considered a foundational aspect of bathing culture in Iceland.

There is also a bistro that serves up refreshing drinks and a variety of delicious snacks. However, the bistro does not serve hot meals, so it is best to stop by the lagoon before or after you’ve had lunch. (We recommend Restaurant Minilik, an Ethiopian eatery nearby.) Exceptions are made when bigger groups make arrangements in advance. 

 

What attractions are near the Secret Lagoon? 

A couple at geysir geothermal area
Photo: Golli. A couple watches Strokkur explode!

On average, visitors tend to spend around 1.5 – 2 hours at the Secret Lagoon, leaving plenty of time to check out points of interest in the area. Fortunately, there are many worthwhile sites nearby that are worth slotting into your schedule. 

The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route, covering approximately 300 km (190 mi). It boasts three star attractions; Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal valley, and the powerful waterfall, Gullfoss, as well as other extra sites like Kerið volcanic crater and Friðheimar tomato farm. Almost all visitors to Iceland will want to make time to discover the beauty of this exciting drive. There is no better way to close it off than with a little bathing. 

If you were to head in the other direction, you would find yourself on the picturesque South Coast. This lovely journey showcases an eclectic mix of landscapes, from ancient sea cliffs to black sand deserts, craggy shorelines, and sweeping green meadows. Attractions on the western side include the waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, while exploring further will take you to the dark beach, Reynisfjara.

All About Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland

Harpa concert hall in RYK

When was Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre built in Reykjavík? Why is it an important landmark? What musical acts and stage performances can you see at Harpa? Read on to learn more. 

If you’re taking a stroll around Reykjavík, you’ll likely stumble upon the award-winning Harpa Concert Hall. 

After all, it’s hard to miss.

 

 

It is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. A striking and decidedly modern structure that favours the use of glass and abstract shapes to make up its slanted walls. 

It is not only Icelanders and visitors who have taken notice. Numerous magazines have awarded Harpa prizes, including the likes of Gramophone and Business Destination. In 2013, Harpa also won the Mies van der Rohe European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. 

Facilities at Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Facebook. Gamers at EVE Fanfest in 2018

The facilities themselves at Harpa are world-class, both for performers and businesses. Harpa has four main stages: 

Eldborg 


The first is its main hall, Eldborg, designed to streamline its acoustics and seat 1600 guests. Eldborg won the USITT Architecture Award in 2018. 

Silfurberg 

Waves by Harpa during extreme weather
Photo: Golli. Waves hitting Harpa.

Silfurberg conference hall can seat 840 people, making it an excellent choice for business events hosting large groups. Its technological prowess is particularly appealing. The stage is entirely moveable and the acoustics can be configured to a production’s liking. 

Norðurljós


Norðurljós recital stage is attached to Silfurberg, meaning the latter can expand or recede when required. It also boasts a movable stage and has viewing balconies that line its perimeter. The lighting set-up can also be changed quickly, allowing for stage managers and directors to create a variety of moods and aesthetics. 

Kaldalón


Kaldalón auditorium is the smallest of Harpa’s halls, and therefore better suited to quieter events and performances. In front of the stage is Norðurbryggja, an open area that allows for wonderful views of Harpa’s surrounding nature. 

When was Harpa Concert Hall built?

 


Plans to build Harpa extend far back to the early 2000s. It was thought that a fancy new building was needed to boost the capital’s cultural scene, as well as provide a makeover for its waterfront.

The actual construction came at a difficult time for Icelanders. In the midst of building, the country suffered through a financial crisis. In some circles, criticism was thrown at the project on account of Harpa’s perceived lavishness and expense. 

Harpa Concert Hall was completed in 2011, neatly coinciding with Iceland’s tourism boom. Since then, it has been one of the country’s most recognisable buildings, as well as a point of interest widely experienced by city sightseers.  

Where is Harpa Concert Hall located? 


Harpa is located on Austurbakka 2, 101 Reykjavík. Nearby areas include Old Harbour, Lækjartorg square, and Arnarhóll hill. Of course, behind the function hall lies nothing but ocean, and the omnipresent mountains that surround the Capital Region. 

Who designed Harpa Concert Hall? 


Harpa’s design can be traced back to Henning Larsen Architects, a Danish firm who worked closely with Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson. 

What can you see at Harpa Concert Hall? 

Harpa concert hall
Photo: Golli. A performance at Harpa Concert Hall.

Harpa Concert Hall has three residents, musical in-house acts, that are a permanent fixture. These do not include Múlinn Jazz club, who also happens to call Harpa home. 

Icelandic Symphony Orchestra


Having been founded in 1950, the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra is a cultural institution that has long held a significant place in local society. Today, they hold weekly concerts at Harpa Concert Hall from September – June. 

In the past, it has performed at the BBC Proms, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and Vienna’s Musikverein. 

Reykjavík Big Band

 

 

Fans of the golden oldies will want to catch a performance by the Reykjavík Big Band. Known for their musical expertise and great ability to swing, this beloved cultural institution has been entertaining Icelanders since first forming in 1992.

The band’s origins can be traced to Sæbjörn Jónsson, who worked as their main conductor until the start of the millennium. As of today, they are sponsored by both the City of Reykjavík and the Icelandic Music Fund. For the band’s 30th Anniversary, Maria Schneider stepped in as composer and conductor, having won many Grammy Awards in her own right.

The Reykjavík Big Band has won a handful of Icelandic Music Awards. In 2008, they were awarded Jazz Performers of the Year, and in 2011, won Best Jazz Album. Overall, the outfit has five well-received albums to their name. But not only that; they have also recorded music with some of the biggest names in local music, including ​​Bubbi Morthens and the Sálin band.

Icelandic Opera 

Russian invasion
Photo: Golli. Harpa in Ukrainian colours.

Founded in 1980, the Icelandic Opera was first staged at Gamla Bio – the Old Cinema – until moving to Harpa Concert Hall in 2011. After having settled in, the performers quickly made a name for themselves as one of the venue’s most sophisticated acts.

Each season, the Icelandic Opera puts on two productions, both as spectacular as each other. Aside from that, they also engage in various educational programs, as well as put on free lunchtime concerts under the name Kúnstpása.

International Acts at Harpa Concert Hall? 


Harpa Concert Hall also plays host to the many international acts who stop by Reykjavík while touring. This not only includes iconic musicians like Fatboy Slim and Patti Smith, but also comedians such as the UK’s Bill Bailey. 

What is the best way to experience Harpa Concert Hall? 


The best way to experience the Harpa is to grab yourself a seat at one of its many shows. That way, you will experience just what the facility has to offer, as well as catch a spot of entertainment in the meantime. 

If you’re not looking to see a show during your vacation, you can still visit Harpa simply to appreciate its unique aesthetics. 

What attractions are nearby Harpa Concert Hall? 

Esja
Photo: Golli. Esja mountain seen from Reykjavík

Glistening beneath the Midnight Sun, Harpa is one of the best places in Reykjavík to look upon its backdrop; Mount Esja. 

Mount Esja overlooks Faxafloi Bay, a startlingly blue stretch of water that separates the mountain from the city. In the winter, its slopes are blanketed with snow. In the summer, its brown-rock demeanour disguises the hiking paths and flora found there. 

If Esja was a standalone mountain, it might be one of the most iconic of its kind in the world. However, the neighbouring range behind it alludes to the vast open wilds Iceland is famous for.    

Sun Voyager
Photo: Golli. The Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavík

Only a short walk away is the Sun Voyager sculpture. This work, also on the coast, stands in testament to the early settlers who discovered Iceland, and decided to call it their home. 

Appreciating the Sun Voyager sculpture allows you to think about adventures of the past. In old, wooden longships, voyagers from the North braved tempestuous seas and a challenging new home to found Icelandic society. 

Given how modern Reykjavík appears today, it is strange to think about this nation’s primitive start.  

From Harpa to Downtown Reykjavík 

If you were to walk in the opposite direction from Harpa, you would find yourself in historic Old Harbour. This lovely district is easily recognisable thanks to the presence of the Odinn; the prize ship in the Coast Guard’s war-winning fleet, as well as the small fishing boats and yachts that dock around it. 

Hallgrímskirkja lutheran church in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík

Nearby to Old Harbour is Kolaportid, the city flea market. Boasting an eclectic array of goods; from military surplus to strange decoration and old books and restaurants, this market is popular among visitors seeking peculiar souvenirs. It’s also one of the most popular locations to taste-test Hakarl, or fermented shark, as well as a range of other Icelandic delicacies. 

If, from Harpa, you walk into the urban heart of the capital, you’ll arrive in downtown Reykjavík. Describing it as a concrete jungle might seem a tad overzealous, but it’s the closest to it you’ll find during your trip to Iceland. For anyone seeking shops, bars, and restaurants, Laugavegur street has you covered. From there, it’s only a quick jaunt to Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church – Reykjavík’s most recognisable landmark. 

What events have been held at Harpa Concert Hall? 

Golli. Armed police outside Harpa during the Council of Europe Summit, May 2023

Many events have been held at Harpa Concert Hall since it first opened.

These include: the European Film Awards, the Food and Fun Festival, EVE Fanfest, and the Reykjavík Arts Festival. Many music festivals also make use of Harpa’s stages, such as Iceland Airwaves, Dark Days, Sónar Reykjavík, and Reykjavík Jazz Festival.

A variety of productions have also used Harpa as a shooting location, such as the hit US reality show, The Bachelor, and the film, Hearts of Stone.

In May 2023, Harpa welcomed world leaders as part of the Council of Europe Summit. This was one of the more globally important conferences to be held there, and required police escorts and road closures to ensure everyone’s safety. Still, Harpa was a fitting choice given the building’s importance to Icelandic culture.

After all, the venue has also hosted events as part of the National Day of Iceland and the Festival of the Sea.

Skógafoss, Iceland – Popular for a Reason

Skógafoss waterfall is one of those instantly recognisable landmarks in Iceland that has been used in countless movies and advertisements to showcase the natural beauty of the countryside. Nevertheless, it is striking in person and should not be missed if given the opportunity. Skógafoss is a popular attraction on most tours around the southside of Iceland and it’s easy to find an accessible group tour that includes a stopover there. For those who want to travel on their own, Skógafoss is about two hours away from Reykjavík on a straight drive down Þjóðvegur 1 highway. It is located in Rangárþing eystra, south of Eyjafjallajökull glacier.

The Legendary Skógafoss

Skógafoss is around 60 m high and 25 m wide, making it one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland and while it’s usually viewed from below, there is a trail close by that leads up to the cliffs above that offers impressive views down the cascading water. Legend has it that one of the first Vikings in Iceland buried a treasure behind the waterfall that was later partially recovered and given to a nearby church for savekeeping. Today, a ring from the treasure trove is found in a museum at Skógar, a small village close to Skógafoss. Along the river Skógá, from where Skógafoss falls, are a number of smaller waterfalls that are worth the hike up to enjoy, along with impressive views over the South Coast. Skógar village is a short twenty minute walk from Skógafoss and is a great little place to stop for coffee or a meal and unwind from the thunderous vistas. Although small, the village has a number of accommodation options for those who want to extend their stay, and at least one of them, Hótel Skógafoss offers a nice view directly at the waterfall. 

Photo: Golli. The Skógar Museum close to Skógafoss

Skógafoss and Beyond

Skógafoss is only one of many attractions in this area of the south that includes the Seljavallalaug hot pool and Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It also marks the beginning of the hike up Fimmvörðuháls, a 22 km trail between glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The hike takes about 11-14 hours but because of its great accessibility it’s one of the most popular hikes in the country. Close by is also the iconic Þórsmörk, a breathtaking highland valley with beautiful hiking trails. There’s a reason why some places are used to advertise Iceland and it’s safe to say no one will be disappointed with a visit to Skógafoss and the surrounding area.

Reykjavík – Iceland’s Amazing Capital City 

Miðborg Reykjavíkur - tekið úr byggingakrana

What is there to see and do in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík? How many people live there, and how was the city founded? Let’s learn all there is to know about Iceland’s only major settlement, Reykjavík.

Reykjavík is a city like no other on earth. For one thing, most people would not describe it as a city at all – rather, it resembles a pleasant coastal town with landmarks of noteworthiness. Its diminutive population only reinforces this point, as does its lack of urban infrastructure, transport networks, and twisting highways.

Ultimately, Reykjavík is the perfect city for those who long to appreciate the lively epicentre of a nation without subjecting themselves to the incessant noise, lurking danger, and hustle and bustle so apparent in many other capitals around the world. 

Reykjavík skyline
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík from the water.

And, if you might excuse this frankly disruptive personal interjection – as a foreign resident living in Iceland’s capital, I believe wholeheartedly that it is one of the greatest cities on earth, if only for the fact that it defies what is so expected of one. In many ways, if you were to look up the opposite of a city in the dictionary, you may find Reykjavík to be the definition, at least in terms of its gentle ambience and relatively slow pace of life. 

Still, a city is what Reykjavík is. Given this fact, it is obvious that Reykjavík is where most visitors to Iceland will stay, utilising it as a go-to homebase for taking tours and excursions around the country. There are so many hotels, Air BnBs, and hostels to choose from, and at a relatively competitive price, that picking otherwise does not make budgetary sense given the high cost of vacationing in Iceland. 

Basic Facts About Reykjavík 

Photo: Golli. Reykjavík at dusk.

Reykjavík translates to ‘Smoky Bay,’ named because of how its surrounding geothermal areas produce pillars of white steam. While these outpourings are not anywhere near as noticeable to residents today, it must have been quite the surreal sight to the city’s early settlers. 

For anyone interested in observing these geothermal sites that are still in action, there are many locations on the adjacent Reykjanes Peninsula, such as the Martian-like landscape of Gunnuhver hot springs.  

As of 2024, the population of Reykjavík is approximately 139,849 people, meaning that around two-thirds of Iceland’s entire population calls the capital home. If there was any fact that demonstrates just how remote and, ultimately, wild Iceland actually is, it should be this. 

Biker crossing a busy road in Reykjavík.
Photo: Biker crossing a busy road in Reykjavík.

Since 2016, the population of the city has increased around 1.62% each year, but this can be hard to notice given the fact that almost every single tourist who visits Iceland will pass through it at one point or another during their holiday. In fact, its density of people is, almost, tribute to just how popular it is, and is not particularly a reflection of the city if it were left to its own devices. 

But then again, as much is true of any urban centre that so happens to be a beloved tourist destination… 

The Capital area of Reykjavík covers 273 km2 (105 sq mi), and so it is considered Iceland’s only major city. Akureyri is often called ‘Iceland’s Northern Capital City,’ but with a population of only 17,693, it should more accurately be described as a town rather than a major urban settlement. Still, this gorgeous settlement boasts its only cathedral, and a domestic airport should anyone want to hop on a flight between Reykjavík and Akureyri. 

Reykjavík’s connection to nature

 

Reykjavík is considered to be among the cleanest and most environmentally friendly cities on the planet. This comes down not only to how the city’s residents care for their home, but also the simple fact that so much of Iceland’s heat and electricity is geothermally, and hydrothermally, sourced. 

Saying that, Reykjavík is as much of a party city as many other places, so early mornings on a Saturday and Sunday might make you think twice about the idea Reykjavík is particularly clean – but rest easy knowing that whatever litter might be left over from the night before is quickly discarded by local services. 

If one thing can be said for the Icelanders, it is that they are extremely house proud, and they take their relationship with nature very seriously.  

Puffin Iceland
Photo: Golli. Nesting Atlantic Puffins

Speaking of the city’s connection to nature, guests should be aware that whales and puffins can often be seen from the city. Both animals have become bonafide mascots of the country – whether they are aware of it or not – thanks to the great many wildlife tours on offer here. 

One of the most popular spots from which to take whale-watching and bird-watching tours is Old Harbour, a beautiful district marked by its many boats and restaurants. 

Weirdly enough, dogs were banned from Reykjavík until the 1980s; something at odds with how Icelanders view their love of animals. However, the presence of our canine friends is now a staple part of capital life, second only to the many cats seen roaming the streets. 

A Brief History of Reykjavík 

Viking Festival Hafnarfjörður

If you were to look at the Reykjavík City Crest, you might notice that it depicts two logs. This symbolises the ancient Norse method of deciding on where to settle. Aside from Irish monks, or Papar, who were said to have lived in a monastery on Papey Island, Ingólfr Arnarson was the first person to have officially discovered Iceland. In fact, it is said that the Irish left Iceland because they did not like the presence of Norse settlers. 

Who was Ingólfr Arnarson?

 

Originally from the Rivedal Valley in West Norway, Ingólfr Arnarson arrived in Iceland in the year 874 AD. He arrived after fleeing from a blood feud that he had become embroiled in. His escape from Norway focused on a mysterious island discovered by fellow Vikings, Garðar Svavarsson and Hrafna-Flóki, some years beforehand. 

Upon spotting land, Ingólfr tossed two wooden logs over the side of his longship, observing where they beached. These logs – or polished wooden poles – were known as Öndvegissúlur (High-Seat Pillars.) So it might seem strange to us today, this method of deciding on where to set-up a permanent farmstead was common practice among the Norsemen at the time. 

Reykjavík statue
Photo: Golli. A statue in Reykjavík

And so it was that Reykjavík’s location was decided upon. You can read more about Ingólfr Arnarson and the settlement of Reykjavík in the Landnámabók, otherwise known as the Book of Settlers.   

If you want to learn more about Reykjavík’s earliest days in a more fun and practical way, then the Settlement Exhibition 871±2 is a fantastic place to visit. This historic site was built around the excavated ruins of one of the first man-made structures ever built in Iceland. And, it can be found right downtown! The ruins date back to somewhere in between 900 – 1000 AD. Ancient and mysterious, they expose details of how Reykjavík’s earliest settlers would have lived and worked.

Since Iceland became a sovereign nation in 1918 – breaking away from Denmark with the Act of the Union – Reykjavík has held the position as the northernmost capital in the world. 

Famous Landmarks in Reykjavík

Hallgrímskirkja lutheran church in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík

The columned steeple of Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church is the city’s most recognisable landmark, towering over the tin roofs of downtown. While the ground floor of this historic building is free to explore, ascending to its high-level will require an extra fee. You will find this fantastic cultural landmark at the top of Skólavörðustígur – known colloquially as rainbow street – making for fantastic urban photographs right up to its bronze double doors. 

Another of Reykjavík’s more iconic buildings is Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, located on the rocky embankment of Faxaflói Bay. This award-winning structure is a great place to catch any one of the local or international acts to grace its many stages. These include the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, Reykjavík’s Big Band, and the Icelandic Opera. 

Photo: Golli. Harpa concert hall.

What are some lesser-known landmarks in Reykjavík?

 

The circular dome of Perlan Museum and Observation Deck is a little way outside of downtown, but is more than worth a visit. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy the Wonders of Iceland exhibition. It includes artificial ice caves and bird cliffs, as well as a cinematic Northern Lights experience. To top it off, you will have access to amazing panoramic views of the capital, and its surrounding nature. That’s right… from the 360 degree viewing platform that sits atop the museum. 

When it comes to famed monuments, stop by the Sun Voyager sculpture, nearby to Harpa Concert Hall. This beautiful and artistic representation of a Viking longship is a truly unique metallic specimen, and provides a brilliant subject for those looking to photograph the table-top prominence of Mount Esja, Reykjavík’s nearest mountain. 

Perlan Öskjuhlíð haust autumn
Photo: Golli. Perlan on Öskjuhlíð

If there was any place to dwell on how Iceland was discovered by courageous sailors braving the unknown ocean, it is the Sun Voyager. 

If you’re hoping to see as many of Reykjavík’s landmarks as possible, your two best options are to take a pleasant walk around the capital, or better yet, hop on a city sightseeing bus tour!

Shopping in Reykjavík

Shopping in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Make sure to plan your budget for shopping!

Reykjavík provides fantastic opportunities for shoppers. Albeit those who are willing to pay more for products than they might do elsewhere. Unfortunately, Reykjavík is an expensive place to visit, let alone enjoy retail therapy. But if you have cash and a predilection to shop, you’ll find a fantastic array of clothes, music, ornaments, and food. 

Laugavegur is the most popular street for shopping in the capital. Strolling along it, you’ll find plenty of establishments to tickle your interest, be they galleries, book shops, or cute cafes. 

Despite this now being Reykjavík’s most well-trodden street, Laugavegur was not always so attractive to visitors. In fact, it translates to hot spring road. Locals used to wash their clothes in a trickling geothermal stream that ran directly where people walk today. 

A man reading in a book shop corner.
Photo: Golli. A man reading in a book shop corner.

You’re sure to notice the many souvenir shops around the city. Locals know these as Puffin Shops. On the other hand, guests see them as perfect places to grab an I <3 RYK t-shirt, or perhaps, a keyring or mug emblazoned with Hallgrimskirkja or the city’s crest. Whatever you choose for a memento of your stay, you will be spoiled for choice. The right souvenir shop for you is right around the corner. 

Are there good clothing stores in Reykjavík?

 

Icelanders also happen to be fashion-conscious people. But with the relatively high price of clothing items, and a lack of variety, second-hand shops are the obvious choice. 

Places like Spúútnik and Fatamarkaðurinn second-hand market offer a diverse mix of attire, much of which is inspired by the funky psychedelia of the sixties and seventies. So, make sure to stand out against Iceland’s landscapes by dressing your special for holiday photos 

Lucky Records in Reykjavík music
Photo: Golli. Lucky Records in Reykjavík

What music stores are in Reykjavík?

 

Also, the Icelandic people love their music. You will find many record stores across the city, including the likes of 12 Tónar, Smekkleysa, and Lucky Records. Browsing their collections of new and vintage music is the perfect way to spend some time in the city. It provides you with a great opportunity to gain a deeper insight into local artists. 

It’s also cool to know that many of these record stores also moonlight as indie record labels. Thus, visiting gets you even closer to the musical talent that Iceland is known for. Look out for small-scale concerts regularly held at these locales during your visit. 

Restaurants and Bars in Reykjavík 

Cocktails in the making at Tipsy, Reykjavík.
Photo: Golli. Cocktails in the making at Tipsy, Reykjavík.

Foodies will find so much to love about Reykjavík that their stomachs might demand they never leave.

Not only are there plenty of spots that dedicate themselves completely to authentically Icelandic dishes – like the scrumptious plokkari (potatoes and white fish) or, of course, roasted lamb – but there are countless other restaurants and takeaways focused on their own takes on international food, be it Thai or Italian.

What are Reykjavík’s best known foods?

 

This article would be remiss not to mention the most famous spots to sample the best Iceland has to offer. 

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is the one-stop you need to pay attention to regarding Icelandic hot dogs. Their sausages are made of a mix of lamb, beef and pork. The meat is topped off with fried onions and a generous slathering of mustard, ketchup, and remoulade.

More adventurous travellers may want to try the famous – or, in fact, infamous – Hakarl, or Icelandic Shark. 

(If you’re planning on putting yourself through this culinary ordeal, expect a rapid and severe taste of ammonia. Hopefully, the awed and giggly cheers from those around you make biting down worth the effort!)

Two people eating ice cream in the snow.
Photo: Golli. Two people eating ice cream in the snow.

Does Reykjavík have a fun nightlife?

 

Enjoying alcoholic delights is as diverse and entertaining as the food on offer in Reykjavík. Different establishments offer different types of scenes. Depending on your mood, you might find yourself sampling delicious whiskies in the city’s rock joints. Or enjoying sunset from one of the classier rooftop bars. 

Might you be more inclined to the former, the likes of Dillon Whiskey Bar or Gaukurinn Drag Bar are your bet. More sophisticated sippers might prefer SKY Bar or Petersen svítan. 

Despite the great variety of bars and restaurants on offer, guests might find the city lacking in the large-scale chains that are accustomed to at home. For example, neither Starbucks nor McDonalds operates in Iceland, though local alternatives fill the gap – like Te & Kaffi cafe for coffee, and Aktu Taktu or Metro for burgers. 

Art and Culture in Reykjavík 

A nighttime pool party in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Not all parties happen at the bar!

Icelanders – or, more particularly, Reykjavík residents – are a creative, somewhat absurd, and wildly experimental bunch. Unafraid to push the boundaries in whatever arena they choose, be it cuisine, fashion, music, or art. 

This will likely be obvious walking through Reykjavík. Many walls and houses are painted with stunning murals that add welcome and eccentric colour to an otherwise grey cityscape. 

With that in mind, art-lovers will find many eclectic galleries, exhibitions, and vibrant stores throughout the capital. Here, they can appreciate Iceland’s contributions to the creative scene. 

Read our full article: What is Icelandic Culture?

Where can you see art in Reykjavík?

Reykjavík Art Museum, for example, covers many such centres of display across the city:  Hafnarhús, by Old Harbour, focuses on modern art, while Kjarvalsstaðir in Klambratún park and Ásmundarsafn shift the focus towards sculpture and experimental contemporary works. 

Hafnarhús art museum
Photo: Golli. Hafnarhús is one of the museums in Reykjavík

On top of these museums, there are many sculptures to be found, including the likes of The Unknown Bureaucrat, located by Lake Tjörnin. 

Another interesting instalment is the Imagine Peace Tower, which is found on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður. Dedicated to the late-Beatle, John Lennon, this powerful spotlight was unveiled by Yoko Ono herself. It brightens up the winter night between October and December every year. 

For those historically inclined, there are also a great variety of museums where you can learn more about Iceland. More than that – about how Reykjavík has developed throughout the centuries.

These include the National Museum of Iceland, which displays countless artefacts related to the country’s cultural history. Then there is Árbær Open Air Museum, where you can appreciate beautifully replicated homes from the Iceland of old. 

Reykjavík Old Harbour
Photo: Golli. Outside of Reykjavík Maritime Museum

What are lesser-known museums in Reykjavík?

 

There are many other options depending on your subject of interest. For example, the Reykjavík Maritime Museum focuses on Iceland’s historic fishing industry, as well as its relationship with the sea in general, while the bizarre but fascinating Icelandic Phallological Museum dedicates exhibition space to the male reproductive organ, boasting an enormous collection of phalluses sourced from animal species across the country. 

Another recommendation would be the Museum of Photography, which has over 6 million photographs in its collection, many of which have perfectly captured how Iceland’s capital city has grown from a tiny Norse settlement into the burgeoning economic and cultural hub it is today. 

In Summary 

Skólavörðustígur Reykjavík pride LGBTQ+
Photo: Golli. A pair snaps a selfie with the Skólavörðustígur rainbow as a backdrop at the 2019 Pride Parade in Reykjavík

As you’ve surely cottoned onto by now, the city of Reykjavík is a special place through and through. 

It is the sort of place that inspires great literature, engaging nights, and breathtaking art. The sort of place where friends are made as easily as memories. Where visitors transcend the typical experiences one has come to expect of a much beloved tourist destination.   

Surrounded by mountainscapes and oceans, this exciting young capital draws is as great for immerseing oneself in nature as it is for others seeking urban delights. 

The Golden Circle | Iceland’s Favourite Sightseeing Route  

Geysir Iceland tourism

Iceland is famed far and wide for its astounding natural spectacles. Cascading waterfalls. Bursting geysers. Wide stretches of untamed wilderness. But particular places have become more renowned than most. For instance, the Golden Circle sightseeing route is the most popular sightseeing route in Iceland. 

The route is named after one of its three impressive stops – the colossal Gullfoss waterfall, literally translating to ‘Golden Waterfall.’ From one perspective, this is something of a coincidence as this trail is considered the premium – and thus golden – sightseeing circuit in the country. It offers guests awe, reverence, and appreciation in equal measures.

In total, the Golden Circle covers 300 km (186 mi); a fairly considerable distance, but very manageable within a day, bearing in mind one is prepared to fill it with intrigue and adventure, of course. 

Where is the Golden Circle in Iceland? 

Gullfoss waterfall in Autumn
Photo: Private Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon tour from Reykjavik

The Golden Circle sightseeing route is located in West Iceland, about 45 km northwest of Iceland’s vibrant capital city, Reykjavik. 

For those leaving from Reykjvik towards the route’s most popular starting point – the notoriously unpronounceable Þingvellir National Park – expect to drive for one hour. 

Guests should leave the capital by following the major highway, Route 49, west toward the leafy town of Mosfellsbær. On the outskirts of the city, be aware that Route 49 becomes Route 1 without having to turn off. 

Continue along this main road, crossing four roundabouts as you drive through Mosfellsbær. At the fifth roundabout, swing into the first right turn onto Route 36, otherwise known as Þingvallavegur. There will be clear signs en route, leaving no room for doubt. 

 

This road will take you across wide open wilderness until, eventually, the placid blue waters of Lake Þingvallavatn appear on your right hand side. When you spot what is Iceland’s largest natural lake—a beautiful sight in and of itself—you know you’re heading in the right direction.

Route 36 will take you right up to Þingvellir National Park’s modern Visitor’s centre, complete with its engaging information boards and easily-accessible walkways.

Congratulations – you have now reached your first stop on the Golden Circle route. So, what incredible sites lie ahead of you?

What sites are considered the Golden Circle route?

A map showing the topography of Þingvellir
Photo: Adam Fagen. Flickr. CC. A map showing Þingvellir.

There are three major sites on Iceland’s Golden Circle sightseeing route – Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. 

All of them can be visited within the space of one day. The majority of one’s time will be spent at Þingvellir National Park given the wealth of activities available there, but leisurely travellers may want to spread the experience out over a couple of days. 

A gentle approach is especially true for those who want to make extra stops along the way, but we discuss more about them later. 

For now, let’s focus on the main attractions, starting with Þingvellir (pronounced Thing-veck-leer). 

Þingvellir National Park

It is not an easy job, using words to justify exactly how the UNESCO World Heritage site, Þingvellir, is such a special place. 

Why, you ask? Because Þingvellir National Park is many things at once, the least of which being that it is often constituted as the first part of the Golden Circle route. 

The History of Þingvellir National Park

þingvellir national park
Photo: Páll Stefánsson. þingvellir during the winter.

Þingvellir is a site of immense historical importance, not just for the Icelandic people, but humanity itself. For starters, Þingvellir was where the first democratically-elected parliament, the Alþingi, first formed back in 930 AD. It was in that summer that the nation of Iceland was born, marking the beginning of the Icelandic Commonwealth, which lasted until 1262. While the Commonwealth did not last, the Alþingi is still in operation today. 

Anyone with some knowledge of Icelandic would recognise that Þingvellir translates to ‘Assembly Fields.’ In ancient Germanic sites, a thing (Þing) describes the gathering of a government, while the singular vǫllr means ‘field.’

Playing dress-up as Vikings
Photo: Golli. Festival-goers dressed as Vikings.

Every year since its founding, chieftains (or Goðar) and their clans would travel from across Iceland to assemble at Þingvellir, setting up temporary living quarters amid its craggy walls. 

For two weeks at a time, clans would discuss the law, settle disputes, forge alliances, and hold great games and feasts. Ordinary citizens would also attend, be they sword-makers, farmers, or merchants, using the gathering to peddle their wares, find work, and seek out adventure.      

Þingvellir was established as a national park in 1930. In 2004, UNESCO recognised the area as a world heritage site, lathering even more prestige onto this exceptional locale. 

Þingvellir’s Fascinating Geology & Nature 

Guests at Þingvellir National Park
Photo: Golli. Walking in Þingvellir National Park

The landscapes of Þingvellir were formed by an eruptive fissure northeast of nearby Mount Hengill. What it left behind was a volcanic paradise composed of lush arctic flora and incredible geology defined by the park’s location atop the Mid-Atlantic Rift

The Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates make up the outer periphery of this protected area, creating what amounts to a shield-wall enclosing a wholly unique rift valley. 

Given that these tectonic plates are drifting apart ever-so slowly each year, the valley basin has been torn apart with fissures and cracks, many filled with water. 

Water filling in a volcanic rift.
Photo: Golli. A volcanic rift filled with water.

By far, the most impressive rift is Almannagjá (Everyman’s Gorge), better described as a scenic, yet haunting canyon. Guests can walk down Almannagjá as part of the Execution trail, stopping at various display boards within their award-winning interactive exhibition to learn about the history that took place there. 

Visitors can look upon Höggstokkseyri (“the bank of the execution block”), where decapitations took place in the name of the Icelandic law. A short while north, they will stumble across Brennugjá (“the Burning Canyon”) where those accused of sorcery were burned alive at the stake.

Volcanic activity has been dormant at Þingvellir for over two millennia, but there is no telling when it will start up again.     

Explore a strange underwater world at Silfra Fissure 

A snorkeller at Silfra Fissure in Iceland
Photo: Golden Circle & Snorkeling in Silfra Minibus Tour | Free Underwater Photos

Þingvellir is where snorkelers and scuba divers discover the glacial beauty of Silfra Fissure. 

Glacial water from neighbouring Langjökull—Iceland’s second largest glacier—fills this strange underwater canyon, allowing for visibility of up to 150 m. There is little fish life in the fissure itself—Brown Trout and Arctic Char prefer to spend time in the wide open waters of adjoining Þingvallavatn—but the deep shades of royal blue and dramatic rock walls more than make up for it.

 

A number of operators run tours at Silfra Fissure, using a nearby parking area to adorn their guests in the thick dry suits, fins, neoprene hoods and gloves, and a mask and snorkel. It would be insincere to claim that exploring here is not cold, but with the right protection and only forty minutes or so in the water, the experience is more than worth it. 

After all, how often does anyone get to swim between our planet’s tectonic plates? 

Officials of the national park describe Þingvellir as ‘the heart of Iceland’. Given all this location has seen, not mentioning the impact it has had on Iceland’s national identity, it is impossible to argue with such an assessment. 

Öxarárfoss Waterfall

The auroras over Öxarárfoss Waterfall
Photo: Golli. Northern lights over Öxarárfoss Waterfall

At a diminutive 13 m [44 ft] high, Öxarárfoss waterfall cascades over Almannagjá gorge, and is considered a must-see spot in Þingvellir National Park. Unlike most waterfalls in Iceland, Öxarárfoss is actually man-made, the water having been channelled into Almannagjá many hundreds of years before.

According to legends, the waterfall was named after a mythic axe that was used to slaughter a female troll infamous for killing weary travellers passing through the area. 

Öxarárfoss’ pure glacial water falls into a rocky pool filled with different-sized boulders, creating picturesque plumes of mist. Depending on the season, the volume and flow rate can change dramatically, making it a worthwhile stop for repeat visitors.  

In the wintertime, the waterfall completely freezes over, offering beautiful photography opportunities of a rare anomaly in nature. 

Geysir Geothermal Area

A couple at geysir geothermal area
Photo: Golli. A couple watches Strokkur explode!

The Geysir geothermal area not only provides a fantastic spectacle for visitors, but it will always be known for having offered its name to all geysers across our planet. 

Today, the Great Geyser (as it is sometimes known) is considered rather dormant, with only infrequent eruptions. The last time Geysir blasted its geothermal water was in 2016, following a 16-year hiatus. 

However, earthquakes and other underground changes are known to precede it, so there can be no telling when it might explode once more.

 

Strokkur is the star attraction here thanks to its reliable eruptions. Guests wait at the roped-off border, well away from the exceedingly hot water, and wait for the eruption to occur. Thankfully, this never takes long. As if following a schedule, it blasts its liquid plume up to 20 m [66 ft] into the air every five to ten minutes, providing constant chances for dramatic photographs.

There are a number of less impressive, but no less interesting hot spots that dot the surrounding area. These include Litli Geysir and many other smaller hot pools and geysers. On June 17, 2020, the site was granted protected status by the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. 

Gullfoss Waterfall  

Visitors at Gullfoss waterfall
Photo: Golli. Gullfoss waterfall in the wintertime.

There are many splendid waterfalls in Iceland, but Gullfoss is something special. Situated on the Hvítá river canyon, this dramatic cascade is 32 m high in total, dropping over two craggy tiers. 

It has a variable, but powerful rate of flow. In the summer, 141 cubic m (5,000 cu ft) each second. In the winter, 80 cubic m (2,800 cu ft) each second. There was, for a long time, discussions about whether Gullfoss could be used to generate electricity. 

Having fun at Gullfoss waterfall
Photo: Golli. Taking a selfie at Gullfoss waterfall.

In the late 20th century, the waterfall’s owners, Halldór Halldórsson and Tómas Tómasson, rented the site to foreign investors who were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts to transform it into a hydro-dam. Today, Gullfoss is a protected area and owned by the state.  

Given its iconic status, it should come as little surprise that Gullfoss has made itself known in pop culture. Fans of the UK band Echo and the Bunnymen might recognise it as the album cover of Porcupine, while avid watchers of the historical-drama show Vikings will know it as the final resting place of one of the story’s characters. 

How long does the Golden Circle route take? 

 

If you’re hoping to speed through the Golden Circle, know that it can be done in three hours. 

Of course, this does not take into account that you should spend ample time at each of the main attractions. Dare we say… anyone who completes the Golden Circle in three hours is not truly appreciating the sites on offer. 

It is far better to allocate a full day to enjoying this splendid driving trail. That way, you can fully enjoy each attraction as it comes without feeling the pressure of having to rush on to fight lady time. 

What other attractions are on the Golden Circle route?

Kerið Crater
Photo: Golli. Kerið Crater in Summer

Noone likes to rush through pleasurable activities, so you may be happy to know that there are a great number of stops you can take during the Golden Circle to break up your day. 

If you’re feeling a little sluggish, the Fontana Geothermal Baths are sure to make you feel fresh once more. Iceland’s geothermal baths are known to be rich in minerals, and Fontana is no different. Not only are they good for aching muscles, psoriasis, and promoting healthy skin, but they provide a dose of psychological well being. Who could resist such soothing waters during a full day of adventuring? 

Another lovely and interesting site is Kerið Crater, offering insights into the region’s volcanic history. Guests will walk around the crater’s edge, peering down its blood red slopes towards the gentle pool within. Note that there is a parking-fee in place, so only stop by if you’re willing to part with the cash. 

What cultural stops are on the Golden Circle?

 

Then there is the quaint hamlet of Skálholt. If history is to be believed, Skálholt is one of Iceland’s oldest villages, and was for eight centuries, a major religious centre in so much as it was a centre of Catholicism. Catholicism in Iceland came largely to an end when Jón Arason, the bishop of Hólar, was executed there with his two sons in 1550. Today, the town’s lakeside cathedral is one of the larger churches in Iceland. 

Speaking of populated settlements, there is one that differs greatly from any other in Iceland. Travellers interested in sustainability and alternative living will want to stop at Sólheimar eco-village. Home to around 100 or so people, community leaders have placed a particular focus on ethical agriculture, artistic expression, and balance with the environment.  

For those with some extra time, pay a visit to the steep canyon walls of Þjórsárdalur Valley, located along the river Þjórsá. This secluded gorge is home to Háifoss, one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, standing at 122 m (400 ft). An adjacent viewing area allows for a great perspective of this feature. On top of that, Búrfells woods is found closeby; a veritable Eden of wildflowers and cushiony moss. 

Is the Golden Circle route free? 

Cliffs on the Golden Circle route
Photo: Private Golden Circle Day Tour with Friðheimar Tomato Farm Lunch & Kerið Crater

Unfortunately no, sightseeing on the Golden Circle is not completely free of expenditure. For one thing, the route is popular among tour operators eager to drive you from site-to-site themselves. Naturally, this comes with a price-tag attached. 

Even those who drive themselves will have to shell out on gas money. And, in all likelihood, snacks en route. As we’ve mentioned, there are numerous other stops along the way that require a bit of cash to enjoy fully. 

With all this said, enjoying the Golden Circle is quite cheap compared to many of the other excursions. On top of that, it is somewhat mandatory, so thus should be ranked highly on your itinerary, however long you’re planning on staying. 

Where to eat on the Golden Circle sightseeing route? 

Friðheimar farm
Photo: Golden Circle — Platinum Tour | Small group. Visitors to Friðheimar farm.

Exploring Iceland’s favourite sightseeing locations can be hungry work. Thankfully, there are plenty of places you can stop to grab a bite to eat on the Golden Circle, making it something of a foodie tour, as well as a journey of discovery. 

The restaurant, Glíma, is located closeby to Geysir geothermal area, and is named after the ancient style of wrestling. Aside from the soup and salad bar, Glíma is a fantastic choice for those sampling classic Scandinavian dishes, be they fish or lamb based. There are also paninis, pizzas, sandwiches. And many other varieties of other light meals, as well as cakes and ice cream afterwards.  

A delicious meal served on the Golden Circle route
Photo: The Elite Golden Circle with lunch at farm & luxury hot sea baths

Another option is Friðheimar farm. It is a family-run establishment that centres around producing tomato-based meals from their very own greenhouses / dining area. And it is capable of growing fresh vegetables all year round. You can take time to explore these geothermally-fuelled facilities before sampling their rustic menu. Surrounded by lush plant life, try their classic tomato soup—a bonafide favourite among travellers! 

Restaurant Mika is located in the historic town of Reykholt. It specialises in creating delectable lobster dishes, oven-baked pizzas, and sweet desserts. Mika places real emphasis on chocolate confectionery, so make sure to sample some during your time there. 

To top off this list, the farm-to-table restaurant Hlöðuloftið – part of Efstidalur II farmstead – allows guests to eat stunning homemade dishes in simple, stylish surroundings. Sourcing vegetables from nearby farms, producing their own meat and dairy, they also create beautiful batches of ice cream. 

Conclusion 

Geysir geothermal area in Iceland
Photo: Golli. Guests at Geysir geothermal area in winter.

The Golden Circle is such a mainstay of the Iceland tourist experience, it’s defunct suggesting you need to prioritise it. 

You, dear reader, already know as much. 

So much has been said and written about the Golden Circle over the last decade. One could be forgiven for thinking that it has been overhyped. 

Coming to such a conclusion would be a major error. While it’s true that the Golden Circle is the definitive sightseeing trail in Iceland, it’s famous for good reason. Every site mentioned on this circuit is utterly enthralling and worthy of however much time one chooses to spend there. 

Make sure not to miss it during your time in Iceland. Heavily inspired by the Norse sagas, J.R.R Tolkien once wrote, all that glitters is not gold, but the Golden Circle dazzles in such a way that no other sightseeing route on Earth can quite compare. 

The Imagine Peace Tower in Viðey, Iceland

The Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland

The Imagine Peace Tower is a light installation in Iceland designed by Yoko Ono in memory of her husband, John Lennon, and their continued campaign for world peace. The light projector comprises six light tunnels surrounded by slanted mirrors and nine beams with a combined power of 70kW. From the 10 m [33 ft] wide wishing well, the dense light beams are reflected up to 4,000 m [13,120 ft] in the air. The artwork is funded and maintained by Ono, Reykjavík City, Reykjavík Art Museum and Reykjavík Energy. It is sustainably powered using geothermal energy. Engraved in the tower’s mount is “Imagine Peace” in 24 languages, referencing Lennon’s song Imagine.

The artwork is directly related to another piece by Ono, Wish Tree, which has been ongoing since 1996. She invites people to write their wishes and hang them on branches of trees native to their country. The Wish Tree has since become digital. She collects the wishes herself, totalling over a million. The wishes are buried in the base of the Imagine Peace tower: the wishing well. The beam of light then symbolically illuminates the wishes up into the sky. You can send in your own wish here.

The Imagine Peace Tower’s lighting times

The tower was first lit in 2007 on John Lennon’s birthday, October 9th. Every year, it lights up on October 9th and shuts off on December 8th, the date of Lennon’s passing. In addition, it is lit from winter solstice until New Year’s Day and on Yoko Ono’s birthday, February 18th. Lastly, it lights up for one week during the spring equinox: the dates of Lennon and Ono’s wedding and honeymoon.

Why Iceland?

Iceland continues to hold the title of the most peaceful country, as ranked by The Global Peace Index. Therefore, Yoko Ono felt it was the right location for the Imagine Peace Tower. Ono has spent a lot of time in Iceland and was made an honorary citizen of Reykjavík in 2013.

Where is the Imagine Peace Tower?

The light installation is located in Viðey, a small island off the coast of Reykjavík. In the summer, ferries to Viðey are available daily from both Reykjavík harbour and the Skarfabakki pier in Laugarnes, Reykjavík. In the winter, the ferry only departs from Skarfabakki pier on Saturdays and Sundays. As of 2024, the price for the boat ride is ISK 2,100 [$15, €14] in the winter and 2,300 [$17, €15.50] in the summer. Guided tours of Viðey island and the Imagine Peace Tower are available year-round.

 

Kerið: A Volcanic Crater Lake in South Iceland

iceland tourism private land

Kerið is a volcanic caldera in the Grímsnes volcano system in southern Iceland, formed as a result of an inward collapse of a volcano about 6,500 years ago. The caldera is about 270 m [886 ft] long and 170 m [558 ft] wide, with a depth of 55 m [180 ft]. Its lake’s depth varies between 7-14 m [23-46 ft]. Kerið is known for its visually attractive palette. The lake has a distinct teal colour due to the soil’s minerals. Its surrounding hills are composed of low bushes, moss and red lava; the red colour is due to the oxidation of the magma’s iron (hematite). 

Visiting Kerið

Kerið is located on a private property owned and managed by Arctic Adventures. As of 2024, the entry fee is ISK 450 [$3.25, €3], and it is open all year. Swimming or drinking the water is not allowed. It is one of the destinations on the famous Golden Circle route, which includes stops such as Gullfoss waterfall, Haukadalur geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park. 

It is easily to get to if you are on a self-drive tour and it is also a featured stop in many of the best Golden Circle Tours. Below you will find a list of recommended Golden Circle Tours with a stop at Kerið:

How to get to Kerið

Via Route 1 and Route 35, Kerið is a 67 km [42 mi] drive from Reykjavík city centre. From the capital, drive south on Route 1 for about 55 km [34 mi] before turning left on Route 35 towards Laugarvatn lake. Drive for about 13 km [8 mi], and you will see the parking area on your right. Kerið is right by the parking lot, so hiking is not required; however, there is a 1.4 km [0.9 mi] trail around the caldera for added vantage points.

Climate and weather conditions

Kerið is accessable all year round. Overall, Kerið experiences relatively cool temperatures throughout the year, with precipitation occurring in all seasons. Visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions and dress accordingly, especially if visiting during the colder months.

     

For photography, the best times to visit Kerið will differ by season:

  • Summer (June-August): Early morning or late evening during the golden hour for soft, warm light.

  • Spring (April-May): Aim for golden hours to highlight the thawing landscape and contrasting colors.

  • Autumn (September-October): Early morning or late evening for warm foliage tones, with midday clear days offering crisp light.

  • Winter (November-March): Daylight hours, especially late morning to mid-afternoon on clear days, for stark contrasts between snow and volcanic rock.

Remember, Iceland’s weather is variable, so stay flexible and consider how light affects your composition.

 
In summary, Kerið is a scenic volcanic crater lake, ideally located on the Golden Circle Route. It is very easy to access, it’s photogenic and suitable for kids, seniors and anyone in between.