Den blå lagune er et unikt under på Island, og et resultat av den vulkanske aktiviteten som den lille øya er så berømt for.
Midt i den merkelige og vidunderlige engen med flat og svart lava i nasjonalparken Svartsengi finner du den enorme utendørslagunen fylt av naturlig oppvarmet geotermisk vann som kommer opp fra 2000 meter under jordens overflate.
Vannet er fult av mineraler, silisiumdioksid og alger og er spesielt bra for huden og for avslapning.
Faktisk er deler av den blå lagune en helseklinikk som spesialiserer seg på kurer mot psoriasis.
Vannet er oppsiktsvekkende blått, og det hvite i silisiumdioksiden på svarte lavasteiner rundt kantene gir en spektakulær kontrast.
Den blå lagune tilbyr massasjebehandlinger i vannet og har badstuer og dampbad og en kafé, i tillegg til at du kan svømme i bassenget.
Gullfoss is a massive waterfall on the river Hvita which originates in the glacial lake Langjokull. Gullfoss means 'golden falls' because the glacial sediment in the water turns the falls golden in the sunlight. The water falls 105 feet (32 meters) in two steps. As you approach, you hear the falls before you see the wild, tumbling water as the river valley is a deep, dramatic crevasse. You can stand at the top or walk down the path to the bottom.
During the first half of the 20th century, the then-owners of the waterfall and surrounding land leased it to foreign investors who were keen to build a hydroelectric plant but their plans fell through. Then it was sold to Iceland but even then there was talk of harnessing the power of the river. Legend has it that local landowner Sigridur Tomasdottir loved the place so much that she threatened to throw herself into the falls in protest, and then walked to Reykjavik barefoot in protest, thus making her point heard.
Reykjavik is the capital and largest city of Iceland at around 120,000 people, which comprises half the country’s total population. Although it was the site of the country’s first permanent settlement dating from around 870, there was no actual city here until 1786. Since then this friendly city has developed into a lively, creative capital with a focus on fishing, banking and the creative industries, predominantly music, fashion and design.
The laidback, low-rise city is dotted with new high-rise developments dating from the heady days of wealth before the 2008 banking crash. The jewel in the crown is the recently completed architectural showpiece and concert hall, Harpa, located on the waterfront. Smaller ships will dock at the Old Harbor but most will tie up at the Cruise Dock a couple of miles from the center of the city. There is little to see here, but shuttle buses take only about ten minutes into the heart of Reykjavik.
Iceland is spectacular and so is the Golden Circle Route. The wide open landscapes are like nothing you've ever seen before. Actively volcanic, this inland route is a mass of waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, lava fields, and, of course, those volcanoes. The first stop is Thingvellir National Park, the spectacular site of Iceland's first parliament and the place where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet - and are moving apart. There is a widening fissure in the ground where the planet is literally opening up. Next it's on to Gullfoss waterfall, a huge fall of water. From here you can see a glacier off to one side. And then it's geysers. The sheer power of water and steam erupting from the ground due to the build up of extreme heat is awesome and really makes you realize how alive the ground is beneath our feet.
With its slim cascade of water slicing through the air and pooling into the Seljalandsá River below, Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most undeniably photogenic waterfalls, located just off Iceland’s main Ring Road, between the Skógafoss and Selfoss waterfalls.
Plunging from a height of around 60 meters, Seljalandsfoss might not be Iceland’s widest or mightiest waterfall, but it’s certainly one of its most famous, forming a dramatic arch of water that dominates the picturesque Thórsmörk valley. Surrounded by wild flowers in the summer months and floodlit after nightfall, a visit to Seljalandsfoss provides ample opportunities for snap-happy tourists, but its most distinctive feature is its narrow chute of water, which allows a breathtaking vantage point from behind the falls. Uniquely, a footpath runs all the way around the waterfall, allowing visitors to get within meters of the rushing water, standing amidst the spray at the foot of the Eyjafjöll Mountains.
Stretching 25 meters across the Skógá River and plummeting from heights of 60 meters, Skógafoss clocks in as one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls and with its clouds of spray regularly casting rainbows across the waters, it’s also one of the picturesque. One of around 20 waterfalls dotted along the river, Skógafoss marks the start of Iceland’s famous Laugavegurinn long distance hiking trail, which runs for 90 km from Skógar all the way to Landmannalaugar. Alternatively, day-trippers can take in expansive views of Skógar’s glaciers, black ash beaches and thundering waterfalls by climbing the stairway to the top of the falls.
Skógafoss is also a popular subject of local folklore, which tells that the region’s first Viking settler, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a chest of treasure in a cave behind the mighty falls. Allegedly, a local boy found the chest years later and while attempting to haul it out, pulled the ring from the front of the chest.
Iceland has no shortage of active volcanoes, but the notoriously difficult-to-pronounce Eyjafjallajokull Volcano is among the most famous, making headlines around the world when it erupted on April 14, 2010, covering much of Europe’s airspace in a cloud of volcanic ash and grounding air traffic across 20 countries for several days.
While a few intrepid climbers have scaled the 1,666-meter Eyjafjallajokull in recent years, the still-active mount is best enjoyed with a visit to the nearby Eyjafjallajokull visitor center, which opened its doors exactly one year after the latest eruption. Devoted to recounting the history of the volcano and the lives of those who live in its shadow, the center’s fascinating exhibition includes film footage of the latest eruption and spectacular photos of Eyjafjallajokull’s 2.5-km-wide caldera.
Covering an area of 12,000 square-kilometers and encompassing the former National Parks of Jökulsárgljúfur and Skaftafell, Vatnajokull National Park has been collecting superlatives since it was established in 2008. The park is now Western Europe’s largest national park (covering almost 13% of the country), dominated by the Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier, and containing Iceland's highest mountain, Öraefajökull, and deepest lake, Jökulsárlón.
An unyielding landscape of land and fire, Vatnajökull presents some of Iceland’s most diverse and dramatic scenery including glacial plateaus, active volcanoes, towering ice caps, beaches of black ash and bubbling geothermal terrain. The southern territory of Skaftafell is the gateway to the most accessible area of the glacier and one of the most popular regions of the park, with the Skaftafell Visitor Center providing a detailed introduction to the park’s many geological wonders.
The landmark Geysir Geyser might be the world’s most famous and the one after which all others are named, but its neighbor, Strokkur, is equally impressive. Despite only rising to heights of 60 to 100 feet (compared to Geysir’s 150 to 200 feet), Strokkur still erupts several times an hour (unlike Geysir, which remains largely dormant thanks to its clogged conduit) offering visitors a good chance of witnessing the natural spectacle.
Opened up by an earthquake in 1789 and reactivated by human intervention in 1963 after being blocked by a second earthquake, Strokkur has been erupting regularly ever since. Cradled in a 3-meter wide crater, Strokkur’s highly anticipated eruptions begin with the formation of a pulsing bubble of hot water, which reaches temperatures of around 200 °C before a rush of steam breaks through and shoots into the air.
Flere ting å gjøre i Reykjavik
Established in 1967, Skaftafell National Park became a part of the enormous Vatnajokull National Park in 2008, but the area, which sprawls across the southern tip of the vast Vatnajokull glacier, still remains one of the most popular corners of the park. Skaftafell is dominated by the Skaftafellsjökull glacier, one of the most accessible parts of Vatnajokull and offers 5,000 square-kilometers of rugged mountainous terrain and icy glacial tongues.
With no roads traversing the region, hiking, glacier hiking and ice climbing are the main ways to get around in Skaftafell and a vast network of trails are mapped out by the Skaftafell Visitor Center, which now acts as an information center and exhibition space for the entire Vatnajokull National Park.
Snæfellsjökull National Park is located in the westernmost part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, and is one of the top tourist destinations in Iceland. It is the only Icelandic national park to extend to the seashore — most of the coastline is home to luxuriant flora and fauna (arctic tern, guillemot, razorbill, fulmar, kittiwake and shag, to name a few), especially during breeding season. The area was formed through volcanic activity caused by Snæfellsjökull, a 700,000 year old stratovolcano located underneath a glacier. On clear days, it can even be seen from Reykjavik, 120 kilometers away across Faxafloi Bay!
Literary speaking, Snæfellsjökull is one of the most famous national national parks and volcanoes to ever be depicted in written history – or at least, it used to be up until the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption— since it was featured in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne in 1864 as the actual entrance to the center of the earth.
Positioned right between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers in southern Iceland, Fimmvörðuháls roughly consists of a 25-kilometer-long and 1,000-meter-high pass accessible to visitors between mid-June and late-August. Its location makes it one of the most sought-after hiking trails in the country, with some travelers opting for a six-day trip by adding in Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk nature preserves. The Fimmvörðuháls trail alone takes between eight and 10 hours to complete.
There are two mountain huts – the first one is modern and the second is quite rudimentary – along the route. The journey from Skógar to Thórsmörk is one of the most memorable hiking experiences in the country, if not the world, as it offers splendid panoramas of south Iceland, and of the new lava fields formed by the infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.
Looming on the horizon north of Reykjavik, the 914-meter peak of Mount Esja offers a striking backdrop to the city and the capital’s nearest mountain is also a captivating attraction in its own right. A small mountain range made up of basalt and volcanic tuff, Esja is best known for its cap of pale rhyolite rock that appears to change hues with the sunlight, as well as the impressive views it affords over Reykjavik city and bay.
A network of hiking trails traverse the peak of Mount Esja, the most popular of which starts from Mógilsá, and most trails converge at the “Steinn”—a rocky plateau and lookout point about 200 meters from the summit. From here, seasoned hikers can opt for the steep climb to the top, while less experienced walkers can follow an easier, winding trail to the summit.
The Hofdi House in Iceland is considered to be one of the most historically significant buildings in the Reykjavik area. This beautiful building was built in 1909 and sits near the waterfront. Originally it served as the location for the French consul and there are still signs of this on the building such as R.F., which is the abbreviation for the Republic of France, the name of the consul, and the year of its construction above a door on the inside. The house has hosted several celebrities and heads of state, such as the Queen of England, Winston Churchill, and Marlene Dietrich.
In front of the house is a sculpture that depicts pillars from the chieftain's seat of the first Norwegian settler in Reykjavik. The Hofdi House is best known as being the location where US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbatsjov met in 1986, marking the end of the Cold War. Images of this house were broadcast throughout the world.
With its tunnels of multi-hued lava, dripping with stalactites and dotted with peculiar rock formations, stepping into the Leidarendi Lava Caves is like discovering a subterranean fantasyland. A natural phenomenon formed out of solidified lava more than 2,000 years ago, the network of caves lie beneath the Stora-Bollahraun lava field in south Iceland and run underground for over a half-mile.
The Leidarendi caves take their name, which translates to "the end of the journey,’ from the carcass of a dead sheep that was found at the end of the tunnel, but intrepid travelers needn’t worry – thousands of visitors have safely visited the caves since they opened to the public. A popular day trip from Reykjavik, exploring the Leidarendi Lava Caves is an adventure in itself, with the rugged terrain requiring visitors to scramble, clamber and crawl through the narrow passageways, using torches to light their way.
Intrepid travelers visiting Iceland during the winter months can take their chances on viewing the elusive Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, but for summer visitors or those short on time, the Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights Center) offers the next best thing.
A fully interactive exhibition devoted to the otherworldly phenomenon, the center features a 23-foot-wide (7 m) time-lapse video of the majestic lights, which allows visitors to experience nature’s most impressive light show alongside innovative exhibits chronicling the discovery of the lights around the Arctic and the many myths and legends formed around the mysterious spectacle.
Additional highlights include a Northern Lights photo simulator, where budding photographers can master the art of capturing the lights, an awe-inspiring array of Northern Lights photographs and multimedia demonstrations of the science behind the lights.
An expanse of uninhabited and unspoiled volcanic terrain located in central Iceland and largely off-limits to vehicles, Landmannalaugar has fast become a popular choice for those looking to escape Reykjavík and explore off-the-beaten-track. Among Iceland’s top hiking destinations, Landmannalaugar is best known for its spectacular scenery, with its multi-colored rhyolite mountains, rugged lava fields and steamy thermal pools, set against a backdrop of the ominous Helka Volcano.
The No. 1 challenge for enthusiastic hikers is the 43-kilometer-long Laugavegur trail, Iceland’s most famous long distance trail, which runs from Landmannalaugar all the way to the Thorsmork Valley. Alternatively, less-experienced adventurers can tackle the 16.5-km Landmannahellir Hiking Trail around the Laugahraun lava field, enjoy a day hike or horse riding excursion through the Jokulgil valley, camp out one of the remote mountain huts or soak in one of the many natural hot springs.
Snuggled between the peninsulas of Snæfellsnes and Reykjanes in Southwest Iceland, Faxafloi Bay has always held economic and culinary importance to Icelanders thanks to its enviable location on the shore. Back in the day, fishermen used to catch rations that would feed entire villages.
Now Faxafloi Bay isn’t exactly the fishing hub it once was, with bigger boats needing to venture further out at sea, but it still holds historical significance in the country’s history. One of the main attractions in the entire bay is Viðey Island, the largest island of the small Kollfjörður Bay around Reykjavik. It is where the famous Image Peace Tower “Friðarsúlan” is located, which was commissioned by none other than John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and which bears the words “imagine peace” in 24 different languages. Additionally, Viðey Island is also home to the country’s oldest church, with some settlements dating back to the 10th century.
Only about a half-mile off Reykjavik, in the fjord Kollafjordur, lie six islands, two of which have puffin colonies, Akurey and Lundey.
Akurey has the largest puffin colony and also cormorants, black guillemots, eider ducks, seagulls, kittiwakes and several other seabirds. Puffins nest on the island in burrows they dig for safety and warmth.
Puffins return to the same site to breed year after year. They lay a single egg in late April or early May and then feed the fledgling for a month or two before deserting the nest and the fledgling. Puffins begin breeding at around five or six years of age and live up to 20 years.
Akurey is uninhabited which is why it has become such an important place for nesting seabirds, despite how close it is to the city center. Many of the whale-watching boats pause at Akurey because it’s possible to see the puffins and their nesting burrows from on board the boats.
One of the final stops on South Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route and just 45 km from Reykjavik, the green-living town of Hveragerdi harbors a wealth of geothermic wonders. Located on an active volcanic zone, the steaming landscape of Hveragerdi sprawls along a 5,000 year-old lava field and its geothermal park is one of the country’s main centers of natural energy. A unique community powered by the earth, the Hveragerdi Geothermal Park heats a series of greenhouses that grow everything from flowers to vegetables, and even bananas.
The celebrated Hveragerdi hot springs are one of the principal draws for visitors to the town, ranging from hissing steam vents and gurgling puddles of mud, to pools so hot that locals use the water to boil eggs and bake bread in a ground oven. Along with bathing in the naturally heated Laugaskarð swimming pool and enjoying an organic clay foot bath, the area around Hveragerdi also offers prime terrain for hiking.
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly alternative to sightseeing or want to experience one of Iceland’s famous geothermally heated pools, Laugardalur, or Hot Spring Valley, has everything you would expect from the capital’s largest recreational area. The centerpiece of the park is its huge swimming pool, the largest outdoor thermal pool in Reykjavík, but there’s also the Laugardalsholl Arena (a soccer stadium and music venue), a sports hall, running tracks and an indoor ice rink on-site, as well as the city’s only campsite and an abundance of playgrounds, picnic and barbecue areas.M.
Laugardalur is also known for its botanical gardens, home to variety of Arctic plant and flower varieties, and its zoo, where visitors can view Icelandic wildlife like reindeer, foxes and seals.
Iceland’s principal art gallery, located on the banks Reykjavik’s Tjörnin Lake, the National Gallery of Iceland houses a vast collection of 19th and 20th century Icelandic art, alongside works by international artists like Pablo Picasso, Edward Munch, Karel Appel, Victor Vasarely and Richard Serra. The museum’s permanent collection, containing around 10,000 works, is showcased through a series of rotating exhibitions, spread throughout 3 floors of gallery space. Among the highlights are pieces by famed Icelandic artists like Þórarinn B. Þorláksson, Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval, Bjarni Jónsson and Einar Hákonarson, along with a variety of modern sculptures, installations and paintings by new and upcoming artists.
Founded in 1884 to house the personal art collection of Icelandic lawyer Björn Bjarnarson, the National Gallery was originally based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a number of key works by Danish artists like Joakim Skovgaard, Christian Blache and Peter Krøyer.
The famous site where it is possible to literally stand between two tectonic plates! Located in the turquoise Þingvallavatn Lake in the Þingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Silfra is part of a rift in the divergent tectonic boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates.
The way fissures are created is quite simple: as the tectonic plates drift apart (roughly two centimeters per year), tension builds up between the earth mass and the two plates, occasionally provoking a major earthquake and fissuring the earth mass in the process. Depending on their altitude and location, fissures may end up being submerged. In Silfra’s case, its translucent waters travel all the way from Iceland’s second largest glacier, Lángjökull, arriving in Þingvellir after a 30 to 100 year ride through underground and porous lava rock. Consequently, Silfra’s water temperature rarely surpasses the 2°C – 4°C mark.