The Silfra fissure is a water-filled crack between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, where the two continents drift apart from each other. Water travels from the Langjökull glacier through porous lava rock during a journey that takes between 30 and 100 years before seeping into the fissure.
Many visitors see the Silfra fissure during trips to Thingvellir National Park. To truly appreciate the fissure, it’s best to go diving or snorkeling in the transparent water, which is lined with volcanic rocks.
Only PADI-qualified divers with dry-suit certification can dive in the fissure, but snorkeling is available to all travelers, even those with no prior experience. Guided snorkeling tours of the fissure typically depart from Reykjavik. Some organized tours include other activities, such as spelunking in Gjábakkahellir or Leiðarendi lava caves. Other tours make stops along the Golden Circle at sights including Haukadalur, a geothermal valley home to Gullfoss waterfall and the great geyser and nearby Strokkur.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Silfra fissure is a must for adventurous travelers.
- The water temperature in the fissure hovers around 37.5°F (3°C). Tour operators provide dry suits to keep participants warm.
- Participants must be able to swim and be in good health.
How to Get There
The Silfra fissure is located within Thingvellir National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage Site where the world’s first parliament met in the 10th century. Driving from Reykjavik to the fissure takes around an hour.
When to Get There
Because the water that feeds Silfra travels underground, it maintains a constant temperature and doesn’t freeze over. For this reason, snorkeling and diving tours are available year-round. Silfra is busier in summer; get there early in the day when crowds are thinner.
The Underwater World at Silfra
The Silfra fissure isn’t home to a multitude of marine life—most fish prefer the warmer waters of Thingvellir lake—but it is a breeding ground for many different types of algae. It also boasts some of the clearest waters in the world, with the natural purification process ensuring divers enjoy visibility exceeding 328 feet (100 meters).