Reykjanes peninsula

This peninsula, situated just south of the capital of Reykjavík, shows you exactly why Iceland is called the Land of Fire and Ice! With its volcanoes, hot springs, and wild coastline, you won’t want to skip the Reykjanes peninsula.

Woman relaxing in the Blue Lagoon
Aerial view of the 2023 volcano eruption near Litli-Hrútur.
Woman relaxing in the Blue Lagoon
Aerial view of the 2023 volcano eruption near Litli-Hrútur.
Woman relaxing in the Blue Lagoon

FAQs about the Reykjanes peninsula

The Reykjanes peninsula is found in southwest Iceland. The peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, making it the most southwesterly part of the country.

The Reykjanes peninsula is just south of Reykjavík on the map. You can reach it in approximately 45 minutes’ driving time from the capital. It’s a great day trip for you to add to your Iceland self-drive vacation.

In fact, almost everyone that comes to Iceland will pass through the Reykjanes peninsula. The country’s main international airport is located here, so you will pass through the area on your way to Reykjavík.

Reykjanes means ‘smoky peninsula’ in Icelandic. Reykur means smoke or steam, so you might be unsurprised to learn that Reykjavík means ‘smoky bay’.

You’re really stepping foot on prehistory when you visit Reykjanes. The peninsula dates back to between 6 and 7 million years ago, which in geological terms makes it a newborn.

It was dramatically changed during the Ice Age around 15,000 years ago. Since then, volcanic activity and weather have continued to shape the landscape.

The Reykjanes peninsula has some of the best attractions in Iceland, including:

  • Blue Lagoon Iceland’s most famous geothermal hot spring, the waters are rich in volcanic minerals.
  • Viking World Celebrating the history of Iceland, you can see a replica of a 9th-century Viking longboat. Learn about the explorers of Iceland’s history and their discovery of North America.
  • Reykjanes lighthouse Offering some of the best views of the south coast and Atlantic Ocean, the lighthouse is well worth a visit. It’s a great place to go hunting for the Northern Lights too, as it has wide open views.
  • Volcanoes There are several volcanoes in the region you can visit, including the active Fagradalsfjall volcano.
  • Reykjanesfólkvangur This nature reserve has geothermal areas, lava fields and formations, lakes, and bird cliffs – all just 40 km (25 mi) from the capital! You can find the Krýsuvík geothermal area here too.
  • Grindavík This fishing village is close to Fagradalsfjall volcano and the Blue Lagoon. It’s also home to the Gunnuhver hot springs, a fantastic spot for seeing geothermal activity up close.

The Reykjanes Ridge is a sub-sea section where tectonic plates are pulling apart, creating a ‘ridge’ where volcanic activity is much more prominent.

Much of the ridge sits off the coast of the peninsula. It then travels up through Iceland, becoming the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is one of the main sights on a Golden Circle tour.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge passes all the way from Reykjanes up through south and central Iceland. It marks the meeting of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

On the eastern part of the Reykjanes peninsula you’ll find the Bridge Between Continents. Here you can literally walk between the tectonic plates. Pretty cool!

In Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, you can see the ridge for yourself. Here it is the Mid-Atlantic Rift, a 5 km stretch of land where the tectonic plates are pulling apart!

The most famous volcano in Reykjanes is Fagradalsfjall. This volcano erupted in 2022 after almost 800 years of inactivity. You can find Fagradalsfjall just a 15-minute drive from Grindavík. It is on the south side of the peninsula.

The peninsula is a hotbed of geothermal power, and is home to lots of volcanoes and volcanic activity.

There are 3 active volcanoes on the peninsula which you should visit: Fagradalsfjall, Geldingadalir, and Trölladyngja. It’s also worth visiting the extinct Þríhnúkagígur volcano. You can go inside the extinct volcano which is an amazing experience.

Absolutely! if you want to take in some of the most amazing scenery in Iceland, include a visit to Reykjanes peninsula on your trip. Get up close and personal with the nature that makes Iceland such a wild and beautiful country.

With the peninsula home to Keflavík International Airport, you’ve almost no excuse not to make a stop off and visit.


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