Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland is a destination in its own right! It’s home to some of Iceland’s most spectacular sights and is a must-visit for anyone visiting the Land of Fire and Ice. Furthermore, it just happens to be right next to Reykjavík, so it’s very likely that many of the stops on your itinerary are actually in Reykjanes Peninsula.
Some of Iceland’s most emblematic lava fields are in Reykjanes, as well as tons of ridges, volcanoes and lighthouses! Keflavik International Airport? That’s where it is! The famous Blue Lagoon? Take a guess!
Now let’s dive deeper into Reykjanes Peninsula and see where it is, why it’s worth visiting and what the 11 top things to do and see there are!
Why Visit Reykjanes Peninsula
Reykjanes Peninsula is located in the southwest of Iceland, thus making it the home of some of the island’s greatest natural wonders.
The Peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Rift, the place where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates collide and pull apart, making it an extremely volcanically-active area.
Want the adventure of a lifetime? Hike up famous volcanoes, take a stroll among massive lava fields and relax in geothermally heated spas. Reykjanes Peninsula is where it all begins!
Top 11 Things to Do and See in Reykjanes Peninsula
Have you decided to visit Reykjanes Peninsula but not sure where to get started? It really depends on what takes your fancy, but there’s something for everyone, so read on and add your favorite activities to your itinerary!
After careful consideration, we’ve prepared a list of the top 11 things to do and see in Reykjanes Peninsula, so without further delay, here they are!
1. Kleifarvatn Lake
Kleifarvatn Lake is the largest lake on Reykjanes Peninsula, with an extension of 9.1 square kilometers (3.5 square miles), as well as being one of Iceland’s deepest.
If you want a unique, outer-worldish experience like no other, visit Kleifarvatn Lake up close and walk along its lava-covered, moss-packed shores as you pass steaming hot springs on your way. On top of that, the area also contains Reykjanes volcanoes, most of which are still active!
According to Icelandic folklore, a whale-like creature, similar to the Loch Ness monster, inhabits the lake, so watch out if you decide to go for a swim! Tourists usually visit the lake as part of sightseeing tours of Reykjanes Peninsula, but scuba diving tours have recently been added to the lake’s offer, allowing you to explore its depths while watching the bubbles float up from the fissure that separates the tectonic plates.
2. Bridge Between Continents
Iceland just happens to be one of the few places on the Earth that allows you to see the fissure between two tectonic plates above the sea level, so there's no way you’re leaving the island without visiting the Bridge Between Continents!
The bridge may not be as breathtaking as other attractions on the Land of Fire and Ice but its symbolic value makes it memorable and profound: it represents the joining together of two continents. Amazing, right!?
Hit the catwalk and cross over the little footbridge as you stare into the depths of the rift below!
3. The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is by far the most popular attraction in Iceland, drawing people in from all over the world to soak in its steamy, soothing waters. The color of its waters stands out for being opaque and of an extremely intense blue, as well as being surrounded by spectacular volcanic landscapes. Add steam to the equation and you have the spa of your dreams!
The geothermal spa’s naturally heated water has become renowned for the regenerative and healing qualities of its silica and sulfur-filled waters. As you prepare to get in you’ll find little pots of silica mud, great for your complexion, in and around the pool should you want to apply it to your skin.
Fancy a drink? How about a glass of wine, beer, slushies or smoothies? Just head to the center of the Blue Lagoon and order your poison at the swim-up bar! On a final note, make sure you leave your shyness at home because you’ll have to shower completely naked before you can get in. Don’t worry though, nudity is part of Icelandic culture, so take your clothes off and head right in!
4. Fagradalsfjall Volcano and Lava Fields
Fagradalsfjall, located in Geldingadalur Valley, near Grindavík, is one of the newer attractions of Iceland, as it was the first volcano to erupt in Iceland in over 800 years!
Head on over and pay Fagradalsfjall a visit to see some of the best ‘fresh’ lava fields in Reykjanes Peninsula. If you follow the marked paths you can hike up and get a close up look at it, but don’t stay too long or it might start spitting lava! (Just kidding).
5. Gunnuhver Geothermal Area
The first thing you’ll notice upon arriving at Gunnuhver is that your senses are in for a ride! The geothermal activity of the area is just abysmal and materializes in mud pools and steam vents all over the place.
Reykjanes literally means ‘Smokey Point’, and standing in the middle of Gunnuhver really makes it easy to see why! A series of boardwalks leads to a platform from which you can see white smoke leaking from the ground. The gasses rising up with the smoke turn the lava rock into bubbling clay and the water to acid, giving the soil a range of different colors, and oozing a heavily-loaded sulfur smell!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a science geek or simply a curious traveler, Gunnuhver is one place you cannot miss while you’re visiting Iceland!
6. Krýsuvík & Seltún Geothermal Areas
The 6th place on our list of top things to do and see in Reykjanes Peninsula just had to go to a geothermal area! As in the case of Gunnuhver (above), volcano fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs adorn the landscape of Krýsuvík and Seltún, bestowing bright hues of yellow, red and green upon the soil!
In terms of smell, sulfur hits the senses hard, so if this isn’t your first visit to a geothermal area on the island, it will come as no surprise that Reykjanes was actually named ‘smelliest tour in Iceland’.
7. Reykjanesviti Lighthouse
Reykjanesviti Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, as well as a perfect place to go for a walk, enjoy the peace and quiet of the natural surroundings and have a picnic.
If you’re feeling a bit like Indiana Jones, you can head over to the nearby Reykjanestá Cliffs and climb the Valahnjúkur Hill to get a good look at the mid-Atlantic ridge, or you can also opt for birdwatching, but be careful if you get too close to a nest, as the Arctic Terns inhabiting the cliffs are very territorial and will attack if they feel threatened!
8. Krýsuvíkurbjarg Bird Cliffs
Congratulations to all birdwatchers and animal lovers! The Krýsuvíkurbjarg Cliffs are home to around 80,000 seabirds, including fullmar, guillemots, razorbills, peewits and kittiwakes.
The Westman Islands are a much better place to see the famous puffins, if that’s what you’re after; but other than that, these cliffs are a wonderful place to visit between May and September if what you enjoy is watching birds in their natural habitat.
Remember! To get a close up glimpse of the birds: walk slowly, try not to make too much noise, avoid flash photography and don’t go too near the cliffs’ edge, or your foot might break through a borough and destroy the eggs within!
Grindavík is a fishing village located on the southern side of Reykjanes Peninsula. Its central location makes it the perfect place to rest up or grab some food while exploring the Peninsula.
How about some great hiking trails with spectacular views and a swim in the local pool to end the day? Or are you a golfer and want to hit some balls? Grindavík just happens to house one of south Iceland’s best golf courses!
And if that’s not enough to sate your inner explorer, you can go off the beaten path to Hopsnesviti, located in the eastern part of town. Not only will you find yourself face to face with a quaint orange lighthouse, but there are actually three shipwrecks on your way to spice things up!
10. Viking World Museum
Want to go on a journey through time and learn about the Vikings, their culture, beliefs and the history of Iceland? The Viking World Museum is the perfect stop if the weather turns bad or you have some time to spare!
The museum’s reputation mainly stems from the exceptional Viking Ship Íslendingur (the Icelander) stored inside, which just happens to be a perfect replica of the Gokstad ship, a famous vessel that brought Leif Erikson’s Vikings to North America around 1,000 years ago!
11. Reykjadalur Valley
To crown this list of top things to do and see in Reykjanes Peninsula we’ve decided to end the trip on a high by going down low (to a valley, to be precise)!
Reykjadalur Valley, AKA ‘Steam Valley’ in Icelandic, is filled with hot springs, mud pools and… wait for it! A HOT river that you can bathe in!
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, on your way out of Reykjanes Peninsula make sure to head on over, put on your swimsuit, ‘soak’ back and relax!
All in all, the above lines should be proof enough that Reykjanes Peninsula is totally worth the visit!
From birdwatching and cliff walking to volcano hiking and hot spring bathing… The Peninsula has something for everyone, and is home to unique attractions that cannot be found anywhere else on Iceland.
Been planning your Iceland road trip for a while now? Why wait any longer? Add Reykjanes Peninsula to your itinerary, book you Iceland rental car today and hit the road!