Tour The Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik Iceland

Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Much To See Travelling Around The Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula

We were not really sure what we would see when we toured the picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula from Reykjavik in Iceland. Our visit to Iceland on our cruise in the Nordic countries with Oceania Cruises started in the north on a day trip from Akureyri. We travelled around the Golden Circle Tour and saw more amazing things. But we found so many more volcanic and geothermal delights on this final tour on our stay in Reykjavík.

We started our day with a stop at the small coastal area of Hafnarfjordur. We stopped at the Kleifarvatn Lake, the Eldraun Lava Fields and at the shore by the Reykjanesvíti Lighthouse. During our day we visited first the Krysuvik and then the Gunnuhver Geothermal areas and saw the bubbling mud pools and steam. These spots were for viewing only. Our final stop at the Blue Lagoon finally showed us hot springs that were enjoyed for swimming.

Tour Map - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

On our tour day along the picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula we were also enthralled to learn about the local folklore. We looked for elves’ houses, watched for the sea monster in Kleifarvatn Lake and wondered about the witch at the Gunnuhver Geothermal area. An interesting part of our day as we observed more of the natural wonders of Iceland.

A Stop Outside Of Reykjavík At Hafnarfjordur

We boarded the bus with no real itinerary of stops for the day tour. But we knew it was not hard to find natural beauty in Iceland.

We drove out of Reykjavík and along the shore. Our first stop at Hafnarfjordur gave us a view over this natural harbour. In fact, Hafnarfjordur meant “harbour fjord”.

But it also gave us a view of the very traditional design of the Hafnarfjordur Hotel Viking. There were dragons on the roof. And dancing Vikings. We were sure it would be fun to come back during their Viking festival!

Iceland Hafnarfjordur Hotel Viking.jpg

Iceland Hafnarfjordur Hotel Viking.jpg

Beside the hotel, we saw the very traditional local church. In 1553, Hafnarfjordur was the site of Iceland’s first Lutheran church Today, Lutheranism remains the country’s dominant religion.

 Iceland Hafnarfjordur Church.jpg

People hurried and got pictures on our 10 minute stop. And then we scrambled back on the bus.

On The Lookout For Elves In Iceland

The bus headed along the Reykjanes Peninsula. This region was known for its geothermal and geological activity. As we watched out the window, we saw landscapes covered in a thick layer of lava rocks.

Whenever there was a large rock or group of rocks, our guide pointed these out as possible “elf houses”. We strained to see if there were painted doors on the rocks. The huldufolk or “hidden people” was the Icelander’s name for elves. Elves were known for their mysterious and sometimes evil behaviour. And it was said they made themselves appear at will.

Many Icelandic people were superstitious. And construction was sometimes a challenge when people were afraid to move rocks and anger the elves.

We saw lots of rocks as we drove. But we never saw elves when we toured the picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula from Reykjavik.

Our First Stop At Kleifarvatn Lake On The Reykjanes Peninsula

The bus parked and we got a view out over the large Kleifarvatn Lake. This was the largest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It was located on the fissure zone between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

The lake was about 97m (over 300 feet) deep. In 2000, two major earthquakes opened up fissures at the bottom of the lake. Water levels diminished by 20 percent. But over time, the fissures have closed and the lake returned to its previous levels. We were fascinated to learn that the lake had no visible water coming in or going out. Most the water came and went through porous lava rock underground.

Iceland Kleifarvatn Lake - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

The shores of the lake varied. In some areas there were steep cliffs and other areas were littered with volcanic rock. The hills on the other side of the street provided an interesting view of more volcanic rock and slides.

Iceland Kleifarvatn Lake - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Kleifarvatn Lake.jpg

It was our day to learn more about the superstitions of the locals. Folklore said that a whale-like monster lived in the lake. It was said to be like the Loch Ness Monster. Or the Ogopogo monster in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia at home in Canada. The monster had been spotted surfacing for two-minute intervals on Kleifarvatn Lake. But not when we visited!

A stop at Kleifarvatn Lake provided a beautiful view and some interesting folklore when we toured the Reykjanes Peninsula from Reykjavik.

Walking Around The Krysuvik Geothermal Site

We saw a fascinating variety in the geothermal sites in Iceland. We started with the colourful Namafjall geothermal area when we toured in Northern Iceland from Akureyri. On our Golden Circle tour from Reykjavik, we saw the Geysir geothermal area at Haukadalur and Strokkur as it erupted. On this tour day, we saw the first of our geothermal sites at Krysuvik. But it was not the last when we toured the Reykjanes Peninsula from Reykjavik.

When we got our first sight of Krysuvik, it reminded us of Namafjall with the multi-coloured earth and bubbling hot springs. There was an extensive set of boardwalks around the different areas in this large site. Along the way, we stopped and read the signs about the geology of this geothermal area.

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal.jpg

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

We made sure and stood downwind of the bubbling pools to avoid the sulphur rotten egg smells. And were ever cautious about the heat of the water. These were not hot springs for bathing!

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal.jpg

From the hot springs we moved through more volcanic landscapes. We saw such a variety in the geology and rock colour along our route.

Iceland Krysuvik Geothermal.jpg

A Stop At The Eldraun Lava Fields

It was not long before we drove through the Eldhraun lava field. Sharp black lava rocks jutted from beneath soft green moss. Near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, the bus pulled into one of the parking lots off the Ring Road.

Iceland Eldraun Lava Fields - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Eldraun Lava Fields - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

The Eldhraun lava field covered a vast 565-square-kilometer site. It was created when the Laki fissure and the adjoining Grímsvötn volcano poured out an estimated 14 cubic kilometers of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous gases. The eruption occurred over about an eight month period between 1783 and 1784.

The effects of this eruption were devastating. The soil was contaminated and much of Iceland’s livestock was killed. Nothing grew on the fields. The poisonous cloud drifted across Europe and went as far away as India. Large death counts were attributed to this eruption.

Much of the lava field was covered with moss. This site was surprisingly very fragile. And we were not allowed to walk on the rocks. But our guide found some flowers in the moss close to the road.

Iceland Eldraun Lava Fields.jpg

When it rained a lot, the moss was green and verdant. But in dryer seasons, the moss was more of a grey colour. This made it an ideal spot when the Apollo 11 crew trained for their moonwalk in 1969 since it looked similar to the moon’s surface. The Eldhraun lava field was a fascinating stop as we travelled along the picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula.

We Saw The Reykjanesviti Lighthouse On The Coast

We headed to the southwestern-most tip of the Reykjanes peninsula. The rugged coastline stretched in front of us. Large pieces of rock jutted up from the sea. We climbed up the hill for a better vantage point.

Iceland Reykjanesviti Coast - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Reykjanesviti Coast.jpg

Iceland Reykjanesviti Coast.jpg

This area was home to thousands of nesting seabirds including puffins, fulmars and guillemots. We saw some birds. But were draw to the big bird statue on the shore.

Iceland Reykjanesviti Coast - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

When we looked the other way we saw the Reykjanesvíti Lighthouse. It was the oldest lighthouse in Iceland. While originally built in 1878, it was re-built again in 1907 after a major earthquake.

Iceland Reykjanesviti Coast Lighthouse - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

It was great to get to this point as we travelled along the beautiful Reykjanes Peninsula.

Another Geothermal Site At Gunnuhver On The Reykjanes Peninsula

There were still more geothermal sights on this tour along the Reykjanes Peninsula. We learned another pieced of folklore when we arrived at Gunnuhver. The area was named for a ghost named Gunna. Around 400 years ago, Gunna was known to cause disturbances in the area. Then one day the local priest set a trap for her and she fell into the hot spring. Gunnuhver translated to “Gunn’s hot spring”.

When we stopped at Gunnuhver, we saw a wide field with several large areas where steam billowed out. The largest mud pool was 65 feet across and constantly spewed dense, cloudy steam at a scalding 570˚F. These pools were created when steam from the boiling geothermal reservoir water condensed and mixed with surface water. It was interesting to learn that the groundwater at Gunnuhver hot springs was 100% seawater.

Iceland Gunnuhver Geothermal.jpg

Walkways went through the site. However, often the steam clouds engulfed the walkways. The steam was hot and smelled of sulphur. So we timed our walk to get a closer view when the wind blew a clear path. Off in the distance we saw a large crater.

Iceland Gunnuhver Geothermal - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Gunnuhver Geothermal - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

The colourful minerals in the ground gave the ground a variety of colours. And we saw a large standing that was milky blue. It was a bit of a preview of the blue ponds we soon saw at the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland Gunnuhver Geothermal.jpg

Iconic Picturesque Sight Outside Of Reykjavík At The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon was the last stop when we toured the stunning Reykjanes Peninsula. This was one of Iceland’s most popular attractions.

Most people visited to enjoy the pool and spa facilities. The water was at 39°C (102°F) year-round. The water was supposed to be very good for the skin. It had a mix of blue-green algae that thrived in the water and a type of bacteria that was only found in the Blue Lagoon. Some of the dissolved minerals in the water included chloride and natron (that together formed sea salt) and calcium. There were also some traces of sulphur, carbonate and magnesium.

We walked around the site and got a view of a number of blue pools around the property. These pools were not set up to enjoy for bathing. But we were still fascinated to see them.

Iceland Blue Lagoon.jpg

Iceland Blue Lagoon - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

We did not have tickets to enjoy the inside facilities. But before we left, we took a quick walk around the swimming pool areas. We wondered if the water would feel much like it did when we swam in the Dead Sea in Israel.

Iceland Blue Lagoon - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

The Blue Lagoon was a very busy and touristy spot. We were glad we visited and saw the site for ourselves. And we were sure it would be a great way to warm up if we visited in the winter season. While this was a much larger and fancy spot, it reminded us of the great hot springs we enjoyed when we visited the hot springs in the Azores in Portugal.

Geothermal Energy In Iceland

Behind the Gunnuhver fields we saw the Reykjanesvirkjun Steam Plant. This large geothermal plant used steam and geothermal brine extracted from twelve 2,700m-deep wells. After extraction, the brine was piped into a steam separator. From there, the steam passed through two large turbines.

Iceland Gunnuhve rReykjanesvirkjun Steam Plant - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Iceland Gunnuhve rReykjanesvirkjun Steam Plant.jpg

Iceland Gunnuhve rReykjanesvirkjun Steam Plant Pipes.jpg

We saw another geothermal power plant beside the Blue Lagoon. This Svartsengi geothermal power station also supplied the hot water to the various pools at the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland Blue Lagoon Svartsengi Steam Plant.jpg

Iceland Blue Lagoon Svartsengi Steam Plant - Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Geothermal power plants produced nearly 20% of Iceland’s electricity. Geothermal heating was also used for nearly 90% of the domestic heating and hot water requirements. Nearly all the rest came from hydroelectric generation. And less than 0.1% was from fossil fuels.

As we toured Reykjanes Peninsula, large steam plumes and massive steam pipes were a common sight.

Great Sights When We Toured The Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik

We were so glad we booked a day to tour the picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula on our stay in Reykjavik. We had many interesting stops. And saw a variety of geothermal sites. We were entertained with local folklore along the way. It was just one more reminder of the stunning natural beauty we found in Iceland.

Did you tour the picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula from Reykjavik? Did you find some other gems on our travels around Iceland?

PIN To Pinterest:

Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

Picturesque Reykjanes Peninsula From Reykjavik.jpg

About TravelAtWill 569 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

24 Comments

  1. I love the landscapes all shaped by volcanic activity. They look so beautiful, and yet are such an example of the damage a volcano can do. The blue lagoon also looks amazing. I would have loved a dip in the hot spring especially in the cold weather.

  2. Hi Linda,

    wow, what a tour, so much diversity. Impressive! I love it when you can see so many different aspects of a region or a country in such a short time (not because you are rushing, but because the country has so much to offer).
    The places you described all look very interesting. And I love you stories about the background such as the “erupting” lake and the volcano eruption in the 18th century.
    According to the photos I can understand why the blue lagoon is the top attraction in this area – the color looks amazing.

    Chris

  3. I haven’t been able to visit Iceland yet, I almost visited Reykjavik last summer and am kicking myself in the butt now for not going. I would have been slightly disappointed not to have seen any elves! Such an interesting fact. I think the geothermal site would be one of the highlights for me, but it would be hard to choose where to start. A day at the Blue Lagoon sounds like a great way to relax. Next time I will be sure to go!

  4. Reykjanes Peninsula does looks rocky. And i am sure with volcanic eruption occurrence this place is also rich in minerals. The mud pool out there , was it safe to indulge in? i am following all your post from iceland , always make me want to visit the magical place ..

  5. Although I have been to Iceland and Reykjavik many a times, I have never explored Reykjanes Peninsula. And now I realize I really missed something extraordinarily. This looks like a place taken directly from a film. You are lucky to have had the chance to visit, and now I know what I need to add to my list next time I visit Iceland.

  6. I love Puffins, and would love to see them there!! It’s a shame you didn’t get into the Blue Lagoon. I’ve been wondering how it compared to being in the Dead Sea too (other than the heat difference). I hope to go in the winter, so it would definitely be a nice warm up! There’s a spot where you an scuba between the two tectonic plates too. I’m not a scuba-er, but I think that would be amazing might be willing to snorkel it.

  7. Isn’t Iceland so cool! First of all, I love all of your pics especially during the warmer season. When I went, I backpacked in snow up to my waste for 4 weeks across the Southern & Eastern Coasts and though I saw some of the landscape beneath the white blankets of snow, it was nothing like your pics show. Sadly, I didnt explore much of the Reykjanes Peninsula except at the end of my trip when I took a one day bus tour of the area mainly to head to the Blue Lagoon. But when we return, I bet it would be really cool to walk around the Eldraun Lava Fields and then head to the shore by the Reykjanesvíti Lighthouse. Love all of the bubbling mud pools.

  8. You covered quite much and so much of geothermal activity around in Reykjanes Peninsula. It was good to see a unique side of Reykjavik as usually people talk about the Northern Lights. The folklore about the giant whale structure made me curious. Also, the church looked great. Good to learn about Svartsengi geothermal power station which supplies hot water to the various pools at the Blue Lagoon.

    • Manjulika, We were happy we saw such a wide variety on our visit to Iceland. Many people don’t get all the way out on the Reykjanes Peninsula. So it was good to show this different view. Linda

  9. What a wonderful visit! You really have explored all of Reykjavik! I am sure that the photos do not even do justice to the sights and activities that you have experienced here. The glaciers are just such an amazing blue. Reykjavik has forever been on my bucket list. I am glad to learn about the Rekjanes Peninsula. I will have to take note to check this out also! I enjoy reading your blog so much! Thank you for sharing this!

  10. I was in Iceland last year during fall and toured the entire country in 2 weeks, such a beautiful experience. Unfortunately didn’t see any elves either haha. I did enjoy my blue lagoon experience, even though it was really touristy and crowded. The geothermal parks were amazing to explore as well, I didn’t quite mind the odour. I wish I could’ve seen some puffins though, I believe it wasn’t the season!

    • Medha, We will definitely want to go to the Blue Lagoon on a return trip even if it is a bit touristy. And maybe we will see puffins too. But I won’t hold out for elves. Linda

  11. i had no idea Iceland was so green (not in the landscape, obvi…but in it’s energy usage). I mean less than 1% from Fossil Fuels, that is AMAZING. Why can’t we be better about that here in the USA, why do we need to hold onto old technologies and fossil fuels 🙁

We love to get your comments!