The Reykjanes Peninsula
We have five, grumbling volcanic systems in the Reykjanes peninsula, a UNESCO Geopark very close to Reykjavík. This often overlooked region has a great deal of rugged beauty and gives you a glimpse of the raw power that slumbers beneath the surface that can awaken at any time. In fact, this may be the very site of the next volcanic eruption, if you have been following the news.
Volcanoes and Hot Springs – Eldfjöll og hverir (eld-fy-oot-l og kv-err-ir)
The tranquil lake of Kleifarvatn is a beautiful sight to be greeted with, especially when glittering in the sun. Close to Kleifarvatn is the area of Krýsuvík and Seltún. This bizarre, martian landscape is quite an experience for the senses. You are welcomed by the pungent aroma of sulphur, and invited to walk the wooden paths between the popping, hissing and bubbling mud pools and steam vents. There is a spectacular palette of colours here, from vibrant reds, to burnt orange, copper, yellow, blue, silver, you name it.
Gunnuhver is another geothermal hot spot and Iceland´s largest mud pool. With a huge fumarole that billows sulphur-rich steam into the air. It‘s like someone left this humungous, eternal kettle steaming and doesn‘t know how to switch it off. There was once a bridge over the area, but the earth eventually claimed it. The area itself is named after a ghost, Guðrún (Gunna) and you can read her tale when you arrive.
The bird cliffs of Valahnúkur and Reykjanesviti lighthouse are another recommended stop. Here, you will find the statue of the Great Auk, a large flightless bird that once lived in Iceland and around North Atlantic coast. Whilst they are not related to penguins, they do look very similar, and as such this is where penguins get their name from due to their similarly. Sadly, they were wiped out in the middle of the 18th century, and it is believed that the very last of the species perished in Iceland. The statue itself stares out to sea towards the island of Eldey, where the last of its kind met their ultimate end.
Finally, the Bridge Between the Continents offers a very unique opportunity. The bridge itself straddles both the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, so you are in a different continent on each side of it. There isn‘t even any border security, and you don‘t even need a passport. How cool is that?
The Blue Lagoon – Bláa Lónið (bl-aow-a-low-nith)
Of course, perhaps the most famous attraction on the Reykjanes peninsula is the world famous Blue Lagoon spa.
The water that collects in this reservoir is rich in minerals and other good stuff, such as silica and algae. These have been proven to have curative properties to skin ailments such as psoriasis. It is absolutely recommended that you ensure the Blue Lagoon features on your schedule. As it is only 20 minutes from the airport, how could you not?