Reykjanes – Hidden treasures beyond the barren landscape

Reykjanes – Hidden treasures beyond the barren landscape

Reykjanes really does live up to its name. It literally means ‘the smoking peninsula’, and that’s exactly what it does. Intersected by multiple faults & fissures, the whole peninsula is basically one giant lava flow. It was also the stage for the greatest show on Earth throughout the summer of 2021 and 2022. 🌋 But Reykjanes has more hidden treasures to discover.

Volcanic eruption on Reykjanes Peninsula

After more than a year of intense rumbling, Reykjanes kicked into action, and coughed up a new volcano in Geldingadalur, a secluded valley below Fagradalsfjall in March 2021. What followed is a series of breathtaking events so incredible it has blown the minds of many people around the world.

Read more about the extraordinary Fagradalsfjall volcano (and how to get there).

Fagradalsfjall volcano, erupting craters, Reykjanes, Iceland.
Fagradalsfjall volcano going crazy in April 2021.

Reykjanes hidden treasures

Reykjanes Peninsula is the first impression of Iceland you see after arrival. Keflavík International Airport is located on the tip of the peninsula, and you’ll travel along its northern shore on your way to Reykjavík and beyond. Barren and desolate as it may look on first sight, there are actually a lot of hidden treasures to be discovered in its rugged interior.

Spectacular south coast

Most of them are hidden along the spectacular south coast of the peninsula. The Suðurstrandarvegur road between Grindavík and Lake Kleifarvatn is especially beautiful. Colourful mountain ranges stretch along the fissure faults from southwest to northeast across the central part of Rekjanes. On clear and sunny days, you can even see Eyjafjallajökull in the distance on the south coast.

Fagradalsfjall volcano and lava fields

This is also the area where the Fagradalsfjall volcano unfolded its extensive lava fields. Suðurstrandarvegur road was under threat for a while, when the lava flow plunged down into Nátthagi valley just north of it in June 2021. Eventually it stopped about 500 metres from the road. See the Fagradalsfjall article for all the volcano and lava flow shenanigans.

Mud pools at Krýsuvík-Seltun, Reykjanes GeoPark, Iceland
Bubbling mud pools at Krýsuvík-Seltun, near Kleifarvatn lake.

Geological wonderland

But there’s more than ‘just’ the volcano. Reykjanes is a geological wonderland and the most active part of Iceland. Large sections of the peninsula are part of the Reykjanes Global Geopark, a Unesco geological heritage area.

Beyond the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pools there is a myriad of steaming vents, bubbling mudpools, colourful rocks & mountains, tranquil lakes, faulty fissures and lava flows covered in thick fluffy moss.

Mossy lava fields, Reykjanes hidden treasures, Iceland
Mossy lava fields in the interior of Reykjanes Peninsula.

Steaming heaps at Krýsuvík-Seltun, Reykjanes GeoPark, Iceland
Colourful views and steaming heaps at Krýsuvík.

Where the Mid Atlantic Ridge comes ashore

At the southern tip of the peninsula you can see the Mid Atlantic Ridge – which runs underwater for nearly its entire length from Antarctica all the way to Iceland – rising above the sea and coming on shore near Reykjanesviti lighthouse.

Kleifarvatn lake, Reykjanes hidden treasures, Iceland
Kleifarvatn lake in Reykjanes Global Geopark.

Volcano-dotted landscape

Mount Keilir is the most dominant feature in this volcano-dotted peninsula. The signature triangular mountain is nearly 400 meters tall, and its pretty cone-shaped form can even be seen in the distance from ReykjavĂ­k across FaxaflĂłi Bay. Keilir was the most likely candidate for an eruption when volcanic tremor began at the end of February 2021. Over 50.000 earthquakes of various intensity rattled the area near GrindavĂ­k, until Fagradalsfjall finally erupted on 19 March 2021.

Even though the volcano has taken a break since mid-September 2021, Reykjanes keeps on rumbling at irregular intervals… On 3 August 2022, another volcano erupted in Meradalir, the deep valley behind Fagradalsfjall.

Reykjanes is a volcanic playground well worth exploring.

Drone view of Meradalir volcano, Fagradalsfjall Fires, Iceland.
Meradalir volcano, the latest addition to Reykjanes Peninsula.

Reykjanes geological hotspots

This handy interactive map shows several hidden treasures and geological hotspots around Reykjanes Geopark. You can also zoom in for more details.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

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Last update: 8 February 2023
First published: 12 April 2017


© All photo’s and content on this blog are my own, and subject to copyright (unless credited otherwise). Please contact me if you would like to use a picture or quote a piece of text from one of my articles. You’re welcome to share a link to my blog articles and pictures on social media, with a tag or mention to Wilderness Coffee & Natural High.


Video – Reykjanes mud pools

The bubbling mud pools of Krýsuvík.

The Night of 8 Erupting Volcanoes 🌋

The incredible Fagradalsfjall volcano, on the only night when all eight craters were erupting simultaneously.


More to explore & discover

La Palma – Cumbre Vieja volcano route

Kerlingarfjöll – Steaming valleys and surreal landscapes

Hawaii – Volcanic fields of fire

ThĂłrsmörk – ĂštigönguhöfĂ°i and Hvannárgil canyon

Mountains & Volcanoes – 7 Epic mountains and volcanoes

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