Watch this audio slideshow of a drive around Reykjanes peninsula, where Keflavík International Airport and the Blue Lagoon are located. Krýsuvík is a colorful geothermal field where billowing steam holes and bubbling mud pots can be inspected at close range. There are also many more things to discover in the region.
Narration and photos by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.
If you ever want to take a short daytrip from Reykjavík, a drive around Reykjanes peninsula—where Keflavík International Airport and the Blue Lagoon are located—is a good choice.
Driving south from Reykjavík, head through Hafnarfjörður and turn left off the main road towards Krýsuvík. “Taking Krýsuvíkurleidin, the Krýsuvík route,” is a saying for doing something the hard way as the road to Krýsuvík is especially bumpy.
It feels like you’re driving on the moon, through endless lava fields. After a relatively short drive, although it feels long, you arrive at lake Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on Reykjanes.
At 97 meters Kleifarvatn is one of the deepest lakes in Iceland. However, after powerful earthquakes shook the region in 2000, the lake began to drain and since that time its surface has shrunk by 20 percent. This development inspired the crime novel The Draining Lake (2004) by Arnaldur Indriðason.
According to legend, a snake-like monster the size of a whale inhabits Kleifarvatn. Those not afraid of the giant serpent can buy a permit to fish for trout in the lake.
Southwest of Kleifarvatn lies the geothermal field of Seltún in Krýsuvík where billowing steam holes and bubbling mud pots can be inspected at close range. Be careful not to leave the marked path, though, because the water, mud and steam are dangerously hot.
Sulfur was once mined at Krýsuvík and there is a distinctive smell of sulfur in the air—like rotten eggs. But if you can ignore the stench, the geothermal area is a delight to other senses.
Bright yellow, rusty red, bluish grey, lush green. With all the colors of the rainbow, it’s a real wonder in the middle of a primarily gray landscape.
Among many explosion craters in the vicinity is Grænavatn, the ‘green lake’. For those who would like to explore the area further on foot, there are a number of different hiking paths and short walks mapped out on Reykjanes.
After stopping at Grænavatn it’s a good idea to take a different route back to Reykjavík. Head for the small fishing village of Grindavík on another gravel road.
On the way you can stop on top of Borgarhóll hill where you can enjoy the view and take a look at the many sculpture-like piles of stone.
Grindavík (pop. 2,760) has many things to offer tourists like the Icelandic Salt Fish Museum, a golf course, horse rental, a handful of restaurants, a swimming pool, not to mention the Blue Lagoon, which is only a stone’s throw away.
From Grindavík it’s only 51 kilometers back to Reykjavík—on a nicely paved road even. There’s no reason to take Krýsuvíkurleiðin twice in one day!