Landmarks of Iceland

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Gullfoss, Iceland
Gullfoss / WoSie, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-2.5.

Most interesting landmarks of Iceland

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Iceland.

Natural landmarks of Iceland

Volcanoes

Viti crater lake, Iceland
Viti crater lake / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Brennisteinsalda – Suðurland. 855 m tall volcano with ground in almost all colors – white, yellow, red, black, green.
  • Laki fissure vent – Suðurland. Volcanic fissure – a clearly visible fissure which in 1783 – 1784 was the site of one of the largest and most destructive eruptions in modern times. Eruption was coming simultaneously from 130 craters.
  • Maelifell – Suðurland. Unusual and picturesque volcano – a moss covered, 200 m tall cone rising from the grey lava fields.
  • Surtsey – Suðurland. New volcanic island, which raised from the ocean in 1963 – 1967. The island is pristine and serves as a natural laboratory where the colonization process of plant and animal life is researched. The area of the island is decreasing.
  • Viti crater lake – Norðurland eystra. Explosion crater at the summit of Askja volcano, filled with light blue, opaque geothermal lake. Lake water is warm and rich with carbon dioxide.

Hydrothermal features

The famous bubble of Strokkur is rising, Iceland
The famous bubble of Strokkur is rising / Andreas Tille, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Deildartunguhver – Vesturland. Very powerful hot spring. Temperature of the water at the source is 97° C, flow rate is 180 liters per second. Here grows the only endemic plant in Iceland – fern Struthiopteris fallax.
  • Grjótagjá – Norðurland eystra. Small lava cave with a thermal spring and hot lake inside. Earlier the lucid water in the cave was suitable for bathing, but in 1975 – 1984 the temperature of water exceeded 50° C.
  • Haukadalur geothermal area with Geysir and Strokkur – Suðurland, Iceland. Two spectacular geysers located close together. Geysir has given the name to the geological phenomenon of geysers. Geysir has been up to 100 m high in the past. Strokkur is very intense, erupting 25 – 35 m high every 4 – 8 minutes. In the area are some more geysers and hot springs.
  • Námafjall Geothermal Area – Norðurland eystra. Large, colorful geothermal field with boiling mud pots, solfataras, sulfur deposits.

Canyons and ravines

  • Ásbyrgi – Norðurland eystra. Unique canyon. When looking from the air, it reminds a tongue with approximately 100 m tall, vertical walls. In the middle of this tongue has remained a long, 25 m tall, narrow cliff. Ásbyrgi most likely has been formed by a glacial flooding.
  • Eldgjá canyon and Ófærufoss waterfall – Suðurland. Spectacular canyon, up to 270 m deep and 600 m wide with powerful stream falling over several steps. This is the largest volcanic canyon in the world.
  • Jökulsárgljúfur – Norðurland eystra. Canyon of Jökulsá river below Dettifoss. This magnificent canyon is 25 km long, up to 500 m wide and up to 120 m deep.

Natural bridges and other cliff formations

Hvítserkur, Iceland
Hvítserkur / , / CC BY 2.0
  • Arnarstapi – Vesturland. Group of sea arches and other rocks with amazing shapes.
  • Dimmuborgir kirkja – Norðurland eystra. Natural arch – a section of lava tube in unusual lava field. In Dimmuborgir are found also numerous chimneys of lava, where one can enter.
  • Dyrhólaey – Suðurland. Two neighboring natural arches under a narrow promontory in the sea. Nearby are also basalt stacks, which are up to 66 m tall.
  • Hvítserkur – Norðurland vestra. Amazing, 15 m tall cliff in the sea. This narrow cliff has two natural arches carved by the sea wave action.
  • Kirkjugólf – Suðurland. Very decorative natural pavement formed by the upper ends of basalt columns.

Caves

  • Surtshellir – Vesturland. Longest known lava cave in Iceland, 1 970 m long. Ghost stories.
  • Víðgelmir – Vesturland. Largest lava tube in the world by volume. This cave is 1,585 m long, with volume 148 000 m³.

Waterfalls

  • Aldeyjarfoss – Norðurland eystra. Powerful waterfall, some 20 m high. Waterfall is surrounded by columnar basalt cliffs.
  • Dettifoss – Norðurland eystra. Grandiose waterfall, considered to be the most powerful in Europe. Falls are 45 m tall, 100 m wide, with a single plunge. Average water flow – 193 m²/s. A bit upstream there is another giant waterfall – Selfoss. This waterfall is 11 m high, but it is very wide – the stream has shaped a long V-shaped cliff and water falls down along more than 500 m long cliff. Downstreams from Dettifoss is Hafragilsfoss – 27 m tall and 91 m wide.
  • Dynjandifoss – Vestfirðir. Cascade of beautiful waterfalls, total height – 100 m.
  • Glymur – Vesturland. The second tallest waterfall in Iceland, 198 m tall. Waterfall is falling into green, moss covered canyon.
  • Goðafoss – Norðurland eystra. One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Height – 12 m, width – 30 m.
  • Gullfoss– Suðurland. One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland and worldwide. Consists of two steps (11 m and 21 m tall), located at right angle to each other.
  • Háifoss and Granni – Suðurland. Two neighboring 122 m tall waterfalls. Water in each of them for the most part falls with a vertical plunge.
  • Hengifoss – Austurland. Beautiful, 128 m tall waterfall, the tallest in the eastern part of the country. A little lower there is another beautiful waterfall – Litlanesfoss – flowing between columnar basalt.
  • Hraunfossar – Vesturland. Unusual waterfall, flowing out of lava field in approximately 900 m wide front along the bank of Hvítá river.
  • Morsárfoss – Austurland. The tallest waterfall in Iceland, approximately 240 m tall. It formed after the Morsárjökull glacier receded and opened a giant circus.
  • Seljalandsfoss – Suðurland. Beautiful waterfall – 60 m tall single plunge fall.
  • Skógafoss – Suðurland. One of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland, 25 m wide and 60 m tall single plunge fall. In sunny weather here is seen rainbow.
  • Svartifoss – Austurland. Unique waterfall – free falling, more than 20 m tall plunge in a valley adorned with basalt columns.

Ecosystems

Midges of Mývatn, Iceland
Midges of Mývatn / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Hallormsstaðarskógur – Austurland. The largest forest in Iceland, planted for more than 100 years. More than 50 species of trees are planted here.
  • Lake balls of Mývatn – Norðurland eystra. One of two places in the world (another is in Japan) where form whole colonies of marimo – balls formed by green algae Aegagropila linnaei. These balls are soft, pleasant, up to 12 cm in diameter.
  • Látrabjarg – Vestfirðir. Up to 440 m high cliff, 14 km long. This is the largest bird cliff in Europe with many millions of birds.
  • Midges of Mývatn – Norðurland eystra. In some years in summer there is observed massive increase of the population of midge Tanytarsus gracilentus. These algae consuming insects are rising from the lake in giant, dark swarms and after the end of their short life cover the lake like a blanket. These insects do not bite.

Other natural landmarks of Iceland

  • Jökulsárlón – Austurland. Glacier lagoon between Vatnajökull glacier and ocean. Lake is adorned with numerous floating icebergs. Here have been spotted even seals.
  • Lagarfljót – Austurland. This large lake, according to legends, has a monster – Lagarfljotsormurinn – living in it.

Man made landmarks of Iceland

Churches

Hallgrímskirkja in summer night, Iceland
Hallgrímskirkja in summer night / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Hallgrímskirkja – Höfuðborgarsvæði. Best known monument of architecture in Reykjavík – an impressive, 74.5 m tall church, designed in Art Deco style. Constructed in 1945 – 1986.
  • Hóladómkirkja – Norðurland vestra. The largest traditional stone church in Iceland, built in 1763.

Other man-made landmarks of Iceland

  • Bessastaðir – Höfuðborgarsvæði. A historic manor house, built in the site of a royal stronghold. Since 1944 – the residence of the President of Iceland.
  • Glaumbær Turf Houses – Norðurland vestra. One of the best representatives of traditional Icelandic turf houses – a group of carefully restored turf houses in Skagafjordur Folk Museum. The site has been inhabited since the 11th century but the oldest turf houses are from the middle of the 18th century. There are many more examples around Iceland – such as Hólar turf houses (Norðurland vestra).
  • Hellnahellir – Suðurland. Enormous artificial cave, made in medieval times. This 50 m long cave is covered with engravings.
  • Akureyri Botanical Gardens – Norðurland eystra. One of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world, established in 1912. The botanical garden aims to select plants suitable for Iceland.
  • Ruins of a house in Hafnir – Höfuðborgarsvæði. Remnants of the earliest settlement in Iceland – a cabin which was abandoned in the time between 770 and 880 AD.
  • Þingvellir (Thingvellir) – Suðurland. A unique monument of history: a site where in 930 AD was established parliament of Iceland. It acted here until 1789. The site still contains remains of numerous temporary houses made of turf and rock which were used during the two weeks of assembly.

Described landmarks of Iceland

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Haukadalur geothermal area: 64.312808, -20.303006
Geysir: 64.313790, -20.299505
Strokkur: 64.312707, -20.300728
Otherrishola: 64.312541, -20.304003
Gunnuhver geothermal area: 63.819357, -22.684965
Krýsuvík - Seltún geothermal area: 63.895785, -22.052350
Grýla: 64.009448, -21.190118
Leppaluði borehole: 64.013570, -21.188781
Ystihver: 65.886739, -17.308407
Vellir (Árhver): 64.658492, -21.363840
Deildartunguhver: 64.663614, -21.410679
Hverasvæðið - Hveragerði Geothermal Park: 64.001028, -21.188524
Gullfoss: 64.326946, -20.120367
Ullarfoss: 65.395434, -17.306603
Hrafnabjargafoss: 65.339553, -17.339763
Ingvararfoss: 65.365764, -17.326590
Hafragilsfoss: 65.832226, -16.399652
Selfoss: 65.805952, -16.387764
Dettifoss: 65.814535, -16.384024
Goðafoss: 65.682903, -17.550237
Dynjandifoss: 65.732711, -23.198714
Aldeyjarfoss: 65.366511, -17.336821
Geitafoss: 65.685020, -17.541902
Gervidalsá falls: 65.783792, -22.553964
Hundafoss (Dynjandisá): 65.736122, -23.206258
Kvíslarfoss: 65.736094, -23.205228
Hrísvaðsfoss: 65.735599, -23.205645
Göngumannafoss: 65.735194, -23.204033
Hæstahjallafoss: 65.733269, -23.200657
Gyrðisfoss: 65.749363, -23.165334
Bæjarfoss: 65.736549, -23.207850
Strompgljúfrafoss: 65.734129, -23.203322
Réttarfoss: 65.879429, -16.435023
Vígabjargsfoss: 65.886219, -16.443645
Glymur: 64.391178, -21.251626
Morsárfoss: 64.112360, -16.885443
Háifoss: 64.207814, -19.686699
Granni: 64.209233, -19.682806
Hengifoss: 65.095253, -14.889420
Litlanesfoss: 65.083648, -14.882958
Hraunfossar: 64.702834, -20.977314
Seljalandsfoss: 63.615446, -19.988385
Skógafoss: 63.532087, -19.511334
Svartifoss: 64.027634, -16.975302
Rjúkandi: 65.334328, -15.081019
Strútsfoss: 64.893891, -15.022118
Hangandifoss: 63.989885, -16.467398
Magnúsarfoss on Bærjargil: 64.021125, -16.979958
Hundafoss on Bærjargil: 64.019972, -16.980454
Þjófafoss (Thjofafoss) on Bærjargil: 64.018826, -16.980635
Heygötufoss (Austurgil): 64.019053, -16.978764
Neðriheiðarfoss: 64.022892, -16.967740
Efri-Austurheiðarfoss: 64.027471, -16.960497
Skaðafoss: 64.040640, -16.964888
Kvernufoss: 63.528534, -19.480630
Gljúfrafoss (Gljúfrabúi): 63.620777, -19.986012
Hveravellir Geothermal Field: 64.865297, -19.558777
Gjósandi: 64.865641, -19.559262
Bóluhver: 64.865533, -19.559709
Fagrihver: 64.865283, -19.558240
Gamli Fagrihver: 64.865155, -19.558520
Grænihver: 64.865089, -19.558292
Rauðihver: 64.865024, -19.559109
Öskurhóll: 64.864964, -19.558730
Bláhver: 64.864973, -19.558445
Eyvindarhver: 64.864954, -19.559378
Barnafoss: 64.701905, -20.973976
Dynkur (Búðarhálsfoss): 64.338373, -19.194986
Stórihver Geothermal Area: 63.954525, -19.142445
Hjálparfoss: 64.115877, -19.849548
Þjófafoss (Þjórsá): 64.056671, -19.866537
Urriðafoss: 63.924748, -20.671835
Öxarárfoss: 64.265784, -21.117820
Ýrufoss: 64.086728, -21.007671
Reykjafoss (Hveragerdi): 64.002369, -21.182385
Baulufoss (Hveragerdi): 64.011079, -21.187681
Spýtir Geothermal Field: 64.017282, -21.181040
Brúarárfoss (Brúarfoss): 64.264481, -20.517157
Miðfoss (Brúará): 64.258127, -20.514884
Hlauptungufoss: 64.252906, -20.517404
Vatnsleysufoss (Faxi): 64.225109, -20.336701
Ægissíðufoss: 63.819196, -20.416667
Árbæjarfoss: 63.862670, -20.341695
Búðafoss: 64.014485, -20.270197
Hestafoss (Þjórsá): 64.006606, -20.336132
Viðey í þjórsá (Minnanúpshólmi): 64.045721, -20.143930
Tröllkonuhlaup: 64.069712, -19.774584
Fossabrekkur: 64.073097, -19.751336
Fagrifoss: 63.868372, -18.245959
Fossárfoss (Sveinstekksfoss): 64.753077, -14.481898
Ófærufoss: 63.964933, -18.617975
Brennisteinsalda: 63.980774, -19.095619
Laki fissure vent: 64.066234, -18.249664
Maelifell: 63.799543, -18.937921
Surtsey: 63.302299, -20.603332
Viti crater lake: 65.046935, -16.725383
Grjótagjá: 65.626430, -16.883177
Námafjall Geothermal Area: 65.641090, -16.809174
Ásbyrgi: 66.011518, -16.505151
Eldgjá canyon: 63.967007, -18.607021
Jökulsárgljúfur: 65.988005, -16.459393
Arnarstapi: 64.765275, -23.621339
Dimmuborgir kirkja: 65.585670, -16.902641
Dyrhólaey: 63.399463, -19.126116
Hvítserkur: 65.606235, -20.635177
Kirkjugólf: 63.795318, -18.046190
Surtshellir: 64.781495, -20.723707
Víðgelmir: 64.750382, -20.801637
Hallormsstaðarskógur: 65.100192, -14.723043
Lake balls of Mývatn: 65.586546, -16.992747
Midges of Mývatn: 65.609144, -17.008501
Látrabjarg: 65.495036, -24.429179
Jökulsárlón: 64.049546, -16.199979
Lagarfljót: 65.208437, -14.564142
Hallgrímskirkja: 64.141874, -21.926851
Hóladómkirkja: 65.733347, -19.113922
Bessastaðir: 64.105972, -21.995494
Glaumbær Turf Houses: 65.611001, -19.504429
Hellnahellir: 64.007427, -20.154593
Akureyri Botanical Gardens: 65.675330, -18.093565
Ruins of a house in Hafnir: 63.934462, -22.676774
Þingvellir (Thingvellir): 64.259550, -21.122370

Iceland is very rich with peculiar natural landmarks and the island contains also interesting cultural landmarks. The highlights of Iceland are:

  • Waterfalls – Iceland is very rich with magnificent, large waterfalls. Some other European countries have taller waterfalls, but a multitude of Icelandic waterfalls are unsurpassed in their width, power, and visual impression. Several Icelandic waterfalls (Dettifoss, Gullfoss) belong to the most impressive falls of the world.
  • Geysers and other geothermal features – the only true geysers of Europe are located in Iceland. Haukadalur geothermal area contains two most famous geysers – Geysir and Strokkur, but there are several more beautiful and interesting geothermal fields in the country.

Featured: Geysir

Geysir, Iceland
Geysir / Börkur Sigurbjörnsson, Flickr.CC BY 2.0.

Although there are some 1000 geysers in the world, the first "geyser" in the world is Geysir. This once powerful geyser gave a name to this spectacular phenomenon worldwide.

Recommended books

The Rough Guide to Iceland


Now is the time to explore Iceland – tourism is booming and your króona will go further than you think. The Rough Guide to Iceland shows you the very best this exceptional country has to offer: from the party capital, Reykjavík, with its white nights and northern lights, to the newest volcanic hotspots at Holuhraun and Eyjafjallajökull. Come eye to eye with the giants of the deep on a whale watching tour, take a dip in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, or hike to the isolated highland valley of Þórsmörk.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Iceland


Guidebooks to Iceland are currently on every list of guidebook best-sellers, and will now be joined by a powerful new entrant written by an acknowledged and heavily-published expert on the subject. He is Nicholas Gill, an outstanding journalist, whose writings on Iceland have been prominently featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine magazine, and many other notable publications.

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