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Wonders of Iceland

Arnarstapi
Arnarstapi. / apasciuto, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Iceland is very rich with peculiar natural landmarks and the island contains also interesting cultural landmarks. The most amazing wonders 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 in the world.
  • Geysers and other geothermal features – the only true geysers of Europe are located in Iceland. Haukadalur geothermal area contains the two most famous geysers – Geysir and Strokkur, but there are several more beautiful and interesting geothermal fields in the country.

Map with the described wonders of Iceland

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Iceland

Geological wonders of Iceland

Strokkur

SuĂ°urland

Strokkur is a very intense geyser, erupting 25 – 35 m high every 4 – 8 minutes.

The famous bubble of Strokkur is rising, Iceland
The famous bubble of Strokkur is rising / Andreas Tille, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Haukadalur geothermal area

SuĂ°urland

Two spectacular geysers – Geysir and Strokkur – are 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.

Geysir and Strokkur erupting simultaneously, June 1984
Geysir and Strokkur erupting simultaneously, June 1984 / Roger Goodman, Flickr.CC BY-SA 2.0.
Geysir

SuĂ°urland

Geysir has given the name to the geological phenomenon of geysers. Geysir has been up to 100 m high in the past.

Geysir erupting, August 2009
Geysir erupting, August 2009 / Petr BroĆŸ, Wikimedia Commons.CC BY-SA 3.0
Gullfoss

SuĂ°urland

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland and worldwide. Consists of two steps (11 m and 21 m tall), located at a right angle to each other.

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

SuĂ°urland

This volcanic island is very new: it rose 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.

Surtsey from air
Surtsey from air. / Bruce McAdam, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
Dettifoss

NorĂ°urland eystra

Magnificent waterfall, considered to be the most powerful in Europe. Falls are 45 m tall, and 100 m wide, with a single plunge. Average water flow – 193 mÂČ/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 is falling down along more than 500 m long cliffs. Downstream from Dettifoss is Hafragilsfoss – 27 m tall and 91 m wide.

Dettifoss
Dettifoss./ Marco NĂŒrnberger, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Svartifoss

Austurland

Unique waterfall – free falling, more than 20 m tall plunge in a valley adorned with basalt columns.

Svartifoss
Svartifoss. / LeCardinal, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Hveravellir Geothermal Field

NorĂ°urland vestra

Beautiful geothermal field and popular tourist destination. The area contains several notable hot springs and geysers, such as Gjósandi, Bréðrahver, Grénihver, Rauðihver, Öskurhóll, Fagrihver, and others. Here are at least six geysers.

Hevravellir Geothermal Field. Öskurhóll in the forefront with Bláhver behind it.
Hevravellir Geothermal Field. ÖskurhĂłll in the forefront with BlĂĄhver behind it../ AurĂ©lien Coillet, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Hraunfossar

Vesturland

A very unusual, 900 meters wide waterfall. It emerges from under a lava field and falls directly into the HvĂ­tĂĄ river.

Hraunfossar
Hraunfossar. / Daniel Knieper, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Gunnuhver geothermal area

SuĂ°urnes

A geothermal field with mud pools and fumaroles, former geysers. A legend about a ghost that was dragged into the fumarole.

Gunnuhver geothermal area, Iceland
Gunnuhver geothermal area / Christian Bickel, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Krysuvik – Seltun geothermal area (KrĂœsuvĂ­k – SeltĂșn)

SuĂ°urnes

Spectacular geothermal fields right on the Mid-Atlantic ridge. Hot springs, solfataras, fumaroles, and colored soil.

SeltĂșn geothermal field, Iceland
SeltĂșn geothermal field / Andrew Bowden, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Ásbyrgi

NorĂ°urland 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 named Eyjan. Ásbyrgi most likely has been formed by glacial flooding.

Ásbyrgi
Ásbyrgi. / Chris 73, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
GoĂ°afoss

NorĂ°urland eystra

One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Height – 12 m, width – 30 m.

GoĂ°afoss
GoĂ°afoss. / Marco Bellucci, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
StĂłrihver Geothermal Area

SuĂ°urland

Impressive geothermal area in the picturesque mountains north of MĂœrdalsjökull glacier. The large, blue pool of StĂłrihver is some 15 m wide. Several boiling springs. It is possible that some springs could be geysers.

One of hot springs in StĂłrihver Geothermal Area
One of hot springs in StĂłrihver Geothermal Area./ Venema, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Ystihver and Hveravellir (Husavik) geothermal field

NorĂ°urland eystra

The northernmost geyser in Iceland and the whole world is Ystihver – the only remaining geyser in Hveravellir geothermal field.

Ystihver, the northernmost geyser in the world
Ystihver – the northernmost geyser in the world. / Rainhard Triltsch, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
SkĂłgafoss

SuĂ°urland

One of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland, 25 m wide and 60 m tall single plunge fall. In sunny weather here is seen a rainbow.

Skogafoss
Skogafoss./ orangemania, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Glymur

Vesturland

The second tallest waterfall in Iceland, 198 m tall. The waterfall is falling into a green, moss-covered canyon.

Glymur
Glymur./ Jabbi, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
GrjĂłtagjĂĄ

NorĂ°urland eystra

Small lava cave with a thermal spring and hot lake inside. Earlier the lucid water in the cave was suitable for bathing but from 1975 to 1984 the temperature of the water in it exceeded 50° C.

GrjĂłtagjĂĄ
GrjĂłtagjĂĄ./ Richard Whitaker, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
HvĂ­tserkur

NorĂ°urland vestra

Amazing, 15 m tall cliff in the sea. This narrow cliff has two natural arches carved by the sea wave action.

HvĂ­tserkur, Iceland
HvĂ­tserkur / , / CC BY 2.0
Dynjandifoss

VestfirĂ°ir

A cascade of beautiful waterfalls, total height – 100 m, width above – some 30 m, below – up to 60 m. Several more waterfalls follow below these falls.

Dynjandifoss
Dynjandifoss./ Zairon, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
NĂĄmafjall Geothermal Area

NorĂ°urland eystra

Large, colorful geothermal field with boiling mud pots, solfataras, and sulfur deposits. Once an important mine of sulfur for medieval Europe.

VĂ­Ă°gelmir

Vesturland

Largest (by volume) lava tube cave in the world. 1,585 meters long cave, with a volume 148 000 mÂł. Contains ice formations, and evidence of habitation, possibly from the Viking Age.

VĂ­Ă°gelmir
VĂ­Ă°gelmir. / Jutta234, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Laki fissure vent

SuĂ°urland

Volcanic fissure – a clearly visible fissure – that in 1783 – 1784 was the site of one of the largest and most destructive eruptions in modern times. The eruption was coming simultaneously from 130 craters.

The Laki crater row
The Laki crater row. / Anne Schöpa, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Architecture wonders of Iceland

HallgrĂ­mskirkja

HöfuðborgarsvÊði

The best known monument of architecture in Reykjavík – an impressive, 74.5 m tall church, designed in Art Deco style. Constructed in 1945 – 1986.

HallgrĂ­mskirkja in summer night, Iceland
HallgrĂ­mskirkja in summer night / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Þingvellir (Thingvellir)

SuĂ°urland

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 that were used during the two weeks of assembly.

Lögberg in Þingvellir
Lögberg in Þingvellir. / Hansueli Krapf, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

The Rough Guide to Iceland


Now is the time to explore Iceland – tourism is booming and your krĂłona 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, ReykjavĂ­k, 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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