Things to do on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

16 Apr 2017

As you read this, I'll probably be curled up in a bereft heap as the jetlag and post-New York blues hit me during Easter weekend. I only hope future me has the foresight to stock up on Easter eggs before she sets off to the Big Apple. In the meantime, I'm writing my final two Iceland posts because it makes sense to finish talking about one travel experience before moving on to the next. Soz for being that person.

I think most people head to the Reykjanes Peninsula to go to the Blue Lagoon, which is why we were there, but it’s well worth visiting as a standalone place; and it’s about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik so you can easily go for a day trip.

We drove over on our second to last day to set up camp in a new hotel for our final two nights of the trip. We planned to spend our final day at the Blue Lagoon so, by the time we got to the hotel, we had an afternoon to fill on the peninsula. Here’s what I’d recommend doing:

Gardskagi Headland 

If you drive through the village of Gardur, you come to this gorgeous piece of headland. It’s wind-battered yet tranquil, rugged yet beautiful. Apparently, it’s a great spot for viewing wildlife although I can’t say we saw much more than a few seabirds. There’s a little beach and two picturesque lighthouses, one of which has a tiny cafĂ© inside and you can climb to the top of the lighthouse for free if you buy something from there. The food was basic and very Icelandic so you may prefer to simply pay to climb to the top – I’ll leave it to your judgement. The views at the top are very dreamy.

The Bridge Between Two Continents 

What it says on the tin. The peninsula lies on one of the world’s major plate boundaries, the Mid Atlantic Bridge, and this is a small footbridge over a major fissure which was built as a symbol for the connection between Europe and North America. Essentially you can walk between the two continents (supposedly, it’s lucky but if not, it is very cool) as well as walk in the mini canyon itself (yeah you will get black sand in your shoes).

The 100 Crater Park 

Miles and miles of lava fields and wild volcanic craters – dubbed the 100 crater park. You can drive through it and feel a bit like you’re on The Martian movie set. There are power plants dotted about which use geothermal heat to produce salt from seawater and generate electricity (I think you can arrange visits to look round the power plants). In my opinion, the best place to stop is Valahnukur which is the most wild spot; a multi-coloured geothermal area with hot springs. The mud pools and steam vents are collectively named Gunnuhver, after a female ghost that was supposedly laid to rest there. We saw a lot of hot steam billowing out the ground in Iceland but this was by far the most aggressive one. The steam was exploding out so big and fast and loud. There were warnings everywhere telling you to STICK TO THE BLOODY PATH but you weren’t remotely tempted to disobey the rule. Mainly cos, when you got right up close, you could see the remains of what we assume was the original bridge for tourists to walk across; I’m guessing the hole in the ground began to expand, and the hot lava/steam destroyed the bridge. I’m also guessing no one was stood on it at the time…?

Obviously there will be other things to do on the peninsula but obvs I won’t recommend somewhere I didn’t get chance to go. There’s more on the visit Iceland website here. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in the evening, I recommend the restaurant Kaffi Duus. And this was the hotel we stayed in, which was genuinely one of my favourite hotels ever. It looked over the harbour and had big glass windows everywhere, so you could always enjoy the sunset.