Travel search
Can't find it? Try searching for it :)

Nature

Arnarbæli

Arnarbæli is a district in Ölfus and from the 12th century up until the beginning of the 20th century it was one of the best fields in Iceland to produce hey. Now there are large ruins from the old farm at Arnarbæli that are protected. Due to the wetlands around Arnarbæli you will find many interesting bird species in the area such as a Eurasian Oystercatcher, a Red-necked Phalarope and a Eurasian Wigeon.

Arnarker

Another interesting cave is Arnarker. Arnarker is a cave in the Leitarhraun lava field, north of the old road leading from Þrengsli towards Selvogur. A marked path leads from the information sign by the road to the cave, and a ladder has been placed at its opening, down some 16 meters. The cave is about 516 meters long. It goes from the opening 100 meters south and 400 meters north.

Ásavegur - trail

The trail Ásavegur used to be an important highway through the South of Iceland. This centuries-old man-made route would be used by people from different directions to go fishing, for example, or to collect their sheep and cattle from the mountains. Between Orrustudal and Hnaus is a marked hiking trail along the old Ásavegur trail which is about a 6 km. walk. On this trail is the highest point of Flóahreppur with breathtaking views in all directions. Information signs on Orrustudalur (The Valley of Battles), Skotmannshóll (Archer's Hill) and Mannabeinsmelur (The Human Bone Field) are located at different points during the hike. These locations are a great part of Icelandic history. Here is the stage of Flóamanna-Saga, two big battles were fought in Orrustudalur valley and from Skotmannshóll or Archer's Hill came one of the greatest bowshots in the saga

Blahnukur in Landmannalaugar

The very most popular mountain in the Landmannalaugar-region to walk on top on. It´s a 945 m. above sea-level wiewpoint, with a horizont-disc on the top.

Bruarhlod

Bruarhlod (Brúarhlöð) is a narrow gorge in Hvitá River about three kilometers south of the Golden Waterfalls (Gullfoss). Through the centuries the river has formed the rocks in to beautiful pillars and formations. The name of the rocks is Breccias (Hyaloclastite).

Just above Bruarhlod is a bridge over the river, which was built 1959 after the first two bridges washed away, the first one in 1929, and the second one in 1930. When driving over the bridge we can only imagine the forces needed to wash away a bridge in that size.

Hvita River is a popular place for river rafting and to raft through Bruarhlod is adventure that is difficult to describe with words. Travelers should make a note to stop at Bruarhlod, view the magnificent nature and the rock formations.

Dælarétt

Dælarétt is a centuries-old sheep pen surrounded by beautiful landscape, built from rocks of the great Þjórsárhraun lava field. Dælarétt is considered to be the oldest sheep pen in the country and has now been preserved. Close by are earthquake fissure; use caution around the fissures.

Dimon

Great Dímon is the name of a landmark that landmark East Landeyjar, Fljótshlíð and West Eyjafjöll. Great Dimon has a sister mountain called Litla Dimon or Little Dimon. The name is thought to come from Latin, meaning twin mountains or two alike. It has also been said that the word means haystack and it certainly is reminiscent of a haystack surrounded by golden fields. Near the mountain a sign has been erected by the Saga Center of Hvolsvöllur which tells of battles fought in the area during the times of the settlement of Iceland in the most famous of Icelandic sagas, Njálssaga. The mountain is only 178 meters high and is a fun hike for both adults and children.

Domadalur

A valley at the west side of lava Dómadalshraun. It has a small lake with brown-trout in it. F225, Dómadalsleið lies through it. Supposingly this was the meeting-point for people from two counties in the flatland, where strong rivers separated them (dómur=judgement).

Dverghamrar / Dwarf Rocks

Dverghamrar (Dwarf Rocks), just east of Foss, are peculiar and beautiful formations of columnar basalt. On top of the columns there is cube-jointed basalt. The landscape is thought to have been moulded at the end of the Ice Age. The sea level was higher at that time and it is believed that the waves caused the peculiar look of the rocks. Dverghamrar are a protected natural monument. Columnar basalt is formed when lava flow gets cooled and contraction forces build up. Cracks then form horizontally and the extensive fracture network that develops results in the six sided formation of the columns.

Dynkur in Thjorsa river

Dynkur in Thjorsa river The waterfalls Hrauneyjarfoss and the sometimes turquoise coloured Sigjaldafoss are both easy to reach. It is also a good idea to drive and see the majestic waterfall Dynkur in the River Thjórsá. The road is signed but it is only suitable for jeeps and off-road vehicles. It is also an excellent trip to drive down to the waterfall Fagrifoss in the Kaldakvísl canyon on the way. There are also many other waterfalls to visit in the waterfilled flowing region.

Dyrholaey
Dyrhólaey is a 120-metre high promontory, not far from Vík. The place got its name from the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. (The name literally means "door-hole"). When the sea is calm, big boats can sail through it. There has even been a maniacal daredevil pilot that flew through the arch with a small-craft airplane! From the top of Dyrhólaey there is a great view. The headland is thought to have been made in an underwater volcanic eruption late in the glacial period, not unlike the eruption of Surtsey. Several outcrops are in the sea, the highest one called Háidrangur ("High column") is 56 m. high. Dyrhólaey has been a natural reserve since 1978. The promontory is widely known among sailors as "Portland", and English trawler fishermen ubeach where one can climb (at your own risk). According to legend the Reynisdrangar needles were formed when two trolls were trying to drag a three-masted ship to land. When daylight broke they turned to stone. The Needles can be seen clearly from the village of Vík and are 66 meters above sea level at their highest. In one of the many caves here - there is a local legend about a monster having lived here for many centuries. The monster seems to have disappeared after a landslide over 100 years ago…sed to call it "Blow hole". There are also amazing rock formations all along the Birdlife here is abundant, with puffins and eider ducks being the most common species in the area. The lighthouse on the top of the cliff stands impressive and stoic in this often very windy area. Be careful not to go too close to the ledge of this dramatic cliff. You should not miss going down to the black beach to see some of the incredible stone fissures there and to be chased by the waves in this truly extraordinary place. It is also great fun to venture down on the black beach in this area. The waves are often quite impressive and many people enjoy being chased by them up the beach. Although people have actually surfed here (under optimal conditions in wet suits), the rip tides and currents are devious and one should never attempt to go into the water! Leave the swimming to the numerous seals which one often can see in the are.
Efra-Hvolshellar caves

The caves in Efra-Hvol (Upper Hvol) have histarically been referred to as "the Irish Caves" which are set into the so-called, "Irish Heath". It was originally thought that many of these man-made or artificial caves were madein the 19th century, but in fact, their histofical names appear to confirm they originated even beforr the settlement period.

More geosites in the neighbourhood: www.katlageopark.com

Einbúi, Oddgeirshólar

A beautiful sports and outdoor recreational area on the banks of Hvítá River. The area is owned by the Youth Association Baldur.

Eldgja canyon

Between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Landmannalaugar, the eruptive fissure Eldgjá is to be found. Eldgjá is a 40 km long eruptive fissure, 600 meters wide in many places, and up to 200 meters deep, formed in a gigantic eruption in 934. From Eldgjá, extensive streams of lava have flowed through Landbrot and Meðalland, reaching sea at Alviðruhamrar in Álftaver. The lava-field is believed to cover 700 km², which makes it one of the vastest lava-fields on earth since the last ice age. Eldgjá is believed to belong to the same crater system as Katla. Eldgjá is a unique natural phenomenon and is listed as natural remnants.

Eyjafjallajokull Glacier

The Eyjafjallajökull glacier is a 1666 m high glacier-capped stratovolcano. It is one of the smaller glaciers of Iceland. It is situated to the north of Skógar and to the south and west of the bigger glacier Mýrdalsjökull. The icecap of the glacier covers a volcano (1666m in height) which has erupted relatively frequently since the Ice Age. The crater of the volcano has a diameter of 3-4 km and the glacier covers an area of about 100 km². In June 1994 an earthquake swarm lasting for nearly a month occurred below the active volcano Eyjafjallajökull in South Iceland. It is otherwise a relatively quiet volcano - although it is not listed as being inactive. Eyjafjallajökull erupted last in 1821-1823. The south end of the mountain was once part of the Atlantic coastline. As the sea has since retreated some 5 km, the former coastline has left behind sheer cliffs with a multitude of beautiful waterfalls, the best known of them being Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. In strong winds, the water of some of the smaller falls can even be blown up the mountain. It is one of the three glaciers that surround the Thorsmörk area - the other 2 being Myrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull. Specialized tours are arranged on the glacier for both skiing, superjeep tour and hiking. One should never venture onto the glacier without guides and good knowlege of these kind of activities as this is a very dangerous area for unexperienced visitors.

Eyjafjoll

Eyjafjöll is a beautiful region of south Iceland, which is easily accessible and popular with visitors.

Check out www.eyjafjoll.is Eyjafjoll's website aims to provide a wide range of useful information for visitors to the area: we tell you about walking routes, places of interest, and tourist services in the Eyjafjöll region.

Ferjunes

A medieval ferry dock for crossing Þjórsá River.

Fimmvorduhals

The hiking trail over Fimmvörðuháls is one of the most popular one in Iceland and even more so now when hikers can explore the eruption sites up there. The trail starts at Skógar and takes us from the beatiful Skógarfoss waterfall along the Skógará river.

The distance is about 20 km. with estimated hiking time between 8 - 12 hours. Elevation increase and decrease is 1.000 meters. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather since the trail leads us between two glaciers.

Fjaðrárgljúfur

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a magnificent and massive canyon, about 100 meters deep and about two kilometres long. The canyon has sheer walls, and is somewhat serpentine and narrow. The bedrock in Fjaðrárgljúfur is mostly palagonite from cold periods of the Ice Age and is thought to be about two million years old. The river Fjaðrá has its source in the mountain Geirlandshraun and falls off the heath edge in this stunning canyon until it makes it down into Skaftá river. Fjaðrá has changed a lot in the course of time. Today Fjaðrá is often rather low in water and therefore hikers can safely choose to walk inside the canyon. However, wading is necessary fairly often. Deep in the canyon there are waterfalls so one needs to walk the same way back. Most people choose to walk along a walking path up on the canyon's edge while simultaneously enjoying the view above the canyon.

Formation of the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

It is believed that Fjaðrárgljúfur formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about nine thousand years ago. When the glacier retreated, a lake formed in the valley behind a hard resistant rock. The run-off from the lake flowed to where Fjaðrárgljúfur is today. Glacial rivers from the glacier's edge carried a lot of sediment into the lake and the river which ran from it dug itself down into the rock and down onto the palagonite in front of it. Because the cascade has been so large, it was powerful in digging out the canyon. Eventually the lake filled with sediments and the river's strength dwindled. When the lake filled up completely, the river began to dig itself into the sediment layers which it had previously left in the valley. Fluvial terraces on both sides in the valley give an indication about the original height and location of the lake while a deep channel in the palagonite serves as a silent reminder to the power of nature.

More geosites in the neighbourhood: www.katlageopark.com

Fljótshólar

Believed to be the greatest panoramic site in all of Iceland.

Flóaáveita - canals

Flóaáveitan are canals that run through the entire Flói region, from Ölfusá in the west to Þjórsá River in the east. This monumental construction consisted of 300 km long canals and 900 km of embankments. The Flói irrigation system reached over 12 thousand hectares of land and became a major transition in farming and production in the area at the time. The construction of Flói irrigation system began in 1922 and irrigation began its activities in 1927. When the irrigation was inaugurated in 1927 it was one of the greatest structures in Europe and to this day it plays an important role in transferring water between farms. Beside the sluice gate you will find an information board with more details about the Flói irrigation system. To the east of the sluice gate is a marked hiking trail along Hvítá (about 4,4 km, one way).

Geothermal area in Hveragerdi

Right inside the town of Hveragerði is an area of hot springs from which the community derives its name (hver = hot spring). The hot springs of Hveragerði are among the most remarkable natural attractions og south Iceland. Visitor to the hot spring can learn about geothermal energy and the springs, which include Dynkur, which spouts regulary, Ruslahver which has an interesting history, and many more.

April May June July August September
Weekdays 09:00- 17:00 09:00- 17:00 09:00-18:00 09:00-18:00 09:00-18:00 09:00-17:00
Saturdays Closed 09:00- 17:00* 09:00-18:00 09:00-18:00 09:00-18:00 09:00-17:00
Sundays Closed Closed 10:00-16:00 10:00-16:00 10:00-16:00 Closed
*From 15th May
During winter we welcome groups upon request

Gullfoss waterfall

Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls, the upper one has a drop of 11 metres and the lower one 21 metres. The rock of the river bed was formed during an interglacial period.

Water flows over Gullfoss at an average rate of 109 cubic metres per second. The heaviest floods have recorded a flow of 2000 cubic metres per second. During the summer the flow is 130 cubic metres per second, which would take only 3 seconds to fill this building. People were eager to exploit the power potential of Gullfoss and many plans for hydroelectric developments on the river Hvítá have been proposed.

Hafnarnes lighthouse and viewpoint

Hafnarnes is an area on the edge of the town Thorlákshöfn where you are surrounded by beautiful cliffs and the majestic ocean. A viewpoint is located in the area and from there you have panoramic views over the mountains surrounding the area such as the volcanoes Mt. Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull. This area is also very popular amongst surfers and usually you can spot a few surfing. There is a small lighthouse on the cliffs, it is not open for visitors but is very picturesque with the waves banging against the cliffs.

Haifoss and Granni

The waterfall Háifoss is situated near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. The river Fossá, a tributary of Þjórsá, drops here from a height of 122 m. This is the second highest waterfall of the island.

From the historical farm Stöng, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Hekla in the Middle Ages and reconstructed, it is possible to hike to the waterfall along the Fossá (5 to 6 hours both directions). Above the waterfall, there is also a parking lot, so the hiking can also be made in the other direction.

Hengill area and Geothermal energy exhibition

Mt. Hengill is a dormant volcano which erupted around 2000 years ago. The geothermal area around the dormant volcano Mt. Hengill is perfect for hiking. There are numerous marked hiking trails coloured after difficulty.
The Geothermal Energy Exhibition at Hellisheiði Power Plant is an exploration into the utilization of geothermal energy in Iceland. The Hellisheiði Power Plant is a great example of how geothermal energy can be utilized in a sustainable manner and is a showcase for geothermal' s global role in a renewable and sustainable future. The exhibition is located at Hellisheiði power plant by road no. 1.

Hjalparfoss Waterfall

Hjalparfoss is a beautiful, two stepped waterfall near the confluence of Rivers Thjorsa and Fossa in the Thjorsa Valley. The surrounding area is called Hjalp (Help), because the travellers across the Sprengisandur Route found great help in reaching a vegetated area to graze their horses after a long journey in the barren interior.

As elsewhere in the valley, the signs of the eruptions of Mt. Hekla are very prominent by the waterfall, ashes everywhere.

Hjorleifshofdi

Hjörleifshöfði or "Hjörleifur´s Headland" is a 221 m tuff rock promontory in the southwestern part of Mýrdalssandur, formed in the latter part of the Last ice age, by an eruption under the glacier.

Hoffell glacier

Driving or hiking north from Hoffell along the sands of Hoffellssandur you will enjoy the spectacular scenery of mountain slopes carved out by earlier glaciers. Along the way, there is also a borehole, constructed to extract geothermal water. Finally, you reach the ice of the glacier-tongue, Hoffellsjökull, skirted by the numerous hiking trails of the Geitafell mountain.

Along the sands of Hoffellssandur you will enjoy the spectacular scenery of mountain slopes carved out by earlier glaciers. Along the way, there is also a borehole, constructed to extract geothermal water. Finally, you reach the ice of the glacier-tongue, Hoffellsjökull, skirted by the numerous hiking trails of the Geitafell mountain.

Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon

The main lagoon measures about 7 square miles (20 km2) and until 1932 was covered in thick glacial ice. Then the glacier started to retreat, and nowadays more than 300 feet (100 m) of ice breaks away each year to reshape the lagoon and fill it with spectacular icebergs.

The lagoon is open to the sea and so contains a mixture of salt and freshwater, giving it a unique blue-green color. There are hundreds of seals here in the winter and the lagoon supports many species of fish including krill, herring, trout and, occasionally, salmon.

Katla Geopark

Katla Geopark includes geological features of global significance. Over 150 volcanic eruptions have been recorded in the area since the 9th century. The eruptions created the landscape and influenced where people settled. Through the centuries, man and nature have affected the region's history. The area is constantly changing due to the volcanic activity.

A geopark is defined as a territory, which includes a particular geological heritage and a sustainable territorial development strategy to promote development. It must have clearly defined boundaries and sufficient surface area for true territorial economic development.

The Geopark covers about 9% of Iceland, 9542 km2, and follows the borders of three municipalities, Skaftárhreppur, Mýrdalshreppur and Rangárþing eystra. About 2700 people live within the Geopark.
GeologyIceland lies astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where tectonic plates move apart from each other, causing a rift zone. A mantle plume exists below the country, centred beneath Vatnajökull ice cap. In South Iceland the interaction of the rift zone and the mantle plume results in complex and diverse volcanic activity. Volcanic activity and its widespread effect on the area's nature and landscape make Katla Geopark very special.

The Geopark is in the most volcanically active area of Iceland, and the volcanic systems at Eyjafjallajökull, Katla, and Grímsvötn are particularly active. The region is characterised by central volcanoes, eruptive craters and fissures, rootless cones, lava fields, table mountains (tuyas), and hyaloclastite ridges which trend SW-NE, like the rift zone.

Ice caps are prominent in the landscape, topping the highest volcanoes. Outlet glaciers and glacial rivers flow from them and glacial landforms, e.g. moraines and ice-dammed lakes, occur in the area. Large floods, usually glacier outbursts associated with subglacial eruptions, have formed outwash plains in the lowlands. The oldest bedrock in the area is about 2.5 million years old, and can be found at the base of Lómagnúpur, an old sea-cliff (671 m). Other interesting features in the Geopark are fossil-bearing xenoliths, and tephra layers which are useful for dating (tephrochronology).

Kerið Crater

Kerið, is a 55 m deep volcanic crater, about 3000 years old. It is a part of
a group of volcanic hills called Tjarnarhólar, and is now filled with water, creating a lake whose steep circular slopes resemble an ancient amphitheatre.
Concerts have been held on a floating raft on the lake.

Concerts have been held on a floating raft on the lake.

Lakagigar and Laki

Lakagígar is a row of craters, formed in one of the world's largest mixed eruptions in recorded history. This continuous series of eruptions emitted a vast quantity of lava and substantial amounts of volcanic ash from a fissure stretching 25 km across the area west of the ice cap. The craters are regarded as a globally unique phenomenon and are as such a protected natural monument.

In 1783, a huge lava flow streamed from Lakagígar in what became known as the "Skaftá Fires." This is believed to have been one of the greatest lava flows in a single eruption in the history of the world: the molten lava filled the gorges through which the Skaftá and Hverfisfljót rivers flowed, and swept down in two branches into inhabited areas, to spread over the lowlands where it laid waste many farms. The eruption produced large quantities of volcanic ash. For residents of the region, and Iceland as a whole, the results of the eruption were catastrophic: this time is known as "Móðuharðindin" (the Haze Famine).

Landmannalaugar - Nature Reserve

The Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Peaceland between the mountains
The pearl of the central highlands, Landmannalaugar, and its surroundings are too colorful and magnificent to describe with words.

Langisjor Lake

Langisjór is a lake that's 20 km long and 2 km wide in some places. The lake is to the southwest of Vatnajökull, between the mountains Tungnárfjöll and Fögrufjöll, in a beautiful and picturesque landscape. Its square measure is 27 km², it reaches a depth of 75 m and the water surface is 670 m above sea level.

Laufskalavarda

Laufskálavarða is a lava ridge, surrounded by stone cairns, between the
Hólmsá and Skálmá rivers, close to the road north of Álftaver. All
travellers crossing the desert of Mýrdalssandur for the first time were
supposed to pile stones up to make a cairn, which would bring them good
fortune on the journey.

fortune on the journey.

Lónsöræfi

The Stafafellsfjöll mountains dominate the skyline east of Vatnajökull glacier and have long included one of Iceland's most extensive protected areas, known as Lónsöræfi. Besides the deep, rugged canyons, the landscape displays a wide range of colours due to rhyolite and other attractive rocks. In contrast, there are lushly vegetated, sheltered valleys, and a good chance of spotting reindeer. Numerous trails make this a perfect hiking territory.

Merkjárfoss / Gluggafoss

The Merkjá River has several beautiful waterfalls, but the most outstanding is Gluggafoss or Window Falls. (also known as Merkjárfoss) The upper half of the cliff is palagonite or tuff rock and the lower ledge is basalt. The river has formed tunnels and grooves through the soft rock and a series of 'windows' in the tunnels, thereby earning the name 'Gluggafoss'. At the very top of the falls, the river passes under a stone arch. As the rock is rather soft, the waterfall has changed over time. Around 1947 the upper half of the waterfall could hardly be seen, as the water flowed into a vertical tunnel behind the cliff. It was only visible through three different openings or 'windows' one above the other. The water came out through the bottom 'window', forming a beautiful arch, except when the water rose in the river, forcing it through all three windows. Further changes occurred when Hekla erupted in 1947, causing a 20 cm thick layer of volcanic ash to be carried downstream by the river. The vertical tunnel formation nearly disappeared as it filled with ash. It has taken nearly 50 years for the falls to return to its former glory.


More geosites in the neighbourhood: www.katlageopark.com

Mountain Hekla - Volcano

MT. Hekla is one of the most famous volcanoe in the world. An active volcano for centuries, Mount Hekla is one of the most famous in the world. Old tales tell of the belief that the souls of the condemned traveled through Hekla's crater on their way to hell. The whole mountain ridge of Hekla is about 40 km long. The fissure which splits the mountain ridge is about 5,5 km long. The mountain is about 1491 m high and rising.Over the past 7000 years Hekla has had five big fissure eruptions. The biggest eruptions were 4000 and 2800 years ago. Traces of these two eruptions can be found in the soil in the North and the North-East of Iceland. The biggest layer of tephra from one eruption fell in the eruption 2800 years ago. It covers about 80% of the country and its volume was around 12 cubic km. Traces of it has been found in various places all over Scandinavia and in parts of Europe.It is thought that Hekla has had at least twenty eruptions since the settlement of Iceland. The biggest and first recorded eruption was in 1104, although very likely there had been many more during the time of Viking settlement. It is thought that Hekla has had at least twenty eruptions since the settlement of Iceland. The biggest eruption was in 1104. Hekla has erupted five times in the 20th century, the last time in February 2000.The effects of the violent eruptions were disastrous. The whole island was strown with volcanic ash, which, where they did not smother the grass outright, gave it a poisonous taint. The cattle that ate of it were attacked by a murrain, of which great numbers died. The ice and snow, which had gathered about the mountain for a long period of time, were wholly melted by the heat. Masses of pumice weighing nearly half a ton were thrown to a distance of between four and five miles.

Myrdalsjokull glacier

Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and Katla Volcano

Mýrdalsjökull is a glacier located in the south of Iceland. It is situated to the north of Vík í Mýrdal and to the east of the smaller glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Its peak reaches 1493 m in height and in 1980 it covered an area of 595 km². The view on a clear day is one of the prettiest in the world.

Guided snow scooter, snowmobile, Super Jeep, dog sledding and iceclimbing tours are offered on the Myrdalsjökull glacier. Travelers on the glacier have to be extremely careful about crevasses and inexperienced travelers should not go there alone. Weather conditions shift very rapidly and high winds and snowstorms can appear in a flash all year round.

The volcano Katla, in the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, has erupted on average every 40 - 60 years. Sixteen eruptions have been recorded since the settlement of Iceland, the last in 1918, but there have probably been more. Katla is one of the most famous volcanoes in the country, and its eruptions usually have very serious consequences. It can actually be regarded as one of the most powerful volcanoes in the world and probably the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere.

During the eruption, the glacier above the volcanic vent melts and the melted water collects under the ice-cap until it makes its way out under the edge in a violent flood. These are called "Jokulhlaup". Huge amounts of ice, rocks, silt and sand carried along by the floodwater. Most of the Mýrdalssandur sand plain has been formed by deposits in past floods.

Katla has been showing signs of unrest recently and some geologists suspect that it might erupt in the near future, since it is way overdue to erupt.

Eruptions of Katla have taken place (since known and recognized human settlement): 1918, 1860, 1823, 1755-56, 1721, 1660-61, 1625, 1612, 1580, 1416, 1357, 1311, 1262, 1245, 1177, 950.

Nupsstadur Forrest

The forest Núpsstaðarskógar is on the land of Núpsstaðir, but Núpsstaðir is the easternmost farm in Skaftárhreppur and is situated by Lómagnúpur. At Núpsstaður there are remarkable old turf buildings that are believed to be typical for farms in Iceland in past centuries. The most noteworthy of these is the chapel, one of few remaining turf churches in the country. The beauty of the environment surrounding Núpsstaður is well known. The area reaches from the ocean and black sands and all the way to Vatnajökull. Volcanic eruptions, glaciers and lakes have shaped the environment there, in addition to shaping diverse formations.
The forest Núpsstaðarskógar is a beautiful copsewood that grows in the hills of Eystrafjall, west of Skeiðarárjökull and south of Grænalón. Diverse vegetation grows there and it's an area that's enjoyable to walk around. A rough track to the forest passes Lómagnúpur and Núpsvötn. There is lots to see there and the landscape is grand, sure to embed itself in the mind of anyone who goes there. Wild sheep were there in the 19th century.

The forest Núpsstaðarskógar is a beautiful copsewood that grows in the hills of Eystrafjall, west of Skeiðarárjökull and south of Grænalón. Diverse vegetation grows there and it's an area that's enjoyable to walk around. A rough track to the forest passes Lómagnúpur and Núpsvötn. There is lots to see there and the landscape is grand, sure to embed itself in the mind of anyone who goes there. Wild sheep were there in the 19th century.

Ofaerufoss - Nyrdri Ofaera river

Ófærufoss is an extremely beautiful waterfall in the river Nyrðri-Ófæra and falls into Eldgjá in two cascades. There used to be a stone arch across the lower one up until the year 1993, when it fell into the river during spring thawing. From Northern Fjallabaksleið it is possible to drive into Eldgjá and walk from there to the Ófærufoss. A road lies up to the eastern edge of Eldgjá. To get there, one needs to cross the river Nyrðri-Ófæra at a wading place, which can be risky. It is safe to recommend a walk up the mountain Gjátindur, from where there is magnificent view of Eldgjá, mountains by Langisjór and Lakagígur and its surroundings.

Ófærufoss falls into Eldgjá in Skaftártunguafréttur. Eldgjá is an approx. 40 km long eruptive fissure, approx. 600 meters wide in many places, and up to 200 meters deep. When it was formed, probably around 934, there were likely eruptions along the whole extent of it. The fissure is believed to reach under Mýrdalsjökull glacier. From Eldgjá, extensive streams of lava have flowed through Landbrot and Meðalland, reaching sea at Alviðruhamrar in Álftaver. The lava-field is believed to cover 700 km², which makes it one of the vastest lava-fields on earth in historical times, that is, after the last ice age.

Eldgjá is believed to belong to the same crater system as Katla. Eldgjá is a unique natural phenomenon and is listed as natural remnants. Plans to make Eldgjá and its surrounding area a part of Vatnajökull National Park are in place.
Theories have surfaced that suggest that the Eldgjá eruptions had even more effect in Europe then the Lakagígar eruptions. According to newly discovered evidence, crop failure, plagues and other disasters occurred in both Europe and the Middle East at that time. It has also been speculated that these eruptions caused more damage than the eruptions of Lakagígar.

Ölfus black sand beach

Ölfus has a black sand beach that stretches from Thorlákshöfn to Ölfusa river. A long walk on the beach surrounded by black sand and lyme grass is the perfect way to unwind from the day to day stress.
The beach is also a popular surfing spot and the waves are suitable for those taking their first steps at surfing. For more advanced surfers the waves by the lighthouse in Thorlákshöfn are superb.

Olfusa river

The river is the most voluminous river in Iceland with the average flow of 423 m³/sec. Three large floods occurred in the 20th century and beside the restaurant Tryggvaskáli are lines that show the height of each flood. All the floods occurred during wintertime due to heavy rains and high temperatures which caused the snow to melt unusually fast. Ölfusá River is rather short, about 25 km (14 miles) long. About 6 km (4 mi) north of Selfoss are two rivers, Sogið and Hvítá, and combined they form Ölfusá.

Öræfajökull glacier

Öræfajökull: Iceland's highest mountain
Extending south from the Vatnajökull icecap and towering to around 6,870 feet (2,110 m), Öræfajökull is Iceland's highest mountain. Its height actually varies with the season and the depth of snow and ice, since the peak itself, Hvannadalshnúkur, is topped by ice which is thickest in spring and thinnest in autumn.

The mountain and surrounding areas offer good skiing in winter, and are very popular with walkers and hikers throughout the year.

Raufarholshellir

There are many caves in the lava fields in Ölfus and the largest being Raufarhólshellir by road no. 39. A journey into Raufarhólshellir is a unique experience and a great opportunity to witness the inner workings of a volcanic eruption as one walks in the path of lava that flowed during the Leitahraun eruption, which occurred east of the Bláfjöll mountains about 5200 years ago. Daily tours are available in Raufarhólshellir.

Reykjadalur valley

Reykjadalur valley is the most popular and arguably the most beautiful hiking area in Ölfus. Hot springs and colourful areas full of geothermal activity entertain along a hiking trail which leads to a hot river. For some of the length of the river the temperature in it is perfect for bathing and that's a wonderful natural experience.

Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui Waterfalls

A unique waterfall in the river Seljalandsá, about 30 km west from Skógar. It is 60 meters high with a foot path behind it at the bottom of the cliff, but with a thin cascade. It is the only known waterfall of its kind, where it is possible to walk behind it. The waterfall is very picturesque and therefore its photo can be found in many books and calendars.

Access to the waterfall is from the farm of Seljaland along the Ring Road, Iceland's main highway. A little further to the west there are several other falls, among them the interesting Gljúfrabúi which is partially masked by its own canyon. Access to it is from Hamragarðar farm along the road, east of Markarfljót.

Both of these "do-not-miss" attractions lie very close to the main Ring Road at the base of the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier, on the road leading in to Thorsmörk.

Skaftafell

Scenic nature, favorable weather conditions and a network of hiking trails make Skaftafell an ideal destination to enjoy outdoor activities in Icelandic nature. Short and easy trails lead to the waterfall Svartifoss and Skaftafellsjökull glacier, but for those who want to reach further out Morsárdalur valley and Kristínartindar mountain peaks are perfect in terms of distance and labour. Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those who seek to climb Iceland's highest mountain peak, Hvannadalshnúkur.

Private travel companies operate in Skaftafell and offer guided hikes on the nearby glaciers and mountains. Also on offer are sightseeing flights over Vatnajökull glacier and other renowned attractions.

Skaftareldahraun

In 1783, a huge lava flow streamed from Lakagígar in what became known as the "Skaftá Fires." This is believed to have been one of the greatest lava flows in a single eruption in the history of the world. The molten lava filled the gorges through which the Skaftá and Hverfisfljót rivers flowed, and swept down in two branches into inhabited areas, to spread over the lowlands where it laid waste many farms. It's cubic measure is estimated um 16km3 and square measure of the lava approximately 580km2.

Skagaás grove

Skagás is a beautiful grove in serene surroundings. It's easily accessible and open for everyone but please take care not to leave any litter behind. Barbequing is allowed only in a specially designated area due to fire hazard.

Skogafoss - Waterfall

Only a few kilometers away from the south shores of Iceland, lies the village of Skógar along the Southern Ring Road. It is a popular summer-resort centre surrounded by unusual scenic beauty. The breath-taking view of Skogáfoss waterfall and scenic surroundings and the snow-capped heights of two towering glaciers are Skógar's major summer attractions. There are two settlements by this name. One is Ytri-Skógar (outer or western Skógar) and the other Eystri-Skógar (eastern Skógar), located at a short distance from each other. Ytri-Skógar, commonly referred to as Skógar, is the main settlement. It is an old farm and has a church from 1890. It is located between the Skógá and Kverná rivers.
The greatest attraction of Skógar is of course the beautiful 60-metre high Skogáfoss waterfall in the river Skógá. Like the legends of buried treasures of Egill Skallagrímsson in Mosfell near Reykjavík and Ketilbjörn in Mosfell near Skálholt, there is a similar legend about the settler Þrasi who is believed to have buried his chest of gold under the Skogáfoss waterfall.
If the sun conditions are favourable - one can see a vivid rainbow in front of the waterfalls. The river below the falls holds a large salmon and char population and fisherman are seen here fishing July - October. The path leading to the top of the waterfalls continues following the river upstream - where numerous more dramatic waterfalls of sheer beauty are to be found. A great hike - to say the least!
One of the finest folk museums in Iceland is situated in extraordinarily beautiful natural surroundings. The interesting local folk museum has a collection of over 6000 artifacts and examples of various types of dwellings in Iceland since the early times. The collection of tools and equipment used at land and sea is outstanding. The museum also has an old turf farmhouse, where guests can experience the standards of living in Iceland in past centuries.
From Skógar the Ring Road runs eastwards along the foot of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, across the southern sandy plains and over glacial rivers, passes Seljavellir and continues along the soaring glaciated massive of Eyjafjöll and the two waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi. From here runs a 10 km long trek along the river Skógá over the Fimmvörðuháls Pass between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers to the mountain oasis of Þórsmörk.
Skógar is a place to explore the natural diversity of the south or, if the weather is good, to spend a holiday amid beautiful and rugged landscapes. It is also very close to the ocean and the unique black bea

Stakkholtsgja

Fantastic canyon, very narrow around 2 km. long and ends in a beatiful waterfall. Easy hike where you can enjoy nature, birdlife and of course cold, clean mountain water.

Stóri-Hellir cave in Hellisskógur

The cave was formed at a latter glacial period by sea erosion. Sea levels have been higher than now several times and signs of sea erosion can be seen on more cliffs in the area which are made of around 0, 7 - 3, 1 million year old basalt. The cave was previously used to store hay in the back and as a sheepcote in the front. It was once believed that the cave was haunted by a ghost wearing a blue scarf. The story tells of a young man who was broken hearted and hung himself in the cave using a long blue scarf.

Surtsey Island

Surtsey, on the UNESCO World Heritage list, from July 7, 2008

Surtsey, Iceland's youngest volcanic island, has been added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list following the World Heritage Committee held in Quebec City on July 7, 2008.
"Surtur comes from the South... the hot stars down from Heaven are whirled. Fierce grows the steam and the life-feeding flame, until fire leaps high about Heaven itself."
- From the Icelandic poem Völuspá, ca. 950 A.D.

Surtsey is not only one of the world's newest islands, but the most filmed and researched and one of the most restricted. Ever since the eruption in 1963 which heaved it up out of the waters 18km (11 miles) south-west of Heimaey, its progress has been monitored. This has been giving scientists a fascinating insight into how a new island evolves, how flora and fauna develop and so on. Because of this very few people are now allowed to visit the island, and special permits are only granted for scientific research.
On the 14th of November, 1963 Icelandic seamen, that were fishing about 20 km southwest of Heimaey ( Vestmannaeyjar ) observed the beginnings of an undersea eruption that originated at a 130 meters depth. When the eruption first occurred, columns of ash were sent almost 9,146m (30,000 ft) into the sky and could be seen on clear days as far away as Reykjavík. An island eventually rose to a height of 169 metres above sea level that had an area of 2,5km².

This island was named Surtsey for Surtur, the fire possessing giant of Norse mythology who would set fire to the earth at the Last Judgment. Because of pounding seas, there was a considerable amount of early erosion, but the island core quickly solidified as rock and is now holding its own while scientists watch everything.

For three and a half years Surtsey rumbled and lava flowed. Long before the eruption stopped the island was proclaimed a nature preserve and all travel there was restricted to scientist that used this unique opportunity to study the gradual development of life on a sterile landmass. The first living found in the ash deposits close to shore. In May of the same year a fly was found on the island. Sea gulls visited the tide waters furthest from crater. The first vascular plant to flower along the shore was the sea rocket, observed in 1965. By 1987, twenty-five species of higher plants (including tomatoes!!) had been observed, transported there by seed in the sea currents, some from nearby island, other from the southern Icelandic coast 40 kilometres off. Other species of plants have been carried there by yhe winds or birds from Europe.
Surtsey is a favorite resting place for migratory birds during seasonal flights to and from Iceland and Europe. They visit there yearly by the thousands. Seals also visit the island and relax on its beaches. Today five species of birds nest on Surtsey: the Herring Gull, the Black Backed Gull, the Black Guillemot, The Kittiwake and Fulmar which was the first species to nest there and hatch its young on the warm lava in 1970. BBC and David Attenborough have produced acclaimed television programs from this amazing little island.

Systrastapi and Systra Waterfall

In 1186 a nun monastery was established in Kirkjubær á Síðu. It was later called Kirkjubæjarklaustur and the topographical names Systrastapi and Systrafoss are connected to this time. Systrastapi is a steep rocky hill west of Klaustur. Folklore says that on top of it, two nuns of the monastery were buried after being burned at the stake for violating codes of ethics. One is supposed to have sold herself to the Devil, carried consecrated Communion bread past the door of the privy, and had carnal knowledge with men. The other spoke blasphemously of the Pope. After the Reformation the latter nun was regarded as innocent and beautiful flowers grew on her grave, while the other one's grave remained barren. The rocky hill can be ascended and from the top the view of glaciers, among other things, is amazing.
Systrafoss is the name of the waterfall where the river Fossá falls from the lake Systravatn, over the mountain edge above Kirkjubæjarklaustur, into the gorge Fossárgil. Low down in the gorge there's a giant rock, Fossasteinn, that fell from the mountain during a massive thunderstorm in 1830. Beautiful hiking trails are around the waterfall and a passable hiking trail leads to the top of the mountain and Systravatn. From the mountain edge the view is breathtaking.

Systrafoss is the name of the waterfall where the river Fossá falls from the lake Systravatn, over the mountain edge above Kirkjubæjarklaustur, into the gorge Fossárgil. Low down in the gorge there's a giant rock, Fossasteinn, that fell from the mountain during a massive thunderstorm in 1830. Beautiful hiking trails are around the waterfall and a passable hiking trail leads to the top of the mountain and Systravatn. From the mountain edge the view is breathtaking.

The coastline between Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki

The coastline between the rivers Þjórsá and Ölfusá (25 km/15 mi) forms the outskirt of the great Þjórsárhraun lava field. Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri provide easy access to the coastline as well as a path between the two villages where you can see the Atlantic Ocean and marvel at the fact the South Pole is directly to the south. This spot has a great view of both the ocean and mountains. Information signs can be found in both villages as well as an observation platform in Stokkseyri.

The Flói Bird Reserve

Northwest to the town of Eyrarbakki, is a wetland area rich in birdlife. The reserve has walking paths and a bird hide, and idel spot for bird watching. The Flói Bird Reserve is listed in the Bird Life international Association.

The Great Geysir
One of the greatest natural attractions of Iceland and part of the famous "Golden Circle Tour", The Great Geysir, or Stori-Geysir, has been dormant since 1916 when it suddenly ceased to spout. It came to life only once in 1935, and as quickly went back to sleep. Since then its repose has sporadically been disturbed by the dumping of tons of carbolic soap powder into its seething orifice in order to tickle it to spout. It is not exactly known when Geysir was created. It is believed that it came into existence around the end of the 13th century when a series of strong earthquakes, accompanied by a devastating eruption of Mt. Hekla, hit Haukadalur, the geothermal valley where Geysir is located. What is known is that it spouted regularly every third hour or so up to the beginning of the 19th century and thereafter progressively at much longer intervals until it completely stopped in 1916. Whether its silence is eternal or temporary no one knows. When it was alive and shooting, it could thunderously blast a spectacular jet of superheated water and steam into the air as high as 60 to 80 meters according to different sources. Its opening is 18 meters wide and its chamber 20 meters deep. One reason for cessation is believed to be the accumulated rocks and foreign objects thrown into it by thousands of tourists throughout the years. Though definitely damaging, this however could not be the only reason for its dormancy. The Great Geysir was among the most notable geysers in the world, such as those in Yellowstone Park, New Zealand and North Iceland. The English word "geyser" is derived from the Icelandic word "geysir" which means gusher. Though the Great Geysir itself is now more or less inactive, the area surrounding it is geothermically very active with many smaller hot springs. The attraction of the area is now Strokkur (The Churn), another geyser 100 meters south of the Great Geysir, which erupts at regular intervals every 10 minutes or so and its white column of boiling water can reach as high as 30 meters. The whole area is a geothermal park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron. Belching sulphurous mud pots of unusual colors, hissing steam vents, hot and cold springs, warm streams, and primitive plants can all be found here. A short distance away to the west stands the small Laugarfjall Mountain with a panoramic view overlooking the Geysir area. King Christian IX of Denmark visited the area in 1874 and by the foot of the mountain are the rocks where he leaned while his hosts tried to impress and amuse him by boiling eggs in the hot springs. The rocks are now called Konungssteinar ("The King's Stones").
Thingvallavatn Lake

Lake Thingvallavatn lies in a rift valley that extends south from the Langjokull glacier to mount Hengill, and from Botnssulur mountains in the west to Lyngdalsheidi heath in the east. The lake is the largest natural lake in Iceland, about 84 square kilometres, at an altitude of about 100 metres above sea level. The deepest part of the lake measures 114 metres, which means that it reaches below sea level.The catchment area of Lake Thingvallavatn, about 1300 square kilometres, lies in the same directions as the fissure in the area and its existence is closely connected with the geological history.The water in the lake is very cold and therefore very pure so snorkling and diving are popular in it. Silfra, one of the fissures in the northern part of the lake is one of the most popular diving spots in Iceland due to this.

Thingvellir, National park

Þingvellir (Icelandic "Þing": parliament, "vellir": plains) is a place in the southwest of Iceland near the peninsula of Reykjanes and the Hengill volcanic area.

It is famous for two reasons:

As one of the most important places in Icelandic history. In the year 930 the Alþingi, one of the oldest parliamentary institutions of the world, was founded. The Alþingi met yearly, where the Lawspeaker recited the law to all of the gathered people and decided disputes as well. In the year 999 or 1000 the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After the conversion it is said that, upon returning from the Alþingi, Þorgeir then threw his statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall that is now named Goðafoss ("Waterfall of the Gods"). At this historical place, the independence of the Republic of Iceland was proclaimed on June 17, 1944.

As a national park (since 1928) because of the special tectonic and volcanic environment. The continental drift can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults which are traversing the region, the biggest one, Almannagjá, being a veritable canyon. This causes also the often measurable earthquakes in the area.
Þingvellir is situated on the northern shore of Þingvallavatn, the biggest lake of Iceland. The river Öxará traverses the national park and is forming a waterfall at the Almannagjá, called Öxaráfoss Together with the waterfall Gullfoss and the geysirs of Haukadalur, Þingvellir is part of the most famous sights of Iceland, the Golden Circle.

Þingvellir is a designated UNESCO World Heritag Site

Thingvellir, 50 km (31 miles) to the east of Reykjavík, is the national shrine of Iceland. Icelands most historic site, and one of its most beautiful places, it is also part of The Golden Circle tour. The oldest existing parliament in the world first met here in AD930. The Alþing met here every year to enact laws, including the law passed in AD1000 to introduce Christianity into the island. It has always been the focal point for the country, and whenever a major event is to be celebrated, thousands of people come here. At the celebration of the 1,100th anniversary of the first settlement in 1974, more than 60,000 people packed into Thingvellir.

Nearby Lögberg is the cliff overlooking the place where the Alþing (assembly) met, and speakers stood to address the gatherings from this point. Nearby is Drekkingarhylur (The Drowning Pool), where mothers of illegitimate children were drowned. It is sited in the river Öxará in Almannagjá, a lava gorge, which with the Öxarárfoss waterfall, is an impressive sight.

Peningagjá (The Money Chasm) is a deep fissure filled with crystal clear spring water; people throw coins into it from the bridge that lies across. The coins give off strange reflections as they drop through the water, it is said that if you can follow the coin all the way down until it comes to rest on the bottom, your wish will come true. Scubadiving and snorkeling in wet suits is becoming increasingly popular here.

There is an old church at Thingvellir. Beside the church is the national burial ground.

Thingvallavatn is the largest lake in Iceland, 83sq km (32sq miles) and over 100m (328ft) deep. The only outflow from lake Thingvallavatn is the river Sog, a famous salmon river with beautiful blue water. The lake's catchment area is 90% underground and the water from the thousands of cold springs has a constant temperature of 3-4°C the whole year round.

The anglers, who use boats for their fishing, have to be careful and watch out for changes in the weather. The lake becomes a boiling pot, when the wind starts blowing. The catch in the lake has always been a necessary part for the survival of the farming families on the lake. They have netted the lake traditionally for centuries. Angling permits are sold in the little shop and visitors centre in the camping area or at Hotel Valholl. The catch consists of brown trout and lake char.

It is said that these fish became isolated in the lake in the wake of the last ice age when the terrain rose at the south end of Þingvallavatn. These two species are a living testimony to how the evolution of species occurs in nature, as over a period of 10,000 years they have adapted themselves to various habitats in the lake. The constant, regular influx of groundwater into Lake Þingvallavatn, together with a very varied habitat, has created good conditions for fish and other life forms in the lake, to which they have adapted even more.This has resulted in the fact that both the brown trout and char in Thingvallavatn are amongst the largest to be found in the world. The trout are said to be as big as over 20 kg (max weight) and the char over 10 kg (max weight), which is at the max of both species size range.

The lake is part of the Þingvellir National Park. The volcanic origin of the islands in the lake is clearly visible. The fissures around it - the famous Almannagjá is the biggest of them - indicate that here the tectonic plates of Europe and The Americas are in a conflict. In this lake, the large quantity of sulfur and salt, the lake is extremely light and the water seems to be in less weight than other lakes.

Thjorsarhraun

Þjórsárhraun is the result from the greatest lava flow on earth since the end of the last Ice Age. The lava came from an enormous eruption around 6700 B.C. possibly in Heljargjá canyon in the Veiðivötn region, in Iceland´s highlands. The lava's extreme temperature and fluidity contributed to its flow being at least 140 kilometres (87 mi) until it was stopped by the waves of the North Atlantic Ocean. The lava is well visible by Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki's coastline. The great Þjórsárhraun lava is approx. 975 square km (376 sq. miles) and its volume is 25 cubic km (6 cubic miles).

Thorsmork

The Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Peaceland between the mountains
The pearl of the central highlands, Landmannalaugar, and its surroundings are too colorful and magnificent to describe with words.

Timburhóll - Grove

Timburhóll is a beautiful grove where you can relax and enjoy the surroundings. You could even barbecue using the barbecue facilities provided but use caution with the fire and make sure not to leave any litter. This is also a memorial site of the great Icelandic artist and painter Ásgrímur Jónsson as well as the farmers Guðfinna Guðmundsdóttir and Stefán Jasonarson.

Tjorsa river

Þjórsá is the longest river in Iceland, 230 km, and has a catchment area of 8000 km². Þjórsá is a glacier river and its source is Hofsjökull glacier. On its way to the sea it falls off some cliffs in many places and there forms beautiful waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are well-known, but some others are unknown pearls to discover, especially those in the highlands. The waterfall Thjofafoss in Thjorsá south of the hill Búrfell is well known and easy to reach.

In winter the river can gather up huge quantities of ice that had settled at its bottom and in spring, when the ice melts in Þjórsá canyons below Urriðafoss waterfall, the river breaks through the ice which is a magnificent sight to behold.

Urridafoss Waterfall

Urriðafoss is a waterfall in Þjórsá River. Þjórsá is Iceland's longest river, 230 km, and Urriðafoss is the most voluminous waterfall in the country. This mighty river drops down (360 m3/sec) by the edge of Þjórsárhraun lava field in beautiful and serene surroundings. Þjórsárhraun lava field is the result of the greatest lava flow on earth since the Ice Age. Located right off highway 1.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, encompasses not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the southwest and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north, so that today's national park covers 13% of Iceland and ranks as Europe's second largest.
In general, national parks are protected areas which are considered unique because of their nature or cultural heritage. The unique qualities of Vatnajökull National Park are primarily its great variety of landscape features, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.

Description
Vatnajökull is Europe's largest glacier, with a surface area of around 8,100 km2. Generally measuring 400-600 m in thickness and at the most 950 m, the glacial ice conceals a number of mountains, valleys and plateaus. It even hides some active central volcanoes, of which Bárðarbunga is the largest and Grímsvötn the most active. While the icecap rises at its highest to over 2,000 m above sea level, the glacier base reaches its lowest point 300 m below sea level. Nowhere in Iceland, with the exception of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, does more precipitation fall or more water drain to the sea than on the south side of Vatnajökull. In fact, so much water is currently stored in Vatnajökull that the Icelandic river with the greatest flow, Ölfusá, would need over 200 years to carry this quantity of water to sea.

The south side of Vatnajökull is characterised by many high, majestic mountain ridges, with outlet glaciers descending between them onto the lowlands. The southernmost part of the glacier envelops the central volcano Öræfajökull and Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur. Sheltered by the high ice, the vegetated oasis of Skaftafell overlooks the black sands deposited to its west by the river Skeiðará. These sands are mostly composed of ash which stems from the frequent eruptions at Grímsvötn and is brought to the coast by jökulhlaups, or glacial floods. Substantial volcanic activity also characterises the landscape west of Vatnajökull, where two of the world's greatest fissure and lava eruptions of historical times occurred, at Eldgjá in 934 and Lakagígar 1783-1784. Vonarskarð, northwest of the glacier, is a colourful high-temperature area and a watershed between North and South Iceland.

Preservation objectives
The objectives of designating Vatnajökull as a preservation area, along with the main regions it affects, are the following:
• To protect the nature of the region, including the landscape, biota and geological formations, as well as cultural features
• To allow the public to get to know and enjoy regional nature, culture and history
• To provide education on nature and nature conservation and on regional history, society and cultural features, as well as encouraging research to gain greater knowledge of these aspects
• To strengthen communities and business activity in the vicinity of the park.

Visitor centres and other tourist information offices working with the park
Visitor centres and other tourist information offices working with the park provide information and services for the park and its immediate environs. The following offices operate along the south coast of Iceland:
Skaftá Visitor Centre | Kirkjubæjarklaustur | open in summer
Skaftafell Visitor Centre | Skaftafell | open all year*
Skálafell farm | Suðursveit | varying hours - all year
Hólmur farm | Mýrar | varying hours - all year
Hoffell farm | Nes | varying hours - all year
Höfn Tourist Information Centre | Höfn | open in summer
* Closed on December 25 and January 1.

South Iceland

Towns & Villages

The south of Iceland has several towns and villages, each with its own style, charm and points of interest. Selfoss is the largest town and has a variety of shops, services, many restaurants and fast food places. Most towns are close to the main route, making them accessible and enjoyable.

Explore map by categories

Map Höfn Kirkjubæjarklaustur Vík Vestmannaeyjar Hvolsvöllur Flúðir Laugarvatn Reykholt Laugarás Borg Brautarholt Hveragerði Árnes Selfoss Hella Stokkseyri Eyrarbakki Þykkvibær Þórlákshöfn