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One of the three main natural wonders of the Golden Circle route, Geysir is an area of geothermal activity in the Haukadalur Valley. Here, you can see Iceland’s restless energy bubble to the surface of the island in the form of erupting geysers, boiling hot springs and rivulets of hot water where steam rises. It’s a dramatic landscape not to be missed.
Geysir erupting in front of a group of tourists
Best time to visit
All year round
Distance from Reykjavík
105km
Coordinates
64.32549, -20.28571

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                      Encountering Iceland’s Geology in Geysir

                      The History of Geysir hot springs

                      When groundwater is heated by volcanic activity, the result is geysers that rumble and hiss beneath the earth. Some are more active than others – shooting jets of water high into the air when they erupt. The Geysir area of geothermal activity in Iceland is named for the Great Geysir that has erupted sporadically in the Haukadalur Valley over the centuries. This is where the English word “geyser” originates – a term that has been in use since 1647. The Great Geysir has been erupting since the 13th century but has been relatively inactive since 1916. The last eruption of the Great Geysir was in 2000 and it is currently considered dormant.

                      Strokkur geysir in the golden circle, Iceland.

                      The main attraction at Geysir: Strokkur

                      The main attraction at Geysir, Strokkur geyser erupts every six to ten minutes. A jet of water bursts through the ground, shooting up to 40 metres in the air (but usually between 15 and 20 metres). Before each eruption, you can gather around to hear the gurgle and rumble of the geyser building up. Moments before it goes off, you can feel the faint rumble of seismic activity and hear the slosh of boiling water in Strokkur’s chamber beneath the surface. Geysir hot springs in Iceland put on quite a show every day.

                      Stone with the name Geysir on it.

                      The Great Geysir

                      Within the protected park, you’ll also find the site of the Great Geysir geyser. As the name suggests, this is Iceland’s largest geyser. At the moment, the Great Geysir is dormant and only tends to erupt after earthquakes or considerable seismic activity in the area. But you can still enjoy a walk to this part of the park, following the short, easy trail past bubbling hot springs and geothermal streams. There’s also the Litli Geysir – a small yet active geyser that has a constant wisp of steam rising from its mouth. It is one of thirty or so smaller geysers in the Haukadalur Valley area, so there is plenty to see when you get here.

                      a couple taking a selfie at Geysir Geothermal area

                      Exploring around Geysir

                      Most organised tours of the Golden Circle that stop at Geysir allow around an hour to explore the area. That’s enough time to catch a few eruptions of Strokkur, wander through the steaming landscape of the area and check out some of the smaller geysers and hot pools. There’s also a café serving rustic, filling Icelandic soups and sandwiches, toilets for a comfort break, and a gift shop selling souvenirs and outdoor gear.

                      Danger sign at Geysir, Golden Circle - Iceland.

                      How to stay safe at Geysir

                      There are many geothermal pools across Iceland and bathing in the naturally-heated water is a common pastime. However, the pools at Geysir are not for bathing. The temperature of the water is between 80 and 100 degrees even when it reaches the surface and can be as hot as 240 degrees beneath the surface. For this reason, you should stick to the marked paths and stay behind the ropes and barriers around the hot springs, streams and geysers.

                      The water that bursts forth from Strokkur is also boiling hot, so there is a cordon around the site of the eruption, which you should never cross.

                      Two women lookng over the Gullfoss Waterfall.

                      Sights and activities around Geysir

                      Geysir is one of the three main sights of the Golden Circle route from Reykjavík, along with Gullfoss waterfall and Þingvellir National Park. Day tours from the capital cover all three sights in a single day, and it is also a popular self-drive route. Gullfoss is close to Geysir, just under 10 kilometres away, so only a ten-minute drive. If you plan on staying overnight in the area, there are a handful of hotels, campsites and guesthouses between Geysir and Gullfoss. The small settlement of Reykholt is 20 kilometres away where you’ll find a slightly wider selection of accommodation and the famous Friðheimar tomato greenhouse and restaurant which features as a lunch stop on many Golden Circle day tours from Reykjavík.

                      As well as the three main highlights of the Golden Circle and the tomato greenhouse, tours from Reykjavík can include other activities along the way – horseback riding across the rugged landscape, or monster truck rides onto the surface of Langjökull ice cap. Many people add a visit to one of Iceland’s geothermally heated pools like the Laugarvatn Fontana or Secret Lagoon for a soothing soak – one that isn’t as hot as Geysir!

                      All About Geysir

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