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Marking the point where the North American and Eurasian continental plates meet, the Silfra fissure is an underwater chasm where you can dive or snorkel in crystal-clear water. This underwater world looks like a fantasy realm with twisting rock formations and plant life dancing on the current. Swimming between the tectonic plates in Iceland is certainly an experience you won’t forget.
Silfra fissure in Þingvellir, Iceland

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Scenic view of Thingvellir National Park with green fields, a serene river, and a quaint church surrounded by trees.

Thingvellir National Park & Silfra Transfer

The Þingvellir and Silfra transfer service takes you to one of Iceland's most iconic sites. It's ideal for those needing transportation for their snorkelling or diving tour at Silfra, and those wishing to explore Þingvellir National Park independently.

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Woman in a dry suit snorkeling in the Silfra water in the Þingvellir National Park, Iceland.
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Snorkeling Silfra

Snorkel between the North American and Eurasian continental plates in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park is filled with glacial water that has been seeping through underground lava rocks for decades producing the clearest water on earth. The fissure allows for over 100 metres of visibility.

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Person diving in Silfrá river in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland.
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Diving Silfra Tour - Selfdrive

Dive between the North American and Eurasian continental plates in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park fills with glacial water that has been seeping through underground lava rocks for decades producing the most transparent water on earth. The fissure allows for over 100 metres of visibility. This tour is a fantastic way not just to see Iceland but to get in the water and experience it.

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Diver snorkeling in the silfra fissure at Þingvellir National Park, Iceland.
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Hot and Cold Snorkeling and Spa tour - Selfdrive

Snorkel between the North American and Eurasian continental plates in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park fills with glacial water that has been seeping through underground lava rocks for decades producing the most transparent water on earth. After snorkelling, drive your rental car to the heavenly Laugarvatn Fontana spa to warm up and relax!

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Dive or Snorkel the Silfra fissure

Swimming Between the Continents at Silfra

The Silfra fissure is not actually an ancient sight – the chasm was created in 1789 when an earthquake shook the island as the North American and Eurasian plates moved apart. The first thing that strikes most people visiting the Silfra fissure is how clear the water is.

Visibility can be beyond 100 metres under the surface here as the water is melted ice from the Langjökull glacier, filtered between 30 and 100 years through porous volcanic rock.

By the time the water reaches the Silfra fissure, it is free from impurities, making it crystal clear. You can even drink the water as you dive or snorkel. It is worth bearing in mind that the water is very cold. The Silfra temperature sits between 2 and 4°C (between 35°F and 39°F).

There is lots of life in the Silfra fissure, but it is mostly plant life and microscopic creatures invisible to the human eye. In Þingvallavatn lake to the north of the fissure, there are three types of fish species.

You’ll find brown trout, sticklebacks and Arctic char in the lake. However, the fissure itself is only home to one kind of fish – the dwarf char – which is notoriously difficult to spot, so you may not see any fish during your diving or snorkelling session.

Arctic char might venture into the fissure during mating season, but this is only in July and August.

The sections of the Silfra fissure

The entire fissure is about 600 metres long, and Silfra is divided into three distinctive sections. Most diving tours to Silfra focus on the main section – the cathedral.

You can see the entire distance of this 100-metre (330-foot) chasm and it is called the cathedral because vast lava walls dropping straight down to the chasm’s floor create the feeling of being in a huge cathedral hall. At its deepest point, the cathedral drops to a depth of 20 metres. This is the section of Silfra that most visitors remember long after their snorkelling or diving session has ended.

Silfra hall is smaller than the cathedral, and leads to the Silfra cave systems. These cave systems are lesser-explored and do not feature on Silfra diving tours because they are too dangerous with long swim-through tunnels and narrow passages. Only a few incredibly experienced divers have explored the Silfra cave system.

The Silfra lagoon is another popular spot on Silfra diving and snorkelling tours. This is where the water’s clarity is really demonstrated as you can see from one end of the lagoon to the other – a distance of 120 metres (394 feet). From the lagoon, most snorkelers and divers exit Silfra to make the short hike back to the car park.

Activities at Silfra

Silfra offers a unique experience – the ability to swim between two continental plates. Those that visit Silfra can either take a snorkelling or a diving tour of the crystal-clear water in the underwater crevasse.

Snorkelling tours do not require any prior certification or experience, but Silfra is an extreme environment, so you must go with a guide on an organised excursion where you’ll be equipped with a dry suit and all the necessary bits and pieces to breathe with your head underwater.

Tour organisers require a confident level of swimming from those that embark on a snorkelling adventure because the water is so cold it sometimes leads to people panicking.

For the fully-immersive experience, those with the PADI qualification and dry suit experience can join a guided diving session at Silfra. It is worth noting that participants need to have a logged dry suit dive within the last two years or have completed 10 logged dry suit dives overall to be permitted onto a Silfra diving experience.

While diving and snorkelling are a popular way to see the point where the continental plates meet, you can also simply visit for the view. Within Þingvellir National Park, you can park at Silfra and walk to the water’s edge just to look at the water cutting through the mossy ravine.

Sights and attractions around Silfra

The area around Silfra holds protected national park status. There are lots of walking trails and hikes around Þingvellir National Park, including a walk between the tectonic plates on land where seismic activity has created stacks of rocks.

Along this route, you’ll also find the spot of Iceland’s (and one of the world’s) first parliament – the Alþingi – now marked by a flag. One of the most popular past-times in Iceland is chasing waterfalls and you can do this at Þingvellir National Park by following the Öxarárfoss Waterfall Trail. It is an easy 2.1-kilometre trail that takes you along the Öxará River and past the pretty little church within the national park.

Silfra sits along the famous Golden Circle route, so a visit here can be combined with Iceland’s other natural wonders like Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir area of geothermal activity. There are a few Golden Circle tours that combine a visit to Silfra and Þingvellir National Park with the rest of the route’s highlights.

All About Silfra Iceland

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