Nature and adventure next door to Reykjavik

Nature and adventure next door to Reykjavik

Persona local verificada

Hello, friends

Most of the requests I get from customers are classic day tours such as Golden Circle and South Coast. Without a doubt, this is a perfect option to spend the day in Iceland while you stay in Reykjavik. But what if I tell you about a vibrant, saturated day trip from Reykjavik which is twice closer to Reykjavik and not less interesting than every other day tours?

I call this trip “Natventure next door to Reykjavik”, it covers 150 km total and fits for everybody who has a driver license and wants rent a car to make this trip self-drive. There is a plenty of beautiful spots in this short area.

I just recommend you to rent 4x4 jeep to make this trip exactly as I wrote below. Well, it is advised, but not necessarily. Traveling by ordinary car you just skip short bypass road part of day-trip.

During day trip “Natventure next door to Reykjavik” you will drive rough road across the river, soak in natural hot spring, taste geothermal cooked Icelandic meal, visit lava cave, see the the remarkable church on the shore, look at fumaroles and simply enjoy Icelandic nature around you.

Drive outside Reykjavik by Suðurlandsbraut road (Ring Road eastward) towards the town of Hveragerði and follow my prompts.

Spot 1. Hellisheiði Power Plant

GPS: 64.038175, -21.403580

Hellisheiði Power Plant situated only 25 minutes drive from Reykjavik. Here you can visit the Geothermal energy exhibition to learn more about the geothermal system of Hellisheiði volcanic area and geothermal power production in Iceland on the whole.

Try earthquake simulator before you leave exhibition and realize that is funny attraction only when you know that is not a real earthquake.

Nature and adventure next door to Reykjavik

Spot 2.  Þúsundvatnaleið (1000 Lakes route)

GPS of start: 64.038316, -21.357053

GPS of finish: 64.018867, -21.283730

So-called Þúsundvatnaleið (1000 lakes route) is rough bypass road that leads from Hellisheiði Power Plant back to Ring road after a short but stunning drive through the lava field. To get back to Ring Road you have to cross the same river repeatedly.

Please be careful, do not drive this road by any car but full-drive and do not drive there during wintertime. Once I and my guests got stuck in the middle of the snow-covered road in early May.

Nature and adventure next door to Reykjavik

Spot 3. Hot spring bathing in Reykjadalur

GPS of the parking lot: 64.022591, -21.211751

GPS of bathing spot: 64.047471, -21.222014 

Now it’s time for hiking! From the town of Hveragerði, you can start your walk to hot springs in Reykjadalur where you can take a bath in the natural hot river! Hike takes around 40-50 minutes one way. You can read more about this magnificent place here:  Hot spring hike to Reykjadalur.

Spot 4. Geothermal food and drink in Hveragerði

When I was a stupid but curious teenager and tried to learn Icelandic language with none help I translated the name of the town of Hveragerði as Who did it? Because words Hver and Gerði are very similar to Hver as Who and Gera as Do. But I was wrong. Hveragerði means literally Town of hot springs.

Actually, the name of Reykjavik (Smokey Bay) fits Hveragerði more than to the current capital of Iceland. Because geothermal steam is everywhere around Hveragerði, this is true Geothermal capital of Iceland.

It would be weird if such smart people as Icelanders do nothing with all that smoke. They use it not only to heat houses and take a bath open air all year long but to cook too. Yes, cook a meal on geothermal steam. So, throw out to the trash your healthy vegan multifunctional food steamer and go to Iceland!

In Hveragerði you may found at least two or maybe more (which I don´t know about still) restaurants where you may taste a meal cooked just on the steam that comes directly from the bowels of the earth.

Varma Restaurant in Hvergagerði

My favorite is cantina Kjöt&Kunst where you may taste delicious stewed Cod or Chicken breast and hot-spring cooked chocolate cake for the dessert.

Varma Restaurant in Frost&Fire Hotel is more cozy and secluded, this is a great restaurant for the date or family dinner. You may order there hot-spring cooked lamb which is delicious as hell.

Well, the naturally stewed meal is not a wonder in Iceland. Geothermal beer is a wonder! Local brewery Ölverk powered by geothermal energy and do amazing craft beer. I am big a fan of Icelandic craft beer, but this is something 110% Icelandic.

Oh, I forgot to mention you to take to this trip some of your less favorite friends with you to change you behind the wheel after this magnificent food and drink.

Spot 5. Raufarholshellir lava cave

GPS: 63.939506, -21.397778 (63°56'22.2"N 21°23'52.0"W)

Raufarholshellir is a big lava cave that made Hollywood career. If you saw Noah movie with Russel Crowe you have noticed remarkable cave where Methuselah (starring Anthony Hopkins) lives. So it was Raufarholshellir. And this is a question which of these two words — Methuselah and Raufarholshellir — are easier to pronounce.

Raufarholshellir situated just 10 minutes drive from Hveragerði. There is only one option to get inside: book a short cave tour in advance.


Spot 6. Strandakirkja church

GPS: 63.835578, -21.705160 

Strandakirkja is one of the most popular churches in Iceland for weddings and other services. The name of this church translated as Coastal Church and it has a beautiful story behind it.

The story goes that a long time ago a group of sailors tried to survive a storm near South-Iceland coast and prayed for God to help them. Sailors promised to build a church if they survived. It seems to be that God approved this proposal because sailors saw the divine light on a shore. They sailed to this light and light led them to the coast safely. Sailors kept their word and built a church.

Spot 7. Krysuvikurberg cliffs

GPS: 63.853854, -22.103011

This is just another cosmic spot to take great pictures. Krysuvikurberg situated close to the paved road but I do not recommend to get there on some ridiculous Toyota Yaris.

Spot 8. Krysuvik area, lake of Kleifarvatn and something that smells bad

GPS to Krysuvik: 63.895030, -22.050853 

GPS to something that smells bad: 64.017811, -21.948026

After Strandakirkja Krysuvikurbjarg you will drive towards Reykjavik. Before reaching Reykjavik you will drive through Krysuvik geothermal area, beautiful lake of Kleifarvatn and so-called skreið.  Skreið is wooden construction for open-air dry of fish leftovers.  Skreið is a good example of how Icelanders make money from everything and answer why Icelandic fish industry is profitable and does not require subsidies. Because Icelanders processed all parts of fish and find buyers even for shabby fish remnants. Please be careful, there is a bad smell around skreið.

Nature and adventure next door to Reykjavik

I hope it would be an interesting day trip for you. Liked it or not, please leave your comments and tell us how was the trip.


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