Geysir is a famous hot spring in the geothermal area of Haukadalur Valley, found in south-west Iceland.
Making up just one of the attractions along the world-renowned Golden Circle sightseeing route, alongside Þingvellir National Park and the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir is most well-known for having lent its name to geysers all around the world.
Strokkur is, arguably, the country’s most famous hot spring, shooting vast jets of boiling water from 20 metres (65 feet) up to 40 metres (130 feet) high. Don’t worry about missing this incredible spectacle of nature, as Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes; just make sure to have your camera ready.
Geysir is much larger, but years can go by between eruptions here; it is currently in an inactive phase. When it does erupt, the water can shoot up in the air as high as 70 metres (230 feet).
Just a few minutes walk north of Geysir are a wealth of fumaroles emanating steam and gas into the cool Icelandic air. Aside from watching the hypnotic pillars of steam, you will also be able to observe the yellow sulphuric stains along the fumaroles themselves, a result of the earth’s minerals crystallising around the rock bed.
At the southern part of the valley, Þykkuhverir, you’ll find various bubbling mud pots. These spooky brown cauldrons are actually fumaroles that boil up through the loose ground; after a dry spell, these mud pools are likely to transform into a hardened fumarole.
About two kilometres (one mile) from Geysir is a preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. It has room for three to five people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C (102-109°F), depending on where you are positioned in the pool.
The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised when relaxing here.
Haukadalur has also seen a rise in reforestation in recent times thanks to continued experiments and research in the area. Today, Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest forests in south Iceland, boasting accessible walking paths (also for wheelchair users), fascinating vegetation and The Tree Museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson.
Haukadalur has been inhabited and used as a church site since the Age of Settlement. Given its historic value, it should be noted that scholar, Ari “The Wise“ Þorgilsson, grew up here; it was also where the first pastoral school in Iceland was built.
The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but its architectural style dates back to 1842, making it well worth a visit to see how Iceland looked before industrialisation.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is approximately 7 kilometre from the Geysir area, and closer still is Hotel Geysir on the other side of the road from the attraction, where you will also find a restaurant, café and a souvenir shop.