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For travelers planning an itinerary that includes Geysir in Iceland, whether it is during the cold of winter or the warmer month of July, there is no lack of things to do, places to go, and interesting things to experience. 

And with both the Great Geysir itself and the area around it being some of the most spectacular things to see in Iceland, knowing just what to see and do will help you make sure you take full advantage of this incredible place!

Geysir, Iceland: The Ultimate Guide for a Great Visit

What is Geysir in Iceland?

Geysir is one of the most well known and spectacular geological features in Iceland. Located in the middle of the Golden Circle’s Haukadalur Valley, this famous hot spring is visited by thousands of tourists every year and is an absolute must-do for anyone traveling to the country.

Considering Iceland is a country known for its almost otherworldly features like volcanoes, craters, and glaciers, naming this as one of the most impressive things to see is really saying a lot. If you also make the trek to come and see the area’s stunning natural display, stick around long enough and you’ll soon say the same.

Geysir offers a volcanic natural phenomenon that causes eruptions shooting jets of boiling water up to 70 meters (230 feet) into the air. This haven of volcanic activity is one of the most popular destinations in Iceland, and making the trip out there will definitely be a highlight.

Strokkur hot springs near Geysir in Iceland erupting

While the earliest written accounts of the Geysir and the surrounding hot springs in the Hakadalur Valley only date back to 1294, research suggests that Geysir has been active for around 10,000 years. It is possible that records of the phenomenon only go back to the medieval period because earthquakes in the area around that time caused the landscape to shift, creating roughly the same environment in Iceland’s valley that we know today.

FYI: In case you were wondering, “Geysir” is the namesake for the English word “geyser”, which is used to describe any geothermal phenomenon of water shooting out of the ground. It’s because Geysir in Iceland was the first geyser discovered by modern Europeans.

Unfortunately, catching the Geysir in action is not as simple as traveling out to it and waiting for it to erupt. The Great Geysir in Iceland is firmly in its inactive phase, with the nearby geyser called Strokkur being much more impressive, erupting every few minutes up to 30 meters (98 feet) in height.

How often does Geysir in Iceland erupt?

The Great Geysir currently lies dormant and has been inactive since 1916. Since 2000, it has only erupted twice (once in 2000 and again in 2016). So, unless you’ve unlocked the secret of time travel, your odds of seeing this beast in action are, sadly, quite low.

However, a trip out to the Haukadalur Valley is still plenty worth your while, as the area boasts several other geysers that are much more active, even if they aren’t as big. In particular, as just mentioned, Geysir’s little brother, Strokkur, for example, erupts every 15 minutes or so.

How does Geysir erupt?

Because the Haukadalur Valley and Golden Circle are extremely volcanic areas, there are tons of hot bedrock lying deep below the surface. Once groundwater comes into contact with this hot bedrock, pressure is built, and the water starts to heat up. Over time, once the water reaches peak pressure and temperature, it causes an eruption.

With that being said, Geysir in Iceland has erupted a few times in the past 100 years, but these instances have been almost completely isolated from one another. 

For example, in 1935 a furrow was built under the Geysir in order to restore its activity, but in time, it began to lose its effect. The furrow was reopened a few more times in the 20th century, but since Geysir went dormant in 1916, there have only been a couple of instances of natural eruptions.

Geysir geothermal area in Iceland

Why did the Great Geysir start erupting again in 2000?

Throughout its history, earthquakes have been known to reverse the Great Geysir’s inactive status by briefly resuscitating it from its inactivity. There have been a couple of examples of this since 2000. A particularly powerful earthquake caused Geysir to erupt for two days straight, shooting water up in the air to a maximum height of 122 meters. 

This towering jet of water would have been much higher than what 19th-century research suggests the typical height for an eruption was when it was still active, which was roughly 45-55 meters (148-177 feet).

Geysir saw another – albeit much less dramatic – eruption in 2016, which was little more than a tower of steam shooting out of the spring. Still, considering it has been inactive for so long, there was much more activity than the area is used to.

How long do you need at Geysir in Iceland?

For Geysir itself, you really don’t need too much time to visit. As you may have already gathered, the odds of anything really exciting and worthwhile happening here are slim to none. But, there is still plenty to do once you are in the Hakadalur valley, and it’s easy to spend an hour or more there.

Because the Strokkur geyser erupts roughly every 15 minutes, at the very least, you should spend enough time waiting around the area so you can see it erupt. Taking a video or two and some good pictures will definitely be worth your time.

Strokkur geysir erupting near Geysir, Iceland

Once you see Geysir and an eruption or two at Strokkur, as well as checking out the other smaller geysers in the area, you ought to take a hike around the surrounding area in the Hakadalur valley. An hour or two should be plenty, and there are some incredible photo ops all over.

After a quick hike and some sightseeing, you might want to grab a bite to eat nearby before either heading back to your hotel or exploring the rest of the valley and the Golden Circle. Some crowd favorites for food in the area are Skjol, Geysir Glima Restaurant, and Vid Faxa.

How much does it cost to visit Geysir?

Fortunately for all you adventurers out there, getting to visit the natural phenomenon of Geysir is absolutely free. Hakadalur Valley has absolutely no entry fee, so you can enjoy all the stunning nature that it has to offer without putting a burden on your wallet.

However, there are, of course, costs associated with actually getting to Geysir. Assuming you’re staying in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, a bus ticket to Hakadalur Valley would cost the equivalent of between $90 and $119. This, along with renting a car, is the quickest way to get there, and it takes between two and a half to three hours.

Related: Can You Use Euros in Iceland to Pay for Things?

For those looking to experience the Geysir in Iceland, the Hakadalur Valley, and the Golden Circle in its entirety, there are plenty of tour companies that offer to take tourists around the whole 250 kilometers (155 miles) area, which includes Geysir, the Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Thingvellir National Park. The whole tour takes around seven hours, and while operators vary in pricing, many of them sell tickets all year round and for very reasonable prices.

Is Geysir parking free?

Just like how there are no entrance fees to visit the Great Geysir and the surrounding trails, springs, and geysers, visitors do not have to pay for parking. Parking there is not only absolutely free, but it is extremely plentiful too. 

If you are staying at a hotel near Geysir, it’s very possible you can just walk and keep your car parked at the hotel. Otherwise, most tourists park at the visitor center across the street, which includes a casual restaurant and a gift shop. Just be careful not to park in the bus parking lot.

Can you visit Geysir at night?

Yes, you can absolutely visit Geysir at night. In fact, doing this might be one of your best options, especially if you go during the height of the tourist season in the middle of summer. Given that Iceland only stays dark at night for a few hours during the summer, a trip at dawn or dusk works well. 

If you go this route, you will have plenty of light to guide your path and light all your amazing videos and pictures while still avoiding the bulk of the tourists.

landscape when visiting Geysir at night

Alternatively, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, Geysir in Iceland also offers a few campsites that travelers like you can stay in. The two most popular sites you can stay in are Camping Geysir and Skjol Camping. 

Both of these offer cabins, but if you and your fellow travelers prefer to bring your own tents and set up camp yourself, then you can stay at the general Geysir camping ground, which offers terrific views of the geysers and has its own hot spring.

Where to stay near Geysir

Aside from the few campgrounds and sites that Geysir and the surrounding areas like Thingvellir National Park have to offer, there are plenty of other hotels and accommodations that can be found throughout the area for those who – understandably – aren’t so excited about sleeping in a cabin or on the ground.

The accurately (although a little uncreatively) named Hotel Geysir is one of the most popular spots in the area to stay, and it offers a wide variety of accommodations. The property features a bar, outdoor BBQ area, and restaurant – all of which will feel very rewarding after your long journey through the Golden Circle. Each room is also built with an emphasis on comfort in mind, providing each of their guests with a bidet, flatscreen TV, and coffee machine.

Hotel Geysir
Source: Hotel Geysir

Additionally, the Hotel Geysir features a relaxing spa complete with a sauna, in case you need something extra to round off your Scandinavian travel experience. There is hardly any better way to relax after a long hike through Haukadalur’s difficult terrain.

If you are looking for a place with a more rustic, homey feel, another well-known spot is the Litli Geysir Hotel. This property is a collection of cozy cottages designed to give its guests a soothing and warm stay, particularly in Iceland’s dark, cold winter from September to April. What better environment to view the famous Northern Lights from? The hotel is also located only 650 feet from Geysir and provides free parking to its guests, meaning visiting the natural phenomenon is nothing but a stress-free walk down the road.

Not only is it very convenient and comfortable, but its staff is always available to help you plan any elements of your trip that you may need. Whether you’re looking to book a snowmobile ride, go river rafting, or do some golfing, this staff is well-trained, hospitable, and more than happy to help with anything you may need to enhance your trip to Iceland (and given how widely English is spoken in Iceland, that won’t be a problem either).

What to visit near Geysir?

Because of its location in the Haukadalur Valley, which is a well-known geothermal hot spot, several attractions in Geysir draw visitors to the country each year to experience the beauty and impressive visual impact of the geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls. 

Located in the southwest portion of Iceland, the Great Geysir is a simmering pool of geothermic bubbling water. At one time, it was noted for 200-foot streams of hot water sailing through the air easily from depths of 65-feet. Today, the sleepy geyser gurgles and steams randomly, which makes one wonder when it plans to put on another big show.

  • Strokkur, aka the Churn, is the opposite of the great Geysir. Located at the heart of the geothermal area, literally a few steps from Geysir itself, Strokkur makes its presence known every few minutes. While it may not shoot as high in the sky as the Great Geysir, there is no denying visitors are looking at Mother Nature in action when the hot steaming water is skyward bound.
  • Gullfoss waterfall. If you add Gullfoss Waterfall to your day trip, plan on getting wet, but it is well worth the soaking upon arrival. Gullfoss is a nature preserve and one that offers an enormous return for providing spectacular visual views. The falls, which are one of the largest in volume, are massive and, when reflecting the sunlight, produce a golden hue.
  • Thingvellir National Park is a World Heritage site added to the list in 2004. Less than an hour’s drive from Geysir, take time to explore all that the park has to offer with a weekend, or longer, camping adventure at one of several sites. Other activities available include hiking trails, horseback riding, angling, or diving in the crystal-clear water. 
  • Haukadalsskogur Forest is considered one of southern Iceland’s largest forests. Visitors who enjoy an invigorating walk in the forested landscape will find short and long walking paths weaving throughout the forest. Paths are also wheelchair accessible. Also, within the forest and worth a look is the Tree Museum and at the historic Haukadalsskogur Church.

How to get to Geysir?

Geysir is 66 miles (106 km) from Reykjavik, with travelers to Iceland having several transportation options to get there. These include hiring a car or joining an organized tour, as there is no public transport that will take you to Geysir.

Essentially, how you travel throughout the Geysir area is dependent on whether you want to travel on your own or with a group. If you want to go with a group, check out this list of Iceland websites which has some good local travel operators who’ll be able to help you out.

For going it alone, when you arrive at either Reykjavik Airport or Keflavik International Airport, there are several companies available to secure a car, van, or SUV. Some of the agencies include Hertz Car Rental, Avis, Budget, Firefly Car Rental Iceland, Atak Car Rental, Enterprise, and Nordic Car Rental, to name just a few. Reykjavik also has public transportation in and around the city. 

car driving in Iceland to get to Geysir

Some travelers prefer the wind in their hair and the freedom of the open road aboard a motorcycle. In Reykjavik, you will find several rental agencies offering some of the best-known brands, such as Honda, BMW, and Harley Davidson. Book ahead of time or once you settle in, then pick up your bike and have an adventure of a lifetime.

It is estimated that Geysir plays host to more than 2 million travelers annually. This can mean crowds and busy highways to deal with when traveling around the area. Because of this, taking an organized tour to get to Geysir is a popular option for seeing the sites along what is known as the Golden Circle Tour, as it takes the stress out of driving and leaves it up to the tour guide.

Although there are taxi services and public bus transportation in Reykjavik, these services are not available to take travelers to Geysir. There are also no Uber or Lyft services at this time in Iceland. That said, there are private taxi tours that can be booked that go to many locations, including the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle.

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How far is Geysir to Reykjavik?

The distance from Geysir to Reykjavik is 66 miles (106 km) and takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes when traveling via routes 37 and 365. This will take you via Thingvellir (Þingvellir) and Laugarvatn, which offer some great sights and accommodation options, if needed.

What to wear when visiting Geysir?

One of the main things to consider when deciding what to add to your wardrobe for a trip to Geysir is clothing that can stand up to the seasonal elements from head to toe. Clothes also need to be Geysir-friendly, meaning, be prepared for wet, cold, and moisture.

Wintertime means cold temperatures and often snow and ice. In Geysir, winter runs from October to April, when it is best to plan your wardrobe around layers to support warmth. Winter clothing should include a base layer, a mid-layer, and an insulating layer, such as a warm jacket to enclose the layers, plus a waterproof shell to keep everything dry.

Summertime in Geysir runs from May through August and although it is the high season with lots of travelers, summer temperatures in Iceland are nowhere near the traveler’s experience in tropical destinations. Also, while not as rainy, summer can still be wet and windy, so plan on waterproof pants and jackets to stay warm and dry. Layering is also still recommended. 

tourist in Iceland wearing a coat

Whatever you do, do not forget to consider the type of terrain you will be traversing. Whether it is a forest trail, near a waterfall, or close to the hot springs, your shoes need to be a pair of water-resistant shoes for general hiking along rugged trails or waterproof hiking boots for in-depth exploration. While you won’t need extreme hiking boots to visit Geysir, you might want to consider bringing a pair depending on how adventurous you plan to get during your Iceland vacation.

Having access to a hat, gloves, socks, and scarf can make or break having a good time while exploring Geysir. With temperatures running from moderately cold to very chilly, these accessories help with the retention of body heat. These warmth-supporters, along with the mentioned waterproof clothing, will not let you down whether trekking the forest or watching for the Northern Lights.

Additional accessories include a backpack to store items in, such as a bathing suit when taking a dip in one of the hot pools and thermal underwear (although you can’t do that at Geysir).

Can you swim in Geysir?

No, you can’t swim in Geysir, but there are specified hot spring locations in Iceland where visitors can swim. The hot springs in the Geysir geothermal area provide an extraordinary opportunity to walk around and observe the natural beauty of the area plus the geyser activity, but it is best not to touch the water.

One of the most sought-after pools tourists are drawn to is the Blue Lagoon. The milky blue mineral waters maintain a fresh flow of water, which keeps the lagoon in a fresh and invigorating condition. The Blue Lagoon is a refreshing day trip about two hours from Reykjavik. 

First opened to the public in 1891, the Secret Lagoon remains the oldest pool in the country. Located in Fludir, the relaxed and peaceful pool is 30 minutes from Geysir. While it is relatively smaller than the Blue Lagoon, the naturally heated pool is deeper. Totally refurbished in 2014, the lagoon continues to welcome travelers from around the world. 

For a mini-day trip, Gudrunarlaug is about three hours from Geysir. There are no crowds or fancy amenities, just a natural hot spring surrounded by green grass and scenic views. The hot spring has a long history as a place for relaxation for more than a thousand years and continues to be a draw for the wild western region of Iceland. 

How hot is Geysir in Iceland?

While some of the hot springs in Iceland are swimmable, Geysir is not due to its extreme temperature that surpasses the boiling point of water. When the geyser erupts, the Geysir’s feeder channel can reach as much as 125°C (257°F). The nearby Geysers are also not swimmable.

Given these temperatures, even going near the water can be extremely dangerous, so don’t plan a quick dip in the warm waters here. Instead, other lagoons in Iceland are much better for this purpose.

This is also why, if you’re bringing your dog to Iceland, you must keep it on a leash when visiting Geysir.

How to be safe when visiting Geysir?

Although Iceland is referred to as the Land of Fire and Ice, it has been considered a safe destination since 2008 based on information from the Global Peace Index (GPI). To keep safe, there are a few tips to consider that will enhance your feeling of security while traveling the highways, byways, and off the beaten track destinations. 

Anytime traveling is on the agenda, purchasing travel insurance before leaving home is recommended. The insurance not only protects you and your family’s health, but insurance also covers things, such as your luggage, bank account, planned activities while traveling, and your flights. Put insurance at the top of your “to do” list for peace of mind.

If you plan to rent a car or motorcycle for getting around Geysir, or even if you plan to rent a bicycle for local touring, know before you go about road safety. Apart from the distractions of magnificent views and a herd of sheep crossing the road, it is important to understand the driving laws of the land before heading out. This not only helps ensure your safety, but it also ensures others out and about are safe, too. 

The weather is always something to consider in Geysir. Whatever your plans may be, staying safe with proper clothing and accessories is important. You will also want to be aware of any potentially bad weather that may be on the horizon before heading out for a hike, bike ride, or other activity, where bad weather could result in a dangerous situation. 

No matter where you travel, taking precautions with your money, jewelry, and other valuables is standard procedure. A few tips include not flashing your cash in public, don’t wear a lot of expensive jewelry, never leave your items, such as a camera, tablet, phone, etc. unattended, and placing valuable items in the hotel’s safe or your room’s safe, if applicable. A good way to protect your cash is to wear a secure money belt – that’s if you plan to carry cash, which may be good if, say, you plan to tip in Iceland (which certainly isn’t expected). 

Whether you are traveling solo or with someone, if plans are to explore remote areas, always let someone know where you will be going. Leave a message at the front desk of your hotel or send an email to friends or family, for example, so that in case of an emergency, your plans and whereabouts for the day are known.