Geysir is a geothermal field of geysers, a real treat for tourists visiting Iceland. It is among the most visited site in the country and one of the favorite natural attractions of tourists.
The Geysir site is very easy to get to and appreciated by all. Who doesn't enjoy watching boiling hot springs, the famous geysers, propelling immense volumes of water several tens of meters into the air?
The Geysir geothermal field
Very easy to access and very well-known, Geysir is as you can expect a very busy place. It has a large car park and is very well served by bus lines and on site you will find a campsite, a cafeteria, a hotel, as well as a gift shop.
The site is estimated to be 8,000 to 10,000 years old. In 1630, an earthquake caused geyser activity to stop entirely before resuming 40 years later so violently that the hot spring activity itself led to further earthquakes. Until 1894, the site was owned by the Laug Farm.
It was passed from one owner to another, including James Craig, the future Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, who fenced off the land and began charging visitors. When the land was sold to filmmaker Sigurdur Jonasson in 1935, he chose to give it back to the Icelandic people. Now protected by its own people, a Geysir Committee was formed to protect the fauna and flora of the site.
Geysir is part of the Haukadalur geothermal field, which extends around the neo-volcanic zone created when the continents drift. It is in fact the Icelandic “Geysir” that gave us the English word geyser to describe the phenomenon of hot water gushing from the depths of the earth. In Icelandic, Geysir means “to gush.” The “Grand Geysir” geyser is no longer active, although it can wake up on rare occasions, especially during large earthquakes, or interestingly enough when you add a little soap to the water!
In 2000 an earthquake woke up the beast and the Great Geysir produced a jet that shot 122 meters into the sky for 2 days, making it one of the tallest geysers in the world.
Today, the one reliably active geyser is “Strokkur” which was probably created following an eruption in 1789.
Geysir is located in the south-west of the island, quite close to the capital, since it takes only 1.5 hours to reach the site by car from Reykjavík. Several possibilities exist to get there:
You can go there absolutely all year round. Geysir is fantastic in both summer and winter, except of course winter conditions become extreme. Being so accessible and so famous, Geysir is crowded. It has a large car park and is also very well served by bus lines.
In fact, you should also know that many tour companies offer day-trips to visit the Golden Circle, including Geysir:
In general, given the tourist influx, it is best to visit the site early in the morning or late in the evening. In summer, with the crisp northern sunlight and the silvery midnight sun, Geysir is particularly photogenic.
The Strokkur bubble before it bursts
Strokkur, literally “the can”, is Geysir's main attraction. When not actively gushing, Strokkur appears as a hole in the ground filled with blue water, surrounded by a simple rope that delineates the danger zone. When it begins, the water forms a beautiful bubble that bulges above the hole before exploding in a jet that can reach up to 30 meters high.
It is not uncommon for 2 jets to follow each other, the second being often of lower intensity. Although it's quite variable, Strokkur springs up about every 5 to 8 minutes. So you have to be a bit patient to get the timing and angle right to take a photo.
On the Geysir site, a small, well-laid out trail takes you around the site and see the various points of interest in this otherworldly geothermal field. The trail from the car park is no more than 1 kilometer and it is full of things to see, not only the Strokkur but you can climb up the small hill nearby which provides a superb view of the site.
Besides Strokkur there are the two small Blesi pools that connect through the subsoil, and although they contain the same water, they look entirely different: one deep blue and the other is much more transparent due to the silica particles it contains and the different temperature of the water.
A little farther away, Fata and Konungshver are two blue pools that do not "gush" but are constantly boiling and bubbling. Near Konungshver, there is also a panoramic disk with inscriptions pointing to the various phenomena on the Geysir site.
Don't step into the numerous holes filled with mud and bubbling water that testify to the volcanic activity going on right under your feet.
And last but not least there is the Great Geysir, now dormant, known as the “Litli Geysir” located just at the entrance of the site. It takes at least 1 hour to see everything but you have to factor in the time it takes to admire Strokkur, especially if you want to catch that perfectly-timed photograph!
Strokkur in Geysir
For camping enthusiasts, there is just one campsite less than 500 meters from the Geysir site. It has a pretty good reputation and is open from May 15 to September 15.
For those looking for hotels and guesthouses, there are plenty of them in the immediate vicinity of the site or just a few miles away. The Litli Geysir Hotel, for example, has great value and is ideally located since it is located 200 meters from the entrance to Geysir.