A day from Reykjavik:
Borgarnes and West of Iceland
If you fancy getting out of town a little bit, it’s fantastic to day trip in Western Iceland, in the Borgarfjörður bay area. About an hour north of Reykjavík you will see the bridge to Borgarnes, a charming little town with all basic facilities; restaurants, swimming pool and of course museums: the Settlement Centre – a museum about the viking times in the area, and the Heritage Centre, about life in the 19th century. You can choose to cross the bridge to Borgarnes or travel into Borgarfjörður on the other side of the bay, without passing through the town.
Whichever way you go, the first notable place you get to is Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in Europe. Here you can see boiling hot water come straight up from the ground, powerfully bubbling, steaming and a little further along, you come to Hraunfossar, the Lava Waterfalls. These are remarkable since you can’t see any river there – the waterfall comes straight out from solid rock. This is because the glacial water flows underneath the lava field for many miles without seeing the light of day. A short walk from here is the amazing waterfall Barnafoss, or Children’s Waterfall. Its name comes from a folk story that says there used to be a stone arch over the river. Ages ago, two children fell off the arch and drowned in the river, so their mother had the arch destroyed.
Víðgelmir, Iceland’s biggest lava cave by volume, is a lava tube formed during a volcanic eruption, when the magma started to cool on the surface, but there was still a hot “river” of magma flowing beneath it. Then the magma flow stopped, leaving a hollow cave beneath the cool crust on the surface. Nearby Surtshellir, similar in nature, is Iceland’s longest lava cave.
Finally, if you’re travelling with a specially outfitted vehicle and guide, you can kick the adrenaline into gear and drive up on Langjökull glacier, experiencing the ivory behemoth where the summer never comes. If you’re particularly adventurous, you can even travel Into the Glacier, in a recently opened man-made glacier cave, equipped with a chapel, bar and movie theatre.
If you want to add even more to your day, skip the tunnel under Hvalfjörður bay and take the scenic route back to Reykjavík. There you can see the old whaling station, or even hike to the tallest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur.