Written by Arctic Adventures guide Ashildur Bragadottir
Seltún geothermal area in Krýsuvík is one of the most striking landscapes in Iceland. Steam dominates the area with volcanic vents, fumaroles, mud pots and boiling hot springs. The green hills are painted in earthy colors of golden brown, red, pink, blue, yellow, white and grey.
Seltún comprises several geothermal fields in the Krýsuvík area on Reykjanes peninsula. It sits right on the doorstep of Reykjavík. Like many other nearby sites, it lies on the fissure zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, making it a high-temperature area.
This ridge is the reason the entire region is a bit rough and alien-looking, with jagged moss-coated lava and old volcanic craters, rolling hills and amazing rock formations, and bubbling geothermal mud pools.
Once you arrive you can leave your car at the spacious parking lot. Next to it is an informative sign explaining all the important geological facts of the area. A well-maintained boardwalk winds through the bubbling and hissing field, making it easy to walk around. Two viewing platforms provide excellent views over the geothermal field.
Visiting Seltún is like stepping into another dimension. Hissing steam is forced out of the earth from geothermal vents as mud bubbles and boiling hot springs.
Wherever you step, boiling water bubbles out of the earth left and right with a strong sulfate smell. The smell is completely harmless, but it can be compared to the smell of a rotten egg. Some even say it resembles the smell of the gates of hell. However, the rich and alluring colors of the landscape make up for the smell a thousand times over.
On the east side of the road are two big mud pools called Fúlipollur, or the foul smelling puddle, because of the distinct smell of sulfur coming from the mud pools. Fúlipollur looks like a bottomless pool filled with boiling brimstone. The level of mud in the pool varies between seasons. The contrast of the dark shades of grey of the mud pools and the green grassy landscape make the scenery amazing.
The small lake Grænavatn, or the Greenlake, is just a few kilometers south of Seltún and really worth visiting. Grænavatn is considered one of the most noteworthy geological phenomena of its kind in Iceland. There is a small parking lot next to the main road and a trail allows you to take a refreshing 20 minute walk around the lake. As you stand on the brim, you’ll notice that the deeper the water, the darker green the lake becomes.
If you drive further on you can visit more interesting sights on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Read our blog about Brimketill and the sites nearby this amazing lava rock pool on the south side of Reykjanes.
Seltún is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula. There is no bus service to the area so a car is required. The drive takes about 40 minutes from downtown Reykjavík. When you get out of the capital area, route 42 will take you directly to Seltún.
The boiling and steaming geothermal vents are dangerous so mind your step and stay on the boardwalk at all times. It may be tempting to touch the mud pools and hot springs but make sure you don't as the heat is 80-100 degrees Celsius.