The Silfra Fissure is one of the items on many visitors’ Iceland bucket lists and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience – whether you just visit and take a quick snapshot or actually take on the deep during a diving or snorkeling expedition.
In this article, we explore the uniqueness of the Silfra and why it’s such an interesting product of being the Land of Fire and Ice, how to get there, how to explore its waters, and much, much more. Let’s dive into the Silfra!
What is the Silfra Fissure?
The Silfra Fissure is a crack in the earth caused by the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates pushing apart. This is a continuous process and is still responsible for expanding the east-to-west size of the island by almost 2 centimeters each year.
The Silfra rift in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is filled with the clearest glacial water in Iceland, which makes it possible to dive or snorkel the Silfra with a visibility of up to 120 meters! It’s also one of the few places in the world where you can lie suspended and floating between two continents, making this a must-do activity for most visiting the island.
Where is the Silfra Fissure?
The Silfra Fissure is located in one of Iceland’s national parks called Thingvellir. Since Thingvellir is one of the first attractions one comes across on the Golden Circle route, many opt to add it as a stop to their road trip itinerary. Since it’s also located conveniently close to the capital city (roughly a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík), those who have limited time on the island usually take this outing on as a day trip.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Silfra Fissure?
The Silfra Fissure is open to the public all year round – yes, even for diving and snorkeling. Many find this surprising, as they merely assume that getting into the water would be limited to the summertime in Iceland. But you must remember that you’ll be getting into glacial water – it will be extremely cold irrespective of the season.
This is also why you cannot dive or snorkel the Silfra without a dry suit. Many regulars to Silfra will also tell you that both seasons bring different experiences and benefits with them. It is said that overcast and calm winter days make the reflections on the Silfra’s surface something incredible to behold, whilst a windy, yet sunny, summer day will cause beautiful shadows to play around on the bottom of the Silfra.
How to Get to the Silfra Fissure
There are two easy ways to get to the Silfra Fissure:
Via Guided Tour
You will find many tour operators here on the island that offer guided tours to the Silfra. Because of its close proximity to Reykjavík, many are dedicated day tours departing from the capital. Others are multi-day holiday package tours that simply include the Silfra as one of the attractions on their itineraries.
This is how we recommend you explore the island. By driving yourself, you’ll always be in full control of your time and trip itinerary. As we already mentioned, a day trip to the Silfra Fissure from Reykjavik is possible since it won’t even take you an hour to drive there.
As part of a Golden Circle road trip, it’s easy to make it a stop along the way or sleep over to explore all the other activities and attractions the area has to offer. To drive to Silfra you merely need to get onto Route 1, drive through Mosfellsbær, and turn onto Route 36 to get there – super easy!
Diving the Silfra
Silfra diving is an amazing experience but is restricted to those who have a valid diving license and have sufficient experience underneath their diving belts. This is the only way that you will get to explore the deepest depths of this earthly tear.
Just keep in mind that when you take the plunge (literally) and dive between Iceland’s tectonic plates, safety should be your top priority. This means that you always need to stay in view of your diving buddy or the diving group, and never venture into any underwater caves or crevices.
Snorkeling the Silfra
Silfra snorkeling can be done by anyone, no experience or skill is required. You just need to take the age restrictions into account, since children need to be at least 12 years of age to take part in this activity. This is one activity that is usually extra nice to do on a sunny day, since you’ll feel the warm rays on your back as you snorkel around in the water.
Things to Do & See Near the Silfra Fissure
As we already mentioned, it’s a good idea to stay over since you’ll find plenty to do in the area. The following are a few things to do and see near Silfra that you can add to your trip itinerary:
- Visit Thingvellir Church
- Take a hike in Thingvellir National Park
- Check out Oxararfoss Waterfall
- Visit the historic Lögberg (Law Rock)
Where to Stay Near the Silfra Fissure
If you are going to be staying over, the following accommodation options come highly recommended:
FAQs About the Silfra Fissure
Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Silfra Fissure in Iceland:
How Deep is the Silfra Crack?
The deepest point of the Silfra is called The Cathedral and is an astounding 100 meters below the surface.
How Cold is the Silfra Water?
The temperature of the water at Silfra tends to stay between 2 to 4 degrees Celsius.
Are There Any Dangerous Mammals or Fish in the Silfra?
No, and for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the water in the Silfra Fissure comes from below the ground and therefore has no chance of bringing any creatures from the ocean or rivers along with it. Secondly, the water is simply too cold to sustain life in the Silfra.
Can We Dive or Snorkel the Silfra by Ourselves?
No, if you want to dive or snorkel the Silfra, you’ll need to do it with a professional tour guide. Whether you make an arrangement for a private tour dive or snorkel, or as part of a bigger group booking remains up to you, but you won’t be able to simply get in your gear and get in the water by yourself.
The Silfra Fissure; Diving the Divide of Two Continents
To dive into the deep or snorkel suspended between two continents in the clearest water you’ve ever seen is truly an otherworldly experience. Since the Silfra is so close to the Golden Circle route, and there is so much to do and see in the area, we suggest you stay over.
For the best (and most affordable) road trip experience, we recommend that you rent a campervan in Iceland and then camp at Thingvellir for your Silfra outing and exploration of the rest of the surroundings.